Almost five years ago, as dusk hit our nation’s capital on a warm Friday summer night, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people gathered among both loved ones and strangers to celebrate a historic moment for our community: the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. Alongside parents and friends, partners and allies, we watched what was unthinkable just a few years earlier come to fruition.
We saw allies emerge at every level of government. We saw LGBTQ equality change their minds and become our partners. We saw the White House — the symbol of American leadership — light up in the colors of the rainbow.
While significant work remained in the fight for equality, it was a moment of almost unparalleled hope for our community and a profound step in our country’s march toward a more equal and perfect union.
But today, that evening can feel almost a world away.
In the years since the Obama-Biden administration left office, we have witnessed cruel attacks on the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people, especially our transgender siblings, by the current occupant of the White House. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their cabal of anti-equality extremists have targeted LGBTQ workers, loving same-sex couples, transgender troops, LGBTQ kids and LGBTQ people seeking health care. Their attacks on women, people of color, people living with disabilities, and immigrants have particularly harmed those of us who live at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. And in the age of coronavirus, a pandemic made worse by this administration’s willful negligence and notorious ineptitude, those in our community are disproportionately struggling to make ends meet, get the care they need, or isolate with an unaccepting family that makes them much more vulnerable.
The LGBTQ community, and millions more across our country, cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Our safety, economic security, health and lives are quite literally on the line. Now more than ever, we need a pro-equality president — and in Joe Biden we have that leader.
Where Donald Trump has sought to roll back our community’s historic progress under the Obama-Biden administration, Joe Biden will not only protect it, he will expand and build on it. Where Donald Trump and his administration oppose the bipartisan Equality Act and its lifesaving nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, Joe Biden is a vocal champion and has called the bill a top priority for his first 100 days. Where Donald Trump and Mike Pence have appointed anti-LGBTQ extremists to the federal bench and administration positions, Joe Biden’s cabinet and court appointments will be filled with compassionate leaders who understand that our nation’s diversity is our greatest strength. And where Donald Trump governs from a place of heartlessness and self-interest, Joe Biden will lead with the empathy and compassion that he’s exemplified through both personal tragedy and public service.
The LGBTQ community knows Joe Biden. We know that he will be a president who stands up for all of us. And we at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, are proud to stand with Joe in this fight and ready to mobilize our more than three million members and supporters to work day and night to ensure that he is the next president of the United States.
We can once again have a president that honors our diversity and stands up for all of us, but only if we work for it, fight for it, and vote for it. And when we do, I know that soon enough we will gather together — safely — to celebrate another major step in our fight for equality when President Joe Biden signs the Equality Act into law.
It is within our power to feel the same hope and promise that so many of us felt on that Friday night in June of 2015. It takes electing Joe Biden as president this November to get there.
Alphonso David is president of the Human Rights Campaign. Follow him on Twitter @alphonsodavid.