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Booker Says Gabbard’s Support for the Equality Act Is ‘Not Enough’

Tulsi Gabbard and Cory Booker spar over LGBTQ+ rights at the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate.

“We need to have a president who will fight to protect [LGBTQ+] Americans every single day from violence.”

Former Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro wasn't the only presidential candidate to mention trans people at Wednesday night's debate.

The debate -- which pitted 10 different 2020 hopefuls against one another, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke -- is the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle. For many of the candidates, it was their first chance to make a big impression on potential voters. No doubt, that's what Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey was thinking about when he came out strong on the topic of LGBTQ+ rights, condemning violence against Black trans women and queer youth.

Booker cut off Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii as she was wrapping up a statement of support for the Equality Act, a piece of federal legislation that would extend existing civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people if passed. Gabbard was asked this question because, as a state representative in the early 2000s, she advocated and legislated against the "homosexual extremists" trying to "promote their agenda to our vulnerable youth." She also briefly worked for an anti-marriage equality organization run by her father, but has since apologized and says she's changed her ways.

"There's still people facing discrimination in the workplace, still people who are unable to find a home for their families," said Gabbard. "It is this kind of discrimination that we need to address--"

"But it's not enough," Booker declared. "We do not talk enough about trans Americans -- especially African-American trans Americans -- and the incredibly high rates of murder right now. We don't talk enough about how many children -- about how 30% of [LGBTQ+] children do not go to school because of fear. It's not enough just to be on the Equality Act, which I'm an original co-sponsor of. We need to have a president who will fight to protect [LGBTQ+] Americans every single day from violence."

RELATED | Julian Castro Centers Trans People's Reproductive Justice at Debate

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