2024 Republican candidates and their LGBTQ rights records
The race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is already a crowded one – and pro-LGBTQ+ candidates are in short supply.
The long road to the next presidential election appeared to begin as soon as November’s midterm elections ended, as Republicans grappled for control in state legislatures across the US.
Trump announced in November that he was once again vying for the White House after being roundly defeated by president Joe Biden in the 2020 election. He kicked off his campaign by doubling down on the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies that defined his time in the Oval Office.
The Republican primary kicked off in earnest on Wednesday (24 May) as Florida governor Ron DeSantis threw his hat into the ring, just days after South Carolina senator Tim Scott announced he was also running for president.
Trump and DeSantis are the clear favourites for the Republican presidential primaries, with both holding immense sway within the party and having dedicated fan bases of right-wing voters.
However, it would be foolish to completely rule out other candidates this early. It’s a race that will focus on LGBTQ+ rights, as hateful rhetoric and damaging talking points are already being used, so here’s your guide to the 2024 Republican candidates, which we’ll update as more people enter the race.
Donald Trump: The most anti-LGBTQ+ president in recent history
Despite being the first president – former or current – charged with criminal activity, Trump remains the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican candidate race. No other potential candidate has registered in the national polls close to Trump, who has a ravenous crowd of right-wing supporters in the US.
The former president opened his 2024 bid by promising to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, attacking hospitals that provide such treatments and pushing for a federal law recognising only two genders if he’s re-elected.
His four years in the Oval Office were marked by an intense attack on LGBTQ+ rights. He banned trans people from openly serving in the military, called on courts to legalise discrimination against queer people and rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender Americans under the Affordable Care Act.
Ron DeSantis: Florida governor waging war on trans rights
The hard-right Florida governor is styling himself as a younger, more electable alternative to Trump, who endorsed DeSantis for his current job.
DeSantis is still lagging behind Trump in popularity, but he is seemingly gearing up for a tough race to see who ultimately takes the final spot in the 2024 presidential election.
The Republican governor opened his presidential bid by emphasising his credentials as a so-called culture warrior, attacking “woke” Democrats and pointing to his DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ+ history as proof of his worthiness to voters.
Nikki Haley: Outsider has a solid anti-LGBTQ+ fan base
Haley may not be a frontrunner in the Republican presidential campaign run – she’s polling fourth behind Trump, DeSantis and Mike Pence (more on him later), but she still has a strong conservative track record among the candidates that could make her appealing to voters.
She opposed same-sex marriage as South Carolina governor, served as a United Nations ambassador under the Trump administration and claimed Biden’s support of trans inclusion in sports was an attack on women’s rights.
Thus far, Haley has used anti-LGBTQ+ talking points to keep her campaign in the headlines. She denounced DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law – which restrictions LGBTQ+ discussions in schools – for “not going far enough” and misgendered social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The South Carolina senator entered the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday (23 May) with promises to take on the “radical left”, revive America’s “culture of greatness” and bring faith and conservative policies to the White House.
During his time in the Republican Party, Scott supported the US military’s reviled ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, opposed same-sex marriage and told Newsweek that he considers homosexuality to be morally wrong.
He also voted against the Respect for Marriage Act and introduced a bill targeting LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools. On his campaign website, Scott claimed Democrats are “replacing education with indoctrination” – damaging rhetoric used by Republicans to attack trans and LGBTQ+ people.
Hutchinson launched his presidential campaign in April, saying he was providing an “alternative to Donald Trump” within the GOP. But this hasn’t translated to mass support for Hutchinson’s campaign as he trails far behind Trump.
As governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson signed into law a trans sports ban; misgendered trans kids in a televised interview; approved a bill allowing doctors to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ patients based on religious or moral objections; and passed a revised religious freedom bill that could allow discrimination against queer people.
The biotech and healthcare entrepreneur is among the long shot Republican candidates in the 2024 presidential election as he’s unknown by most Americans.
He has written books opposing corporate ‘wokeism’ and so-called identity politics, and he recently joined conservative voices denouncing Target’s LGBTQ+ Pride collection.
The conservative talk radio host announced his presidential bid in April despite never having held an elective office – which, in reality, isn’t a deal breaker, given that Trump was in the same position once.
Elder has a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and was the top Republican opponent to California governor Gavin Newsom during the unsuccessful recall effort in 2021.
The business executive and pastor from Texas is another long shot in a Republican field dominated by established names within the party.
Binkley’s campaign website states that he wants to restore America’s “faith in God, freedom and each other”.
The website for Create Church, which he founded alongside his wife and is a lead pastor, states that they believe marriage is a “sacred bond between one man and one woman”.
The Republican kicked off his 2024 presidential campaign amid the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. It came nearly a year after he was removed from the primary ballot in Michigan’s 2022 gubernatorial race due to invalid petition signatures.
Will Mike Pence run for president in 2024?
Several vice presidents have later turned around and launched a presidential campaign – and Pence is expected to join this historical tradition.
Pence has remained silent on if he’d run for office but has made moves towards bolstering his political fan base by releasing a memoir, visiting early-voting states and building ties with conservative powers in the US.
The former congressman, Indiana governor and vice president to Trump has a track record of opposing LGBTQ+ rights. He strongly opposed same-sex marriages, voted against the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and supported several anti-LGBTQ+ measures during his time in the Trump administration.