Election season is nigh. The latest sign? Presidential hopefuls have descended upon Iowa, where the Iowa caucuses, the first major contest in a long election season, are slated to be held in only a few months. Convince Iowans, and you might just have a shot at convincing the rest of the country that you’re worthy of taking up residence at the White House. But beyond crowding the midwestern state and giving stump speeches, hopefuls have been canvassing the country, giving as many interviews as possible, and rolling out campaign platforms left and right, trying to differentiate themselves from the competition.
For former Representative Beto O’Rourke this comes in the form of a newly released an LGBTQ rights platform that he hopes will be the boost his campaign desperately needs.
Dropped early on Wednesday, June 12, just before he led a New York City Pride fun run, O’Rourke’s platform promises protections for the LGBTQ community across the U.S., an expansion of rights, and an end to many of the Trump administration’s most virulently anti-LGBTQ policies.
So, what exactly does O’Rourke’s LGBTQ platform cover? We break it down.
What is O’Rourke proposing?
Here is what O’Rourke wants to do:
- Overturn Trump’s trans military ban.
- Pass the Equality Act, a bipartisan bill which would extend civil rights to LGBTQ people on a federal level. Currently, LGBTQ individuals are not protected under the Civil Rights Act, so discrimination protections are determined on a state-by-state basis.
- Pass the Every Child Deserves A Family Act, which prevents discrimination against LGBTQ people who want to adopt or foster children by stripping federal funding from any agency that discriminates.
- Reverse the “deploy or get out” policy, which removes military members who are unable to deploy for 12 months or more from service; critics say this unfairly targets HIV-positive members.
- Bring back the Obama-era Dept. of Justice and Dept. of Education guidance to protect transgender students.
- “Protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy by tasking the FTC to tackle false advertising or other unfair business practices that promote the discredited practice of conversion therapy.”
- Put money towards researching current blood donation policies that target gay and bisexual men.
- Overturn Trump-era decision not to include LGBTQ people in the U.S. Census.
- Create a universal health care system “with explicit protections against discrimination and bans on exclusions for transition-related care” and preventing “price gouging by drug companies” on essential drugs most often used in the LGBTQ community, such as PrEP.
- Tie federal funding to “local law enforcement agencies with the implementation of anti-discrimination and anti-profiling policies.”
- Create a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTQ People in the State Department.
- Reinstate the Bureau of Prisons’ “Transgender Offender Manual” to ensure safe housing for transgender people in BOP custody.
- Modernize laws to allow people to more easily update their name and gender on identifying documents.
O’Rourke’s platform attempts to not just create a federal level of protection and rights for the LGBTQ community in the U.S. but also hopes to advance LGBTQ rights globally. He also specifically calls out the need to protect trans women of color, arguably some of the most vulnerable people in the U.S.
How would he enact these proposals?
Sounds like a lot. How the hell would Beto get this done?
O’Rourke’s platform relies heavily on executive actions. But that’s not the only way he says he’ll enact his platform. His approach will be three-pronged:
- Using executive authority, such as executive orders and guidances (such as the Obama-era guidance on enforcing current civil rights law to protect transgender kids).
- Working with Congress on pro-LGBTQ legislation, like the Equality Act.
- Working with allies and nonprofits to brainstorm and enact ways to protect the LGBTQ community across the globe.
Why is he focusing on LGBTQ rights?
In a statement announcing the plan, O’Rourke says, “Members of the LGBTQ+ community still lack comprehensive legal protections, and they face risks to their safety and security every day—in school, at work, and in their communities. 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. 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.”