July 29, 2020 at 1:08 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Dems vow to protect trans health, push Equality Act in 2020 platform
The Democratic Party 2020 platform includes language in support of trans health and the Equality Act.

Vows to protect transgender health, pass the Equality Act and undo the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Trump administration are among the LGBTQ highlights of the party platform Democrats have proposed for 2020.

A copy of the draft platform made public in recent days reveals the document affords entire paragraphs to addressing LGBTQ issues in addition to weaving LGBTQ people into other aspects of the document.

The Democratic Platform Committee met remotely Monday to approve the document and adopt amendments, including additional language bolstering support for LGBTQ people. The next step is a vote by convention delegates during the voting period Aug 3-15.

One section with the header “Protecting LGBTQ+ Health” repudiates the recent rule change from the Trump administration enabling health care providers and insurance companies to turn away transgender patients.

“We condemn the Trump administration’s discriminatory actions against the LGBTQ+ community, including the dangerous and unethical regulation allowing doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to discriminate against patients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the draft platform says. “Democrats will reverse this rule-making and restore non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in health insurance.”

The same paragraph also calls for ensuring LGBTQ people have “full access to needed health care and resources,” including access to PrEP for HIV prevention, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery. The language also recommits the federal government to beating the HIV epidemic by 2025, taking an implicit knock at the Trump administration for setting 2030 as the target date to end the epidemic.

Another section titled “Protecting LGBTQ+ Rights” praises the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, thus illegal in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but also calls for passage of the Equality Act to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination more extensively.

“We will fight to enact the Equality Act and at last outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in housing, public accommodations, access to credit, education, jury service and federal programs,” the draft platform says. “We will work to ensure LGBTQ+ people are not discriminated against when seeking to adopt or foster children, protect LGBTQ+ children from bullying and assault and guarantee transgender students’ access to facilities based on their gender identity.”

But Democrats also weaved into other aspects of the draft platform language pertaining to the LGBTQ community, such as a commitment to LGBTQ human rights overseas in a section on foreign policy, a nod to LGBTQ homeless youth in a section devoted to ending homelessness and recognition of Planned Parenthood’s care for LGBTQ patients in a paragraph committing to federal funds for the organization.

A detailed list of amendments adopted by the platform committee on Monday, as provided to the Washington Blade by the DNC, shows LGBTQ language was added more extensively in a series of amendments. Among the additions was language for a gay blood donation policy based on science, support for LGBTQ elders and recognition LGBTQ people suffer disproportionately from medical health disorders and substance abuse.

In contrast, the Republican Party has simply renewed its 2016 platform — which calls for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, supports widely discredited conversion therapy and repudiates transgender protections under the law — by approval from Republican National Committee leadership without convening its platform committee amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a prepared video to the platform committee shared with the Blade the 2020 Democratic draft platform is “the most pro-LGBTQ agenda in the history of the Democratic Party,” but the real work lies ahead on Election Day.

“For us to advance these policies and to achieve a fully inclusive future, we must elect a president and a Congress that will protect all LGBTQ people from discrimination, including by passing the Equality Act, and by signing it into law,” David said.

David also called for “federal judges from diverse backgrounds who will uphold the principle of equal justice under the law” and to “restructure existing systems” to address problems facing minority communities, including LGBTQ people.

The inclusion of LGBTQ issues comes as some progressives have expressed displeasure with the platform, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors who called on Democrats to make “sea changes” in the platform to address more boldly police brutality and racial injustice, according to a report in Axios.

One notable omission from the draft Democratic platform is any mention of same-sex marriage for the first time since 2008, nor do any of the amendments. The LGBTQ movement had to wage a significant battle to get the Democratic Party to include a marriage equality plank in the 2012 platform, when the issue was on the ballot in four states, and Democrats renewed that endorsement in the 2016 platform.

Evan Wolfson, founder of the now closed LGBTQ group Freedom to Marry who led a campaign to get the Democratic platform to endorse same-sex marriage in 2012, said via email to the Blade he “would be happy to see a mention of the freedom to marry win in the platform,” but at the end of the day the important thing is electing Biden.

“I think what is much more important is that the Party’s prospective nominee is a champion who has committed to be the most pro-LGBT president in history (outstripping the administration he served as vice president),” Wolfson said. “Joe Biden has backed up his pledge with a highly detailed campaign program and strong and diverse team, and I have no doubt that he and the Democrats up and down the ballot in federal, state, and local races represent the best choice for advancing LGBT progress and, even more urgent, getting our country back on track.”

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

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