Biden campaign steps up LGBTQ outreach as allies worry about waning support

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is launching an effort at the start of National Pride Month to try to shore up support from LGBTQ voters.

The campaign plans to have a presence this month at more than 200 Pride events in 23 states, including all of the battleground states, and to launch a paid media blitz aimed at mobilizing LGBTQ voters, two campaign officials said in details first shared with NBC News. The campaign will cap the month of outreach with a fundraiser in New York City on June 28.

Some of Biden’s allies worry about waning support among LGBTQ voters.

Over the weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off Pride Month by greeting more than 150 LGBTQ leaders and allies in Los Angeles, and first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced stop at the Pittsburgh Pride festival.

“This community is under attack,” the first lady told the crowd, referring to state laws that she said target the LGBTQ community.

“Donald Trump is a bully to the LGBTQ community, to our families, to our country,” she continued. “We cannot let him win.”

A poll conducted in January by the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD found Joe Biden has overwhelming support from LGBTQ registered voters overall and in battleground states, 68% and 72%, compared to 15% for Trump in both categories.

Yet the largest LGBTQ rights group in the country, the Human Rights Campaign, recently committed to spend $15 million in six battleground states to help Biden win in November, citing concerns about waning support from LGBTQ voters. HRC estimates that this year one-third of the 75 million “equality voters” — who vote based on support for LGBTQ rights — might not be guaranteed Biden voters.

“Our primary task with those voters is to help underscore the stakes of the election,” said Brandon Wolf, HRC’s national press secretary. “The contrast between the two candidates could not be clearer, and that’s especially true when we’re talking about issues of equality.”

The Biden campaign is aware of the statistic and is set to pour money into a digital and print media campaign nationally and in battleground states pitching Biden as “the most pro-equality president in American history” while painting Trump as determined to curb equality for LGBTQ communities.

“Winning campaigns invest early and often into its coalition of support,” said Sam Alleman, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national LGBTQ+ engagement director. “This Pride month is a reflection of real action to mobilize and activate LGBTQ+ voters well ahead of November.”

Any softening of support among LGBTQ voters is a source of frustration for Biden allies who argue he has delivered on their priorities, including backing same-sex marriage as vice president in 2012 ahead of President Barack Obama’s plans to publicly endorse the issue. As president, Biden has signed legislation protecting marriage rights for same-sex couples, ended a ban on transgender Americans’ serving in the military and issued executive orders to protect LGBTQ people’s civil rights.

On Friday, he issued a proclamation declaring June National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Pride Month, saying that “advancing equality for the LGBTQI+ community is a top priority for my Administration.”

The Biden campaign argues that Trump would take away LGBTQ rights if voters elect him to a second term. As president, Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military, and as a candidate, he has said he’s against gender-affirming care for kids.

Yet former first lady Melania Trump recently headlined a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that advocates for LGBTQ inclusion in the GOP. The former president’s allies also have recently tried to ensure that the position on same-sex marriage outlined in the official Republican National Committee platform this election cycle isn’t too far right.

The efforts appear aimed at not alienating voters in a tight general election who aren’t as conservative on LGBTQ rights as the GOP base.

NBC News exit polling in the 2020 election found Biden won 64% of the LGBTQ vote, compared with Trump at 27%.

Wolf contended that Biden has a better record and vision to offer equality voters than Trump, citing passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022 and the creation of rules to protect members of the community in schools and health care settings.

“The Biden-Harris administration has appointed over 200 openly LGBTQ people to serve in all sorts of roles. That really matters,” Wolf said.

Still, even as Wolf fully embraces the Biden-Harris strategy, he acknowledges Biden has work to do in the queer community and will need to continue showing up.

“The Biden-Harris campaign has an incredible opportunity to get out into communities and talk about not just the things they’ve been able to accomplish,” he said, “but also their vision of what’s possible if we send them back to the White House.”

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