Why Is Joe Biden the Only Democratic Frontrunner Without an LGBTQ Platform?

Other than the swag he sells, the former VP's website has scant mentions of queer people.

Former vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden will sell you a t-shirt with his name and a transgender flag. What you can’t get from the former VP’s website, however, is a plan on what he would do for LGBTQ people if elected president.

Biden is the only frontrunner who has yet to release an LGBTQ platform, most of whom put out their plans in early October.

Elizabeth Warren cranked out a 12-page LGBTQ policy on October 10 ahead of the LGBTQ HRC Town Hall. Openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg threw down an 18-page LGBTQ agenda the same day. Kamala Harris also put out a plan October 10, and though Bernie Sanders has a far less robust queer roadmap, he has one. Even Cory Booker’s very slim three bullet points is more substantial than Biden’s non-existent offering.

It’s reasonable to argue that Biden threw his hat into the ring months after his opponents and has had less time to churn out the kind of deep policy proposals we’ve seen from Warren, for example. But Biden’s website is not without policy plans on other topics. He has a plan for ending gun violence and a handful aimed at rebuilding the middle class, fighting climate change, and fulfilling our commitment to military families. But none are LGBTQ-focused. Other than the swag he sells, his website has scant mentions of queer people, something that NewNowNext noted back in June.

Though his policy page on ending violence against women is inclusive of trans women, it’s vague on actual plans for addressing violence facing the community. He vows to pass the Equality Act, something every Democrat in the race supports.

“The Biden Administration will push to provide federal funding for local efforts to meet the needs of transgender communities, including employment assistance, housing assistance, leadership development, and other priorities identified by local communities,” one part states.

That’s a marked difference from Buttigieg, who says he will ban non-consensual surgeries on intersex children and decriminalize HIV transmission to fight AIDS and reduce stigma. Warren has promised to develop an LGBTQ homelessness prevention program and end solitary confinement in prisons where transgender inmates often whither for months at a time.

Since June, NewNowNext has made repeated requests for an LGBTQ platform or a policy interview with the candidate. NewNowNext amped up those asks after Out deputy editor Nico Lang claimed that a Biden staffer woke him before 7:00 am on the morning after the HRC Town Hall to chastise him for reporting on the former VP’s bizarre gay bathhouse comments during the Town Hall the night before.

As NewNowNext also reported after the debate, Biden lost track of his point about how gay people have made strides toward equality.

“Back 15, 20 years ago, San Francisco was all about gay, gay bathhouses,” he said. “It’s all about around-the-clock sex. It’s all—come on, man. Gay couples are more likely to stay together longer than heterosexual couples.”

There is no mistaking that Biden has long been an LGBTQ ally, coming out for marriage equality in a highly charged moment as VP before Barack Obama did in 2012.

Even before he announced his 2020 bid, queer media was praising him for going after Donald Trump for rolling back LGBTQ rights.

When asked about his lack of a plan, Jamal Brown, national press secretary for Biden, claims that Biden has an unmatched history of backing LGBTQ equality.

“He has released a health care plan that explicitly protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in health care and ensures access to critical services,” Brown said in a statement to NewNowNext. “He released a plan to combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. And he announced his intent to ensure LGBTQ rights are at the center of America’s foreign policy and engagement with the world. We will continue to release policies that build on Joe’s work and advance equality and acceptance for LGBTQ here at home and around the world.”

What Brown does not say is if the former VP has an actual plan for advancing and restoring LGBTQ rights after Trump leaves office. And given that Trump has stated an intention to legally define trans people out of existence, it’s a fair question.

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.
@shoeleatherkate