This article is part of a series examining the LGBTQ-related histories of the main Democratic candidates for president.
Candidate: Amy Klobuchar
Political Office: U.S. Senator from Minnesota
Biggest LGBTQ achievement: Initially helped introduce a federal hate crimes bill in the 1990s and eventually voted for its passage.
Current RCP polling average: 9th
Sen. Amy Klobuchar touts her Midwestern background and relatively moderate (among the Democratic field) policy stances as key to her ability to win over Rust Belt Democrats who voted for Trump — a central part of her pitch to voters.
But when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Klobuchar has a solid history of support and a number of proposals that should keep her in contention with so-called “equality voters.”
Klobuchar has long been on record as opposing anti-LGBTQ discrimination, whether it was as the Hennepin County attorney or as a U.S. senator. Her work on hate crimes and combating hate in Hennepin County led to Klobuchar being invited to the White House by then-President Bill Clinton, as he was proposing LGBTQ-inclusive federal hate crime legislation. Years later, as a Senator, Klobuchar would vote for the bill — the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act — helping it ultimately become law.
While Klobuchar initially supported civil unions for same-sex couples when she was elected in 2006, she eventually evolved and supported full marriage rights.
Under the Obama administration, Klobuchar supported efforts to reduce bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students in schools. She also voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an LGBTQ-inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act, and opposed a ballot proposal in Minnesota to introduce a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Under the Trump administration, Klobuchar was part of a group of U.S. senators who opposed the deletion of LGBTQ-specific health information from federal websites. She signed onto a letter to former HHS Secretary Tom Price asking him to restore LGBTQ demographic questions on federal health surveys to provide better data for health care providers and others in the medical field. And she has questioned State Department officials on the lack of recognition for LGBTQ Pride Month and internal guidance barring the flying of rainbow flags on official embassy flagpoles.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar has questioned, scrutinized and even voted against some of President Trump’s most egregiously anti-LGBTQ nominees to the federal judiciary, and has said she will not appoint people with such views should she be elected president.
As president, Klobuchar promises to immediately lift the ban on transgender military service, reverse the Trump administration’s administrative and executive orders that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people in education, health care, and civil rights using religion as a justification, and will sign the Equality Act into law once a Democratic-led Senate passes it.
She opposes religious exemptions that allow discrimination, and supports the interpretation embraced by the Department of Justice under the Obama administration that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ people from discrimination.
On her website, Klobuchar promises to prioritize policies to address LGBTQ homelessness, suicide, and access to life-saving drugs, including PrEP. She will also create an Office of LGBTQ Antidiscrimination within the White House Domestic Policy Council to coordinate those initiatives.
Given her past criticism of the Trump administration over its failure to collect data on LGBTQ communities in health care and access to government grants and services, Klobuchar promises to collect such data and appoint agency heads that will incorporate it into their decision-making.
During the recent LGBTQ presidential forum in Iowa, Klobuchar said that she would bolster protections for LGBTQ individuals contained in the Affordable Care Act — which she would strengthen and expand, rather than set up a single-payer system — and reverse the Trump administration’s health care regulations, like the one that amended protections against sex-based discrimination contained in Section 1557 of the ACA to specifically exclude LGBTQ people.
Klobuchar has also vowed to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors, appoint a Secretary of Education who will pass pro-LGBTQ guidance, and invest resources to strengthen federal efforts to combat domestic terrorism and fight anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.