January 20, 2021 by Patrick Hanley | Public Policy and Advocacy Lead
For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, the past four years have felt rather long.
According to the Trump Accountability Project at GLAAD, there were more than 180 anti-LGBTQIA+ attacks in the 1,461 days of his presidency. The attacks ranged from the removal of healthcare protections, arguing against employment non-discrimination protections before the Supreme Court, banning Pride commemorations at embassies around the globe, open discrimination in homeless shelters and creating religious refusal offices within federal departments.
But that’s quite enough about him.
The Inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden marks a new era for the country and for the LGBTQIA+ movement. So what can we expect?
- A recommitment to LGBTQIA+ rights as fundamental rights. As a candidate, Biden once declared LGBTQIA+ rights as his #1 legislative priority. He recently reaffirmed that transgender rights were the “civil rights issue of our time.”
- The Equality Act. Among the proposals for his first 100 days in office, this long sought-after bill would equalize LGBTQIA+ citizens under many areas of the law. It passed the House in 2019 but died in the Senate without a vote.
- The transgender military ban rescinded. Part of the Biden transition team’s plan for day one is a reversal of the Trump policy that cruelly banned transgender people from serving in the armed forces.
- A restoration of Title IX protections for transgender students. Biden has promised to reverse the Trump-era interpretation that federal law does not protect students based on gender identity.
However, we can expect political headwinds to remain.
- A Senate that remains divided 50/50. Prospects for the Equality Act hang on Republican members crossing the aisle to allow the bill to pass the 60 vote filibuster-proof threshold.
- A Supreme Court that could undo progress. The Court’s new 6-3 conservative majority gives hopes to those advancing so-called “religious liberty” arguments to poke holes in LGBTQIA+ rights.
We’ve already seen signs of early progress. This week Dr. Rachel Levine, the accomplished and highly regarded Pennsylvania Secretary of Health was nominated to become the Assistant Secretary for Health. She would become the first openly transgender official to ever be confirmed by the Senate.
After the fanfare of the inauguration and turmoil of the election are behind us, the real work begins. There is a great deal to do to not only restore what was lost in the previous administration, but also to move our community forward. As LGBTQIA+ Americans transition into this new political era, all eyes are on President Biden to see if he can deliver.
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