Ruben Murillo: Joe Biden is the ally we need


Marrying my partner Larry was something I’d never dreamed of before 2012, largely because I thought politicians weren’t willing to risk their office to take a stand for my rights. That changed with Joe Biden.

When Joe Biden announced his support for same-gender marriage in a game-changing NBC interview that year, a tide of political, legal, and cultural change followed.

It’s hard to remember just how courageous it was at the time; no other senior government official had taken that stand. But Joe made a choice between doing what was easy, and doing what was right. He knew it was right to use his platform to advocate for equality. And he has never backed down.

Our fight has gotten harder in the last three years. Donald Trump is waging a war on LGBTQ Americans – urging the Supreme Court to permit workplace discrimination, letting doctors turn away LGBTQ patients on “religious” grounds, and refusing to protect transgender students or to even track anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools, just for example.

Here in Nevada, we’ve seen the consequences of that hate, when the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada was vandalized in September. But too much is at stake to ever even think of giving in. We need to boost access to quality, LGBTQfriendly health care. We need to combat youth homelessness, which disproportionately affects LGBTQ youth. We need stronger legal protections for trans women of color.

We need to rally around a candidate who can beat Trump in 2020 – someone who doesn’t just speak truth, but acts on it to turn ideas into reality. For me, that’s what sets Joe Biden apart from the rest of an impressive Democratic field: He gets things done. And, when you get things done, it’s not just policies that change, but attitudes too.

I’ve seen Joe at work. As a lifelong teacher and former head of the Nevada State Education Association, I am honored to chair Educators for Biden here in Nevada because I know that Joe will make the LGBTQ community a priority, in our schools and far beyond.

I also support Joe because I know education is personal for him: His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, still teaches at a community college, as she has for decades. Recently, she spoke at the National Education Association’s LGBTQ Issues Conference in Las Vegas where I had the opportunity to introduce her. Dr. Biden didn’t just speak from the heart; she spoke with the conviction of an educator that personally knows how important it is to be a fierce and effective advocate for the LGBTQ community. Because when we lift up everyone, we’re stronger.

We know that anti-LGBTQ discrimination in school can be deadly: 70% of LGBTQ students are harassed; and by high school, they’re almost five times more likely to attempt suicide, and twice as likely to be homeless. Many miss countless classes to avoid the abuse.

The Bidens know how crucial it is to make every school safe and inclusive of LGBTQ students. That’s why as president, Biden will reinstate the Title IX protections that Trump has rescinded, banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination in schools. He has pledged to fight for legislation to stop anti-LGBTQ bullying; to double the number of school psychologists and counselors on hand to help; and to build on the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to mental health care outside of school, too. Biden’s long record has prepared him. He was part of the Obama administration’s efforts to apply Civil Rights Act protections to LGBTQ people; to bar federal contractors from workplace discrimination; and to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination in housing and in the enforcement of laws against sexual assault and domestic violence, among many other things.

Now, he’ll pick up where they left off: First and foremost, by passing the Equality Act; and reinstating bans on discrimination by health insurers, and by federally-funded homeless shelters, schools, and paid contractors. And Biden will fight for the economic opportunity, gun safety reforms, and domestic violence legislation needed to end the epidemic murders of trans women of color that have shaken our community.

In the end, I’m with Joe Biden because I know he has the political courage and experience to make these things happen. Take it from a life-long teacher: It makes a difference when kids can grow up in a country that’s decent, inclusive, and free.

Ruben Murillo is the former president of the Nevada State Education Association and a lifelong educator. He lives with his husband, Larry in Henderson, Nevada. Ruben is one of the chairs of Nevada Educators for Biden, a group of educators across Nevada that have publicly endorsed Biden for President.