While we have come a long way in the fight for justice, we still have much further to go. I believe in the value and rights of every resident of this country. I have proudly fought for those rights. In the early 2000s, I provided free legal services for federal inmates so they continue their gender transition therapies while behind bars. I also worked to reduce discrimination in housing and lending. While at St. Jude Medical, I wrote the company’s policy on gender transition. I’ve also officiated marriages and baptisms for same gender couples and their children. I will always fight for the rights and privileges of our LGBTQIA+ community here in the Fifth and beyond.
In the recent past few decades, we’ve seen the values of equality and love triumph and rightly include LGBTQIA+ members of our American family. We’ve won the fight for marriage equality, reduced areas of formal discrimination, and expanded rights for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. But that work is far from done. We have many battles still to fight for the cause of justice. The Trump administration has created more fronts where we must fight and prevail, including rolling back protections in healthcare and education, to social services and the military. In Congress, I will not only hold the line against this administration’s backward and harmful policies, but will author and support legislation that builds on our past successes and creates a truly equal future.
I applaud the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County that federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. This decision extends long overdue Title VII employment protections to LGBTQIA+ individuals. By defining “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the Court ruling also expands anti-discrimination protections in other areas that have language banning discrimination on the basis of sex, including education and health care.
However, there are still areas in which we must fight to ensure that LGBTQIA+ individuals are afforded the same rights and protections as all Americans. These include protections against discrimination in housing and in federal grants, as well as the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender military service. In Congress, I will work to ensure that LGBTQIA+ individuals are protected from discrimination in these areas as well. We must also hold the Administration accountable for swiftly reversing its discriminatory rules in light of the Bostock decision. We cannot allow justice to be further delayed.
The difficulty faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples seeking to adopt children needing loving forever families has a particular place in my heart. I’ve worked as an advocate for children in the foster care system, helping them find the homes they deserve. The challenge and uncertainty they face is cruelly made more difficult by the unnecessary obstacles these would-be parents must often overcome simply on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We need national reform that removes those barriers and allows more loving parents and deserving kids to find each other. I will make this a priority, and I’d be honored to write that legislation.
We have to do more to address suicide and mental health services as a whole in this country. But within that larger lens, the reality of teen suicide rates among LGBTQIA+ individuals is a tragedy that stands is unacceptable. An LGB youth is nearly 5 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth. Over a third of transgender youth attempted suicide in the last year. We can end this crisis by investing in mental health and anti-bullying resources in our schools. We can better fund family and suicide prevention services, and set the goal of ending LGBTQIA+ teen homelessness. We must do better.
We should honor every American who chooses to put on a uniform and serve our country. It is the right of every LGBTQIA+ citizen to make that choice, and I will fight to restore that. The first step will be to reverse the Trump administration’s ban on transgender servicemembers but this right must be codified in law.