Both Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren released plans today for advancing LGBTQ+ equality, each one an extremely comprehensive document that goes far beyond what Democratic candidates have proposed in previous elections.
The documents come just hours before numerous candidates are scheduled to appear at an LGBTQ+ Town Hall hosted by the Human Rights Campaign and CNN. But Pete's new plan is his most robust outreach to LGBTQ+ voters yet, laying out in excruciating detail how he plan to improve the lives of queer citizens. Entitled "Becoming Whole: A New Era for LGBTQ+ Americans," it includes a pledge to expand access to PreP, end conversion therapy, and expand Medicare for those who want it.
The Buttigieg plan begins with top legislative priorities like passing the Equality Act, reversing anti-LGBTQ+ executive orders by the Trump administration, ending the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, and stopping Republican "turn away the gays" directives that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people.
Uniquely, Buttigieg's plan calls for a nonbinary option on all U.S. passports and preventing the genital mutilation of intersex infants.
When it comes to health, the Buttigieg plan calls for improvements to Medicare, eliminating obstacles to coverage for transgender patients, broadening cultural competency training for health care providers, and increasing resources for suicide prevention programs.
Crucially, Buttigieg's plan aligns with the projections of HIV/AIDS experts who say that the epidemic can be ended by 2030. Under the Trump administration, HIV programs have languished, but Buttigieg would reinstate programs like the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and roll back budget cuts. The plan also specifically calls for expanding access to PrEP and mentions "undetectable means untransmittable" by name.
There's also a pledge to end the criminalization of HIV transmission between sexual partners. These policies were established early in the epidemic and remain on the books in 19 states, even as we gain a better understanding of how the virus is spread.
Buttigieg's plan calls for numerous youth and family-oriented policies, such as funding anti-bullying programs, investigating civil rights complaints, ending conversion therapy, and ending discrimination against same-sex adoptive parents. The campaign has also proposed a mentorship program called the We Belong National Mentorship Program.
Buttigieg would also expand hate crime protections, train police in LGBTQ+ competency, and end policies that withhold medical care from trans inmates. He has also pledged to reduce incarceration rates, which disproportionately affect marginalized groups, by 50 percent.
The plan also contains a suite of provisions for LGBTQ+ veterans -- most notably ending Trump's ban on open trans military service -- as well as improving programs for queer and trans elders and LGBTQ+ people living abroad.
But there are some areas that Buttigieg's plan doesn't tackle. Among them are decriminalizing sex work and bolstering rural infrastructure investments -- all of which disproportionately impact queer and transgender people. While he has elsewhere discussed plans to reduce incarceration and raise the federal minimum wage, it would have also been interesting to hear him expand on those plans in his LGBTQ+ platform.
And while Buttigieg calls for nonbinary markers on passports, he makes no mention of other forms of government identification.
On the very same day, Warren released a plan that is similarly ambitious and touches on many of the same pledges -- such as signing the Equality Act, overturning Trump's harmful executive orders, and ending "turn away the gays" policies. Warren also calls for ending TSA practices that single out trans passengers for harassment, as well as requiring schools and federal contractors to end discriminatory policies.
In addition, Warren lays out a "Medicare for All" policy that goes beyond Buttigieg's "Medicare for All Who Want It" proposal.
The candidates will face off, along with numerous other Democratic frontrunners, at tonight's CNN Town Hall. In contrast to the Trump administration, all nine candidates who are taking the stage tonight -- which include Warren, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris -- have expressed strong support for policies that benefit LGBTQ+ people. At a separate forum hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, and GLAAD, all candidates pledged to sign a federal nondiscrimination law banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.