U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris says that if elected president, she'd establish an advocate for LGBTQ rights within the White House, work to make HIV prevention drugs more affordable and accessible, and address violence against transgender people.
Those are all aspects of a comprehensive plan on LGBTQ rights the California senator released Thursday, ahead of a town hall on LGBTQ issues where she and eight other Democratic presidential hopefuls will appear this evening.
"Kamala has been a champion for LGBTQ+ equality throughout her career," reads the explanation of her plan, posted on her campaign website. "When most Democrats were on the sidelines, Kamala stood with the community by fighting for marriage equality. As San Francisco District Attorney, she created one of the first LGBTQ+ hate crimes units in the nation and as [California] Attorney General she helped to defeat the gay/trans panic defense used by perpetrators of hate crimes. There is no one in this race who has a longer or deeper record on this issue. Kamala is committed to bringing this same leadership to the White House to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are able to live proudly and openly, without fear of discrimination."
Harris's plan includes several promises she and other Dems have already made, such as working to pass the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide in employment, housing, public accommodations, and several other aspects of life, and sign it into law. She also reiterates that she will reverse Donald Trump's ban on military service by transgender people and other discriminatory actions by his administration -- for instance, its efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act's civil rights protections and its moves to allow employers to use religion as an excuse to discriminate.
"The record of the Trump/Pence hate agenda could not be any clearer," the web document reads. "As president, Kamala will roll it back."
Something that differentiates her platform from those of other candidates is a pledge to create a White House position dedicated to LGBTQ rights. "Kamala will go further to make sure we finally achieve full equality for the LGBTQ+ community," the site says. "As a first step, Kamala will establish a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House." The advocate and their staff will work with agencies across the government and with LGBTQ activists to address hate crimes and other issues facing the community, and will "take a leading role in ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are represented across our government," according to the site. Harris promises to appoint LGBTQ people, including trans and gender-nonconforming people, to her Cabinet, other federal agencies, and the judiciary.
"When LGBTQ+ people have a seat at the table, the entire nation benefits from the perspective and experience they draw upon to create a more just and inclusive America," the site notes.
On health care, Harris says she will use the federal government's authority to reduce the prices of drugs used for HIV prevention, in strategies known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). She also says her Medicare for All plan, which would provide universal health care coverage, would assure that insurance covers PrEP and PEP drugs, gender-affirmation procedures, and reproductive health services.
Other aspects of her plan include reforming the criminal justice system to end profiling of LGBTQ people and assure that police understand the community's issues; creating additional initiatives to support transgender people, addressing not only violence against them but their high rate of poverty and suicide, and fostering transgender leaders; improving the tracking of hate crimes; working to combat homelessness among LGBTQ people; banning discrimination in adoption and foster care; and dealing with issues concerning students and other young people, such as preventing discrimination in schools.