Story at a glance

  • LGBTQ+ advocates have been pressing the candidates to address questions about the community.
  • During the individual town hall debates, Joe Biden answered two questions on LGBTQ+ issues.
  • President Trump was not asked any questions by or relating to the LGBTQ+ community.

For those switching channels between the two presidential candidates’ town halls last night, the contrast was often stark. For the LGBTQ+ community, the difference was whether they were even acknowledged at all.

Two attendees asked questions about the LBGTQ+ community to former Vice President Joe Biden on ABC, while NBC’s Savannah Guthrie posed none to President Trump. Biden's first question came from Nathan Osburn, who asked about the Supreme Court and protections for LGBTQ+ rights. 

"I think there’s great reason to be concerned for the LGBT community, something I fought very hard for, for a long time to make sure there’s equality across the board," said Biden. 


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President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett, has been criticized by LGBTQ+ advocates for her anti-LGBTQ+ personal stances and most recently came under fire after incorrectly using the term “sexual preference,” rather than sexual orientation, during her confirmation hearings. 

The second questions came from a mother of two girls — one of whom is transgender — Mieke Haeck, who asked how Biden would better protect the lives and rights of LGBTQ+ people than President Trump. Haeke referenced several actions by the Trump administration, including banning transgender Americans from military service, reversing Obama-era nondiscrimination protections and removing the word "transgender" from some government websites. 

"I will flat out just change the law. Eliminate those executive orders, number one," Biden said, sharing a story about his first experience seeing a public display of affection between two men and how his dad helped explain their love. 


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"There should be zero discrimination. And what’s happening is too many transgender women of color are being murdered. They’re being murdered. I think it’s up to, now, 17. Don’t hold me to that number, but it’s… It’s higher now?" he said. To date, more than 30 transgender people have been killed in the United States this year, higher than any year since at least 2013. 

Biden also pointed to his son Beau Biden, who supported legislation protecting transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and health insurance as Delaware's Attorney General.

"And so, I promise you, there is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied your daughter," Biden said. 

Before the first presidential debate, LGBTQ+ watchdog GLAAD sent letters to the debate moderators asking them to pose a question about LGBTQ+ Americans to the candidates. The recipients included C-SPAN's Steve Scully, who was going to moderate the second presidential town hall debate before it was cancelled and has been placed on leave by the network after the anchor admitted to falsely claiming his Twitter account had been hacked. 

“Tonight ABC and George Stephanopoulos made history by including two questions which let LGBTQ voters know where Vice President Biden stands on issues important to our community,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “It is a shame and a disservice that President Trump was not asked about his abysmal record on LGBTQ issues and national media needs to end this silence moving forward. LGBTQ voters and our allies make up a powerful voting bloc and deserve to know where the candidates stand. Our rights and the Trump administration’s record must continue to be part of the conversation in the most consequential election of our lifetime.”  


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Published on Oct 16, 2020