Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer on LGBTQ Issues

2020 provides us the starkest choice in American history: to elect a pro-equality champion as president or to face four more years of a Trump-Pence administration that has attacked LGBTQ people at every opportunity. HRC sent our 2020 Presidential Questionnaire to all candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tom Steyer's responses are below. You can view more candidate questionnaire responses at hrc.org/election2020.


Question 1 from HRC

In a majority of states, no explicit laws protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) Americans from discrimination, like the federal laws that exist on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. If elected, would you support and sign into law the Equality Act (HR 5/S788), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, education, employment, federally funded programs, housing, jury service, and public spaces?

Support ✓                         Oppose       


Question 2 from HRC

The U.S. Constitution provides strong protections for individuals and organizations to exercise religion and to freely speak about beliefs. But some federal and state lawmakers are seeking to pass legislation, like the First Amendment Defense Act, that would create loopholes that could be used to deny equal treatment to LGBTQ people based on so-called "religious freedom" claims. Would you oppose efforts that allow individuals to use their religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the public sphere?

Yes ✓                              No               


Question 3 from HRC

Do you believe the civil institution of marriage (with absolutely no requirements imposed on houses of worship) should be legally available to two committed adults of the same sex?

Support ✓                       Oppose           


Question 4 from HRC

New treatments have improved the quality of life for those living with HIV and new prevention strategies can help reduce the risk of contracting HIV, but these medications are often too expensive and too difficult to access for those who need them. Do you support increased funding for HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and research?

Support ✓                       Oppose           

Comments from Steyer on Question 4

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided millions of LGBTQ Americans with comprehensive, affordable, non-discriminatory healthcare, many for the first time in their lives. Health disparities for the LGBTQ community are pronounced and distinct from many other communities. I will fight for increased funding for research and education to fight HIV/AIDS and ensure that PReP is covered by all insurance plans. My Right to Health plan builds on the success of the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid. It creates a public option which will cover 96% of Americans with quality affordable and secure healthcare; including preventative services, mental health coverage, coverage of pre-existing conditions, and treatment options for those with HIV/AIDS.


Question 5 from HRC

Even as we experience increased transgender visibility, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women of color – constitute a national crisis. The federal government has a critical role to play in preventing and addressing violence, including: expanding access to critical safety net programs to address issues like homelessness and job placement; implementing and enforcing rules that prohibit discrimination against transgender people by federally funded service providers; ensuring medically necessary transition-related care under the Affordable Care Act; ensuring the safety of those in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers and robust enforcement of the federal hate crimes law. If elected President, will you support legislation and advance regulations and policies that prohibit discrimination against transgender people and prioritize a comprehensive federal response to address anti-transgender violence?

Yes✓                                No                  

Comments from Steyer on Question 5

I will seek to end legalized discrimination of the LGBTQ Community by:


Question 6 from HRC

While all states currently allow LGBTQ people to adopt children, some legislators are pushing to allow government funded child welfare agencies to prohibit capable, committed adults from adopting and fostering because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Do you support policies that require government funded child welfare agencies to make decisions on adoption and foster care based on the best interest of the child, without bans based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

Support ✓                       Oppose            


Question 7 from HRC

Bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students, as well as students perceived to be LGBTQ, is widespread. Would you support and sign into law the Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R. 2653/S. 2548), which would require school districts receiving federal funding to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion?

Support ✓                      Oppose           


Question 8 from HRC

LGBTQ people in many parts of the world face harassment, legal and societal discrimination, violence, and bigotry. Seventy countries criminalize same-sex sexual activity. In up to ten countries, same-sex sexual activity may be punishable by death. Transgender and gender non-conforming people often face laws that criminalize them and put them at greater risk of experiencing violence and poor health. Do you believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that U.S. national security is strengthened when we work with other governments, civil society, and international organizations to protect, support, and defend the human rights of LGBTQ people abroad?

Support ✓                      Oppose            

Comments from Steyer on Question 8

It is unconscionable that members of the LGBTQ community are killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The United States should be a country that promotes human rights — including LGBTQ rights — around the world. We have substantial economic and diplomatic tools at our disposal. I will work with our partners and adversaries on the most effective ways to protect members of the LGBTQ community from violence and discrimination, and am open to diplomatic sanctions against countries that do not live up to our shared values.


Question 9 from HRC

If elected President, will you only put forth nominees for appointment to the Supreme Court that are committed to due process under the law and upholding the Equal Protection Clause for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity?

Support ✓                       Oppose            


Question 10 from HRC

If elected President, will you commit to making diverse appointments of qualified, openly LGBTQ individuals in key positions of your Administration, to include your Cabinet and the White House?

Support ✓                       Oppose            


Question 11 from HRC

There are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense the largest employer of transgender people in America. The Trump Administration has arbitrarily adopted a policy that bans qualified transgender people from service and will result in transgender service members losing their jobs. If elected President, will you expeditiously rescind the Trump policy and adopt new regulations allowing open service by all, qualified transgender people?

Support ✓                       Oppose            


Question 12 from HRC

President Obama issued a historic Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government and prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. If elected President, will you leave that order in place and instruct all Departments to robustly enforce nondiscrimination protections?

Support ✓                        Oppose            


Question 13 from HRC

This questionnaire addresses most of the key federal issues impacting the LGBTQcommunity, but there are many others, including youth homelessness, the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, significant gaps in data collection, inability to access to medically-necessary health care, and critically important cultural competency training. If elected President, will you work to address the full range of LGBTQ concerns across the federal government?

Yes ✓                              No                    


Question 14 from HRC

Please share policy positions not mentioned above that you have publicly taken on ballot measures, legislation or non-policy related matters that affect the LGBTQ community, including in legislatures, businesses, the legal realm or the media.

Comments from Steyer on Question 14

We remain in the midst of a long fight for equality. To this day, far too many are still subjected to discrimination because of who they are or who they love. From the Stonewall Riots to the AIDS crisis, through to Marriage Equality, grassroots LGBTQ activists have fought for recognition as equal citizens under the law. These efforts have led to remarkable strides toward equality, including the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. We must celebrate this progress, but as we do so, we must acknowledge that the work is not finished.

It is time for a president who will embrace and represent the vibrancy and diversity of the whole LGBTQ community — including LGBTQ youth, queer people of color, transgendered folks, and intersex individuals — and defend equal justice under the law for every American.

Hand-in-hand with those who have been fighting for equality for decades, I will work hard to ensure that LGBTQ individuals have equal rights and cannot be discriminated against in the workplace, at the doctor’s office, in school, in search of support services and public accommodations, in tax policy, in the criminal justice system, and in building loving families.

This approach will ensure that each policy is approached through a justice-oriented lens that takes into consideration race, socioeconomic status, and other factors that influence available opportunities. We must look holistically at our policies and their implementation because protecting people from hate, from discrimination, and from denial of their basic human rights is not “special treatment”; it is America finally living up to our constitutional responsibilities and our responsibilities as fellow human beings.


HRC works in coalition with many organizations to achieve equality and justice. Please indicate your positions on these key issues:

Question 15 from HRC

Do you support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4/S. 561), a bill that protects access to the polls for all Americans by addressing the modern day challenges of voting discrimination and restoring the full protections of the Voting Rights Act?

Support ✓                        Oppose             

Comments from Steyer on Question 15

America has lost touch with one of its founding principles: a democracy of, by, and for the people. Our system isn’t working for real people, because it’s been corrupted by corporate influence, a lack of political transparency, and partisan efforts to suppress voter participation for their own benefit.

Americans feel that their voices don’t count — and that’s not right. One of the central focuses of my campaign is a plan to restore our democracy and give the American people more power over the policy decisions that affect their lives. I am pushing for plans to allow registered voters the ability to vote in the privacy of their own home to make it easier to vote, and to establish a national referendum process so we don’t have to wait for Congress to begin fixing the urgent problems facing our country. You can see my full plan to restore American democracy at:

www.tomsteyer.com/structural-reform/


Question 16 from HRC

Do you support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health, including a right to safe and accessible abortion?

Support ✓                        Oppose             

Comments from Steyer on Question 16

Reproductive rights are human rights. Every woman has a right to make her own health care decisions, and every woman should have the ability to access abortion services. For decades, anti-choice advocates have been undermining that right. We must ensure that everyone who needs access to reproductive health care receives it, regardless of their income level or where they live. It is time that we codify Roe v. Wade into law.


Question 17 from HRC

Do you support immigration reform with a path to legal citizenship for law-abiding residents currently in the United States?

Support ✓                        Oppose             

Comments from Steyer on Question 17

America is a story of migration and promise. Unless an individual is native to this land or had their ancestors forcibly brought here in slavery, there was a moment in each American’s family history when an ordinary individual made the serious, hopeful, and courageous decision to come to America.

But, our immigration system no longer reflects our best values. From the Muslim travel ban to the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), from escalating Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids to the proliferation of squalid camps at the southern border, the Trump Administration is committing unconscionable acts by systematically attacking immigrant communities of color. They have wrenched babies from their mothers’ arms and left children to die in cages from the common flu.

Yet even before Trump took office, elected officials in Washington D.C. failed to pass immigration reform. At the same time, U.S. policies — on climate change, the failed war on drugs, and foreign affairs — played a role in increasing global migration. For years, undocumented communities have lived in the long shadow of surprise raids and forced deportations while documented immigrants have navigated a slow, uncertain, and archaic bureaucracy.

As president, Tom Steyer will reform our immigration system in a comprehensive and humane fashion. He knows that we must heal, as a nation, from the past actions of an unjust and often violent approach to immigration and that relief is needed immediately for families across our nation. Tom will always embody the ideals of the office and strive to unite the country across racial, ethnic and political lines. Tom will fight for a pathway to citizenship for the 10.5-12 million undocumented Americans who are part of our society today and integral to our country’s economic engine. He will overhaul enforcement agencies and update   asylum policies to reflect the best of our humanity, including expanding asylum options for LGBTQ individuals from other nations seeking a safe haven from violence and persecution. He is committed to making the immigration process easier to navigate. Most importantly, Tom is committed to making the immigration system the work of a government that functions as the standard-bearer of the values America holds.


Question 18 from HRC

Do you support sensible gun safety measures including limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns?

Support ✓                       Oppose             

Comments from Steyer on Question 18

It is time to tell the truth about guns in America and take action. Far too many Americans die each year from gun violence — and we can do something about it. You can read my full plan here.

By and large, Americans agree on how we should solve these problems. Americans want Washington to act. 97% of Americans, including gun owners and Republicans, support background checks for every gun sale. But the NRA has corrupted our democracy, and instead, Washington politicians write the rules that put special interests above the American people. The tragedies that we have been forced to witness are a direct result of a sick democracy that is not responding to the needs and desires of the people.

Some politicians have also stoked the flames of white supremacy, with racist and bigoted    rhetoric, putting our country’s black, brown, and religious minority communities at risk. And we've seen the deadly results when this hate is armed. I will take immediate action to combat this.

Over the last two election cycles, I led the largest effort to engage and mobilize young voters. I was proud to partner with Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety on a nationwide initiative to register 50,000 high school students to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in the Our Lives, Our Vote program.

These young people have led the charge, calling us to look squarely at the plague of violence that haunts so many communities. From heightened gun violence in black, brown, and Native American communities to high rates of firearm suicide among Veterans, from the increasingly deadly escalation of domestic violence and hate driven attacks against LGBTQ community to the mass shootings that regularly capture a news cycle, we see gun violence all too intimately woven into the fabric of our lives. It is time that the federal government takes a stand against gun violence.

While victims of gun violence pay the ultimate price, gun violence costs each American roughly $700 a year, totaling $229 billion across the country. These are challenges my administration plans to tackle head on. I will fight for common-sense gun laws that have long been studied and proven, and I will fight to:

  • Pass universal background checks by expanding them to private sales and unlicensed sellers; close the Gun Show, Boyfriend, and Charleston loopholes; establish waiting periods at the federal level for delivery of guns; pass the Making America Safe and Secure Act (MASS Act) on gun licensing standards and incentives for both buyers and sellers;
  • Ban high risk weapons including assault weapons, device modifications, high capacity ammunition magazines, and strengthen laws on untraceable firearms, including ghost guns, 3D printed guns, and home manufactured guns;
  • Establish strong Red Flag/Extreme Risk laws to temporarily prohibit access to firearms from individuals demonstrating risky behaviors toward themselves or others;
  • Work with Congress to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), that gives the gun industry special protections and exemptions and denies gun violence victims their right to have their day in court, the Dickey Amendment, to fully fund gun violence research, and the Tiahrt Amendments, which prevents the public release of important crime gun data that can be used by policymakers and researchers to uncover solutions to illegal gun trafficking;
  • Reverse existing DOJ policy that allows fugitives to buy guns, and reverse Social Security Administration policies that exempt records of mentally ill from background checks;
  • Regulate sellers by monitoring their inventory and restricting sales locations
  • Prohibit manufacturing of guns outside of traditional supply chains, including 3D printing and ghost guns;
  • Pass a reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, to support provisions to close gun loopholes and ban firearm purchases from domestic abusers, including partners and stalkers;
  • Work closely with state level governments to establish high standards for concealed carry;
  • Pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act and Disarm Hate Act.

As president, I will work tirelessly toward a new definition of ending gun violence by taking back our democracy, committing to long overdue gun reforms, and working together for safety and peace.