by Joe Siegel
(This is the fifth in a planned series of interviews with local media professionals who have covered candidates as they announce their presidential candidacy.)
Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as the frontrunner in a crowded – and growing – Democratic presidential field. And Biden, 76, has already won the endorsement of LGBTQ activists.
|Former VP Joe Biden|
“From his support for inclusive hate crimes protections in the U.S. Senate to his leadership on marriage equality as vice president, Joe Biden has been a vocal champion of equality,” Sarah McBride, a transgender woman from Delaware who is a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Blade.
In 2012, Biden publicly endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples before then-President Obama. “Discrimination against anyone for their sexual orientation and gender is anathema to most basic values,” said Biden.
Another new contender is Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. Moulton, 40, is an Iraq War veteran first elected in 2014. At the time, he won the endorsement of The Rainbow Times (TRT) of Boston for his support of LGBT rights.
“At the forefront of many LGBT issues is the transgender community, who are fighting for equal protection under the law as it relates to gender identity,” Aaron Bartnick, Seth Moulton campaign spokesperson told TRT. “Seth is a firm supporter of transgender rights and will fight for the equality of all Americans in Congress.” Including transgender rights is in his agenda is one of the reasons TRT endorsed Moulton.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, 58, has also received praise for his support of LGBT rights. “He was there early on marriage equality, and has steered the city toward a completely flexible position on transgender folks changing their birth certificates — no requirements for affidavits from doctors or mental health practitioners and one can designate an X rather than a M or F on the certificate,” said Paul Schindler, editor of Gay City News. “He's also been very strong on bathroom access issues.”
But Schindler faults de Blasio for failing to take on bullying in the city’s schools: “I don't think [he] has shown particular leadership here.”
Another newly announced candidate, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, 54, supports same-sex marriage and lauded the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision which resulted in legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Bennet is also an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act.
"It's past time we ensure our laws are entirely free from discrimination and protect all members of the LGBTQ community," Bennet said."Fortunately, LGBTQ Coloradans already enjoy many of these protections. This bill will ensure that every American has the same protections and opportunities regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, 53, has also been a staunch advocate for LGBT rights. In 2016, Bullock signed an executive order that banned discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2013, Bullock signed into law a bill decriminalizing sodomy. “I am not going to speak too long because, frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this embarrassing and unconstitutional law stays on the books,” Bullock said during the signing ceremony.
According to The Advocate, Bullock “wasn't always known as a red state hero for marriage equality. … In 2010, Bullock as attorney general of Montana filed a motion asking courts to dismiss a lawsuit led by seven same-sex couples who sought equal rights as opposite-sex married couples. The Montana constitution at the time defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Bullock argued the court does not have the authority to compel states to extend spousal benefits.”
Much of a candidate’s past can be mined from LGBTQ media coverage in their home state or city, much as Chicago’s Windy City Times made national headlines in 2009 when the newspaper reported out the complete answers then-state senate candidate Obama gave in 1996 to a questionnaire from Outlines newspaper (which merged with Windy City Times in 2000). That survey showed that Obama supported marriage equality, even though he supported only civil unions for same-sex couples in 2009.
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