Elizabeth Warren has a plan for LGBTQ rights.
Days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act in a historic 236-to-173 vote, the Massachusetts Senator and 2020 presidential candidate reaffirmed her belief in full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people under the law. In a statement shared exclusively with NewNowNext, Warren claimed she would “fight tooth and nail … to ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in employment, housing, and healthcare” if elected to the Oval Office in 2020.
“Our LGBTQ friends across the country continue to face discrimination at work, at school, and in their communities,” Warren claimed in an email, juxtaposing her plan for equality with the steady erosion of LGBTQ rights under the current administration. “At every turn, President Trump and his right-wing allies have been doing whatever they can to unravel their rights.”
If passed, the Equality Act go even further than protecting LGBTQ people in the three areas that Warren highlighted. Sponsored by U.S. House Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the legislation would guarantee equal treatment for LGBTQ people in all forms of public life—including the jury system, education, federal funding, credit, and public accommodations. Under such a law, transgender people across the U.S. would have the right to access public restrooms and facilities that align with their lived gender identities.
Senator Elizabeth Warren at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013.
Although the majority of Americans think that LGBTQ people are already enjoy full equality under the law, individuals can still be fired from their jobs, denied housing, or refused bathroom access because of their identity in 29 states.
Warren has previously confirmed her support for the groundbreaking legislation, as have the majority of Democratic candidates running for the White House in 2020. After Trump came out against the Equality Act last week, she tweeted that “nobody should be discriminated against for who they are or who they love—period.”
However, Warren says her plan to restore LGBTQ rights doesn’t stop with federal nondiscrimination laws. When NewNowNext asked the candidate what she would do on day one if elected to the White House next November, she claims that she would “reverse the State Department’s decision to deny visas to unmarried same-sex partners of foreign diplomats,” a controversial policy first announced in October 2018.
That decision effectively forced foreign diplomats and U.N. representatives stationed in the U.S. to marry their partners if they wished to keep from being separated. Such an option, however, is not open to every same-sex couple: Marriage equality is only legal in two dozen countries.
Critics of the policy were concerned that partners deported under the policy could face harassment, discrimination, or even violence in countries which have yet to allow couples to marry.
At the time, Warren called the decision “cruel and discriminatory,” tweeting that it “does nothing to enhance our national security.”
According to Warren, she would also fight to “protect civil rights for transgender people and reverse the Trump administration's transgender military ban,” of which she has been a vocal critic. In a thread responding to a July 2017 tweetstorm announcing the president’s intention to ban trans people from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces, she claimed the POTUS had made it “clear that he cares more about extreme ideology than military readiness.”
“The only thing—only thing—that matters when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job,” she wrote. “[Trump] can pretend this is a military decision, but it isn't. Banning troops on gender identity is shameful & makes us less safe.”
When the American Medical Association condemned the ban in an April 2019 statement claiming there’s no “medically valid reason” to block trans people from serving, Warren reiterated her opposition to the ban.
“We’ll stand with service members and fight this cruelty with everything we’ve got,” she said on Twitter.
The trans military ban went into effect on April 12 following a January ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court allowing enforcement of the policy. Prior to the 5-4 verdict, the policy had been blocked in a series of district court rulings. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who issued a federal injunction against the ban in October 2017, claimed it does “not appear to be supported by any facts.”
A RAND Corporation study conducted a year earlier found that allowing transgender people to enlist in the military would have minimal impact on unit cohesion or troop readiness, despite Trump’s fears of “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
In her statement, Warren also called to end “discrimination against gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood,” pointing to the one-year deferral period for queer male blood donors enforced by organizations like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Red Cross. Although defenders of the policy claim that men who have sex with men (MSMs) are more likely to test positive for HIV/AIDS, the presence of the virus can be detected in the bloodstream within as little as seven days after transmission.
Warren also called to “ban the despicable practice of conversion therapy nationwide,” a discredited form of treatment she has previously cited as “dangerous and cruel.” In April 2017, the lawmaker was one of 20 Democrats behind the reintroduction of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would classify any attempt to “change” the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth as “fraud.” She was joined in the effort by fellow 2020 hopefuls Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Senator Elizabeth Warren at a rally in George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, 2019.
Lastly, Warren reiterated support for another piece of legislation she sponsored: the Refund Equality Act, which is intended to resolve issues same-sex married couples face when filing jointly on tax returns.
The progressive candidate has long been referred to as an “ally” in the movement for LGBTQ rights, first coming out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage in December 2011 during her successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. She came out for marriage equality months before President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same. In a February 2019 article grading Warren’s record on equality, The Advocate claimed there was “little to debate … about her support for LGBTQ rights,” calling her “a persistent champion.”
In January, Warren apologized for what ThinkProgress called the “one blemish” on her LGBTQ rights record: her opposition to medical care for transgender inmates. In 2012, she claimed that gender confirming surgeries for trans people behind bars wasn’t a “good use of taxpayer dollars.”
But after years of declining to address the gaffe, Warren claimed she had evolved on the issue in an email to the liberal publication.
“Senator Warren supports access to medically necessary services, including transition-related surgeries,” claimed an unnamed spokesperson for her 2020 exploratory committee. “This includes procedures taking place at the VA, in the military, or at correctional facilities.”
Warren currently sits in third in the Democratic primary, according to polling averages from RealClearPolitics. Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a comfortable lead with 38.3% of the vote, followed by Bernie Sanders at 18.8%. Warren boasts 8.5%, ahead of Kamala Harris (7.3%) and openly gay South Bend mayor Pete Buttgieg (7%). Tracking shows Warren has been steadily gaining ground since January 1. At the beginning of the year, she trailed in fifth place—with 4.3%.