Skip to content
Pete speaking to a crowd

Becoming Whole

A New Era for LGBTQ+ People in America

To be LGBTQ+ in America today is to both enjoy freedoms hard-won by pioneers who came before us, and feel the urgency of unfinished promises of full equality under the law.

LGBTQ+ people aren’t just bystanders in American history—they are drivers of it. Henry Gerber, Del Martin, and Phyllis Ann Lyon founded some of the first LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the country. Resistance at the Stonewall Inn—primarly led by transgender women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, and lesbian activist Stormé Delarverie—galvanized a movement. As hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people lost their lives to the HIV epidemic, activists and organizations like ACT UP dramatically changed the community’s visibility and our health care system. Essex Hemphill, who famously declared in Essence magazine “I love myself as a black man and a homosexual,” confronted discrimination head on. Often at great personal risk, LGBTQ+ activists and organizations have pushed our country to meet its promise of becoming a more perfect union.

quotation marksLGBTQ+ people aren’t just bystanders in American history—they are drivers of it. They have pushed our country to meet its promise of becoming a more perfect union.

As a result of these heroic efforts, the movement for LGBTQ+ equality has made profound strides forward. In the last decade alone, advocates helped repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, ending a policy that forced service members to choose between the person they loved and the country they loved. We now have medications that not only make HIV manageable, but also help prevent infection. Decades ago, there was no place where someone could worship as an openly LGBTQ+ person. Today, majorities of every major religious group support LGBTQ+-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.Daniel Greenberg, Maxine Najle, PhD, Oyindamola Bola, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D. “Fifty Years After Stonewall” Public Religion Research Institute. March 26, 2019.

Twenty years ago, an awkward teenager at St. Joe High School in South Bend, Indiana, who didn’t know a single out LGBTQ+ student, never would have imagined how far we would come as a country. But what does our country look like to a teenager in 2019, just starting to realize who they are? What future do they see for themselves?

They see an administration that deems people who risk their lives for their country unfit for service because they are transgender.Chung, Andrew, Jonathan Stempel. “U.S. court lets Trump trasgender military ban stand, orders new review.” Reuters. June 15, 2019. They see a President who, when asked about LGBTQ+ rights by a reporter, joked of his Vice President: “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”Massie, Chris, Andrew Kaczynski. “Trump judicial nominee said trangender children are part of ‘Satan’s plan,’ defended ‘conversion therapy.” CNN. September 20, 2017. ​​​Mayer, Jane. “The danger of President Pence.” The New Yorker. October 16, 2017. They see more states covering gender-affirming procedures, but also see high schools refusing to allow trans students to use the bathroom of their current gender. They see people with HIV living vibrant lives, but also see people who cannot afford necessary, life-saving treatment. They see gay nightclubs opening up across the country, but they can’t—they refuse to—forget Pulse. They see transgender people, primarily Black transgender women, murdered at alarming rates. They see a country where they are still not fully free or safe—especially if they are transgender or a person of color—and one in which they still don’t feel like they fully belong.

quotation marksTo be LGBTQ+ in America today is to both enjoy freedoms hard-won by pioneers who came before us, and feel the urgency of an unfinished promises of full equality under the law.

In the past week alone, four out of five LGBTQ+ youth felt down or depressed, almost half reported feeling worthless, and last night, almost all had trouble sleeping.Human Rights Campaign. “2018 LGBT Youth Report. Across much of our country, discrimination and the ever-present fear of it continue to govern aspects of LGBTQ+ people’s lives. Which bathroom can I use safely? Can I kiss my partner at this restaurant? Should I hold their hand in public? Will I be able to raise a family? Will I be harassed at school? Can I live here and be happy? Will I ever be accepted?

When I’m President, I hope these questions will no longer haunt us. We will share solutions big enough to meet the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces, while bringing the American people together to understand that our freedoms are bound to one another.

I know how it feels to peer, and then look, and then climb over these walls. As President, I will use my story, our energy, and the power of the presidency to tear down the walls that have excluded far too many LGBTQ+ people for far too long.

As President, Pete will holistically address the LGBTQ+ community’s needs through the following policies:

Equality

Pass the Equality Act, so LGBTQ+ people are no longer denied a job or housing.

In 29 states, an LGBTQ+ individual can be denied a job or housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.Public Leadership Institute. “LGBT Fairness Act.” They can be denied service at a restaurant or hotel.Miller, Susan. “Not just about a cake shop': LGBT people battle bias in everyday routines.” USA Today. January 16, 2018. The federal Equality Act would prohibit such discrimination nationwide.

Ensure freedom of religion is not freedom to discriminate.

A Buttigieg administration will examine existing religious exemption policies in the federal government, especially those deployed by the Trump administration to undermine the rights of LGBTQ+ people. This includes reconfiguring offices that were put in place to enable discrimination.

End the blanket ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men, and replace it with a science-based approach.

A safe and adequate blood supply is essential for all Americans. One study found that lifting the ban on blood donations would provide nearly 300,000 more pints of blood per year in the United States.Miyashita, Ayako, and Gary J. Gates. “Update: Effects of Lifting Blood Donation Bans on Men Who Have Sex with Men.” The Center for HIV Law and Policy, September 2014. As President, Pete will ensure that all public health decisions and regulations are based on scientific evidence and not fear or stigma.

After 15 years as an educator, it wasn’t until standing in the Rose Garden at the White House, as 2015 National Teacher of the Year, that I finally felt safe enough to do the work I’ve felt called to do. My home state is one of 28 that will not protect your right to work if you are LGBTQ+. Our LGBTQ+ youth need to know that in addition to the right to marry the person they love, they have the right to do the work they love free from discrimination.
— Shanna, Texas

Health

Guarantee every LGBTQ+ person access to affordable health coverage through Medicare for All Who Want It.

In an already severely uninsured or underinsured nation, LGBTQ+ people are even less likely to be insured than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. As a result, they are less likely to access crucial preventive services and more likely to forego care.Baker, Kellan, and Laura E. Durso. “Why Repealing the ACA is Bad Medicine for the LGBT Community.” Center for American Progress. March 22, 2017. Through Pete’s Medicare for All Who Want It plan, anyone will be able to opt in to an affordable public plan.

Pass the LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Act to address key risk factors for deaths by suicide.

LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely than their non-LGBTQ+ peers to attempt suicide.Hafeez, Hudaisa, Muhammad Zeshan, Muhammad A Tahir, Nusrat Jahan, and Sadiq Naveed. “Health Care Disparities Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth: A Literature Review.” Cureus. Cureus, April 20, 2017 More than two in five transgender people attempt suicide, with numbers climbing even higher for transgender people who are people of color, mentally ill, low-income, or adolescent. Haas, Ann P., Philip L. Rodgers, and Jody L. Herman. “Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults.” The Williams Institute, January 2014. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Haas, Ann P., Philip L. Rodgers, and Jody L. Herman. “Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults.” The Williams Institute, January 2014. Pete will work with Congress to pass the LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Act, which will launch a LGBTQ+ suicide prevention task force and address key risk factors for LGBTQ+ deaths by suicide.

End the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which disproportionately affects gay men of color and transgender women, by 2030.

A Buttigieg administration will accomplish this ambitious and crucial goal through a variety of approaches, including: guaranteeing that everyone with HIV is, and remains, in treatment; ensuring access to PrEP for everyone who needs it; investing in finding an HIV cure; supporting evidence-based harm reduction; and reducing stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

On May 2, 2007, seven days before my 19th birthday, I was diagnosed with HIV. With Don't Ask, Don't Tell in law at the time, I just knew I was going to be separated from the military for having HIV and being gay. But I was wrong. Thanks to a support system, and health care and counseling provided through the military, I was able to find the strength to keep fighting and relieve the burden of worrying about treatment for the virus. Since then, I have seen it as a duty to help educate people about HIV and let them know that it is no longer the death sentence it once was.
— Taye, South Carolina

Youth & Families

I was unexpectedly forced out of the closet in high school by my peers and, suddenly, my life was turned upside down. I was constantly harassed, threatened, and ostracized. Things became so bad at school, and within a family that didn't understand or accept me, that I dropped out of high school and attempted to commit suicide. While I was in recovery, I found that there were nine student suicides over the course of a year in my school district; I was one pill away from being the tenth. I firmly believed—and still do​—​that I had to be here for a reason when so many others weren't.
— Kyrstin, Minnesota

Prohibit violence, bullying, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and ensure that all students can learn in safe, supportive environments.

When LGBTQ+ students feel safe and protected, the overall learning environment becomes more welcoming and inclusive for all students. A Buttigieg administration will require schools to institute enumeration policies; support the Student Nondiscrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Ac;, and correctly interpret Title IX to include protection of transgender students.

End “conversion therapy” for good.

“Conversion therapy” is currently legal in 31 states.LGBT Movement Advancement Project. “Conversion Therapy Laws.” One state, North Carolina, partially banned conversion therapy for minors. An estimated 73,000 young people will receive “conversion therapy” before their 18th birthday.Mallory, Christy, Taylor N.T. Brown, and Kerith J. Conron. “Conversion Therapy and LGBT Youth.” The Williams Institute, June 2019. We will work to pass the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which will require the FTC to classify as fraud and thereby prohibit “conversion therapy”.

End youth homelessness.

An estimated 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, and 70,000 transgender youth lack access to secure housing.Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund. ​​​Murray, Laura Rena. “Trans, Teens, and Homeless: America’s Most Vulnerable Population” Rolling Stone. September 26, 2017. We will increase federal investment in housing and services for youth experiencing homelessness, extend homeless assistance grants, and encourage family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth to stem homelessness before it starts.

Justice

Ensure the safety of all LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender women of color.

In 2017, nearly one fifth of hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity bias.Romero, Adam P., Ari M. Shaw, and Kerith J. Conron. “Gun Violence Against Sexual and Gender Minorities in the United States: A Review of Research Findings and Needs.” The Williams Institute, April 2019. We will support law enforcement and community policing strategies to investigate and prosecute these crimes in a manner that ensures justice to trans women and their families, while protecting the trans community. It is crucial that law enforcement is trained to treat LGBTQ+ people in a culturally respectful way. Additionally, a Buttigieg administration will vigorously enforce the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Community

Support the faith-based LBGTQ+ community.

A Buttigieg administration will fund faith-based organizations that service the LGBTQ+ community, from providing safe houses to offering counseling for LGBTQ+ people. We will also give the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships a mandate to work with faith and community leaders who support LGBTQ+ people.

Launch a national mentorship program for LGBTQ+ youth.

Learning from initiatives like the My Brother’s Keeper Program launched by President Barack Obama, the We Belong national mentorship program will call on cross-sector leaders to mentor LGBTQ+ youth and strengthen the resources, self-love, and sense of belonging they need to thrive.

I am a bisexual mom raising a lesbian daughter and a questioning child. I feel like bold leaders fought for me and my family knowing that we would need the space to exist as a queer family. I need, and my children need, to exist openly and to be celebrated. I am also a minister and a veteran; these are also important areas in which people have fought for me and my family to embody a much wider representation of family values. And now it's my generation's turn to fight for the next generation. A lot of people need to see that being all of who you are is not contrary to being a faithful person.
— Shawna, Colorado

Honor

Honor the contributions of the LGBTQ+ veterans and service members, starting by rescinding the transgender military ban.

Although its harms can never be fully undone, we will immediately repeal the ban on military service for transgender Americans and allow our transgender troops to serve openly. We will also give every service member discharged because of their gender identity the opportunity to re-enlist, re-commission, or access resources.

Review and restore honorable discharges and appropriate benefits to the over 100,000 veterans discharged solely based for being LGBTQ+.

Barnes, Julian E. "Military curbs Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on gays." Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2010.

LGBTQ+ Americans have always played a role in the defense of our country, and we must recognize those who chose to serve in spite of policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that sought to suppress their identities.

Fund and promote the ongoing documentation and celebration of LGBTQ+ arts, history and culture.

A Buttigieg administration will increase funding to help document and celebrate LGBTQ+ history and culture, as well as for arts and culture grants that are LGBTQ+-inclusive. We will also expand the representation of LGBTQ+ people and history by designating National Monuments in our National Parks System.

I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2008. As a transgender woman, a condition of my service was hiding my gender identity. After leaving the military in 2014 and beginning my transition, I was encouraged to see steps toward equality, including the monumental decision by the Department of Defense to lift its ban on transgender service members in 2016. This meant that people like me can serve without hiding, making for stronger, happier soldiers. It is disheartening that this progress has been destroyed by a reflexive, transphobic action.
— R. Charlotte, Connecticut

Leadership

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, I stood at the Pentagon press podium before a packed audience to introduce then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who would shortly announce the official end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). My own personal journey to that podium had been a long and unexpected one: from a kid in Tucson, Arizona, who had planned to please his loving parents by becoming a lawyer, getting married, and presenting them with grandchildren, to ending up as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the first openly-gay individual to be Senate confirmed to a senior Pentagon position.
— Doug, Delaware

Recognize the right to refugee status and asylum in the United States for individuals being persecuted for being LGBTQ+.

We will protect and welcome as refugees and asylees people persecuted for being LGBTQ+ in their home countries. We will also dramatically reduce the number of all immigrants in detention, particularly for LGBTQ+ individuals and others for whom detention poses a particular risk of harm.

Lead against persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people on the global stage, and encourage our ambassadors to be spokespersons for LGBTQ+ rights as human rights.

A Buttigieg administration will advocate strongly for LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, particularly in contributing to the movement to remove homophobic and transphobic laws that prevent people from living safe and open lives in their countries, so that people will not be forced to flee their native countries. U.S. embassies and consulates will be safe and welcoming spaces for local LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations.

Pete waves at Pride

Our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, and neighbors deserve complete protection under the law. In America, our freedoms are bound together. If you’re with us, text EQUALITY to 25859.

By submitting your cell phone number you are agreeing to receive periodic text messages from Pete for America. Message and data rates may apply. Text HELP for more information. Text STOP to stop receiving messages.

Footnotes

Arrow Up