President-elect Joe Biden will make LGBTQ rights a priority in his administration. Biden has repeatedly stressed to advocates that he would move swiftly to repeal several of Donald Trump’s executive orders.
Biden specifically plans to reverse the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military members. Restoring nondiscrimination requirements for federal contractors and creating high-level LGBTQ-rights positions in federal agencies are also priorities.
The president-elect’s plan also calls for passage of an omnibus LGBTQ rights bill, the Equality Act, within his first 100 days in office. The proposed legislation has languished in Congress during the Trump administration.
But passage of the bill is far from assured. While Democrats retain control of the House of Representatives, a special election in Georgia will decide the fate of the Senate majority. Both Senate seats in the Peach State are up for grabs; Democrats will get control off the Senate if both Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock win their races in January, allowing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to cast the deciding vote.
Without winning the two seats, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will return as Senate majority leader. He has already promised to derail any of Biden’s cabinet nominations, picks for the federal judiciary, and legislative priorities.
Neither Ossoff or Warnock have ever been elected to office before, but both have pledged to be strong allies for LGBTQ causes in the Senate.
Rev. Warnock in particular has a long track record in support of LGBTQ people. As the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor, he has carried on King’s tradition of advocating civil rights, while including the LGBTQ community.
“There are gay sisters and brothers all around us,” Warnock told his congregation in 2012.“The church needs to be honest about human sexuality. Some of them are on the usher board, they greeted you this morning.”
Ossoff was an investigative reporter and Congressional aide before running for office. “I will fight for marriage equality. I will fight for adoption rights for gay couples,” Ossoff told Project Q Atlanta in September, “and I will oppose cynical legislative efforts to marginalize and discriminate against LGBT Americans.”