Welp, looks like it’s definitely going to be Hillary Clinton at this point. Like her or not, she’ll be the Democratic nominee, and she’d certainly be better than the impending disaster of President Trump. Good lord, the words alone — President Trump! — should be enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine, particularly those of LGBTs.
But even though Hillary is light years ahead of Donald on civil rights, she’s going to need some help from the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Her positions are good, but not great. Fortunately, we can help. Here’s five areas where activists can help push.
Allowing Trans Military Service
There are about 15,000 transgender people serving in the military today, and over 134,000 veterans according to the Palm Center, a research center that studies gender and sexuality in the military. Currently, a Department of Defense regulation prohibits trans soldier from revealing their true gender, essentially forcing them into the closet as if “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) never went away.
This is simply bizarre and cruel. Many other countries — the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel — allow trans military service. So why don’t we?
Clinton has said “I’m on your side” to trans victims of hate crimes, and more importantly she has said that she supports and end to the military’s ban on trans service. But she’ll face stiff pressure from intolerant groups to maintain the unfair status quo. So progressives will need to keep the pressure up to ensure she has support when it’s time to repeal the last lousy bit of DADT.
Ending the Ban on Gay/Bi/Trans Blood
We’ve made some progress on this issue, but not enough. The FDA recently revised its policy to allow gay men to donate blood, but only if they’ve been abstinent for a year — a policy no other group faces. Plus, the way the policy has been enforced, it also excludes hetero and bi trans women from donating.
Fortunately, Clinton has taken a strong stance against the discriminatory policy.
“Hillary Clinton believes we need to get to a scientifically-grounded, risk-based policy,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson. “She would like to see an approach that protects public health while treating people as individuals, not as a group.”
It’s worth pointing out that Bernie Sanders never reacted to the FDA policy.
Securing Federal LGBT Non-Discrimination & Public Accommodation Protections
This is going to be a tough fight. We’re essentially talking about the gay cake debate: should federal law protect queer people in the same way it protects on the basis of gender or religion? The civil rights act of 1964 has been amended before to protect more groups, and it’ll be amended again … eventually. How soon sexual orientation and gender identity are added depends on how much pressure can be applied on the next Democratic president.
Fortunately, this is another issue where Hillary already supports us. “Past time,” she says of passing a federal equality act.
Banning Ex-gay Therapy Nationwide
Ugh, how is this still legal? We all know that pray-away-the-gay is a phony non-therapy. It’s really just abuse. Clinton has called for an end to conversion therapy for minors, which is a good start. We need to end it for everyone, for good.
Defending International LGBT Rights
This is one more area where Clinton’s in a strong position to lead (especially with her experience as Secretary of State), but she’ll need the backing of civil rights groups to pull of any accomplishments. In a recent speech, she pointed out:
Hundreds of millions of people live in places where they can be arrested, even executed for being gay. Just a few days ago, the president of Zimbabwe stood up at the U.N. and gave a furious speech about the dangers of equal rights for gay people. According to him, in Zimbabwe, he said, we are not gays. Now, I’m guessing the LGBT activists sitting in prison in Zimbabwe would disagree with him, if ever given a chance to have a platform like he had.
As Secretary of State, Clinton traveled to Geneva to deliver a speech about how human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights. That’s great, Madam Secretary. We’re glad you feel that way. Now we need you as president to leverage The Global Equality Fund to protect activists in dangerous areas, bail people out of prison and support publication and online outreach.