Joe Biden once again expressed support for transgender people and LGBTQ+ people in general in his town hall event on ABC Thursday night.
The mother of an 8-year-old transgender girl and a 10-year-old cisgender girl questioned the Democratic presidential nominee about what he would do to reverse Donald Trump’s anti-trans policies.
“The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people, banning them from military service, weakening nondiscrimination protections, and even removing the word transgender from some government websites,” said Mieke Haeck, a physical therapist from State College, Pa. “How will you, as president, reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the lives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?”
“I will flat-out just change the law, eliminate those executive orders, number 1,” Biden replied. Biden then told a story he has shared many times, about when, as a teen, he saw two men kissing, and his father said to him, “Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.”
He then scoffed at the idea that being trans is a choice and said, “There should be zero discrimination.” Haeck’s trans daughter should have the same rights as her other daughter, he said, and he also noted, “Too many transgender women of color are being murdered.” There have been 33 reported homicides of trans Americans this year, and most of the victims have been Black or Latinx.
He further talked about his late son Beau’s work for antidiscrimination protections for transgender people when Beau was attorney general of Delaware, with assistance from a trans woman. Biden did not mention the woman’s name, but trans woman Sarah McBride, now a candidate for state senator in Delaware, worked closely with Beau Biden on the matter.
Another questioner asked Biden about the threat to LGBTQ+ rights posed by the possible confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett was evasive on specific issues during her confirmation hearings this week, but she is on record as criticizing the court’s marriage equality decision, among other far-right positions.
“There’s great reason to be concerned about the LGBT community,” Biden replied, noting that he has fought hard for equal rights for many years. He also pointed out that access to health care is under threat. The court will soon hear a case in which the Trump administration is seeking to have the Affordable Care Act invalidated. Biden advocated for the ACA as Barack Obama’s vice president. “There’s a lot at stake,” he concluded.
Biden has pledged to expand the ACA if he is elected president. On LGBTQ+ rights, he has said he would make passage of the Equality Act a priority, among other equal rights measures.
The ABC town hall, moderated by George Stephanopoulos, was held in lieu of a debate between Biden and Trump. Trump had backed out of the scheduled debate when organizers said it would be held virtually due to concerns about COVID-19, for which the president was hospitalized early this month; his doctor said he has subsequently tested negative for the virus. Trump appeared in a competing town hall Thursday night on NBC, at which he falsely claimed the pandemic is almost over and that most people who wear protective masks end up contracting the virus anyway.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis praised the inclusion of LGBTQ+ issues in the Biden event and denounced their absence from the Trump town hall. “Tonight ABC and George Stephanopoulos made history by including two questions which let LGBTQ voters know where Vice President Biden stands on issues important to our community,” she said, according to the Washington Blade. “It is a shame and a disservice that President Trump was not asked about his abysmal record on LGBTQ issues and national media needs to end this silence moving forward. LGBTQ voters and our allies make up a powerful voting bloc and deserve to know where the candidates stand.”
Biden and Trump are scheduled to debate next Thursday.