June 12, 2019 at 6:00 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Beto O’Rourke unveils comprehensive LGBT policy proposal

Beto O’Rourke has unveiled a 2020 LGBT agenda. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Democratic 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke made a bid for LGBT support Wednesday with a policy plan that seeks to advance LGBT rights and takes shots at the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine them.

After more than two years of reversals on LGBT rights under President Trump, O’Rourke proposes a way forward that emphasizes both use of executive authority and a call for legislative action.

“LGBTQ+ Americans have made incredible progress over the past decade, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of activists and advocates — but too many LGBTQ+ people still lack protection under many states’ laws and the current administration is encouraging rather than stamping out discrimination,” O’Rourke said in a statement. “We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love.”

The plan breaks down O’Rourke proposal to advance LGBT rights into three categories: Executive authority, calls for legislative action and strengthening LGBT rights globally.

Through executive action, O’Rourke pledges to reverse Trump’s transgender military ban; assert laws barring sex discrimination cover anti-LGBT discrimination and undo reversals to Obamacare regulations ensuring transgender people have access to transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery.

Taking special note of ongoing violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, O’Rourke says he’ll direct the Justice Department to investigate crimes against transgender people and ensure law enforcement agencies have adequate training “related to implicit bias, use of force and accurately reporting the gender of victims.”

O’Rourke also proposes through executive action tasking the Federal Trade Commission to tackle false advertising that promotes widely discredited conversion therapy; creating an interagency task force on LGBT non-discrimination; and adding LGBT questions to the U.S. Census.

Under the section devoted to his legislative agenda, O’Rourke highlights the Equality Act to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination, ensuring LGBT people have access to health care through a universal health care system and LGBT-inclusive reform of the criminal justice system.

Finally, in the section devoted to international LGBT rights, O’Rourke pledges to improve the process for LGBT asylum seekers, secure a global treaty explicitly protecting LGBT people from persecution and reestablish the U.S. special envoy for LGBT rights abroad.

The proposal is consistent with O’Rourke’s tenure as a member of Congress, when he supported LGBT rights during each of his three terms representing Texas’ 16th congressional district, as well as recent a town hall in Alexandria, Va., when he spoke in favor of the Equality Act.

O’Rourke competes for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election in sea of other Democrats who have pledged to advance LGBT rights, including former Vice President Joseph Biden, who pledged to make the Equality Act his No. 1 priority, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who similar unveiled a comprehensive LGBT plan.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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