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1) Since the early 1990s, Congressional legislation has blocked LGBTQ people from serving openly in the
military. This discriminatory legislation, commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (or DADT), has resulted in the discharge of thousands of qualified military personnel solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. As president, will you support the complete repeal of DADT and issue an executive order as Commander in Chief permitting openly LGBTQ people to serve in the military?
The case against forbidding Americans to serve in the military because of sexual orientation or gender identity has never stood up to scrutiny, whether the excuse was "vulnerability to blackmail" or "harmful to morale" or whatever. We know that many, many gay men, lesbians (and I assume transgendered persons as well) have served, and continue to serve, honorably and often valiantly in the armed forces of the United States. We'll never know HOW many, because their patriotism and dedication have been rewarded with discrimination, abuse and the threat of expulsion or even prosecution if they don't hide their true selves from those around them. That's wrong, it needs to end, and I won't have to think twice about ending
it if given the authority to do so.
2) In 1996, Congress passed (and Bill Clinton signed) the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA). This law overrules the constitutional right of LGBTQ people to equal protection under the law by banning all federal recognition of same-sex relationships for various purposes (such as sponsoring a foreign partner for a visa, or filing a joint tax return). It also allows states to ignore the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause and reject other states’ certification of same-sex relationships. As president, will you support efforts to overturn DOMA?
I support marriage freedom in general, and I find it particularly repugnant that the federal government would pass or enforce a law which violates the right of Americans to equal protection under the law -- not just as a _side effect_, but as the stated intent! As president, I would hold DOMA to be prima facie unconstitutional, decline to enforce or implement it, and direct the Solicitor General of the United States to defend that interpretation vigorously if the Supreme Court cares to consider the question.
3) LGBTQ people are subject to unequal tax treatment in a number of areas. For example, while opposite-sex married couples aren’t taxed for joint health benefits, same-sex couples must pay income tax on domestic partner benefits that include health care coverage. Asset transfer taxes, estate taxes, and inheritance taxes that aren’t charged to heterosexual couples must be paid by LGBTQ couples. As a result, many LGBTQ couples will pay over five times the tax of a comparable heterosexual couple over the life of their relationship. As president, will you take steps to eliminate tax discrimination against LGBTQ people?
In the main, of course, I'll work to eliminate taxes where I can and cut them where I can't eliminate them. As far as such taxes as are left go, I'll direct all departments of the executive branch concerned with tax enforcement to treat all taxpayers equally under the law and to recognize claims of marriage or other beneficial relationships unless there's strong evidence to belie such claims. Specifically, I'd direct them to treat a "certificate of marriage" from your church or other social organization on par with a government-issued "license" as proof of marriage to your spouse.
4) The District of Columbia is a federally-administered District. Recently, Congress has considered and/or passed a number of laws related to LGBTQ issues in the district that are distinctly homophobic, including a ban on gay adoptions, a ban on recognition of same-sex couples, and a law forbidding gay people from having their out-of-district adoptions recognized. As president, will you veto this legislation and other similar legislation in the District of Columbia?
All of the described restrictions are plainly wrong, and in addition the prohibition on recognizing out-of-district adoptions is in blatant violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause.
5) At this moment, the House and Senate are considering “hate crimes” legislation that seeks to make attacks on gay people (as well as certain other minorities) “more” of a crime than a violent attack on a member of a majority class. As president, will you lobby against – and veto – such legislation?
I believe in equality under the law. While I might personally find an assault for the purpose of robbery to be less repugnant than an assault based on unreasoning hatred, we owe it to all Americans to treat them as equals under the law and to punish like crimes alike, regardless of motive.
6) At this moment, the House and Senate are considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would regulate businesses and ban the right of employers and employees to voluntary affiliation by banning private sector discrimination based on sexual orientation while possibly create hiring quotas mandating the hiring of LGBTQ people. As president, will you veto ENDA?
See above. I personally boycott businesses whose owners I believe to be homophobic, and I tell them why. However, even though such behavior arouses disrespect on my part toward those who practice it, I don't believe that it creates a license on our part to disrespect THEIR rights. That only drags us down to their moral level, and it solves nothing.
7) LGBTQ people around the world face tremendous challenges in the face of government and societal persecution. In places ranging from the Palestinian Authority to Iran to China to Singapore to Algeria to Zimbabwe, LGBTQ people are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, mutilated, and murdered simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many seek asylum in the United States, but find their application delayed or denied due to government policies that seek to limit immigration. As a result, the US government regularly sends back thousands of people to an uncertain fate – or worse, a certain fate of torture and death – rather than welcoming the oppressed. As president, will you support efforts to reform the immigration system to allow oppressed LGBTQ people from abroad to find sanctuary and freedom in America?
I support immigration freedom for ALL peaceful people who respect just and proper laws and I would make no exception to that policy on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
8) State and federal regulations have severely restricted the availability of certain kinds of health insurance, such as “catastrophic care” coverage, to force people into expensive HMOs and similar programs that offer so-called “comprehensive” coverage. As a result, healthy LGBTQ people have not been able to buy insurance that fits their needs, and many are unable to afford health insurance – rendering them vulnerable to catastrophic illness (and financial stress) as a result. As president, will you support efforts to eliminate regulations that restrict the ability of LGBTQ people to buy health insurance that is “right-sized” for them?
9) The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is legislation currently in Congress that would allow unmarried Americans (heterosexual or gay) to sponsor a same-sex or opposite-sex partner for residency in the United States. As president, will you support UAFA?
See above -- I am for a general freedom of immigration. Failing that, I'll do what I can to make immigration easier for all peaceful and law-abiding people, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
10) As president, you will be the chief executive of the federal government, with tremendous decision-making power over general employment policy. Will you take steps to ensure that gay federal employees are treated equally to heterosexual employees in the provision of health care benefits and other conditions related to employment?
11) Efforts to water down, or even eliminate, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms have been gaining momentum. Self-defense is a crucial right for many LGBTQ people, who have often avoided severe injury or even death due to the prudent use of a firearm for self-defense. Organizations such as the Pink Pistols have emerged to help protect and defend this right. As president, will you unambiguously support the right of LGBTQ Americans – and all other law-abiding people – to keep and bear arms for self-defense as outlined in the US Constitution?
12) LGBTQ parents – especially adoptive parents – often find difficulty in traveling across the country due to anti-gay state laws that refuse to recognize their status as parents granted by their home state. Some have even lost custody of their children due to a simple vacation that took them into “hostile territory.” This is in direct violation of the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause that requires states to recognize other states’ certifications and legal status. As president, will you take steps to uphold the full faith and credit clause to ensure that LGBTQ parents don’t suddenly become legal strangers to their children simply by crossing a state line?
Enforcement of the full faith and credit clause isn't optional -- it's one of the few legitimate roles the federal government has to play.
13) Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make to the LGBTQ community?
Achieving the elimination of marriage apartheid, and every other legal and political manifestation of homophobia, isn't optional. To fall short of that goal is to fall short of realizing the full promise of America. As president -- or in any other position I may find myself in from which I can wield influence -- I will work diligently to achieve full legal and politically equality for the LGBTQ community.