Uncle Joe has been busy! The 46th President of the United States spent most of his afternoon and evening yesterday issuing immediate Executive Orders on many fronts, including climate, immigration reform, COVID, and so much more.
Among the 17 executive orders he issued, one reinstates the Bostock v. Clayton County decision nearly six months after SCOTUS originally issued it. The decision found that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and illegal in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ruling has wide-ranging implications and affects all laws against sex discrimination, including those in education, housing, credit and jury service. Instead of implementing the ruling, the Trump administration ignored it and sought to engage in legal maneuverings to limit its scope.
But perhaps most astounding news was his wide-ranging commitment to the community going forward from Day One. Here are some of the LGBTQ initiatives he’s promised to address:
The Equality Act
The landmark bill, originally passed by the House in 2019 and stalled due to Senate inaction, if passed, amends the Civil Rights Act and will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. The legislation would grant LGBTQ people full protections in employment, housing, education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.
Now that the Democrats control the Senate, it looks more likely that it will. Biden has promised to make its passage a top legislative priority in the coming weeks and months.
Rights of trans and non-binary workers
Biden, an early supporter of trans rights, has long recognized the systemic discrimination that trans and non-binary Americans face when seeking employment. As part of his overall LGBTQ policy, he’s committed that federally-funded workforce training programs and resources must protect trans and non-binary employees.
Included in this package are incentives for states and local governments to adopt programs assist transgender and non-binary people prepare for the workforce and encourage entrepreneurship.
Recently, the Trump administration allowed federal adoption and foster agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ couples. Biden has promised repeal of this policy to be one of his first acts. This will ensure that families aren’t discriminated against on the basis of sexuality or gender identity, and that child welfare agencies put the interests of children first, including those who are LGBTQ.
Biden also says he will work with the US state department and other federal agencies to ensure equal treatment of same-sex couples and their children in the application of all federal programs, services, and benefits. This includes citizenship eligibility requirements and immigration and naturalization proceedings for LGBTQ people – another threat from the Trump camp.
Bullying in schools
Biden’s made a number of proposals to reduce sexual violence, dating violence, and online harassment among young adults, and all these initiatives will include a focus on LGBTQ students, who report higher rates of sexual assault than other students.
He’s also promised to reinstate laws requiring federally-funded schools to prohibit harassment, and back the passing of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which requires school districts to develop bullying and harassment policies. he’s also promised to work to enact the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which will create a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.
Federal agency support for civil rights
Biden has committed to appointing federal judges and officials who represent and support diversity, including the LGBTQ community. He says he’ll ensure that leaders across the agencies are committed to fully enforcing civil rights laws for LGBTQ people, and that Federal agencies responsible for enforcing these laws are given the funds they need to enforce it.
These agencies include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
LGBTQ Americans have a disproportionately high rate of homelessness. The Trump administration further exacerbated the issue by supposing a law allowing federally-funded homeless shelters to reject trans and gender non-conforming people based on religious beliefs. With passage of the Equality Act, Biden will ensure that no president can invalidate civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, including in housing and homeless shelters.
The transgender military ban
Vice President Joe Biden played a leading role in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (although, to be fair, he initially voted for it). He’s also opposed Trump’s trans military ban, calling it “discriminatory and detrimental to society,” and has promised to reverse this policy once he’s in office, which requires the Department of Defence to allow transgender service members to serve openly, receive medical treatment, and pursue avenues of redress if confronted with discrimination.
He had originally promised to reverse the ban on Day One, but an EO that would do so wasn’t included on the fact sheet of administrative actions from yesterday.
The Affordable Care Act
Last year Trump rolled back Obama-era protections for trans people under the Affordable Care Act, a devastating blow to the estimated 1.5 million transgender Americans who relied on it.
Joe Biden aims to repair the damage as part of his plan to build on the Affordable Care Act, which will guarantee non-discrimination protections for the LGBT+ community. He’s promised to ensure LGBT+ individuals have full access to all appropriate healthcare and resources, including gender confirmation surgery.
His federal health plan will also encompass HIV treatment and provide coverage for lifesaving preventative medications like PrEP and PEP.
Protections for transgender students
Biden’s made numerous pledges to support LGBT+ youth, starting with a guarantee that trans students have access to facilities based on their gender identity. In fact, yesterday he reinstated the Obama-Biden guidance revoked by Trump, which will restore trans kids’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. He will also direct his Department of Education to vigorously enforce and investigate violations of transgender students’ civil rights.
Violence against trans women of color
During his first 100 days in office, Biden’s pledged to commit federal resources towards preventing violence against trans women, particularly trans women of color. He will also direct his administration to update the FBI’s crime and homicide reports to include sexuality and gender identity or expression, helping law enforcement to fully measure the extent of crimes against this community.