Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg unveil LGBT+ rights platforms ahead of town hall

Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigig have both released their LGBT+ rights manifestos ahead of a town hall event on Thursday night (October 10).

In separate but similar plans to boost LGBT+ rights, Warren and Buttigieg vowed to end the murders of trans women of colour, outlaw conversion therapy and overturn a number of Donald Trump’s anti-LGBT+ policies.

“Fifty years after transgender women of colour 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,” Warren wrote.

“But 50 years after Stonewall, true equality is still far off for LGBTQ+ people.”

Buttigieg – who if elected, would become America’s first openly gay president – offered a similar sentiment.

“To be LGBTQ+ in America today is to both enjoy freedoms hard-won by pioneers who came before us, and feel the urgency of unfinished promises of full equality under the law,” he wrote while introducing his plans.

Warren and Buttigieg prioritise Equality Act

Both candidates said that their most pressing task as president would be to push through the Equality Act which has languished since being passed by the House of Representatives in March 2019.

“There should be absolutely no question that LGBTQ+ Americans have equal rights under law,” Warren wrote.

The Equality Act, if passed, would amend civil rights legislation to explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity in employment, housing, health care and all other federally-funded services.

Trump policies would be overturned

Of Trump’s policies, Warren said she would pass legislation to prevent “religious liberty” being used as “a license to discriminate against LGBT+ people.” Buttigieg said he would conduct a thorough examination of the Trump administration’s religious liberty guidance.

Both candidates would end the current ban on transgender people serving openly in the military.

Buttigieg wrote: “Although its harms can never be fully undone, we will immediately repeal the ban and allow our transgender troops to serve openly. We will also give every service member discharged because of their gender identity the opportunity to re-enlist, re-commission, or access resources.”

Candidates take aim at violence against trans women of colour

Both candidate’s LGBT+ platforms also include mentions of specific protections and support mechanisms for further marginalised communities, including LGBT+ youth, elderly LGBT+ people, LGBT+ refugees and LGBT+ people of colour.

Of the latter, Warren name-checked each of the 19 trans people who have been murdered so far this year (as the plans were published, a 20th murder was reported.)

She vowed to “use every legal tool we have to prohibit the intersecting forms of discrimination that transgender women of colour face everywhere it occurs.”

Gender recognition, HIV fight and LGBT+ adoption

For trans and non-binary people, obtaining the correct identification documents would be made easier, with both candidates pledging their support for a third gender marker.

A Warren or Buttigieg White House would lower the cost of the HIV prevention drug PrEP and increase funding for HIV/AIDS programmes.

Discrimination against same-sex families in the adoption system would be made illegal under either’s administration, while the blanket ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men would be removed.

Supreme Court nominations

Referring to the ongoing Supreme Court hearings on LGBT+ rights, Warren pledged to nominate Supreme Court judges “who will uphold, rather than threaten, LGBT+ rights”

“The stakes are high, and people are scared,” she wrote.

“No matter what happens at the Supreme Court, we need a president who will lift up the voices of every LGBTQ+ person, stand up to discrimination, and fight back.

“And as president, I will fight shoulder to shoulder with them – because no one should ever be unsafe, unheard, or disempowered because of who they are or who they love.”

Warren and Buttigieg will both appear at the CNN/Human Rights Campaign Foundation town hall on LGBT+ rights on Thursday evening alongside candidates including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke. Bernie Sanders will sit the event out due to his recent heart attack. He was previously criticised for skipping a separate LGBT+ forum.

A RealClearPolitics polling average dated October 10 puts Biden and Warren neck and neck on 27 percent and 26.8 percent respectively. Sanders is in third place on 14.8 percent, with Buttigieg trailing in fourth place on 5.2 percent.