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These Candidates Still Haven’t Released Comprehensive LGBTQ+ Rights Plans

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Twelve presidential candidates will take the stage on Tuesday night for the fourth round of debates in the Democratic primary. Frontrunners like Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders will be joined by Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer, who didn’t meet the criteria to qualify for the previous debate. Spiritual advisor and self-help guru Marianne Williamson met the donor threshold but not the polling requirement. 

But even as candidates lay out their agendas for the future of the country, a key component of that vision is still missing for the majority of candidates. Only four have released robust LGBTQ+ policy platforms: Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

As Out reported in June, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke was among the first candidates still in the race to release a sweeping plan for LGBTQ+ equality. His detailed 30-point platform includes the passage of the Equality Act, signing an executive order calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the murders of trans women of color, simplifying the process to correct trans identity documents, and allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

Prior to CNN’s LGBTQ+ Town Hall with the Human Rights Campaign on October 10, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg followed up with their comprehensive plans to address many of the community’s most pressing issues. 

But there are still key differences between each of the three candidates’ stances on LGBTQ+ rights. For example, Warren and Harris have called to decriminalize sex work, an issue that disproportionately affects queer and transgender people. Both candidates have faced criticism over their vote to approve FOSTA/SESTA, a bill that places sex workers in danger by cutting off avenues for them to screen clients. 

Amid the CNN LGBTQ+ Town Hall, Buttigieg said “it’s time” to discuss decriminalizing sex work but stopped short of supporting legalization. 

Many gay and bisexual men remain prevented from donating blood, an issue addressed in detail under the LGBTQ+ platforms laid out by Warren and Buttigieg. Harris has been an advocate for ending the blood ban since her days as California’s Attorney General, though her plan doesn’t state how she’d address this as president. 

The three plans each bear some distinguishing features that make them unique. Harris plans to create a post for a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House. Warren calls for the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons to oversee issues abroad, which would return the U.S. to the United Nations Human Rights Council. And Buttigieg includes details on how he’d bolster protections for LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees.

On the same day as those three proposals were unveiled, former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro outlined a detailed plan to fight against LGBTQ+ discrimination in adoption and foster care in a Medium post. The policy includes passing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act to prevent same-sex couples from being turned away from placement centers.

But like the majority of contenders who will address America on Tuesday, his campaign has yet to release a comprehensive LGBTQ+ platform with detailed proposals addressing other problems facing the community.

As of publication, these candidates include Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, and Tulsi Gabbard. To their credit, each member of this group has a boilerplate page on their campaign website spelling out some specifics of their LGBTQ+ platforms. For instance, Booker discusses overturning the trans military ban, Gabbard talks about her history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights legislation, and Sanders opposes anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in the name of religion.

Meanwhile, Castro also has an LGBTQ+ rights page, the most detailed of those mentioned here. It lays out 11 bullet points, including banning conversion therapy and fighting stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS.

But at least three candidates have yet to release even that. Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Joe Biden, and businessman Tom Steyer don’t have specific LGBTQ+ sections on their website, although Steyer gives a nod to the community within the wider umbrella of “civil rights.”

All three of these White House hopefuls, meanwhile, joined CNN last Thursday for its LGBTQ+ Town Hall, billed as the largest-ever presidential forum on LGBTQ+ rights in history. Biden, Klobuchar, and Steyer remain broadly supportive of LGBTQ+ equality, while Biden often credits himself for his relatively early support of issues like same-sex marriage and trans rights.

Out will update this story should any of the aforementioned candidates release comprehensive LGBTQ+ platforms or add LGBTQ+ rights tabs to their official web pages.

RELATED | Who Won and Who Lost at CNN's Historic LGBTQ+ Town Hall

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