Against historical odds, Democratic candidates are set to claim victory in both contested seats in Georgia’s run-off Senate election this week.
While the results are likely to be contested, it’s already cause for celebration for America’s embattled LGBTQI community.
What difference can two Senators make?
With votes still being counted, The New York Times is predicting Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will defeat their Republican counterparts in the race for control of the Senate.
If the Dems win both seats, the upper house will be split 50/50, giving vice-president-elect Kamala Harris the deciding vote in the result of a deadlock.
This would give the Democrats control of both houses in the US Congress and the Presidency, allowing president-elect Joe Biden to implement a progressive agenda and reverse some of the reactionary policies enacted by Donald Trump.
How did Trump and the majority Republican senate impact the LGBTQI community?
During his term, Trump rolled back and removed numerous policies protecting the rights of LGBTQI people.
Workplace discrimination protections came under fire, he withdrew a motion allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing and banned transgender people from serving in the military, citing their “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as justification.
….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
In addition, the president nominated three new Supreme Court judges, all of whom where approved by the then majority Republican senate and all of whom have evidenced anti-LGBTQI sentiments in their judicial rulings.
How will things be different under Biden and a majority Democrat senate?
Victory in Georgia is already being viewed by many embattled Americans as a win for progressive politics and an opportunity to reverse anti-LGBTQI policy.
Last November, Joe Biden was the first president-elect to mention transgender people in a victory address.
He now plans to enact the Equality Act, which would add protections for LGBTQI individuals to existing civil rights law.
HISTORY! President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Devi Harris! It’s time to move on from the hate of the Trump era and restore the soul of this nation!
— Reggie Greer (@rwgreer) November 7, 2020
Similar to Supreme Court appointments, the president’s cabinet are also confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. Victory for the Democrats in Georgia will smoothen Biden’s cabinet confirmations — including out members like Pete Buttigieg.
The president-elect pledged to end the HIV epidemic by 2025, an illness for which Donald Trump consistently decreased research funding.
Biden’s platform also includes preventing discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, eliminating LGBTQI homelessness and ending the transgender military ban.
The Equality Act has already been passed by the Democrat-controlled lower house, but a vote is being stalled in the currently Republican-controlled Senate — a perfect example of partisan disagreement between the Houses directly impacting vulnerable people.
Prior to the potential swing in Georgia, Biden and the Democrats’ goals faced disruption from a Republican Senate. Now, however, the gates may be wide open for legislative reform that can correct the conservative reversal of LGBTQI protections and rights.