U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, one of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, today released a comprehensive platform on LGBTQ rights and HIV issues.
Warren’s plan reiterates many stances she has already taken and that are similar to those of other Democratic candidates. She pledges to persuade Congress to pass the Equality Act and vows to end the discriminatory policies put in place by Donald Trump, such as the transgender military ban and religious exemptions to nondiscrimination policies in health care and in employment by federal contractors.
But she goes further and makes stronger statements than many other Dems on certain issues. She pledges to lift the federal ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men (any man who’s had sex with another man in the previous 12 months) and to fight to repeal laws that criminalize perceived, potential, or actual HIV exposure. And she calls for public production of drugs used for HIV prevention and promises to create a grant to address violence against transgender people.
“Fifty years after transgender women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera helped lead the Stonewall Riots, the LGBTQ+ rights movement they launched has made incredible strides towards equality and justice for all,” the document begins. But it notes that despite advances such as marriage equality, the invalidation of sodomy laws, and moves by some states to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination, “true equality is still far off for LGBTQ+ people.”
Warren promises that in addition to fighting for the Equality Act, of which she is an original cosponsor, and other pro-LGBTQ legislation, she would “restore and strengthen” the nondiscrimination protections that were established by President Barack Obama by executive order and that were gutted by Trump.
For instance, Obama issued an order saying companies that hold contracts with the federal government could not engage in anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Trump’s Department of Labor, however, has proposed allowing virtually any employer an exemption from this requirement on religious grounds. Trump has also removed reporting requirements for contractors, so it’s impossible to know if they’re discriminating. Warren also says she would make nondiscrimination a requirement not only for contractors but for recipients of federal grants.
She pledges not only to reverse the ban on military service by transgender Americans but to address the epidemic of violence against them. Some other candidates have spoken out on this, especially U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, but Warren offers a particularly detailed plan. Among other things, she says, “I will create a new grant program within the Office of Violence Against Women that will specifically channel resources into organizations by and for transgender people, especially people of color.” And as she did during the LGBTQ Presidential Forum in Iowa in September, she lists the names of all the trans people known to have been murdered in the U.S. this year, most of them women of color.
“It is time for a president to say their names and honor their memory by fighting every day for a country where trans women of color can thrive free from discrimination,” she says in the document. “As I have outlined, we will use every legal tool we have to prohibit the intersecting forms of discrimination that transgender women of color face everywhere it occurs.”
On the blood ban, which was once a lifetime ban on donations by men who have sex with men, put in place in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, she says, “This ban is outdated, discriminatory, and reduces the already scarce blood supply. I helped lead the fight against this discriminatory ban and pushed the [Food and Drug Administration] to change its policies. While this change was an improvement, it does not go far enough. As president, I would lift this ban completely and make sure that any restrictions around blood donations are grounded in science and based on individual risk factors.”
On other health matters, she reiterates her support for universal health insurance, transgender-inclusive care, reproductive rights, and more. She further suggests reviewing laws that criminalize perceived, potential, or actual HIV exposure, with a goal of repealing them. And she promotes the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, a bill that would enable the federal government to manufacture drugs that are available from few private companies and therefore expensive, such as Truvada, until recently the only drug approved by the FDA to prevent HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the virus. “No one should contract HIV because they could not afford the medication to prevent it,” she says.
Her platform also deals with moves to address homelessness, suicide, poverty, and other problems that disproportionately affect LGBTQ people, especially youth and people of color. “The path to LGBTQ+ equality is far from over, but shoulder to shoulder, I will fight for LGBTQ+ equality in solidarity with the leaders and organizers who have been at the helm from the very beginning,” the document concludes. “Because when we organize together, when we fight together, and when we persist together, we can win.”
Read the full platform here.