The Democratic National Convention continues tonight with speeches from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Vice Presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Over the last eight years, the Obama Administration has made history advocating for equality and transforming through policy and leadership the lives of countless LGBTQ people and their families. And Kaine, who will accept his party’s nomination tonight, has a solid commitment to LGBTQ equality.
Christine Leinonen, the mother of Drew Leinonen, who was killed in the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last month, will also address the crowd, along with Brandon Wolf and Jose Arraigada, survivors of the attack that took the lives of 49 LGBTQ people and allies, almost all Latinx.
Georgia-based HIV activist Daniel Driffin is also slated to speak. Driffin will be the first openly HIV-positive speaker at a major party convention in 16 years.
Vice Presidential Nominee Senator Tim Kaine
In addition to supporting marriage equality, Kaine is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act -- federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under our existing civil rights laws. One of Kaine’s first actions as Virginia Governor in 2006 was to sign an executive order adding sexual orientation protections to the non-discrimination policy for state workers.
Kaine also recently signed onto an amicus brief in the 2nd Circuit case, Christiansen v Omnicom Group Inc., arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He has voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
President Barack Obama
President Obama’s legacy of progress on LGBTQ equality is unmatched in our nation’s history. As the first sitting President to embrace marriage equality and advocate for the equal rights of all Americans, he has signed the only signature pieces of LGBTQ-inclusive legislation to be passed by Congress: the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the first-ever LGBTQ-inclusive Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
The Obama Administration has also made a record number of appointments of LGBTQ judges and ambassadors, and has proactively instituted many far-reaching administrative and regulatory policy changes that have dramatically improved the lives of LGBTQ people in all 50 states and around the world.
In a watershed moment for transgender equality, earlier this year the Obama Administration issued new guidance for school districts to ensure that transgender students are treated with dignity and respect in public and federally-funded school -- including having equal access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity. While reflecting on the guidance in Buzzfeed News interview, President Obama said, “We're talking about kids and anybody who's been in school ...who's been a parent ... should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority -- kids who have a different sexual orientation or are transgender -- are subject to a lot of bullying potentially. They are vulnerable. ... it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly and our kids are all loved... protected and that their dignity is affirmed.”
He and Vice President Biden also support the Equality Act. And last month, President Obama designated the park at Stonewall in New York City as the first-ever national monument in the U.S. National Park system dedicated to telling the story of the LGBTQ American experience.
Vice President Joe Biden
As Vice President of the United States, Vice President Biden has played an integral role in the Obama Administration’s unprecedented legacy of progress for the LGBT community.
At HRC’s 2015 Spring Equality Convention, the Vice President called for the passage of new federal LGBT non-discrimination protections. "We have to pass the federal non-discrimination legislation, and we need to pass it now,” said Biden. A few months later, the landmark Equality Act was introduced in Congress.
At an HRC event in Los Angeles last year, Biden highlighted the importance of defending LGBT rights abroad in the United States’ foreign policy agenda, and he joined HRC President Chad Griffin during the World Economic Forum in February, for a round-table discussion on LGBTQ equality with business leaders from across the globe.
Read more about all the Administration's advancements on behalf of the LGBTQ Americans here.
The combination of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine make for the most pro-equality ticket in history. Hillary Clinton has made LGBTQ equality a pillar of her campaign, including calling it her “highest priority” to pass and sign into law the Equality Act. In addition, she supports the military’s decision ending the ban on open transgender military service, is fighting to outlaw dangerous and debunked “conversion therapy” for minors and is calling for an end to the epidemic of transgender violence. Read more on Clinton’s strong LGBTQ platform and record here.
Clinton-Kaine stand in stark contrast with the Republican ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Among his anti-equality positions, Trump has vowed to rescind marriage equality and pledged to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would overturn last year’s historic Obergefell marriage equality ruling. He has pledged to sign the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which could allow individuals, many businesses, and nonprofit organizations to circumvent critical federal protections and blatantly discriminate against LGBTQ families.
Pence, in a now notorious interview with ABC last year, refused to answer eight separate times when asked whether businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Pence became a national disgrace in 2015 for his “license to discriminate” bill -- which threatened to allow businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people -- and for subsequently defending the bill after an outcry from the business community and a majority of Hoosier voters.
Read more on how Trump and Pence would put LGBTQ equality at risk here on HRC’s new “Dump Trump” site.
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