As candidates for president, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised to prioritize LGBTQ rights. Now, as president and vice-president, they have done so, earning praise from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
On March 11, the 50th day of the Biden-Harris administration, GLAAD launched the “Biden Equality Accountability Tracker (BEAT).” BEAT monitors the Biden administration’s executive orders, legislative support, speeches and nominations that affect LGBTQ people and rights.
GLAAD asserts that in its first 50 days, the Biden-Harris administration has taken 24 actions that “affect LGBTQ people and rights.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, “GLAAD’s Biden Equality Accountability Tracker is an ongoing resource tool to track how well the Biden administration is keeping to its word to make progress for the LGBTQ community. The more than 24 pro-equality moves in just the first 50 days are in stark contrast to the 181+ negative policies and rhetoric deployed against LGBTQ Americans by the previous administration.”
Ellis added, “We have a long way to go to recover lost ground, and GLAAD will continue to hold all accountable to the truth and to their promises to support LGBTQ people.”
Ellis also introduced the program in an editorial published in Openly, a news initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBTQ issues from around the world.
“The first 50 days have already revealed quite a bit — an administration promising action to address inequities faced by vulnerable people, including LGBT+ Americans,” Ellis wrote, “and those determined to use misinformation about our lives and our basic rights to be safe and to belong.”
The BEAT classifies “actions” as executive orders, support for a legislation, remarks made in statements or speeches, and nominations to positions overseen by President Biden.
The BEAT cited Biden’s executive orders seeking protections for LGBTQ people as prime examples of the force of Biden-Harris’s support for and prioritizing of LGBTQ people and their civil rights.
GLAAD also noted that on March 8, International Women’s Day, Biden announced an LGBTQ-inclusive Gender Policy Council intended to increase the “full participation of all people — including women and girls — across all aspects of our society.” According to the White House, the initiative’s goals include decreasing poverty, furthering education access, and improving the “health outcomes” of vulnerable groups. And the White House noted that LGBTQ people “suffer discrimination based on multiple factors, including membership in an under-served community.”
Listed on the BEAT tracker are eight out LGBTQ people who have been nominated or hired to key or groundbreaking posts within the Biden-Harris administration. GLAAD names Pete Buttigieg, who is Secretary of Transportation; Dr. Rachel Levine, who if confirmed will be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. Ned Price is the spokesperson for the Secretary of State, Karine Jean-Pierre is Deputy Press Secretary, Pili Tobar is Deputy Communications Director to the White House, Carlos Elizondo is the White House Social Secretary, Emmy Ruiz is the White House Director of Political Strategy and Outreach. Gautam Raghavan is the Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel.
Among out LGBTQ people within the administration, GLAAD lists Stuart F. Delery, Deputy Counsel to the President; Brendan Cohen, the President’s social media manager; Reggie Greer, the Director of Priority Placement and Senior Advisor on LGBTQ Issues to the President; Arlando Teller, deputy assistant secretary of Tribal Affairs in the Department of Transportation under Secretary Buttigieg; and Jeff Marootian, Special Assistant to the President for Climate and Science Agency Personnel.
Additionally, Rufus Gifford, former ambassador to Denmark and the unofficial “gay ambassador” of the Obama administration, is expected to be named Chief of Protocol.
GLAAD also cites the appointments of advocates or others to positions that will have an impact on the LGBTQ community. They include “12 professionals to the Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force,” which “address Covid-19 inequities” based on identity and other factors.
They also include Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Miguel Cardona’s confirmation as Secretary of Education, and Gina Raimondo’s confirmation as Secretary of Commerce as pro-LGBTQ moves.
The Trump-Pence administration was rife with anti-LGBTQ policy and initiatives. Among the worst were how the administration promoted religious freedom laws that undermined LGBTQ civil liberties and fought to maintain employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, trans and gender nonconforming people. Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the administration rolled back protections for trans students and promoted egregious bathroom bills. Trump also banned trans people from serving in the military. His HHS department released a 77 page list of restrictions on health and social services to LGBTQ people in the midst of a pandemic, including access to homeless shelters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo worked with the most anti-LGBTQ nations to undermine LGBTQ rights globally. Pompeo also focused USAID, the State Department’s international arm, on anti-LGBTQ actions and policy.
Ellis said, “We have a long way to go to recover lost ground, and GLAAD will continue to hold all accountable to the truth and to their promises to support LGBTQ people.”
Follow the Biden Equality Accountability Tracker at: www.glaad.org/biden-harris/.