Joe Biden Promises to Make LGBTQ Rights His Top Legislative Priority

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 18: Former U.S. Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign kickoff rally, May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since Biden announced his candidacy in late April, he has taken the top spot in all polls of the sprawling Democratic primary field. …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
JOSHUA CAPLAN

Leading 2020 White House contender and former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday pledged to prioritize the Equality Act as his first piece of legislation if elected president.

Biden made the vow in his speech before activists at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Ohio gala in celebration of Pride Month. During his remarks, the former vice president condemned President Donald Trump for his administration’s efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

“It’s wrong and it is immoral what they’re doing,” Biden said. “Just like with racial justice and women’s rights, we are seeing pushback against all the progress we’ve made toward equality.”

The Equality Act would address many such discriminatory practices. It recently passed the Democrat-run House, but will not become law under Trump and the Republican Senate. That means LGBTQ residents in dozens of states are still subject to various forms of discrimination that are either specifically allowed or not barred by state law.

“It will be the first thing I ask to be done,” the presidential candidate declared.

Biden’s remarks come after President Donald Trump tweeted Friday in celebration of Pride Month and reiterated his call for the international community to decriminalize homosexuality in nations where it is illegal.

the president wrote:

As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!

Biden spoke in Ohio, a political battleground he was visiting for the first time since beginning his bid, on the same day that more than a dozen of his rivals were in San Francisco for the California Democratic Convention and a massive MoveOn.org conference. By the end of the weekend, 14 candidates will have addressed thousands of activists in California, which has more than 400 delegates to the 2020 convention, about a fifth of what it will take to win the nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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