Democrats to officially support Equality Act as GOP keeps anti-LGBTQ platform of 2016

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The Democrats' platform is expected to prioritize transgender people's health and other issues important to the LGBTQ community.

Democrats are set to make history by approving a party platform that would support the Equality Act, a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that improves protections for LGBTQ people, as well as other groundbreaking additions to the party platform.

The party platform, which sets up ideas and goals that govern the party, would also include a pledge to reverse the Trump administration's most harmful rollbacks of LGBTQ rights in health care. It is the first platform to specifically mention nonbinary people, transgender women of color, and gender non-conforming people.

According to the Washington Blade, delegates are expected to ratify the platform during the Democratic National Convention next week. Voting ends on Saturday night.

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The Equality Act passed the House last year by a margin of 236-173, with all no votes coming from Republicans. Under the legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would be amended to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in education, housing, employment, jury service, federal programs, public accommodations, and credit and lending.

The Equality Act also includes protections against discrimination in public spaces and services, such as retail stores, legal services, and banks.

The platform condemns the Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era protections for LGBTQ people in health care and advocates for restoring those protections. The Department of Health and Human Services finalized the new Trump administration rule on June 12, which is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 18.

Under that new regulation, the department would not consider sex discrimination in health care to include transgender people and would remove protections against discrimination in health care based on HIV status.

A draft of the new DNC party platform shared in July showed Democrats will work to ensure federal health plans include coverage for HIV/AIDS treatment and HIV prevention medications like PrEP and PEP, gender confirmation surgery, and hormone therapy.

Under the section "Protecting LGBTQ rights," Democrats also champion ending the homelessness crisis, the expansion of mental health and suicide prevention services, and a ban on "conversion therapy" practices. "Conversion therapy" is a dangerous practice that uses so-called treatments in an attempt to change a queer person's sexuality or a transgender person's gender.

The platform also recognizes the need to end violence against transgender people. At least 26 transgender or gender nonconforming people have been killed in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"We will fight to end violence against transgender Americans and particularly against Black transgender women, who are disproportionately victims of assault and homicide, and will prioritize the investigation of hate crimes against transgender and non-binary people," the July draft explains.

The Democratic plan stands in stark contrast to the GOP's approved platform.

In June, the Republican National Committee voted to keep in place intensely transphobic and homophobic platform it released in 2016. That platform was called the "the most anti-LGBT platform in the party's 162-year history" by Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBTQ conservative group.

Its planks include the opposition of marriage equality, five years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of it, support for discrimination against transgender people, and language that effectively supports conversion therapy.

As Politico reported, there has also been a heavy push from some conservative corners to embrace transphobic messages as the general election draws near.

The American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, is currently running ads in Michigan that attack presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's support of LGBTQ rights. The ads push fear-mongering messages about transgender children that have long been endorsed by conservatives, suggesting that affirming transgender children will ultimately harm them.

At least one person affiliated with the Trump campaign also recently made transphobic remarks about Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine — a transgender woman who has been leading the charge on the state's coronavirus response — for which they have refused to apologize.

Trump campaign adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted on Aug. 10, "This guy is making decisions about your health" along with a link to a news article discussing Levine's request not to be misgendered.

NBC News reached out to Ellis through a Trump campaign spokesperson. Ellis responded at that time that criticism of her tweet was "both hilarious and tragic" and said she would not apologize for misgendering Levine.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.