Joe Biden Says He Will Pass Equality Act in First 100 Days as President

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 30, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says if he prevails in the upcoming election, he will dedicate himself to passing the long-sought Equality Act within his first 100 days in the Oval Office, Reuters reports.

"I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days - a priority that Donald Trump opposes," Biden declared in an interview, conducted via email, with Mark Segal, the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News.

"The Trump administration opposed the Equality Act, saying it would 'undermine parental and conscience rights,' and has also restricted queer rights in the name of religious liberty," the Reuters article noted.

As previously reported at EDGE, The Equality Act was first introduced in 1974 and has been modified and reintroduced from time to time since then, most recently in 2019, when the Democrat-led House passed the legislation. The Equality Act has been mired in the Republican-led Senate since then.

The bill proposes an amendment to the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. The fix would extend federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

Though there is a patchwork of protections across America, with some cities and states extending protections to varying degrees, there is no similar federal provision for such protection.

A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last June upheld part of the current interpretation of the Civil Rights Act's protections for LGBTQ Americans in the workplace. That ruling defied the Trump administration, which sought to strip LGBTQ workers of those protections.

But although the court affirmed that workplace nondiscrimination extends to LGBTQ people, that ruling is no guarantee that LGBTQ rights can withstand the Trump administration's continued attacks. As attorney Chris Wilkinson told Bloomberg Law after the ruling, "The government leaves alone the broader protection of the employment law but then chips away at it through religious exemption efforts."

Moreover, LGBTQ Americans are still legally vulnerable in a host of other ways, which The Equality Act would address by updating the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection and Services Act.

Biden also swore to back U.S. efforts to support LGTBQ people globally, a task that the Trump administration has paid lip service to but has done little to advance.

By contrast, Biden promised that he would "stand up to bullies and once more put human rights at the center of America's engagement with the world."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.