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Here’s How the Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris Equality Plans Differ


The three presidential candidates also overlap in the bulk of their platforms for the community.

This week, presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris all released new plans to expand LGBTQ+ equality, coinciding with CNN's Town Hall and National Coming Out Day.

The platforms are all comprehensive and detail-oriented, and clearly the work of teams with extensive familiarity with LGBTQ+ issues. They're also strikingly similar, addressing many of the same topics and proposing similar solutions. If any of the candidates eventually win the nomination, they'll face the general election greatly prepared to speak to the queer community.

Among the similarities is a pledge to sign the Equality Act, a bill currently stalled by Republicans in Congress. The Equality Act, which would clarify the Civil Rights Act to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, has emerged as a top priority for queer and trans political organizers.

All three also criticized the ban on trans military service, and blasted policies that allow businesses to turn away queer people. Warren, in particular, called for an end to "the weaponization of religion to discriminate against or harm LGBTQ+ people."

When it comes to HIV, Harris' plan outlines her past work on the issue, including the PrEP Access & Coverage Act, a pending bill that would require insurance companies to cover the treatment. The plans by Buttigieg and Warren also seek to expand PrEP access, and to revitalize the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, which has languished under Trump.

Warren goes a step further, calling for PrEP-related drugs to be publicly manufactured, rather than by the pharmaceutical company that keeps the price out of reach for many. Buttigieg promises to negotiate with those companies, saying that he would only "consider exercising eminent domain on PrEP-related patents" if the negotiations failed.

The three candidates also have jointly called to end the discredited practice of conversion therapy, to establish programs to make schools safer for queer students, and to promote housing policies that expand access for LGBTQ+ people.

Small differences between the plans are interspersed throughout. For example, when it comes to public health, Buttigieg and Warren both plan to overhaul outdated blood donation bans on men who have sex with men, while the Harris plan doesn't mention the issue. (Harris has in the past expressed support for overturning the ban.)

Harris is unique in that she pledges to appoint a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House. Under her plan, that Advocate would work across various agencies and alongside

community advocates to ensure that the queer community's needs are being met.

Internationally, Warren's plan includes a provision to return the US to the United Nations Human Rights Council, appointing a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons to oversee issues abroad.

Buttigieg pledged to strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees.

There are also a handful of pledges that none of the candidates were willing to make, notably around the decriminalization of sex work. Warren is the only candidate to even say she is "open" to the idea in her plan, though Harris also suggested she would consider it earlier this year.

None of them addressed SESTA-FOSTA, legislation that has been widely cited as having put sex workers are risk by preventing access to safety resources online. Harris and Warren both supported the bills when they were up for a vote.

RELATED | 5 Issues Candidates Must Address at the LGBTQ+ Town Hall

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Matt Baume