Issues at Stake in the 2020 Election

As we look at the 2020 election, we need to address the harm that the current administration has done to our families and communities.

Archived: November 9, 2020

Family Equality is non-partisan. This means we support any candidate or political party that lifts up LGBTQ+ equality and works to end institutionalized racism. However, as we look toward the 2020 election, we can’t ignore the harm that our current Administration has had on our families.

In case you need a refresher, this page explores the actions that the Trump Administration has taken against our families and community members who live in poverty, are people of color, are transgender or gender non-conforming, are not of a dominant religion, are not able-bodied, or belong to other marginalized identities. Use this page to guide necessary conversations with your networks ahead of the 2020 election.

As you review, keep in mind: ELECTIONS MATTER. (Every election, not only the 2020 election).

Check your voter registration status

Every year, millions of eligible voters are unable to cast a ballot because of a missed registration deadline, outdated registration information, or other problems with voter registration. We cannot afford to lose your vote in the 2020 election!

Why We Need LGBTQ+ Families to Vote

Family Equality’s work centers on LGBTQ+ families and those who seek to form them. But we are also committed to serving the intersecting communities that our families belong to. That includes those who occupy identities that have been traditionally kept away from and out of power. In our 40 years of serving these communities, we’ve seen one simple truth: All our voices need to be heard.

And there’s no greater megaphone than your vote.

Your voice can make a difference in the lives of disempowered Americans who have been further marginalized by this Administration. The path forward is easy:

  1. Make a plan to vote.
  2. Engage in necessary conversations with family and friends. Help, them make a plan to vote.
  3. VOTE.

What’s at stake in the 2020 election

In 2015, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell made marriage equality the law of the land. In that decision, and later in the Pavan ruling, the Court made it clear that “the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to in marriage” included parenting and family formation.

Nevertheless, the Administration worked overtime to reduce the ability of same-sex couples—and LGBTQ+ people in general—to form families.

Licenses to Discriminate

  • To begin, on January 23, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a waiver to South Carolina allowing Miracle Hill and other taxpayer-funded faith-based foster care agencies to continue to turn away Jewish foster parents and mentors. Additionally, the waiver allowed Miracle Hill to turn away any parent who didn’t adhere to their interpretation of Protestant Christianity. Faith-based agencies in South Carolina used this waiver to turn away LGBTQ+ people seeking to be foster parents and mentors.
  • Then, on February 7, 2019, President Trump spoke up in support of continuing to federally fund a foster care agency that turns away same-sex couples. But this agency’s discriminatory policies violated HHS’ non-discrimination policies.
  • In the past, HHS maintained a rule that prohibited adoption and foster care agencies from discriminating against same-sex couples, transgender people, and religious minorities. On November 1, 2019, HHS proposed a change in that regulation. 

    Even though the primary target of this proposed rule is families, the change would have a far-reaching impact. Specifically, it would allow any taxpayer-funded grantee to discriminate across the full swath of HHS programs.

    For more information on this rule, see Family Equality’s work around that proposed regulation here.

Immigration Rules

  • The Trump Administration interpreted immigration rules for some married same-sex families with a child born abroad via surrogacy to be considered “born out of wedlock.” This creates a barrier to obtaining US citizenship for the child, even when one or both parents are  US citizens.
  • In addition to the Administration proposing a change to the HHS grants anti-discrimination rule (see above), it announced that it would stop enforcing the existing anti-discrimination rule. Family Equality has sued HHS over that decision.
  • In May 2020, HHS finalized a rule that cut planned data collection on the sexual orientation of youth in foster care. Also, it cut data collection on the orientation of foster or adoptive parents or guardians. These questions were previously added to ensure that child welfare outcomes could be improved for LGBTQ youth. Additionally, these questions were necessary tools for holding families and states accountable for these outcomes.

Data Collection

  • HHS removed demographic questions about LGBTQ+ people in an annual report that helps them evaluate programs for people with disabilities.
  • In March 2017, HHS announced that its national survey of older adults would no longer collect information on transgender participants. Program design and provision are based on this survey. As a result, this action means that older transgender adults may not receive urgently needed services.
  • Also in March 2017, the Census Bureau retracted a proposal to collect data on LGBTQ+ people in the 2020 Census.

Erasure in Programs and Services

  • On inauguration day, the Administration removed every mention of LGBTQ+ people from major government websites. For instance, the White House, Department of State, and the Department of Labor websites all erased mention of LGBTQ+ people.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would withdraw two important policies to protect LGBT people experiencing homelessness. The first proposed policy would have required HUD-funded shelters to put up a “notice” of their residents’ right to be free from anti-LGBT discrimination. The other policy announced a survey to evaluate the impact of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative. HUD and other agencies implemented this initiative over the previous three years, and the project should be evaluated. With this withdrawal, we may never learn what parts of this project worked to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
  • Also, the Trump administration released a statement opposing the passage of the Equality Act. The bill extends civil rights protections to LGBTQ people. In particular, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in a lot of programs and services. This includes employment, credit, housing, pubic accommodations (including foster care and adoption) and others.

Title IX Guidance

  • The Administration rescinded Title IX guidance which instructed public schools to treat students according to their gender identity. For instance, this guidance told schools to use students’ preferred names and pronouns. Also, it instructed schools to allow students access to facilities, like bathrooms, that match their gender identity. 
  • The Departments of Justice and Education withdrew landmark 2016 guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students.
  • This Administration also weakened Title IX protections against sexual harassment and assault in schools.
  • In addition, the Administration determined that Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender student-athletes to compete on teams consistent with their gender identity violates Title IX.

CARES Act Funding

  • Finally, the Administration proposed a new rule to require school districts to give private schools more CARES Act funding. Private schools do not have the same requirements to provide equal access to education, so this rule would harm students with disabilities.

Take Action Now

As shown above, the next steps are simple. Commit to voting whenever that opportunity is available to you.

To get started making a plan for voting, check your registration status here.