HRC, other LGBTQ groups, endorse Biden-Harris for 2024

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday October 10, 2023
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The Human Rights Campaign and two other national LGBTQ organizations have endorsed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for reelection in 2024. Photo: Courtesy Bloomberg
The Human Rights Campaign and two other national LGBTQ organizations have endorsed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for reelection in 2024. Photo: Courtesy Bloomberg

Three national LGBTQ groups — including the Human Rights Campaign's political action committee — endorsed President Joe Biden's re-election campaign October 10 in their first joint endorsement.

Joining HRC are the Equality PAC and the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund (NCTE AF). The endorsement comes just months after HRC declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the United States, citing over 75 anti-LGBTQ bills signed into law in statehouses across the country in 2023 alone. (

"At a time when the forces of hatred seek to divide us by race, place and identity the choice in this election is clear," Kelley Robinson, a queer Black woman who is HRC's president, stated in a news release. "LGBTQ+ Americans are living in a state of emergency and the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration is needed now more than ever. In their first term, President Biden and Vice President Harris have worked closely with HRC and other advocates to secure historic, landmark victories for LGBTQ+ Americans — and we proudly endorse them and look forward to continuing that work together."

HRC endorsed Biden in 2020 after he'd wrapped up the Democratic nomination. In 2016, it controversially endorsed Hillary Clinton before any votes had been cast in the Democratic primary that year. This year, with Biden running for reelection without any major competition, and the likelihood of former President Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination, the decision by HRC and the other organizations to early endorse the Democratic ticket is seen as critical to advancing LGBTQ equality, the groups noted.

Combined, the three groups represent more than 60 million Americans across the country, the release stated. In their endorsement, the groups announced actions to activate and mobilize LGBTQ+ voters and their friends, families, and allies — including in critical battleground states. LGBTQ+ voters are one of the fastest growing voting blocs in the nation, especially in battleground states, and are projected to represent nearly one-fifth of voters by 2040, according to the release.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has espoused anti-vaccine rhetoric and entered the Democratic primary earlier this year, dropped out October 9 and is now running as an independent. The scion of the family once synonymous with the Democratic Party had been polling second behind Biden in several surveys. Some Democrats had worried that a Kennedy independent bid would hurt Biden, but now it's conservatives that are concerned, as current polling shows Kennedy is viewed more favorably by Republicans.

Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez was grateful for the endorsement, and used the opportunity to contrast Biden's record with that of the "MAGA Republicans," a favored phrase of the president's.

"Next year's election will determine whether LGBTQ+ Americans have more freedoms or less," Chavez Rodriguez stated. "Across the country, MAGA Republicans are hell-bent on taking away LGBTQ+ Americans' hard-fought freedoms and are using our fellow Americans' identities for political warfare. It's shameful and not who we are as a country. The stakes of this election could not be higher for LGBTQ+ Americans, and President Biden and Vice President Harris are committed to fighting for every American's fundamental freedoms."

Separately, HRC announced Biden would be giving the keynote address at the organization's national dinner Saturday, October 14, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

"We are incredibly excited, and humbled, to welcome President Biden and the first lady to our National Dinner. The Biden administration has been exceptional advocates and change-makers for LGBTQ+ people across this country and the world," Robinson stated.

Biden's LGBTQ record

The victories HRC's Robinson referred to include the Respect for Marriage Act that Biden signed last December. It repealed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which court decisions had rendered moot in light of the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor that struck a key provision of the law. The Respect for Marriage Act, which had bipartisan support when it was passed in 2022, required the federal government and all states and territories to recognize both same-sex and interracial marriages.

The act was passed after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas remarked that the court "should reconsider" the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Thomas made that comment in his 2022 concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that repealed the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.

On his first day in office in 2021, Biden also signed a wide-ranging executive order to extend anti-discrimination protections in federal agencies to LGBTQ people. As the Bay Area Reporter reported at the time, it put the government in compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which ruled that the ban on workplace sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covered LGBTQ people as well.

He signed another executive order in June 2022 that was intended "to address the significant disparities that LGBTQI+ youth face in the foster care system, the misuse of State and local child welfare agencies to target LGBTQI+ youth and families, and the mental health needs of LGBTQI+ youth," it states. It requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to step in and try to protect "LGBTQI+ individuals' access to medically necessary care from harmful State and local laws and practices," after a spate of state laws were proposed and passed limiting such.

"My administration must safeguard LGBTQI+ youth from dangerous practices like so-called 'conversion therapy' — efforts to suppress or change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression — a discredited practice that research indicates can cause significant harm, including higher rates of suicide-related thoughts and behaviors by LGBTQI+ youth," the order continued.

But Biden has taken some heat, too. For example, during this year's State of the Union address, the president mentioned his support for the proposed Kids Online Safety Act, championed by congressional Democrats but opposed by civil libertarians and others — including 100 parents of trans kids who, as the B.A.R. reported, signed an open letter stating that it could be weaponized against the LGBTQ community by Republican attorneys general.

The administration also, during an education department rule change, didn't put a categorical ban on schools refusing to allow trans students to play on teams that don't match their gender identities. Rather, such refusals must be based on a need to "minimize harms" and "be substantially related to the achievement of an important educational objective," as the B.A.R. reported.

"This proposed rule includes critical recognition of the importance of participating in sports for transgender youth and shows why 100% of the state bans are invalid," stated Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and director of its Nonbinary and Transgender Rights Project. "We are concerned about whether the proposed rule can properly eliminate the discrimination that transgender students experience due to the pervasive bias and ignorance about who they are."

Biden reelection essential for trans rights

The trans athlete issue has been one of the more popular topics of anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent years; the increase of which led HRC to declare its state of emergency several months ago. Ron DeSantis, Florida's governor and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is running on a "make America Florida" platform. He signed six anti-LGBTQ bills into law just this year. One, which restricts children from attending "lewd performances" and is aimed at drag performers, is already under a federal injunction, as the B.A.R. reported, until its constitutionality can be determined in court.

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the NCTE Action Fund, stated that Biden is an essential bulwark for trans civil rights.

"Without question, the Biden administration has been the strongest advocate for the needs of transgender Americans of any presidential administration in American history," Heng-Lehtinen stated. "Throughout his first term, President Biden has laid the groundwork for a new era of strengthened rights and improved well-being for transgender Americans. We anticipate and look forward to further momentum for the advancement of transgender rights that could be accomplished in a second term, and toward a future where collaborative initiatives continue to thrive.

"The pursuit of equality remains an ongoing journey, and the Biden administration's accomplishments of today lay a solid groundwork for an even more promising tomorrow," Heng-Lehtinen added.

Equality PAC's co-chairs are both gay Democratic congressmembers — Ritchie Torres (New York) and Mark Takano (California). They issued a joint statement also supporting the president.

"Equality PAC is proud to stand with the most pro-equality administration in the history of the United States — and we will do everything we can to help reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris next year," Takano and Torres stated. "Since taking office, President Biden and Vice President Harris have worked tirelessly to expand LGBTQ rights, protect our community, and advocate for passage of the Equality Act.

"The LGBTQ community is under seemingly constant attack from extremists that want to roll back history and take away the basic rights that we have fought for and won in recent years," Torres and Takano added. "It is critical that we elect strong allies into office at every level of our government, including the presidency and vice presidency — allies like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that will stand up for our community and speak out against injustice and hate. Make no mistake, LGBTQ rights are on the ballot in 2024 — and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the only candidates where we can put our faith, trust, and vote next year."

Other statewide and local LGBTQ organizations have yet to make endorsements.

Equality California, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club did not return requests for comment for this report by press time. The Alice club's PAC has so far only voted on a recommendation that the club hold in November an early endorsement vote for Congressmember Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who last month ended speculation about her possible retirement by announcing she would seek reelection in 2024.

The Milk club's PAC will be voting Tuesday night on its endorsement recommendations for various races that will be on the March 5 primary ballot, including that of president. The club members will vote on its endorsements at its October 17 membership meeting.

Locally, HRC will be holding its fundraising dinner at the Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square, 335 Powell Street, Saturday, October 21, at 7 p.m. Regular tickets are $375. Robinson will be in attendance, as will special guest gay actor Zane Phillips. Gay Asian actor Joel Kim Booster will receive the Visibility Award and Leanne Pittsford, CEO of Lesbians Who Tech and Allies, will receive the Equality Award. Gay Realtor Gary Hilbert will receive the Charles M. Holmes Award.

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