The only Democratic candidate for president who has campaigned at a drag club, is now the first candidate to present an agenda to protect the rights of gay and transgender Americans. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Saturday — the first day of Gay Pride Month — her plan to help enforce LGBTQ rights.
Gillibrand's plan sorts priorities into four categories: equal rights, families and children, health care, and safety.
To safeguard equal rights, Gillibrand would call on two federal agencies to fight LGBTQ discrimination. Upon being elected, she would overturn the Trump administration's ban on transgender men and women serving in the military, and direct the Department of Defense to ban restrictive policies affecting HIV-positive members of the military.
Gillibrand would also use the Department of Justice to classify LGBT individuals as a "protected class" and direct specific attorneys in the department to focus on the abolition of LGBT discrimination.
Gillibrand specifically noted decreasing the murder rate of transgender people as a Justice Department objective. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 23 trans people were killed in the U.S. in 2016, 29 in 2017, 26 in 2018, and five have been killed so far in 2019.
Regarding families and children, Gillibrand outlined multiple policy plans focused on gay parents and children. She would codify gay marriage, nominate an Education secretary who focuses on LGBTQ issues, and ban conversation therapy – the controversial practice of coaching, sometime aggressively, gay children into believing they are heterosexual.
In the agenda, Gillibrand contrasted her policies with President Trump, claiming the president is "a bigoted, cowardly bully who makes the LGBTQ community more vulnerable."
Gillibrand called to fully support the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by former President Obama in 2009. The bill provides federal funding and assistance for hate crime investigations.
The senator's agenda also promised to fight LGBTQ homelessness. A 2017 University of Chicago study found that young people who are gay or transgender are 120% more likely to fall into homelessness than their peers.
Gillibrand – who supports Medicare for All – would require hormone therapy, treatments used to medically assist trans men and women transition, be covered by insurance.
She would also make PrEP, a leading HIV drug, more affordable, and repeal the FDA's regulation preventing gay men from donating blood if they have had sex twelve months prior to intended donation.
Gillibrand, who has been criticized for having more conservative views during her time as a member of the US House of Representatives, has touted her Senate voting record on gay rights on the campaign trail. Last month, Gillibrand visited Iowa's oldest drag club where she was interviewed by Marti Gould Cummings, a popular drag queen known from the TV series "Shade: Queens of NYC". Sen. Gillibrand also was the first candidate to call for a third gender option on birth certificates.
In May, the senator proposed her "Family Bill of Rights" and has been an outspoken critic of restrictive abortion laws. The proposed LGBTQ agenda marks another moment for Gillibrand to show she is working to position herself as a champion for social issues.