Should Pete Buttigieg be elected president -- a not impossible outcome -- it will be a landmark moment in history, with the first LGBTQ person elevated to the White House. But the gay South Bend, Ind., mayor and Democratic presidential candidate wants LGBTQ voters to know his victory will be more than symbolic.
"Twenty years ago, an awkward teenager at St. Joe High, who didn't know a single out LGBTQ+ student there, never would have imagined how far we would come," Buttigieg told The Advocate. "And yet discrimination and the ever-present fear of it continue to govern aspects of LGBTQ+ people's lives who question if they can be who they are and keep their job, or come out at school knowing they might be bullied for it."
Buttigieg on Thursday unveiled a comprehensive plan to ensure equality for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. His campaign provided The Advocate an exclusive first look at his plan, titled "Becoming Whole: A New Era for LGBTQ+ Americans."
The document touches on a number of areas affecting gender and sexual minorities, including health, youth and family issues, religion, racism, transphobia, and HIV.
"When I'm president," Buttigieg said, "we will implement solutions bold enough to meet the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces while bringing the American people together to understand that our freedoms are bound up in each other."
A President Buttigieg will push for passage of the Equality Act -- which would ban, among other things, workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity -- legislation opposed by President Trump. Buttigieg also wants to immediately rescind the current administration's repeated efforts to strip away protections from discrimination.
For example, Buttigieg plans to immediately end the Trump administration's transgender military ban. In doing so, he will grant honorable discharges and restore appropriate benefits to anyone pushed out of service solely for their identity.
A Buttigieg administration will launch the We Belong National Mentorship Program, a president-led initiative calling on private and public sector leaders to mentor youth and strengthen their sense of belonging.
Regarding health care, the candidate said he wants to improve access and quality for LGBTQ people, and in a way that addresses specific needs of the community. That includes addressing HIV by providing affordable meds, like those used for PrEP and PeP.
"We now have medications that make HIV manageable and can help prevent individuals from being infected," the plan stresses.
He also wants to invest in research to find a cure, something Trump has often promised, but failed to provide proper resources to truly tackle. The mayor also wants to put a stop to medically unnecessary surgeries performed on intersex infants and children.
Buttigieg pledges to make sure all LGBTQ individuals enjoy the right to have a family. That includes prohibiting child placement agencies from discriminating against adoptive and foster parents who are LGBTQ. He also wants to see Congress pass the FAMILY Act, providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to care for a new child or sick loved one, including chosen family members.
The plan also aims to stop a variety of threats making life more difficult for LGBTQ youth. He wants to ban the dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy, which is already condemned by the American Psychiatric Association and other major medical groups. A Buttigieg administration will direct more resources to school districts to stop the bullying of LGBTQ youth in schools, as well as training programs to support students targeted by harassment.
A comprehensive housing agenda under Buttigieg will specifically aim to end youth homelessness. In some areas of the country like Los Angeles, some 40 percent of youth living on the streets identify as LGBTQ.
Buttigieg also plans to address the epidemic of violence against trans women of color. His plan calls for vigorously enforcing hate-crimes laws and properly training law enforcement nationwide to ensure the safety of all LGBTQ individuals.
As president, Buttigieg will make sure the United States leads on human rights around the globe, including strengthening protections to refugees and immigrants who identify as LGBTQ.
Finally, Buttigieg promises to celebrate LGBTQ history and culture within his administration. That includes expanding the representation of LGBTQ+ people and history in our national parks system.
"We are here thanks to the struggle of activists like Henry Gerber, Del Martin, and Phyllis Ann Lyon, who founded some of the first LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the country when it was still illegal for LGBTQ+ people to congregate in public or private," his plan reads.