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Beto O’Rourke Releases Plan for LGBTQ Equality

“We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” the Democratic presidential candidate says in offering his sixth major policy proposal.

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Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's supporters, including one holding a LGBTQ Pride flag, gather ahead of a rally in El Paso in March. Photo credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a proposal Wednesday morning to achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans and reinstate protections abandoned by President Donald Trump.

The plan — O’Rourke’s sixth major policy rollout — is heavy on executive actions he would pursue to support the LGBTQ community. It also prescribes legislation he would champion and steps that can be taken on the global stage.

“We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” the former El Paso congressman said in a statement on the proposal, which comes amid LGBTQ Pride Month and arrived hours before he was set to lead a “Pride Run” in New York City.

Among the executive actions that O’Rourke would take: overturning Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, reversing the “deploy or get out” policy that critics say discriminates against HIV-positive service members, and bringing back U.S. Education Department guidance that sought to protect LGBTQ students. O’Rourke would also act to crack down on conversion therapy, update blood donation requirements for LGBTQ people, increase LGBTQ representation in the census and install more pro-LGBTQ people in government, especially in the judiciary.

O’Rourke’s plan puts an emphasis on protecting transgender people — specifically transgender women of color — calling for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate crimes against them and making sure law enforcement agencies get the right training to respond. Dallas in particular has been roiled by a recent string of slayings involving transgender women of color.

When it comes to legislation, O’Rourke backs measures such as the Equality Act, a sweeping bill passed last month by the Democratic-led House that would overhaul the Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ Americans. O’Rourke also wants to make sure LGBTQ people have equal access to health care and insurance as part of any universal health care system that his administration would pursue in Congress.

And on the international front, O’Rourke proposes things like collaborating with allies to craft a global treaty through the International Law Commission of the United Nations that would shield LGBTQ people from persecution. O’Rourke also would create a “special envoy for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people” in the U.S. State Department.

Looking to stand out as his poll numbers remain low, O’Rourke has been producing policy papers at a steady rate. He previously released proposals on climate change, abortion rights, criminal justice, voting rights and immigration.

Immigration continues to be a focus in O’Rourke’s latest plan. His proposed executive actions include clarifying that LGBTQ people fleeing persecution are a “vulnerable population” that can use the U.S. asylum process.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune, and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders. Patrick logged countless miles on the 2016 campaign trail, covering the many Texas angles of the momentous presidential race. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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