No matter who wins in November, big changes are coming to the LGBT+ community. Same-sex marriage and equality have been hot topics and fringe issues in the past, but their enormous presence in presidential campaigns is really surprising. In the history of this country, there has never been political platforms that have such extreme views regarding queer people.
It really is a strange feeling to be a queer-identifying person in the United States right now, because our futures are so uncertain. No matter who gets elected, legislation and political views are about to change in a huge way.
This article is not an endorsement of any candidate or a political party, but rather an in-depth look at the platforms that are fighting for your vote. Instead of taking sides this article seeks to inform about the good, the bad, and the ugly in policies concerning LGBT+ rights.
Hilary Clinton – Democratic Party
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans deserve to live their lives free from discrimination,” Clinton proudly exclaims on her website. She celebrates the work of advocates and the Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex couples the right to marry in the United States. Even better, she acknowledges that the fight for LGBT+ equality hasn’t ended just because we can get married. She calls for an end to “conversion therapy” and also promises to end discrimination against LGBT+ families who want to adopt. She has even received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nations largest LGBTQ advocacy groups. If elected, according to her website, she would ban all discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation (which is a big deal when you realize people are still being fired for identifying as queer or trans).
While her plan details quit a few problems within the LGBT+ community, she hardly mentions her plans on securing transgender rights. In fact, she has been historically silent on transgender issues. Most notably, she makes no stance on the atrocious bathroom laws that target transgender individuals.
Hilary Clinton has spent a decade opposing same-sex marriage and only changed her mind about it as public opinion shifted. The last time she ran for president, she opposed gay marriage and it seems as though she only changed her mind to secure more liberal votes. During her time in the Senate, Clinton was apart of the anti-LGBT bandwagon and claimed marriage should be “a sacred bond between a man and woman.”
Donald Trump – Republican Party
The LGBT+ community is one of the few minorities that Trump hasn’t targeted during his bigoted, sexist, racist, and offensive campaign trail. Surprised? So was I. In this political roller coaster he has managed to personally insult almost every demographic of human being including, but not limited to: women, Latinos, war heroes, Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, Jews, Native Americans, etc. But he seems to have carefully tip-toed around the topic of the queer community. Long before running for president, Trump contributed to AIDS research in the late 80’s, a time when this epidemic ravaged the gay community.
Trumps stance on LGBT+ concerns or any form of civil rights are nowhere to be found on his website. Instead, he has entire videos dedicated to building a wall on the Mexican border and explaining the Trump University catastrophe. There is even a video dedicated to why we don’t have time for political correctness (just think of all the time we could save if we spoke only in slurs!) The absence of this is a big red flag and raises the question: Why are the lives and rights of queer and non-binary people not important enough to find a place in Trumps platform? Even his publicly made speeches on queer and transgender rights d0 not quit make sense.
Trump wasted any good faith he built with the queer community when he selected his running mate, Mike Pence. Pence, the Governor from Indiana, has an unfortunately long and homophobic history as a politician. He has an outstanding opposition against same-sex marriage and was the leader behind many “Religious Freedom” bills that allowed business owners to legally discriminate against queer people regardless of federal protection laws. Pence also cut funding to Planned Parenthood and is responsible for a massive HIV outbreak that has struck Indiana towns.
Many politicians used the Orlando shooting as an opportunity to apologize to the queer community or talk about the importance of gun control. Trump took a different route: bragging. The morning after 49 people were killed in a gay night club, Trump took to Twitter and pompously announced that he had been right about the terror threat all along.
Despite Trumps attempts to paint himself as an LGBT advocate, many of his policies oppose queer rights at the most basic levels. In one interview with Fox News, he claimed that he would consider appointing Supreme Court Justices who would overturn the same-sex marriage bill that passed only last year. That’s right! If Trump gets elected, there is a giant possibility that past rulings would be repealed, our civil rights would be stripped away, and we would be treated as second class citizens once again.
Gary Johnson – Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Platform claims “sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals.” This coincides with the general belief of the party that consenting adults should be allowed to exist however they please as long as their actions don’t harm anyone else.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Presidential Nominee, has been a supporter of queer rights since 2011 and famously claimed that “the government ought to get out of the marriage business.” He even wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post in 2010 that called for an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy that prohibited openly gay service members. You go, Gary Johnson!
Many Libertarians are divided when dealing with employment discrimination against queer people. Gay citizens can still be fired by their bosses in 18 states for merely getting married, since there is no federal protection against anti-queer discrimination. This raises questions for the party, which believes government should not intervene in private employment practices. Instead of government protections, this article weakly claims that tools such as social media, boycotts, and bad publicity would somehow be enough to protect queer workers in lieu of actual laws. Um, no.
Johnson’s stance on trans rights are also difficult to nail down. He has reaffirmed his belief that the states should be allowed to govern themselves and choose laws relating to social issues. However, with the passing of HB2, and similar anti-trans laws, it’s clear that this doesn’t always end well.
The LGBT crowd faces a huge problem when it comes to “religious freedoms.” This simple phrase has allowed individuals and businesses to legally discriminate against queer people by claiming that it is against their religion to serve them (someone should tell them that Leviticus also bans getting haircuts and eating shrimp). While Libertarians don’t focus on the religious aspect, they do believe that business owners should be able to choose who to do business with. It’s easy to see how this thinking could be abused and it even sounds eerily similar to how Indiana businesses are now legally allowed to discriminate against queer people. It is a big red flag when a political party is willing to overlook instances of discrimination just to keep the federal government from intervening.
Jill Stein – The Green Party
The Green Party has been ahead of the game when it comes to LGBT Rights, having first fought for equal rights in 1984 when being gay was widely considered taboo. Jill Stein, the Presidential Nominee for 2016, also has a long history in fighting for equal rights. When she first ran for Governor of Massachusetts she argued for same-sex marriage throughout her entire campaign. Jason West, another member of the Green Party and Mayor of New Paltz, New York, was once arrested and charged for marrying 26 same-sex couples in 2004.
Their platform has long, detailed sections devoted to social justice issues and “Feminism and Gender Equity” is one of the party’s Ten Key Values. They proudly vow to confront the barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and ablism. They even go into women’s rights and the problems of living in a patriarchal society, something that many other candidates steer clear of. Most importantly, they are one of the few groups to emphasize the importance of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make it unconstitutional to discriminate by gender.
While huge portions of her platform talk about the importance of securing equal rights, there are few steps that illustrate how she plans to do this. The party condemns any form of discrimination, but there are no plans or actions for legislation that would halt these injustices.
A Green Party member Dr Rupert Read posted a series of tweets that seemed to question the validity of the genders of trans folks. In these tweets he suggests that people should not be “forced” to recognize trans-women as women. He has since apologized, but this raises the question of how unified the party is when it comes to trans rights.
*The Constitution Party was not included in this list due to both their current status as a hate group and their violent, ignorant, uninformed, backwards, and bigoted views towards the LGBT community.