Donald Trump has taken the nation to the darkest depths of xenophobia and fear-based enmity toward those whose only crime is to not be white, straight, or cisgender. But, sometimes, the hurt comes from places you don’t expect. I have been disappointed to learn over the last few weeks of the hurtful comments Mike Bloomberg made in the past about the transgender community.
I am a Mike Bloomberg supporter because his LGBTQ record and agenda are among the most progressive I have ever seen. For four straight years, his company was rated as one of the best places to work by the Human Rights Campaign's 2020 Corporate Equality Index. For the last 20 years, his company has provided medical, dental, vision, and prescription benefits to same-sex domestic partners in its U.S. workforce. And Bloomberg LP grants the health benefits recommended by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health for those who plan to transition.
Therefore, I was upset when Mike Bloomberg—the candidate I think has the best shot at uniting our country, fighting for LGBTQ equity, and defeating Donald Trump—described the transgender community in a thoughtless way. His remarks were what I hear far too often. As a pastoral counselor, however, I know good people say thoughtless things. We all do it, and people are hurt in the process.
But last week, Mike Bloomberg did something that restored my faith in his leadership. He apologized. Imagine that, a human willing to admit he did the wrong thing and then be humble enough to own his mistake and make it right.
Bloomberg said: “I understand that my words had caused hurt...and those words do not reflect my unwavering support for equality for transgender Americans.” Then he went on to say, “I want to offer my sincerest apologies to the members of the transgender community.”
I have received a lot of hate mail and insensitive comments since I transitioned, but I have not heard many apologies. Mike genuinely and appropriately apologized. That is all we can ask of anybody.
I understand how powerful an apology can be. When I was still a male, I spoke in some of the largest churches in the nation and did not stand up for LGBTQ+ rights, even though I knew that none of those churches were fully supportive of our population. I cannot undo what I did, but I have dedicated my life to lessening the suffering of others. I learned from my mistakes, and so did Mike Bloomberg. What do we have if we do not allow for personal growth and a genuine apology?
Under the Trump presidency, civility has become passé. But through his apology, Mike Bloomberg demonstrated in a very powerful way that he can admit when he is wrong and that he is willing to listen and grow. America needs that kind of self-reflective decency more than ever.
The 2020 presidential election is an existential moment for America. We are voting for more than a president. We are voting for what kind of nation we want to be. Will we love our neighbors and treat others the way we want to be treated, or will fear-based xenophobia win the day? I hope we will respond to our better angels and embrace our diversity as a nation, working to make America a safe and secure place for everyone.
I believe Mike Bloomberg is the candidate who will reverse the setbacks to LGBTQ rights that we have experienced over the past three years. He will pass and sign the Equality Act into law, ensuring that LGBTQ Americans have nondiscrimination protection in a variety of areas, including employment.
In 2020, we must use the power of our hearts to listen when good people see the error of their ways and come forward with heavy hearts and apologize. It is my hope that we all can work together to create a world that encourages people to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly as citizens of our great nation.
I think electing a capable leader who can admit a mistake and make amends will do wonders to soothe our broken society. That is why I am still voting for Mike Bloomberg.
Main image: Mike Bloomberg at his final Pride parade as New York City mayor in 2013