Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

American flags and a pride flag hang from the White House during a Pride Month celebration on the South Lawn, June 10, 2023, in Washington. (AP) American flags and a pride flag hang from the White House during a Pride Month celebration on the South Lawn, June 10, 2023, in Washington. (AP)

American flags and a pride flag hang from the White House during a Pride Month celebration on the South Lawn, June 10, 2023, in Washington. (AP)

Grace Abels
By Grace Abels June 18, 2024

If Your Time is short

  • President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump both support same-sex marriage, although their views on the issue have evolved over the years.

  • Biden has pushed to expand open LGBTQ+ participation in the military; Trump has pushed to ban transgender military participation.

  • Biden supports youth access to gender-affirming care; Trump has vowed to limit it.

President Biden kicked off Pride Month this year with a message to LGBTQ+ Americans, posting "your president and my entire Administration have your back."

Former President Trump has been quiet on social media when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues and railed against trans women’s participation in sports at a recent campaign rally in Vegas.

If it wasn’t already clear, these top two presidential candidates hold distinct views on LGBTQ+ issues.

Throughout his presidency, Biden has used his office to express support for LGBTQ+ people, celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility and Pride Month, and regularly make social media calls about the issues LGBTQ+ people face. His administration has worked to establish antidiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as greater access to gender-affirming care.

As a result, he has earned the endorsement of major LGBTQ+ advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Trump’s record includes dismantling discrimination protections and placing restrictions on transgender servicemembers.

LGBTQ+ issues were a small part of Trump’s presidency, but his 2020 campaign included "Trump Pride'' outreach targeting LGBTQ+ supporters. In 2020, Log Cabin Republicans, which represents LGBTQ+ conservatives, endorsed him. The group cited Trump administration programs that addressed the ongoing HIV epidemic and a campaign to end worldwide criminalization of homosexuality. Trump also appointed the first openly gay cabinet secretary, Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence.

Although Trump has been more accepting on some LGBTQ+ issues than his Republican counterparts, most of his stances, especially regarding transgender Americans, stand in stark contrast to Biden’s.

Marriage equality

Both Trump and Biden had evolved on the issue of marriage equality before arriving at a similar stance that supports gay rights. 

Biden first publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage in a 2012 ‘Meet the Press" appearance, saying that marriages "at their root are about" love "whether they are marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals."

In December 2022, Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, federally recognizing same-sex and interracial marriages, and creating legal protections if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 2015 precedent on marriage equality. Across his administration, several departments including the State Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration, updated policies to extend benefits to same-sex couples

And although Biden has suggested he supported gay couples since his youth, his earlier policy decisions reflect otherwise. As a U.S. senator in 1996, Biden voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. In his 2008 vice presidential campaign, Biden expressed his support for equal benefits for same-sex couples, but not for legal marriage. 

In interviews before his presidency, Trump opposed same-sex marriage and said he supported "traditional marriage." In 2016, he said he would consider appointing justices who would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S., but changed his position shortly after he was elected when he described the issue as "settled."

Advocating for or against same-sex marriage was not a significant part of Trump’s presidency or political platform, which, as some people noted, set him apart from other Republicans at the time.

LGBTQ+ members of the military

Biden has implemented policies allowing LGBTQ+ people to serve openly in the military. Trump aimed to restrict military participation by trans people. 

In a July 2017 tweet, Trump declared that "the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." This policy aimed to reverse a 2016 Obama era policy allowing trans people to serve openly.

In 2023, Trump claimed that he "banned transgender" people from serving in the military, and we rated it Mostly True. That’s because after his policy was announced, it faced numerous legal challenges that delayed its implementation. In April 2019, the ban took effect, allowing active transgender members to serve openly only if they had already received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Active members who received a diagnosis after the policy’s implementation date would have to serve under the sex assigned to them at birth. And people diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who had already undergone a transition could not enlist.

This policy continued until January 2021, when Biden rescinded it in an executive order a few days after taking office, and the Defense Department published the policy allowing military participation in March 2021. Biden’s administration has also overseen an expansion of support for trans veterans and provided gender-affirming medical care for service members. 

Trump has promised to reinstate a "ban" on transgender people in the military if he is reelected.

However, Biden’s current stance on LGBTQ+ members of the military represents a slight shift from his earlier years as a lawmaker. In 1993, he ended up voting in favor of a defense spending bill even though it implemented the "don’t ask don’t tell" policy requiring LGBTQ+ service members not to disclose their sexual orientation and prohibiting officers from asking. 

During Biden’s tenure as vice president, President Barack Obama signed a law repealing  "don’t ask, don’t tell," a decision Biden has celebrated

Access to gender-affirming care for youth

Trump opposes youth access to gender-affirming care. Biden supports it. 

In videos outlining his 2024 presidential agenda, Trump described gender-affirming care as "chemical, physical, and emotional mutilation" of youth and promised to end all "programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age." He also advocated revoking Medicaid and Medicare funding from any hospital or health care provider that gives gender-affirming care to minors.

Trump also said he would ask Congress to pass a law "prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states." This year, Congress entertained several bills to ban gender-affirming care for youth nationally, but none became law. Experts told PolitiFact that it is inaccurate to characterize gender-affirming surgeries as "mutilation."

Biden’s administration has shown more support for youth access to gender-affirming care, most often expressed by Cabinet members and spokespeople. In an executive order, Biden banned conversion therapy in federally funded programs, and the Justice Department sent a letter to all state attorneys general calling discriminatory the practice of restricting access to gender-affirming care. 

In March 2022, Biden released his own statement after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state officials to launch child abuse investigations into reports of transgender kids receiving gender-affirming care. In it, Biden called for expanded access to gender-affirming care for trans youth and cited the support of most major medical organizations. Later that month on Transgender Day of Visibility, the White House released a fact sheet detailing the administration’s efforts to support access to mental and medical health care for trans youth.

Addressing LGBTQ+ discrimination

Biden has urged federal agencies to implement greater antidiscrimination protections, and Trump’s administration was criticized as dismantling them

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, pages related to LGBTQ+ issues began disappearing from federal agency websites, The Washington Post reported. In early 2017, Trump issued an executive order making Obama-era LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination rules more difficult to enforce and the Education Department revoked guidance that required schools to let trans students use the bathroom of their choice.

In 2019, the Trump-era Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief arguing against the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It represented a departure from Trump’s comments in a 2000 interview in which he said he supported amending the law to include sexual orientation.

Many of Biden’s policies have been a reversal of Trump’s.

On Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order directing each federal agency to review and revise its policies to ensure they did not discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in light of a 2020 Supreme Court case

Several federal agencies responded, releasing guidance, and, in some cases, formal regulations clarifying that "sex discrimination" includes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Biden has also repeatedly called for the passage of the Equality Act, which would add protections specific to LGBTQ+ people to the Civil Rights Act. Biden has also spoken out against anti-LGBTQ+ violence. 

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

ABC News, "Here's where the 2024 presidential candidates stand on LGBTQ+ issues," Oct. 4, 2023

Britannica, "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)," May 1, 2024

Britannica, "Obergefell v. Hodges," May 28, 2024

CNN, "Biden signs into law same-sex marriage bill, 10 years after his famous Sunday show answer on the issue," Dec. 13, 2022, "H.R. 2965 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010," Dec. 22, 2010, "H.R. 3396 - 104th Congress (1995-1996): Defense of Marriage Act," accessed June 13, 2024, "H.R. 8404 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Respect for Marriage Act," accessed June 13, 2024

Donald J. Trump, "President Trump’s Plan to Protect Children from Left-Wing Gender Insanity," Feb. 1, 2023

Glaad, "Biden Accountability Tracker," accessed Jun 10, 2024

Health Resources and Services Administration, "Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S." June 2023

HuffPost, "Donald Trump Pressed On How 'Traditional' His 3 Marriages Are," June 28, 2015

Human Rights Campaign, "Nation’s Leading LGBTQ+ Groups Endorse Biden-Harris 2024," Oct. 10, 2023

Human Rights Campaign, "President Biden's Pro-LGBTQ Timeline," Aug. 19, 2023

Human Rights Watch, "Trump Administration Again Weakens LGBT Protections," Jan. 8, 2021

Log Cabin Republicans, "About Us," accessed June 13, 2024

Log Cabin Republicans, "Log Cabin Republicans Endorses President Trump for Reelection in 2020," Aug. 16, 2020, "Army To Provide Gender Transition Care, Surgeries for Transgender Soldiers," June 28, 2021, "VA Won't Cover Gender-Affirmation Surgery for Transgender Veterans Until It Reviews PACT Act Effects," Feb. 26, 2024

Military Health System, "Transgender & Gender-Diverse Health Care Services," accessed June 12, 2024

NBC News, "'I'm so excited!': Tiffany Trump speaks at Trump Pride campaign event," Oct. 20, 2020

NBC News, "'I don't know': Trump draws blank on homosexuality decriminalization push," Feb. 21, 2019

NBC News, "LGBTQ Advocates Say Trump's New Executive Order Makes Them Vulnerable to Discrimination," March 29, 2017

NBC News, "May 6: Joe Biden, Kelly Ayotte, Diane Swonk, Tom Brokaw, Chuck Todd," May 6, 2012

NBC News, "Texas governor calls on citizens to report parents of transgender kids for abuse," Feb. 23, 2022

NBC News, "Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality," Feb. 19, 2019

NBC News, "Trump Administration Removes LGBTQ Content From Federal Websites," Jan. 24, 2017 

NBC News, "Trump Pride: Gay Republicans on why they're backing the president," Oct. 15, 2020

NBC News, "Trump trend: LGBTQ mentions quietly axed from discrimination guidelines," Dec. 31, 2019

NPR, "'Whiplash' Of LGBTQ Protections And Rights, From Obama To Trump," March 2, 2020

NPR, "House Passes The Equality Act: Here's What It Would Do," Feb 24, 2021

NPR, "Texas Supreme Court OKs state child abuse inquiries into the families of trans kids," May 13, 2022

NPR, "What does the Respect for Marriage Act do? The answer will vary by state," Dec. 8, 2022

Office of Population Affairs, "Gender-Affirming Care and Young People," accessed June 14, 2024

Office of the Director of National Intelligence, "Q&A With Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Pride in 2020," accessed Jun. 12, 2024

PinkNews, "Donald Trump vows to restore trans military ban if re-elected in 2024," Aug. 9, 2023

Politico, "Scenes from a celebration of the same-sex marriage law — at Mar-a-Lago," Dec. 16, 2022

Politico, "The GOP waves white flag in the same-sex marriage wars," Aug. 16 2021

Politico, "Trump: Gays yes, gay marriage no," Feb. 14, 2011

PolitiFact, "Direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women," Jan. 11, 2022

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump is against same-sex marriage," Aug. 15, 2016

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump issued trans military ban, but his administration rejected calling it that," March 8, 2023

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking 3 claims in Tucker Carlson’s show on trans health care," Nov. 15, 2023

PolitiFact, "Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," July 22, 2011

PolitiFact, "Reverse the transgender military ban," Jan. 25, 2021

PolitiFact, "This Supreme Court case is reshaping LGBTQ+ rights. You probably haven’t heard about it," May 20, 2024

PolitiFact, "Tracking the shift after Joe Biden’s same-sex marriage ‘epiphany,’" March 17, 2023

PolitiFact, "What a video shared by DeSantis campaign omits about Trump's LGBTQ+ rights record," July 7, 2023

Reuters, "Biden targets conversion therapy, transgender bans in Pride Month order," June 15, 2022

Snopes, "Did Trump Officially Recognize Pride Month During His Presidency?" JUne 1, 2021

Snopes, "Trump Plans to Reverse Marriage Equality as President?," Feb. 1, 2016

The 19th, "These gay voters are backing Trump. Here's why." Oct. 30, 2020

The Advocate, "READ: Donald Trump's Advocate Interview Where He Defends Gays, Mexicans," Sept. 28, 2015

The Associated Press, "Texas governor order treats gender-confirming care as abuse," Feb. 23, 2022 

The Dallas Morning News, "White House: Texas stance on gender-affirming care for transgender youth is ‘dangerous’," Feb 23, 2022

The Federal Register, "Military Service by Transgender Individuals," Aug. 25, 2017

The Hill, "Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to make gender-affirming care for transgender youth a felony," Aug. 19, 2022

The New York Times, "Behind Joe Biden’s Evolution on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights," June 21, 2020

The New York Times, "Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P.," April 22, 2016

The New York Times, "Social Security Opens to Survivors of Same-Sex Couples Who Could Not Marry," Jan 23. 2022

The New York Times, "The State Department reverses a policy that denied citizenship to some babies born abroad to same-sex parents," May 18, 2021

The New York Times, "Trump’s Celebration of L.G.B.T. Rights Is Met With Criticism," June 1, 2019

The New York Times, "Trump’s Rollback of Transgender Rights Extends Through Entire Government," Dec. 6, 2019

The Tampa Bay Times, "VA to offer gender surgery to transgender vets for the first time," June 20, 2021

The Washington Post, "LGBT rights page disappears from White House web site," Jan 20, 2021

The Washington Post, "The absurd claim that Trump is the ‘most pro-gay president in American history’," Aug. 24, 2024

The Washington Post, "Three reasons to doubt Biden’s story on his father and a gay kiss," March 15, 2023

The Washington Post, "Trump: Rescind Obama’s transgender directives, but ‘protect everybody’" May 16, 2024

The Washington Post, "Trump says 17-month-old gay marriage ruling is ‘settled’ law — but 43-year-old abortion ruling isn’t," Nov. 14, 2016

The White House, "A Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month, 2023," May 31, 2023

The White House, "A Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility, 2024," March 29, 2024

The White House, "Biden-Harris Administration Memorializes Transgender Day of Remembrance," Nov. 20, 2021

The White House, "Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform," Jan. 25, 2021

The White House, "Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation," Jan. 20, 2021

The White House, "FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Advances Equality and Visibility for Transgender Americans," March 31, 2022

The White House, "FACT SHEET: The Equality Act Will Provide Long Overdue Civil Rights Protections for Millions of Americans," June 25, 2021

The White House, "Remarks by President Biden and Vice President Harris at Signing of H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act," Dec. 13, 2022

The White House, "Statement by President Biden on Texas’ Attacks on Transgender Youth," March 2, 2022

The White House, "Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," Sept. 20, 2021

The White House, "Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia," May 17, 2021

The White House, "Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the Introduction of the Equality Act in Congress," Feb. 19, 2021

Today, "What is Gender-Affirming Care? Admiral Rachel Levine Explains," Feb. 25, 2022

Trans Legislation Tracker, "United States Bills," accessed June 14, 2024

U.S. Department of Agriculture, "USDA Promotes Program Access, Combats Discrimination Against LGBTQI+ Community," May 5, 2022

U.S. Department of Defense, "DOD Announces Policy Updates for Transgender Military Service," March 31, 2021

U.S. Department of Defense, "Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Announces Policy for Transgender Service Members," June 30, 2016

U.S. Department of Education, "Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students," Feb. 22, 2017

U.S. Department of Education, "U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Title IX Regulations, Providing Vital Protections Against Sex Discrimination," April 19, 2024

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "HHS Notice and Guidance on Gender Affirming Care, Civil Rights, and Patient Privacy," March 2, 2022

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities," May 6, 2024

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Reaffirming HHS Support and Protection for LGBTQI+ Children and Youth," March 2, 2022

U.S. Department of Justice, "Application of Bostock v. Clayton County to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972," March 26, 2021

U.S. Department of Justice, "Justice Department Reinforces Federal Nondiscrimination Obligations in Letter to State Officials Regarding Transgender Youth," March 31, 2022

U.S. Department of State, "U.S. Citizenship Transmission and Assisted Reproductive Technology," May 18, 2021

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "VA closes gap in survivor benefits for LGBTQ+ Veterans and survivors," Oct. 12, 2022

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "VHA LGBTQ+ Health Program - Patient Care Services," accessed June 13, 2024

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace," April 29, 2024

U.S. Navy, "Transgender Care Resource for Primary Care Providers," accessed June 13, 2024

U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote 104th Congress - 2nd Session,"  Sept. 10, 1996

U.S. Sentate, "Roll Call Vote 103 rd Congress - 1 st Session," Nov. 17, 1993

U.S. Supreme Court, "Brief Supporting Reversal," 2019 

U.S. Supreme Court, "Obergefell v. Hodges," June 2015

USA Today, "Joe Biden helped a movement when he changed his mind on LGBTQ issues. Who advises him now?" Aug. 19, 2023

USA Today, "LGBT rights: Donald Trump's inclusive record good for Republican Party," Aug. 20, 2020

Wall Street Journal, "Trump Administration Argues Law Doesn’t Protect Gays From Workplace Bias," Aug. 23, 2019

X post, April 7, 2022

X post, April 7, 2022

X post, Aug. 8, 2023

X post, Feb. 25, 2021

X post, Feb. 8, 2022

X post, Feb. 9, 2021

X post, July 26, 2017

X post, July 26, 2017

X post, June 1, 2024

X post, June 1, 2024 

X post, June 10, 2023

X post, June 29, 2021 

X post, June 7, 2021

X post, March 1, 2022

YouTube, "Biden, Palin On Gay Rights," Oct. 3, 2008

YouTube, "Donald Trump is ‘for traditional marriage’" June 28, 2015

YouTube, "FLASHBACK: May 6th 2012, Joe Biden Endorsed Same-Sex Marriage | Meet the Press," May 6, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Grace Abels

Where Trump and Biden stand on key LGBTQ+ issues