Election 2020: Joe Biden on LGBTQ rights

With such a large pool of democratic candidates, it can be hard to keep track of each person’s stance on important issues. As a family law firm that is passionate about LGBTQ rights, we want to know which candidates are going beyond support of legislation like Obergefell v Hodges, and working to help our community reach true lived equality.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the track record of Joe Biden, currently one of the top-polling candidates for the 2020 election. While Biden certainly wouldn’t be considered an LGBTQ trailblazer, he has demonstrated some support to our community over the years. We’ll look at his overall stance on LGBTQ rights, as well as:

  • First public statement in support of gay marriage
  • Statements on transgender rights
  • Endorsements or score by the Human Rights Campaign
  • Any missteps or poor choices regarding LGBTQ rights

Overall stance

The former Vice President of the United States, and a more centrist Democrat than many of the other presidential hopefuls, Joe Biden has grown to become more LGBTQ-friendly over the years. However, as we’ll see in the “missteps” section, this wasn’t always the case.

In recent statements, he has announced that LGBT rights are a top priority for him. Specifically, he plans to support the Equality Act, a proposed amendment to the Civil Rights Act that would “… prohibit discrimination … on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.”1 The bill passed the House of Representatives this year, but stalled in the Senate.

He has also spoken specifically in support of LGBTQ health care including suicide prevention, community acceptance and support, the rights of transgender individuals in the military, and has brought attention to treatment of LGBTQ individuals globally, such as in Chechnya. Lastly, his foundation, the Biden Foundation, has an LGBTQ acceptance initiative called #AsYouAre, that promotes family and community inclusion of LGBTQ youth.

First public statement in support of gay marriage: 2012

During Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, Biden publicly announced his support of gay marriage. In fact, he made this announcement before Obama himself.

Transgender rights

With recent studies showing at least 1 million transgender adults in the U.S.,2 transgender rights are a critical issue now and in the years ahead. During his tenure as Vice President, the U.S. removed the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. This ban has been reinstated recently under President Trump, and Biden has made public statements denouncing Trump’s actions. Additionally, his foundation’s initiative titled #AsYouAre, which promotes LGBTQ community acceptance, has featured quite a few transgender individuals in their inclusion videos. Lastly, he focused on Black transgender rights in his HRC speech, and made a public statement on Twitter in response to the July 26 murder of Black transgender woman Denali Berries Stuckey, along with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.

HRC support

Last month, the Human Rights Campaign chose Biden as a keynote speaker at their gala. While not an official endorsement, this does show HRC’s approval of Biden in general. He has also spoken at HRC events in the past.


In 1996, Biden voted in favor of the “Defense of Marriage Act,” largely seen as a step backwards in the fight for LGBTQ equality. DOMA essentially prevented gay married couples from accessing federal benefits. This was overturned in 2015 when Obergefell v Hodges legalized gay marriage nationwide.

This February, Biden made a statement calling Vice President Mike Pence a “decent guy,” despite Pence’s horrendous anti-LGBTQ record. Biden later rescinded his statement, but only after pushback from the LGBTQ community.

Multiple accounts of his inappropriate touching of women (such as rubbing their shoulders) also casts a shadow on his campaign.

Closing thoughts:

While Biden has not historically been completely supportive of the LGBTQ community, he has appeared to evolve on these issues, and made strong statements in favor of LGBTQ rights. He even went so far to say that:

“[Passing the Equality Act]…will be the first thing I ask to be done” as president.
–Joe Biden at Human Rights Campaign Gala, June 2019.

The Gay Family Law Center is a proud advocate for LGBTQ rights. We offer free consultations for those seeking family law or LGBT estate planning services. Call us to set up your first visit with one of our skilled attorneys at our Palm Springs or West Hollywood locations.

1. Equality Act, H.R., 5, 116th Congress (2019) https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5/text/eh

2. Meerwijk, E. L., & Sevelius, J. M. (2017). Transgender Population Size in the United States: a Meta-Regression of Population-Based Probability Samples. American journal of public health, 107(2), e1–e8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227946/

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