The importance of LGBTQ rights was a common refrain for the Biden-Harris on the campaign trail. President-elect Biden regularly repeated a telling story about the first time he saw two men kissing in 1961 (read the story from 2018 in People Magazine). Biden is also undeniably the only President that has an understanding of \the transgender experience, in part thanks to his close relationship with trans leaders such as Rep. Sarah McBride. His commitment to continuing the change he started during the Obama years is well articulated on his campaign website LGBTQ+ section titled “The Biden plan to advance equality in America and around the World”.
Most LGBTQ+ organizations in the US are hopeful we will regain the momentum on LGBTQ+ equality at home and abroad. The consensus is that a better world for LGBTQ+ people than the one in which we live today is possible and that leadership from the White House can have a transformational effect.
Not every segment of society is delighted with these commitments by the Biden administration though. The Washington Post just published a piece titled How a Biden presidency could advance transgender rights — and lead to backlash. The article notes that four out of ten Americans are still not supportive towards transgender rights. It also mentions how local legislators from South Dakota to Texas are introducing a multitude of anti-trans legislations to counteract what they feel is a federal push of “leftist values”.
Similarly, the Biden-Harris ticket’s clear commitment to “End the misuse of broad exemptions to discriminate” – referring to the plethora of so-called religious bills– is controversial for the many Americans that are concerned LGBTQ+ rights conflict with their religious beliefs. An October 20th report by the Williams Institute on religious refusals shows about 30 to 35% support for such exemptions among people surveyed.
Two weeks ago a case was argued at the Supreme Court on Catholic Social Services’ refusal to screen same-sex couples as foster care parents in Philadelphia, placing Pennsylvania already on the map. A decision in the case is expected later in the court term which means I will be back to monitoring the SCOTUS blog next May/June as this is an issue which matters to the private sector which find its employees striking a balance between religious freedom and LGBTQ+ rights at work everyday.
Several transition memos have been circulating on LGBTQ+ rights for the Biden administration to continue encourage the administration to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ officials in its appointments and take bold steps in the first 100 days:
Out Leadership’s CEO Todd Sears also welcomed the election of Joe Biden on November 9th in a statement titled Election of President Biden: an opportunity for LGBTQ+ business community to consolidate gains and bridge the “cultural gap”.
Yesterday I convened several corporate leaders, including industry association representatives, for a conversation introducing by former LGBTQ White House Czar Richard Socarides on moving the needle when it comes to LGBTQ+ protections in the workplace, LGBTQ+ representation in the C-suite and the Boardroom and leveraging the power of the US private sector for global LGBTQ+ equality in the next four years.
Out Leadership will issue our own recommendations in the form of a Transition Memo next week which suggests enrolling the private sector in the efforts of the Biden administration for the following reasons:
The Biden administration should rely on corporate leaders and companies to implement its ambitious agenda on LGBTQ+ rights. Out Leadership and its 80+ members companies stand ready to help: the private sector is well positioned to bridge the cultural gap in America.
If you have suggestions on what our Out Leadership transition memo should contain, do not hesitate to reach out to our Managing Director, Global Advocacy, Fabrice Houdart – You can email him here.