Joe Biden is facing calls to give trans and non-binary people the legal recognition they need with “X” markers on passports.
Under current rules, people must identify as either male or female on United States passports, meaning non-binary people are effectively forced to misgender themselves on official documentation.
Joe Biden promised to introduce a third “X” marker for non-binary people on passports and social security cards during his presidential campaign – however, no such change has been enacted.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched its “They the People” campaign in 2020 in a bid to win legal recognition for non-binary people.
The ACLU is now planning to deliver a petition to the Biden administration on 31 March – Trans Day of Visibility – calling on the president to sign an executive order introducing “X” markers for non-binary people.
The petition, which has been signed more than 70,000 times, notes that trans and non-binary people have endured state-sanctioned discrimination over the last four years in the United States.
“The new administration has assured us they will work to undo this damage, so we must hold them accountable to their words,” the ACLU’s petition says.
“There’s one important action Biden-Harris can take right away to show that they respect and support our trans communities: Give us access to accurate identification,” the organisation adds.
Joe Biden urged to introduce gender-neutral passports in first 100 days
The ACLU asks Joe Biden to sign an executive order introducing “X” markers within his first 100 days in office.
The organisation’s They the People campaign notes that “X” markers on official documentation would allow trans and non-binary people to travel, apply for jobs and enter public establishments “without risk of harassment or harm”.
The Biden administration provided an update on plans to introduce an “X” marker on passports and social security cards in February.
White House spokesperson Matt Hill told The 19th that, while there was no timeline yet, Joe Biden remained committed to introducing gender-neutral IDs.
In a statement, Hill said: “President Biden remains committed to advancing state and federal efforts that allow transgender and non-binary Americans to update their identification documents to accurately reflect their gender identity, especially as transgender and non-binary people continue to face harassment or are denied access to services because their identification documents don’t affirm their identity.”
An anti-LGBT+ bishop from Nigeria has suggested that if Joe Biden wants the country to decriminalise homosexuality, he should take a Nigerian man as his “second wife”.
The angry tirade comes after Biden vowed to advance the cause of LGBT+ rights around the world, threatening financial sanctions on regimes deemed to have infringed on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people.
A memo signed by Biden on 4 February instructed US government agencies to “strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalisation by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct”.
It added: “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
Preacher says Joe Biden should come to Nigeria and marry a man
Speaking to African outlet Sahara Reporters, bishop Emmah Isong of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria hit out at Biden in the wake of the memo, defending Nigeria’s laws criminalising homosexuality.
He said: “I personally take it as a rumour that America wants to sanction governments that are anti-gay. The US has not communicated officially with the government of Nigeria.
“Let there be an official gazetted letter signed by the Secretary of State of the United States telling us to become gay, then we invite the president of the US to come and marry a man in Nigeria as his second wife.
“He must practise what he’s preaching, if the president of America wants Nigeria to practise gay, he should come and marry a man from here so we will know he means business.”
He added: “Every nation is equal in the comity of nations. America is a country that believes in the tenets of democracy which is freedom of speech, and I believe that Nigeria is an independent nation, we are not a nation under America.
“We are not among the states under American nation. We have the right to be anti-gay, I believe no one can sanction us for that.
“If they sanction us for being against gays, we can sanction them for believing in it… the worst thing they can do is raise their visa fees and we raise ours too and they reduce it and apologise and we also reduce ours and apologise.”
Nigeria maintains strict anti-gay laws
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria and is punished by up to 14 years in prison.
A law passed by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 bans same-sex relationships, and also makes a person who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly make public show of same-sex amorous relationship” liable for 10 years in prison.
In October, a judge threw out charges against 47 men arrested under the country’s anti-gay law after a raid on a hotel.
A lesbian mother published a poignant open letter in Between the Lines this week urging president Joe Biden to support LGBT+ families during his administration.
Writing to Biden ahead of his historic inauguration Wednesday (20 January), Dana Rudolph, founder and publisher of Mombian, painted a troubling picture of an America where four years of Trump have gutted protections won under the previous Obama administration, of which Biden was a part.
She began by explaining her young son’s fears for their family.
“My son was just a few months too young to vote in the last election, but watched it with great concern, for its results would directly impact him and his family
“Would the next administration be one that treated his family with equality? Would it view families like his as part of the rich fabric of American diversity or as aberrations? I’d like to think he has reason for hope.”
The letter referenced a New York Times article which reported that at a 2012 fundraiser, when pressed about marriage equality, Biden spoke about the young children of a gay couple.
He reportedly said: “I look at those two beautiful kids. I wish everybody could see this. All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder; no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”
“Marriage equality didn’t hinge on these encounters alone,” Rudolph continued. “It was the work of thousands of people over many years — but your remarks were a turning point for the administration’s willingness to back it publicly. I hope that as president, you will continue to champion equality for all families.”
Rudolph also wrote about the two lesbian mothers in Biden’s administration: principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and deputy White House communications director Pili Tobar. While neither will work directly on LGBT+ policy, she shared her hope that their very presence will remind the president “that all parents and our children deserve equality”. She also made the important point that LGBT+ families are not just impacted by child services and healthcare policy.
“There are no areas of your administration that will not touch us, for we are woven into the fabric of the American people.”
She closed the letter by speaking again about her son, writing: “I want the country in which my son reaches adulthood to be one of equality, justice and compassion, not only for LGBTQ people and families but for all.
“I’m sure that as a parent yourself, you know what it is like to want such good for your children. Please be the president our country, and our country’s children, need.”
Biden has a largely strong track record on LGBT+ rights – though he has not always been a perfect ally. Today, however, he is considered a powerful ally, especially now that he has taken office.
I’m writing you this open letter as you prepare to take office as president. My son was just a few months too young to vote in the last election, but watched it with great concern, for its results would directly impact him and his family. Would the next administration be one that treated our family with equality? Would it view families like ours as part of the rich fabric of American diversity or as aberrations?
I’d like to think he has reason for hope. Since this is an open letter, I’ll recap one example, though I’m sure you remember: In 2012, you attended a fundraiser held at the Los Angeles home of husbands Michael Lombardo, an HBO executive, and Sonny Ward, an architect. As reported by Jo Becker in the New York Times, political strategist Chad Griffin (later head of HRC) saw you talking with the men’s two young children and was motivated to ask you your stance on marriage equality.
According to Becker, you responded: “I look at those two beautiful kids. I wish everybody could see this. All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder, no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”
You said this at a time when the Obama administration was still officially opposed to marriage equality. Some thought your remarks were a planned “trial balloon” for the issue; Becker disagreed, but said that they “inadvertently set off a chain reaction.” Either way, within weeks, President Obama announced his support for marriage equality, relating that his own daughters had friends with same-sex parents and “I know it wouldn’t dawn on them that their friends’ parents should be treated differently.”
Marriage equality didn’t hinge on these encounters alone—it was the work of thousands of people over many years—but your remarks were a turning point for the administration’s willingness to back it publicly. I hope that as president, you will continue to champion equality for all families.
I am encouraged that you have named two lesbian moms and one transgender parent to your administration: Karine Jean-Pierre as principal deputy press secretary, Pili Tobar as deputy White House communications director, and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health. And Pete Buttigieg, whom you nominated as secretary of transportation, was asked during his own presidential run if he and his husband might start a family while in the White House. “I don’t see why not,” he replied. Perhaps this might happen even as he takes on a different role.
While their work will not revolve around LGBTQ issues, I hope that their presence will continue to remind you that all parents and our children deserve equality. Despite the progress made under President Obama, that equality has been chipped away at during President Trump’s time in office. Even now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case about whether taxpayer-funded child service agencies can claim the right, on religious grounds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people, people of different faiths, and others. This would reduce the number of otherwise-eligible homes for children in need and could mean that LGBTQ youth get placed with families that don’t support their identities. That case aside, eleven states now allow child service agencies to cite their religious or moral beliefs as a reason to discriminate against someone; nine of them permit it even if the agency receives taxpayer money.
Additionally, on January 7, the day after insurrectionists stormed the capitol, the Trump administration finalized a rule that will allow foster care and adoption agencies, along with other public health and social service organizations receiving taxpayer funds, to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. LGBTQ populations are among the most vulnerable here. LGBTQ organizations are already suing HHS for other recent discriminatory policies; you could save everyone time and money, while helping those in need, by changing these policies as soon as possible.
To guide you, the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, a coalition of LGBTQ, civil rights, and faith organizations, has released a set of policy recommendations to set us on a renewed path towards inclusive, affirming care for LGBTQ youth and families, people of color, and people with disabilities within the child welfare system. I hope you will take these recommendations seriously.
Equity for LGBTQ families—and all families—goes beyond just child services and healthcare, however. It extends into educational policy, housing, employment practices, and even foreign policy, for we LGBTQ families exist around the world. There are no areas of your administration that will not touch us, for we are woven into the fabric of the American people.
I hope our voices (broadly speaking, not just those in your administration) are among the many you will listen to in order to guide our country forward. I am not asking you to prioritize LGBTQ families above any others, but rather to ensure that your policies include and protect us equally so that we have the same chance to thrive. The more Americans who thrive, the stronger and better our country will be as a whole.
I want the country in which my son reaches adulthood to be one of equality, justice, and compassion, not only for LGBTQ people and families, but for all. I’m sure that as a parent yourself, you know what it is like to want such good for your children. Please be the president our country—and our country’s children—need.
Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.
Continuing to lead the legion of stars and celebrities hoping to unseat Donald Trump next Tuesday, Cher performed a special tribute to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden.
Cher dusted off the Oscar-nominated tune Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe from the 1943 film Cabin in the Sky, part of a concert aimed at increasing turnout. The I Will Vote Concert also featured performances by John Legend, P!nk, Ben Platt, Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter, and Darren Criss. Comedian George Lopez and Ana Navarro hosted the event.
Related: Joe Biden unveils latest secret weapon: Cher
The Fab Five of the Netflix show Queer Eye (really, who better?) introduced Cher, who performed the song with retooled lyrics aimed at Biden’s experience and ability to confront the ongoing crisis facing the nation.
Have a listen, and remember to vote on November 3.
Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Pete Buttigieg has been tapped to serve in a key role on the presidential transition team of his former rival Joe Biden.
Biden is currently putting together a transition team, which will lay the groundwork for him to take office in January if he triumphs over Donald Trump in the 3 November election.
Buttigieg, who exploded onto the national scene before ending his pioneering bid for president back in March, has been appointed to a 15-person advisory board for Biden’s transition team.
Joe Biden hires Pete Buttigieg for transition team role.
According to CNN, other advisory board members include former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
Former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, who will co-chair the transition team, said: “We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy. This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.
“The co-chairs, advisory board, and senior staff are a diverse group of experts who are committed to helping a possible Biden-Harris administration beat the public health crisis and put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs.”
Buttigieg tweeted: “The character of our country is on the ballot.”
The Indiana mayor was previously promised a key role by Biden when he dropped out in March.
Biden had said: “I did speak to Pete Buttigieg a couple of days ago to encourage him to stay engaged because he has enormous talent.
“I indicated to him that if I become the nominee, I’d come and ask him to be part of the administration, to be engaged in moving things forward.”
Former presidential candidate has been vocal in his support for Biden.
Since the election, Buttigieg has taken up an academic post at the University of Notre Dame, and has continued to stump for Biden.
Last month he gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention that touched on the presidential candidate’s history of supporting LGBT+ rights.
He explained: “Just over 10 years ago, I joined a military where firing me because of who I am wasn’t just possible – it was policy. Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire anyone because of who they are or who they love.
“The very ring on my finger – a wedding we celebrated right where I’m standing – reflects how this country can change.
‘Love makes my marriage real, but political courage made it possible – including that of Joe Biden, who stepped out ahead of even this party when he said that marriage equality should be the law of the land.”
It’s Monday (again). A lot happened over the weekend. Here’s just some of what you might have missed…
HANGIN’ UP THE THONG: Joe Manganiello says he won’t be appearing in any more Magic Mike films. [People]
TALKIN’ TRASH: Donald Trump‘s older sister, Maryanne, blasts him for being a liar, fake, and “cruel” in leaked audio recording. [Washington Post]
FIRST LOOK: Netflix releases images from Ryan Murphy‘s upcoming Boys In The Band remake, which premieres September 30.
New York City, 1968. Meet THE BOYS IN THE BAND, Joe Mantello’s film adaptation of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking gay drama, starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington & Tuc Watkins pic.twitter.com/9U52ZFKTjm