Kamala Harris for the People
October 10, 2019

Harris Commits to New White House Office Focused on LGBTQ+ Advocacy Across Government

Proposal Is Part of LGBTQ Agenda Released Ahead of CNN/HRC LGBTQ Town Hall

Today, Senator Kamala Harris is outlining a comprehensive LGBTQ+ agenda that draws from and expands on her career-long advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. Most notably, Harris will appoint a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House and fund a new office designed to work across agencies to address challenges in partnership with the LGBTQ+ community. 
While this Chief Advocate will take a leading role in ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are represented across government, as President, Harris will appoint LGBTQ+ people—including transgender and gender non-conforming people—to leadership roles throughout her administration, including her cabinet, and to the federal bench. Harris’ plan to provide equality and dignity for all centers on repealing  the Trump Administration’s hate agenda, securing equality for the LGBTQ+ community, and lifting up the transgender community. 

“Every LGBTQ person in America should grow up knowing they can not only get married but also live, work, go to school, access affordable health care, and be supported, embraced, safe and celebrated,” said Harris. “When I’m President, change will start from the top. We will lift people up through inclusion and put in place policies that create opportunity and ensure representation at the highest levels of government.”

Harris’ plan will:

  • Reverse Trump’s ban on transgender service members;

  • Significantly reduce the incidence of HIV in the LGBTQ+ community by requiring all public and private insurance plans to cover PrEP without a copay;

  • Improve the tracking and reporting of hate crimes and improve law enforcement training to build cultural competency;

  • Establish a transgender fellowship to help lift up promising young leaders within the transgender community, and;

  • Treat LGBTQ+ persons as a vulnerable population to ensure that alternatives to immigration detention are used and appropriate services are provided

Harris’ commitments draw on her decades long advocacy for LGBTQ+ equality throughout her career. When many Democrats only supported civil unions, Harris was marrying same-sex couples at San Francisco City Hall. As Attorney General, she led efforts to abolish gay and transgender “panic defenses” in criminal trials that were used to excuse violence against LGBTQ+ people, and refused to defend California’s discriminatory Prop. 8 in court, setting the stage for nationwide marriage equality. As Senator, Harris has led the charge against President Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ judicial nominees, and sponsored legislation to ensure LGBTQ+ Americans are properly counted in the census and to prevent the use of religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

Read more here.




Kamala has been a champion for LGBTQ+ equality throughout her career. When most Democrats were on the sidelines, Kamala stood with the community by fighting for marriage equality. As San Francisco District Attorney, she created one of the first LGBTQ+ hate crimes units in the nation and as Attorney General she helped to defeat the gay/trans panic defense used by perpetrators of hate crimes. There is no one in this race who has a longer or deeper record on this issue. 

Kamala is committed to bringing this same leadership to the White House to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are able to live proudly and openly, without fear of discrimination. Right now, far too many members of the LGBTQ+ community experience unequal treatment—from the worker who is fired for who she loves to the trans student whose school refuses him access to the appropriate bathroom. Discrimination is wrong, and Kamala will fight tirelessly to end it.


Donald Trump has said that he is a “real friend” of the LGBTQ+ community. Yet the actions he has taken, aided by his Vice President, Mike Pence, who has a clear record of promoting hate and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, suggest the exact opposite.

For the past two years, the Trump administration has done everything it can to weaken protections for LGBTQ+ people from arguing in court that federal civil rights law doesn’t protect gay workers to gutting guidelines designed to protect trans students from discrimination and harassment. Trump and Pence have pursued hateful policies to undo all the progress we have made on LGBTQ+ equality and bring more discrimination back to America:

  • They moved forward with a hateful ban on transgender service members, even as 56 retired generals and admirals condemned the move.
  • They have opposed employment nondiscrimination and moved to allow employers to use religious views as an excuse to discriminate against people.
  • They have erased the LGBTQ+ community from important federal efforts by removing references to the community from websites and blocking efforts for LGBTQ+ persons to be properly captured on the 2020 census. 

The record of the Trump/Pence hate agenda could not be any clearer. As president, Kamala will roll it back:

  • Reverse Trump’s ban on transgender service members. On day one Kamala will reverse President Trump’s immoral and unconstitutional ban on transgender service members in the Armed Forces. No one who seeks to serve their country should be denied that opportunity on the basis of their gender identity or expression—period.
  • Ensure that questions about the LGBTQ+ community are included in the census by fighting to pass her Census Equality Act.
  • Enforce federal civil rights laws that protect LGBTQ+ people. As president, Kamala will double the size of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and ensure that her administration fights alongside the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Ensure religion cannot be used to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals. The freedom to worship is among our nation’s most cherished and fundamental rights. But expressions of our faith should never be used to deny the equal dignity of our fellow Americans. That’s why Kamala introduced the Do No Harm Act, a bill to ensure that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom does not give cover to discrimination on the basis of a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As president, Kamala will proudly sign it into law.

Establish a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House. And Kamala will go further to make sure we finally achieve full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. As a first step, Kamala will establish a Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the White House. From acts of violence and hate targeting transgender Americans, to bias-motivated killings in Poway, Pittsburgh, and El Paso, hate crimes are on the rise in America. As president, Kamala will appoint and fund a new office to ensure a whole of government approach and strategy to address these alarming problems in partnership with the LGBTQ+ community, as well as broader issues to ensure prosperity and full equality. This includes having the Chief Advocate work across agencies with the Department of Education, Health & Human Services, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security, among others, to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community has the support it needs.

And this Chief Advocate will also take a leading role in ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are represented across our government. When Kamala is president, she will appoint LGBTQ+ people—including transgender and gender non-conforming people—to leadership roles throughout her administration, including her cabinet, and to the federal bench, because our government and our courts work best when they reflect the people they serve. When LGBTQ+ people have a seat at the table, the entire nation benefits from the perspective and experience they draw upon to create a more just and inclusive America. 


Kamala has always fought tirelessly to ensure full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. As AG, she refused to defend Prop 8 and played a key role in bringing marriage equality back to California as it was litigated in the courts. And when many Democrats were content with civil unions, Kamala instead walked up the steps of city hall to perform marriages. That was the measure of full equality. And nothing less was acceptable. Kamala also spoke out against attempts to limit equality, including by filing an amicus brief in North Carolina’s “bathroom law” that promoted hate and discrimination against the transgender community.

As president, Kamala will continue this fight for equality. 

    • She’ll sign the Equality Act into law. In order to ensure that LGBTQ+ people—including gender non-conforming people—enjoy comprehensive, explicit federal protection in employment, education, housing, public accommodations, credit, and other areas, Kamala will proudly sign the Equality Act. 
  • She’ll address issues regarding LGBTQ kids and schools.
    • She will sign the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law in order to establish consistent protection from discrimination, bullying, and harassment for LGBTQ+ students in public K-12 schools. 
    • She will sign the Safe Schools Improvement Act into law, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and requires school districts that receive ESEA funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
    • Kamala will also end discrimination against potential foster and adoptive parents by signing into law the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and she will once and for all ban the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” by signing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act into law.
    • LGBTQ+ youth represent as much as 40% of the homeless youth population. That is unacceptable. Kamala would support funding for homeless shelters, but also require that any shelters that receive funds cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth.

Comprehensive healthcare must meet the unique needs of LGBTQ+ people—including transition-related care, HIV treatment and prevention, and comprehensive reproductive health services. Far too often, stigma and discrimination prevent LGBTQ+ people from obtaining the health care they need. Kamala stood up to the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, and as president she will ensure that no one is denied care or coverage because of who they are or who they love. 

Kamala’s administration will also support efforts to repeal discriminatory federal and state laws that criminalize HIV status. Such laws are based on outdated and hurtful stereotypes about people living with HIV, and have no business being on the books. So Kamala will make sure that as she fights for comprehensive healthcare, the priorities of the LGBTQ+ community are front and center:

  • Kamala will significantly reduce the incidence of HIV in the LGBTQ+ community. More than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, which disproportionately impacts gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and people of color. Communities at the intersection of these groups are most heavily impacted by the epidemic. Thankfully, there is an effective method of preventing HIV—Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. Let’s be clear: PrEP is a game changer. PrEP is a medication that, when taken every day, reduces the risk of HIV infection by 92 percent
    • Unfortunately, significant barriers have kept PrEP out of reach for many of the people who would most benefit from using it. The only form of PrEP currently available in the U.S. can cost as much as $20,000 a year. And even for people who have insurance, high out-of-pocket costs for the medication, lab testing, and doctor’s visits can pose a substantial burden. 
    • That’s why Kamala introduced legislation that would require all public and private insurance plans to cover PrEP—including all required tests and follow-up visits—without a copay (PrEP Access & Coverage Act). The bill would also provide states and local communities with the funding necessary to ensure that people without insurance are able to access PrEP.
  • Kamala will make access to PrEP medication affordable. The PrEP Access & Coverage Act is a good first step, but we can no longer allow pharmaceutical companies to set staggeringly high prices for critical medication like PrEP. In other countries, generic forms of PrEP cost as little as $6 a month, but patients in the U.S. continue to pay $1,600 to $2,000 for a month’s supply. 
    • As president, Kamala will take action to reduce the price of PrEP, including by using the government’s authority under laws like the Bayh-Dole Act and Section 1498 to make high-cost drugs affordable and available to patients. 
    • Kamala’s Medicare for All plan will also ensure that every patient who needs PrEP is enrolled in an insurance plan that covers it, as well as medication for HIV-positive people that allow them to remain healthy and lower the amount of virus in their bodies to undetectable levels, making it virtually impossible for them to transmit HIV to a partner.
  • Health care coverage of gender confirmation surgery and other gender transition health services. Health insurance companies that exclude or limit coverage for health care related to gender transition are engaged in discrimination, plain and simple. Kamala’sMedicare for All plan will guarantee coverage for all medically necessary services, including hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery.
  • Coverage for reproductive health care services. LGBTQ+ people—including transgender and gender non-conforming people—need access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception. Just as it will for transition-related care, Kamala’s Medicare for All plan will guarantee coverage for comprehensive reproductive health services, with no deductibles and no copays for high-quality care.


Right now, transgender people—particularly trans women of color—are facing an “epidemic” of violence, as declared by the American Medical Association. In 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of trans people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black trans women. In 2019 alone, at least 19 trans women of color have already been killed. The trans community is living in a perpetual state of emergency, and it is long past time for our leaders to take action. 

As DA, Kamala supported the Gwen Araujo and the Justice for Victims Act after the horrific murder of Gwen Araujo, where the defendants tried to assert the “trans panic” defense. The bill strengthened training for hate crimes investigations and sought to reduce bias related to investigating these crimes. She also fought successfully to ban the use of the “gay/trans panic defense” in California and organized support across the country to end the practice. As AG, Kamala made sure the California Department of Justice published a report about hate crimes in California every year.

As President, Kamala will work with transgender leaders and advocates to implement a comprehensive agenda to not just address the epidemic of violence trans persons face, but to create opportunity and build a more inclusive America. 

  • Kamala will direct the Chief Advocate for LGBTQ+ Affairs to work with transgender partners to shape new funding initiatives to support transgender persons. According to a 2015 National Center for Transgender Equity Survey, 29% of transgender individuals were living in poverty and 40% had attempted suicide at some point their life. We must do better. The Chief Advocate will work with senior leaders across government ranging from the Department of Housing to the Department of Labor to develop a funding initiative to support trans persons. This includes help with skills building and employment assistance, creating educational pathways and ensuring greater access to housing and healthcare. 
  • Kamala will improve the tracking and reporting of hate crimes. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows the Justice Department to prosecute crimes in which LGBTQ+ are targeted, but this landmark federal hate crimes law does not require state and local law enforcement to track and report such incidents of violence. Kamala will ensure that we have comprehensive, accurate data about violence motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including devoting more resources to data collection and conditioning federal grants to police and other law enforcement agencies on the tracking and reporting of anti-LGBTQ+ crimes.
  • She’ll improve law enforcement training to build cultural competency. In order to effectively work with communities to investigate and prevent bias-motivated crime, it is critical that law enforcement receive training to build cultural competency, including how to eliminate the use of discriminatory stereotypes from their investigative methods. In collaboration with members of the affected communities, the Justice Department and the FBI will draft and implement effective training programs.
  • She’ll end profiling of LGBTQ+ people by law enforcement.Kamala will put in place a ban on law enforcement profiling on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and other characteristics by signing into law the End Racial Profiling Act.
  • She’ll reform the criminal justice system to address the harmful impact it has on the LGBTQ+ community. Kamala has a comprehensive plan to transform the criminal justice system to re-envision public safety, so she is well aware of the disproportionate harm that the system inflicts on the LGBTQ+ community. These are some of the particular areas that her plan would address:
    • End the cash bail system. LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to be assessed higher bail because they are seen as flight risks and more likely to be considered a danger to the community based on false stereotypes. This is wrong. Kamala has been a leader in the Senate in her work with Rand Paul to incentivize states to significantly reform or end the cash bail system. She will continue this fight as President.
    • Reduce incarceration of LGBTQ+ individuals. The LGBTQ+ community is exposed to higher rates of violence and assault in prison, and it is even more so with transgender individuals. According to a 2015 US Transgender Survey, transgender people are ten times as likely to be sexually assaulted by their fellow inmates and five times as likely to be sexually assaulted by staff. Kamala understands the best way to address the issue is to seek alternatives to incarceration to prevent trans individuals from being incarcerated in the first place. Kamala would also push to significantly reform our sentencing laws to further reduce sentences.
    • Eliminate private prisons. For-profit prisons have track records of abuse and inhumane conditions, and Kamala believes they must be eliminated. Kamala also believes that it is inhumane to profit off of incarceration.
  • She’ll uphold America’s commitment to those fleeing harm. The Trump Administration has closed our doors to refugees, including LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, seeking safety from persecution and violence. Trump’s inhumane immigration policies have put these communities, especially transgender women, in dangerous conditions and have even resulted in death. Kamala will immediately take executive action to address these issues while pursuing broader reform in Congress. She will: 
    • Increase the number of refugees admitted to the United States from a record low under the Trump Administration and provide appropriate services to refugees including legal counsel. 
    • Treat LGBTQ+ persons as a vulnerable population to ensure that alternatives to immigration detention are used and appropriate services are provided by increasing the number of medical and mental health professionals and appropriately trained asylum officers at our border. 
  • She’ll help build a new generation of transgender leaders. Kamala will establish a transgender fellowship to help lift up promising young leaders within the transgender community and provide them with skills and training to effect meaningful and long lasting change.