President Joe Biden arrives at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Marietta, Ga., en route to Atlanta to attend the presidential debate. Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Biden is Courting LGBTQ+ Voters in New York City


President Joe Biden will court LGBTQ+ voters at a pair of New York City events a day after his widely panned performance against Donald Trump in the presidential campaign's first debate.

Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks at Friday's grand opening of a visitor center at the Stonewall National Monument, which was the scene of a defining moment in the gay rights movement. The Democratic incumbent will then headline an evening Pride Month fundraiser with LGBTQ+ advocates.

Even before the debate, Biden was trying to boost support within the Democratic-leaning community after losing ground with Black and Latino adults and other demographic groups that helped elect him in 2020, and whose strong backing he needs to win reelection in November.

About 4 in 10 LGBTQ+ identifying adults approve of how Biden is handling his job as president, according to Gallup data collected in 2024. That's in line with the share of the general population that approves of the president's job performance. About 7 in 10 LGBTQ+ voters supported Biden in the 2020 election, according to AP VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of voters and nonvoters.

Biden's stance on LGBTQ+ issues has evolved throughout his decades of public service.

As a U.S. senator, he voted in 1996 for the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal recognition of same-sex unions.

Then, more than a decade later, Biden as vice president declared in 2012 on "Meet the Press" that he supported gay marriage, upstaging his boss, President Barack Obama, who had not yet stated his position on the issue. Obama said he supported gay marriage shortly thereafter.

As president, Biden has acted to protect the rights of gay and transgender people, such as reinstating antidiscrimination provisions eliminated by then-President Trump. Biden also ended a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Two years ago, the president signed legislation into law to protect gay unions, particularly if the Supreme Court should overturn its landmark 2015 decision that same-sex couples had a right to marry. Earlier this week, Biden pardoned potentially thousands of former U.S. service members who had been convicted of violating a now-repealed military ban on consensual gay sex.

By contrast, Trump has criticized what he calls transgender "insanity" and has said he would move quickly to reinstate the ban on their service in the military if reelected. He also has panned gender-affirming care for transgender minors along with their ability to play on sports teams.

Cait Smith, director of LGBTQ+ policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington, said Biden has a close relationship with the community.

"He has a pretty long history of moving very quickly with the community and with where our needs are, even with the kind of gridlock we have in Congress," Smith said.

Winnie Stachelberg, a longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, said Biden has always been about "meeting people where they are."

"He wasn't just in the right place on the policy. He was a partner and a friend and a collaborator when it came to the community," said Stachelberg, a former political director for the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ+ civil rights. "Both are important but it's really essential to have someone who understands the community in addition to someone who is an effective policy maker and president."

The new Stonewall visitor center occupies half of the original Stonewall Inn, which once spanned two neighboring buildings in New York's Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan. In the late 1960s, it was a gay bar where a young LGBTQ+ crowd went to dance at a time when dancing with or kissing a same-sex partner could get people arrested.

Police raids were frequent and usually generated little if any pushback. But when officers strode into the Stonewall Inn early on June 28, 1969, for the second time that week, customers and a gathering crowd outside confronted them with shouts of "gay power!" followed by hurled coins, bottles and more.

Protests and clashes with police continued the next several nights and, in the ensuing months and years, led to a new, more fulsome and more militant wave of LGTBQ+ rights activism than had existed before in the U.S. Within a year, a raft of new groups had formed to demand rights and recognition, and what became annual Pride marches began on the Stonewall anniversary.

The site of the rebellion, including both buildings that made up the original Stonewall Inn, became a National Historic Landmark in 2000. In 2016, then-President Obama made it the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ+ history.

The original Stonewall Inn closed soon after the raid. A new version of the bar has occupied one of the two buildings since the 1990s, but the space that's now the visitor center was adapted to various other uses and then sat vacant in recent years.

Overseen by the National Park Service and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Pride Live, the $3.2 million visitor center was financed chiefly with private donations, except for $450,000 from the park service's charitable arm, which gets private and federal money.

Biden was arriving in New York after rallying supporters at a post-debate event in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has other fundraisers Saturday on New York's Long Island and Red Bank, New Jersey, before a scheduled return to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.


Superville reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writer Linley Sanders in Washington contributed to this report.

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