The Democratic National Committee Friday released a draft platform, offering the first glimpse of how the party will frame this election and the issues it illuminates. In comparison with previous year’s platforms, issues affecting LGBT Americans appear to be more tightly woven into the fabric of the platform.
In the 35-page document, a single paragraph is dedicated exclusively to LGBT issues. In what appears to be a first for the party platform, it uses the word “transgender” twice. David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement notes, however, that the platform uses the term “LGBT” 11 times, which is more than double the usage of that phrase in the 2012 platform. This year's draft platform mentions “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” three times, each in succession on paragraphs about civil rights and military service. But nowhere in the document do the words “gay,” “lesbian,” or “bisexual” appear.
The paragraph titled “LGBT Rights” reads:
“Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized LGBT people — like every other American — have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, a restaurant can refuse to serve a transgender person, and a same-sex couple is at risk of being evicted from their home. That is unacceptable and must change. Democrats will fight for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT Americans and push back against state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals. We will combat LGBT youth homelessness and improve school climates, and we will protect transgender individuals from violence. We will promote LGBT human rights and ensure America’s foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people around the world.”
The draft platform also features a paragraph on HIV and AIDS, though it does not explicitly mention LGBT people in that section. Instead, it states that “Democrats believe an AIDS-free generation is in our grasp” and pledges to “increase research funding for the National Institutes of Health, cap pharmaceutical expenses for people living with HIV and AIDS, address HIV criminalization laws, and expand access for HIV prevention medications, particularly for the populations most at risk of infection.”
Notably, the draft platform — which will be revised numerous times before it’s finalized at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month — steers clear of some of the most contentious issues that have come to the forefront during this election season. The platform mentions “religious freedom” once, in a pointed rejection of “Donald Trump’s vilification of Muslims.”
Although the draft platform praises the demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it does not specifically address the freshly overturned ban on open military service by transgender Americans. It does acknowledge that “our military is strongest when people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities are honored for their service to our country.”
While previous platforms have highlighted Democrats’ support for specific LGBT-inclusive legislation, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the draft platform at this point does not mention that ill-fated legislation’s newest incarnation, the Equality Act. In fact, the draft features no discussion on defending or building on existing legal protections for LGBT people — a stark contrast from the promises made to LGBT Americans by presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
By contrast, the final party platform in 2012 used the term “LGBT” twice — once in reference to antibullying efforts to protect queer youth, and once to affirm that LGBT families should be considered in immigration reform. The word “gay” appeared four times, but the words “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “transgender” were nowhere to be found. That year’s platform mentioned “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” twice, in a two-paragraph section on civil rights.
The 2012 platform did have a paragraph that defined “gay rights as human rights,” urging U.S. diplomats to speak out against anti-LGBT laws and policies in countries around the world.
“Recognizing that gay rights are human rights, the President and his administration have vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct or ignore abuse,” the platform read. It also mentioned gay men in reference to the Affordable Care Act’s capacity to improve access to HIV and AIDS prevention among at-risk populations.
Read the full draft platform at the DNC’s website.