Watch: At Town Hall, Biden Vows to Protect LGBTQ Rights

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 16, 2020

Joe Biden at the ABC News Town Hall, Oct. 15
Joe Biden at the ABC News Town Hall, Oct. 15  (Source:Screenshot/ABC News/YouTube)

Joe Biden vowed to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans during his Oct. 15 Town Hall on ABC, assuring the mother of a transgender daughter he would reverse Trump's anti-LGBTQ actions.

ABC News Chief Anchor, George Stephanopoulos moderated the Town Hall, which took place in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center, ABC News reported.

Stephanopoulos introduced Mieke Haeck, a mother of two, who asked Biden what he would do to secure the rights of her 8-year-old transgender daughter.

"The Trump administration has attacked the rights of transgender people," Haeck noted, "banning them from military service, weakening non-discrimination protections, and even removing the word 'transgender from some government websites. How will you, as president, reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the lives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under U.S. law?"

Biden offered a concise and direct reply.

"I will flat-out just change the law," he told Haeck, adding that he would reverse Trump's anti-LGBTQ executive orders.

Biden went on to recall an anecdote from his youth when he and his father witnessed two men sharing a kiss in public. Biden turned to his father questioningly at the sight. "My dad looked at me and he said, 'Joey, it's simple. They love each other.' "

Added Biden: "There should be zero discrimination."

Biden went on to condemn the increasing rates of lethal anti-trans violence, saying that "transgender women of color are being murdered - they're being murdered." Biden then offered a number he admitted he was unsure about, saying that 17 trans women had been murdered this year.

Haeck corrected him, noting the number is higher.

Indeed, The Human Rights Campaign, which tracks lethal anti-trans violence, reports that 33 known murders of transgender and gender-non-conforming people have taken place in America in 2020.

That makes this year the deadliest on record for trans people, the HRC reported in a recent statement that condemns the Oct. 11 murder of transgender woman Sara Blackwood in Indianapolis.

"I promised you," Biden told Haeck, "there is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied your daughter" that a cisgender person would enjoy.

Biden recalled that his late son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, had enacted protections for trans-Americans in Delaware while serving as the Attorney General for that state. Beau Biden ushered in that measure because one of his staffers was transgender, Biden said.

Joe Biden himself has long been an advocate of LGBTQ equality, even offering public support for marriage equality during Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign against anti-marriage challenger Mitt Romney, USA Today recalled in a recent profile.

USA Today opined that Biden "has been far ahead of the curve among national leaders on LGBTQ equality and would usher in the most pro-LGBTQ presidential administration ever."

Donald Trump, who refused to participate in further debates with Biden after new COVID-19 safety measures were announced, appeared at a Town Hall of his own on NBC.

Watch the video clip of Biden's exchange with Haeck below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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