Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg doesn’t typically jump on press calls to release his policies. He leaves that up to surrogates, he tells reporters.
“But this is an issue that really does mean a lot to me,” the former New York City mayor says. “And so I wanted you to hear it directly from me today.”
Bloomberg is climbing in national polls. Politico reports that he has doubled Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s polling numbers and breezed past Pete Buttigieg, despite entering the race in the 11th hour, and skipping the Iowa caucus.
In a sure sign that media mogul is serious about courting the left, Bloomberg released a five-point LGBTQ platform on Tuesday, something not even former Vice President Joe Biden or Klobuchar have done.
Bloomberg is vowing to tackle LGBTQ workplace protections, fix health care, advocate for queer families, institute criminal justice reform to protect transgender people, and restore the U.S. as a leader on LGBTQ rights by protecting queer asylum-seekers and ending the HIV/AIDs epidemic.
“As president, I'll work to protect every single member of the LGBTQ plus community from hatred and discrimination," he says. "I'll work to pass the equality act to make sure that civil rights laws apply to sexual orientation and identity.”
Bloomberg’s pitch on LGBTQ rights is far more modest than some of his more progressive Democratic opponents. Openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg has an 18-page LGBTQ agenda, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s LGBTQ platform is 12 pages. Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been courting LGBTQ voters with a policy plan, although his embrace of anti-trans comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan last week has sparked the ire of LGBTQ advocates.
Bloomberg—who has been a Republican, a moderate, and is now running as a moderate Democrat—isn’t making a pitch to LGBTQ voters that they can’t find in the platforms other frontrunners. Warren and Buttigieg especially have offered LGBTQ voters particularly detailed platforms, laying out not just their values but how they plan to achieve specific policy objectives.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg shied from that tack, presenting reporters with a prepared statement and turning questions to staff. While the plan was released to media on Tuesday, an actionable, fleshed-out policy is not currently available on his website.
Largely, he is selling himself as a candidate with a history of working across the aisle to pass tough legislation, and vows to build Republican support for critical LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act. He wants to end conversion therapy, implement a plan to eradicate AIDS by 2030, fund LGBTQ community health centers, use his executive power to ensure non-discrimination protections for federal workers, outlaw panic defense across the nation, bolster law enforcement training around transgender issues, and reverse the transgender military ban.
Bloomberg says he was eager to tackle to rising tide of hatred against marginalized groups in the U.S.
“If we don't confront this reality and do something about it, we risk allowing it to overwhelm us,” he adds. “Our administration will put a stop to the rampant violence against transgender people and protect them from the bigots who seek to do them harm.”
His campaign does not support the decriminalization of sex work, an issue that has divided Democratic frontrunners. LGBTQ advocates are pushing for decriminalization as a way to curb violence against transgender people forced to work in underground economies.
Bloomberg brings a complicated legacy on LGBTQ issues. He notes that he backed marriage equality as early as 2005, but New York City appealed a marriage equality court ruling under his administration that same year.
Most damaging to his campaign, however, has been Bloomberg’s support of the New York City Police Department's “stop-and-frisk” policy, long criticized as a tactic for racial profiling by the NYPD. (Bloomberg has apologized for backing the policy during his run for office.)