O’Rourke, Gillibrand unveil plans for LGBTQ equality


Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced his plan for LGBTQ equality, citing ongoing assaults against the community by the Trump administration.

O’Rourke, a former U.S. House member from Texas, said the aim of his proposal is to provide “full equality and protection under federal law” for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Today, in more states than not, you can marry the person you love on a Saturday and risk losing your job for it by Monday morning with no protection under state law,” he said in a statement, released during the second week of Pride month.

“In more than half the country, LGBTQ+ people still risk eviction or denial of housing without explicit legal recourse. Across the country, transgender Americans, especially those of color, face alarming rates of violence,” O’Rourke said.

Earlier this month, another Democrat running for the party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), unveiled her plan for LGBTQ rights.

In a Medium post  on June 1, Gillibrand  called out President Donald Trump as a “bigoted, cowardly bully who makes the LGBTQ community more vulnerable” and pledged to revoke this administration’s “harmful policies.”

O’Rourke said he would take executive action to ensure the rights of LGBTQ citizens, by reversing the discriminatory policies enacted under Trump, including the transgender military ban.

He would establish an Interagency Task Force on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination “with the goal of ending discrimination in federal programs and actions” and said he would appoint judges with “a demonstrated record of supporting the full civil rights of every single person.”

He says he would “protect transgender individuals, in particular transgender women of color, from violence” by deploying the Justice Department to investigate crimes against members of those communities, and would “modernize laws to allow transgender individuals to update their name and gender on identity documents.”

His policy proposals encompass immigrants as well as citizens: People coming to the United States because they face anti-LGBTQ+ persecution in their home countries would be identified as a “vulnerable population” that can avail themselves of the asylum process here. Though O’Rourke did not get into specifics on this matter, he pledged to “take action to prevent and end sexual violence impacting LGBTQ+ immigrants in detention.”

O’Rourke also outlined legislative action he would take, including the passage of the Equality Act and the enactment of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, a bill that would forbid discrimination against LGBTQ+ children in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care programs.

He also detailed how his belief in LGBTQ+ equality would be evident in his foreign policy by, among other things, establishing a “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQ+ people” in the State Department.  

Gillibrand also reminded the public of her equality bona fides: She was among the first senators to support marriage equality and “spearheaded the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

In her proposal on Medium she also heralded the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, “ a demonstration against discrimination and oppression, led by trans women of color, that sparked 50 years of activism and hard-won progress for LGBTQ rights.” 

Like O’Rourke, Gillibrand said that she too would sign the Equality Act, use DOJ resources to address hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color, and “address the crisis of hate crimes against LGBTQ people, including fatal violence against trans women of color.”

One note Gillibrand hit that O’Rourke did not mention is the “disproportionately high rates of homelessness among LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ youth,” which she promised to take on if elected.

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