Kirsten Gillibrand has (basically) entered the race.
The Democratic Senator from New York announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that aired Tuesday night, Reuters reports.
“As a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” she said, naming universal health care, better public schools, and increased class mobility as key points in her 2020 platform. “You are never going to accomplish any of these things if you don’t take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible … taking on institutional racism, taking on corruption and greed in Washington, taking on special interests that write legislation in the dead of night. I know I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done.”
Gillibrand joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who launched an exploratory committee late last year, and previously announced candidates Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Sec. of Urban Housing and Development Julian Castro, and Rep. John Delaney of Maryland (who’s apparently been running for like a year and a half??) in seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination against the presumptive Republican nominee, Pres. Donald Trump.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California is expected to announce her presidential campaign later this month. Other rumored Democratic candidates include former Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.
Gillibrand’s record on LGBTQ+ rights is pretty solid. In her 12 years in Congress, first as a representative for New York’s 20th district and now as the state’s junior Senator, she advocated for the legalization of same-sex marriage; pushed for the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”; and supported numerous other pro-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation that ultimately did not pass like the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Centering health care access in her Late Show announcement is also promising, considering how tenuous that access can be for many queer and trans people, as are her efforts to combat sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and her calls to eliminate U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement following the implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, much like fellow 2020 hopeful Kamala Harris (slash nearly everyone in Congress), Gillibrand voted for FOSTA-SESTA, a pair of laws intended to curb online sex trafficking that have pushed many sex workers offline into street-based and other, more dangerous forms of sex work, just as experts warned. One in eight trans people have relied on sex work for their income at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for Trans Equality’s 2015 survey, so Gillibrand’s support for legislation that has endangered the lives of sex workers is a major stain on her otherwise pro-LGBTQ+ record.