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1. Despite the 35% reduction in people without medical insurance (as of March 2015), due to the Affordable Care Act, those in the LGBTQIA community are still less likely than those in the general population to have medical insurance (and even those with medical insurance are less likely to have full access to healthcare such as psychological care, hormonal treatment, and surgical needs of the T* community.) How do you propose to address this discrepancy?
The fact that an increase in coverage (albeit, a flawed and incomplete one in the form of the ACA) has not improved the healthcare situation of the LGBTQIA+ community on par with the general population, underlines the barriers to equality our community faces. Even with health insurance, members of our community are more likely to delay medical care. A lot of factors play into this – including social stigma and fear of discrimination.
Under a universal, single payer system – Medicare for All, which our campaign supports – there must be access to health care that responds uniquely to the LGBTQIA+ experience, e.g. the unique psychological care, hormonal treatment and surgical needs of transgender patients.
We must address the gap in services directly. LGBTQIA+ health clinics - like the one I receive medical services from through the Los Angeles LGBT Center - understand their community, are staffed by members of the community and are located near concentrated population centers for the community. And such efforts are seriously underfunded.
Just as our campaign calls for direct community-building in communities of color to eradicate lack of clinics/hospitals and food deserts, there must be direct, targeted investment in LGBTQIA+ community-specific healthcare and health awareness as well as funding associated with improvements in standards to ensure that LGBTQIA+ persons away from key population centers can expect medical service that equally respects their needs.
More than half of medical schools lack instruction about the health issues related to LGBT people other than HIV/AIDS. We must seek to reshape the medical profession's view as a whole of LGBTQIA+ health. And in doing so, it must be understood that there are disciplinary consequences for medical professionals who discriminate in their provision of services to LGBTQIA+ persons.
2. Do you support the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (HR676), aka the single payer health care system, which will decouple healthcare from employment and marriage? <https://www.congress.gov/
I support decoupling healthcare from employment and marriage. HR676 has essentially been replaced with a model that can't resist the typical coupling of healthcare with corporate profit. But the idea of Medicare for All continues to be our goal, and our campaign has been very vocal about supporting a universal, single payer healthcare system that will:
- Include local control and buy-in through democratically responsible boards, to ensure that local healthcare decisions involve the say-so of the communities served.
- Such boards will have genuine control and will actively seek members that speak to the variety of services to be provided - for example, LGBTQIA+ healthcare planning and implementation. (You can see such specific stakeholder representation in practice on some local municipal boards/commissions already, although most often with advisory capacity rather than control.)
- End the gaps in our healthcare infrastructure by ensuring that there are clinics and hospitals in underserved neighborhoods – urban and rural – and that those institutions adhere to a standard of care that demonstrates an awareness of health issues as they uniquely affect the LGBTQIA+ community.
3. One way to demonstrate inclusion is having more options on government documents than just “Male” and “Female”. Would you work to have this change implemented?
Yes. That is one way, and our administration would work to implement this.
There must also be an active effort to ensure that governmental officials understand the need to provide that option, that they respond to citizens with the equal level of service and care they deserve and that – as a precondition of employment – they affirm that they are capable of providing equal service to LGBTQIA+ persons. There are many examples that underlines the gap between recognizing the need to provide equal governmental services and the real world actions of bigoted individuals emboldened by an office (e.g. Kim Davis). We have to tackle governmental discrimination and change our approach to hiring, retaining and training those who are chosen for the privilege of serving the public.
4. The website of The Intersex Society of North America notes their opposition to “genital ‘normalizing’ surgery” at birth for intersex persons. Do you support intersex people having right of fully informed consent for body self determination rather than having medical personnel and caregivers make these medical decisions?
Yes. Under our universal healthcare system, medical professionals will be expected to respect the consent, agency and bodily integrity of intersex persons (and all persons) in regards to decisions made concerning their bodies.
5. How else would you improve healthcare access for the LGBTQIA community?
Accountability. It's not enough to say that there will be a complaint process for discrimination – a major barrier to LGBTQIA+ persons seeking treatment even when they have insurance. That process has to have teeth. The provision of healthcare services must be accountable to the community. And that community must have a democratically responsible say in dealing with discrimination as well as holding individuals accountable for their actions. In such a process, LGBTQIA+ persons must be a part of holding those who provide public healthcare services accountable for their failures in serving that community by their active presence on relevant boards.
6. What plan do you have for international issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression?
Under our administration, the Dept. of Peace would be an influential department shaping our humanitarian collaboration with other nations in ending war and improving quality of life.
In addition to stressing our diplomatic position in support of LGBTQIA+ rights through the State Dept., our administration's Dept. of Peace would emphasize community-building efforts and resources all across the world to decrease homophobia and transphobia, end the criminalization of LGBTQIA+ persons due to their identity, and not only protect refugees and asylum seekers but minimize such displacement by working to eradicate its causes. A special task force will exist under the Dept. of Peace for that purpose.
The International Human Rights Defense Act and its provisions to make LGBTQIA+ rights a priority in diplomacy represents a start. We can best make LGBTQIA+ rights – and all human rights – a genuine international priority when we remove the corporate-minded, imperialist emphasis of past administrations which have wagged their fingers at some countries but been willing to make deals with even worse abusers for profit.
7. The LGBT Equality Act essentially adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the current Civil Rights Act. Would you support the LGBT Equality Act? (http://www.merkley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/EqualityAct.pdf)
8. Transgender people face discrimination in employment. The Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative (TEEI) was the first initiative in the nation to help transgender people enter the workplace. Would you be willing to implement a federal initiative like the TEEI? (http://www.teeisf.org/)
Do you support the inclusion of transgender people in all federal non-discrimination and hate crime legislation?
I fully support the TEEI and the inclusion of transgender people in all federal non-discrimination and hate-crime legislation.
In addition, our campaign's effort to end the housing crisis through a national mobilization as well as to remedy our crumbling school system, includes improved support for transgender persons and the societal challenges they face – from youth through to adulthood.
9. Police have a long history in this country of harassment against marginalized groups. People of color, those with disabilities, those who are homeless, transgender people and others who go against mainstream gender norms, are stopped, questioned, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison, (and sometimes beaten, shot, or murdered) more often than people outside of those categories who have committed the same (usually minor) crimes or infractions (including simply being there). How would you propose ending this cycle of discrimination and violence? How would you change police training? What is the role of private prisons? What other changes would you make?
I served for three years as volunteer rabbi at Ohio State Penitentiary, Ohio's only super max prison.
To end the cycle, you must end the school-to-prison pipeline, improving both the quality of education as well as the level of local control. We must also end the war on drugs feeding into mass incarceration and legalize as well as destigmatize sex work.
We must end the militarization of the police, in terms of their equipment as well as training. Law enforcement must be trained to be problem solvers, not “overseers” (as the overseers of the plantation systems of old).
The mass incarceration system has become the new plantation system, providing slave labor sourced by the school-to-prison pipeline. We must move genuinely towards the goal of rehabilitation in regards to convicted persons, providing them with better skills to re-enter society and better opportunities – through funded community efforts – once they do so.
A Dept. of Justice task force will be put in place to ensure the revamping of law enforcement's approach as well the reimagining of the incarceration system as transformative (positively) rather than punitive and torturous.
Both the incarceration system and law enforcement must respect the gender identities/sexual orientations of LGBTQIA+ persons. This will require changes in protocol in regards to both policing and incarceration. Such changes must include unfettered access to medical care, including care needed by transgender persons (ending, for example, the denials of medication while under incarceration).
10. Children who identify (or appear to identify) as LGBTQIA are more likely to encounter discrimination and violence in school. Not just from fellow students but also from school staff and parents. They may be excluded from class or activities, they are more likely to get suspended or have other disciplinary actions taken against them, they may be kept from bathrooms or locker rooms, and they drop out of school at an increased rate. What steps would you take as President to stop school violence and to end discrimination against children who are LGBTQIA?
Our administration would work to:
- Implement restorative justice programs in schools, with the necessary training for faculty and staff – including training in sensitivity to issues that affect the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Faculty and staff must be seen as advocates for students' all-around well-being, and educators not just on core subjects but in the essential aspects of how to treat fellow students and others with respect – regardless of their background. This can be taught across the curriculum.
- End the Trump administration's assault on transgender students through its rescinding of the directive that transgender students must be permitted to use the bathroom that befits their gender identity as well as its consistent rejection of related complaints of discrimination.
- Clear disciplinary consequences for students as well as faculty/staff engaging in discrimination and/or abuse of students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
11. Please tell us a bit about the work you have done on these issues to date and work you plan to do once the presidential campaign is over.
As a member of the Youngstown, OH Board of Education, I sought to inform and educate colleagues on the issue of LGBTQIA+ rights, in particular the issue of trans rights – as it has become one of increasing focus for school districts all across this country.
I was the Chair of the Mahoning Valley Pride Center in Youngstown, OH, serving the LGBTQIA+ community in that area and during my tenure overseeing the redevelopment of our physical space. Part of that redevelopment was to ensure that we could receive members of the community who needed an overnight place to stay – particularly transgender persons who had been kicked out of their homes due to discrimination. I received a number of such calls during my tenure as chair.
I am a member of the Lavender Caucus and a former National Committee Delegate. I am proud of the work of the Caucus and its efforts to raise awareness, protect civil rights and advance a progressive, inclusive agenda on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Green Party.
These experiences, as well as my life as an openly gay man, inform my efforts in this campaign to secure equality and equal access to the necessities of life for LGBTQIA+ persons. From education, to housing, to healthcare, to employment and beyond, each aspect of our platform includes a focus on community buy-in and democratic say that will reflect the diversity of this country and value the experiences of our community. When this campaign is at an end, I will continue to do what I have done for many years of my life – engage in the purposeful community-building that my campaign has made a central focus of improving this country on a national scale.
12. How do you think the current GPUS LGBTQIA platform should be improved? http://www.gp.org/social_justice/#sjCivilRights
While I support the current GPUS LGBTQIA+ platform, I would like to see more of a recognition of the intersectionality of oppression. For example, a discussion of the crisis in terms of the murder of transgender women in this country has to include recognition that the vast majority of those women are also of color.
Unlike my colleague, Mr. Hawkins, I would not seek to change our party platform's call for ending military aid to countries imprisoning, maiming and killing people for being LGBTQIA+. I believe we should end our militaristic, imperialistic approach to engaging with the rest of the world. Period. The idea that the pretext of protecting LGBTQIA+ persons might be used as cover for this country's engagement in and support of a deadly parade of regime change operations, coups and wars for corporate profit is repugnant to me – not only as a gay man but simply as a human being.
We must act to protect LGBTQIA+ persons internationally. But funding military action just creates more places in the world where everyone is less safe. And when that is the case, minorities – including LGBTQIA+ persons – often end up being the least safe.
13. How do you think the current GPUS AIDS platform should be improved?
Subsection k. refers to PrEP and advocates “full funding” (in a governmental sense) and “fair and reasonable prices.” These are praiseworthy goals. But I would take it a step further and guarantee free access - period.
It identifies that 'men of color' have been hit hard by AIDS/HIV, but doesn't advocate anything at all to specifically address that community. There are large swaths of urban areas all across this country that do not have access to adequate clinical care. This would be addressed directly by our campaign's effort to improve medical infrastructure across the country and increase clinics/hospitals in underserved communities as well as their capacity to speak to the diversity of America's communities.
14. The acronym LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) is well known. The Lavender Greens Caucus works towards being inclusive for all so we use the acronym LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual). Other people use SO/GI (sexual orientation/gender identity) and others use SGM (sexual/gender minority). The word "gay" to refer to our group is non-inclusive. Would you agree to use LGBTQIA when giving presentations? Or is there another name you want to use for our community?
Absolutely. I typically add a plus (+) to that acronym, in writing as well as in speech. For me, that humbly acknowledges a communal commitment to growing in inclusion.
15. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is likely to be used as a basis for discrimination against LGBTQIA people in places other than religious institutions. It may also allow corporations to regulate women's bodies by actions such as controlling access to birth control prescriptions. How will you insure that the 1st Amendment is recognized while preventing discrimination?
The Federal law known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (hereinafter RFRA) has been limited in applicability to the states by City of Boerne vs. Flores and similarly lessened in effect by subsequent case law. And so, in reality, we now have a patchwork legislative regime that includes many state “religious freedom restoration” acts that vary in terms of their provisions.
On the federal level, in regards to controlling access to birth control, as per the interpretation of the RFRA by Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, two legal responses: 1.) federal law that establishes a right to contraceptives and a necessity of their coverage by insurers and employers providing coverage. 2.) federal law that explicitly declares corporations not to be persons and ends the ability of corporations to avail themselves of religious exemptions when it comes to respecting fundamental rights, such as access to reproductive choice.
Burwell and its interpretation of RFRA could open the door to corporations firing LGBTQIA+ persons and then claiming an exemption to do so due to religious disapproval of LGBTQIA+ people. This is not 'religious freedom' - it is an open door to persecution.
16. What is your position on the National Lavender Green Caucus Call for Justice and Reconciliation with the Georgia Green Party?
I am in full support. I have signed the Lavender Caucus's petition calling for Justice and Reconciliation with the Georgia Green Party. Hate has no place in our party.
Please see my video response to the Georgia Green Party's resolution (posted soon after its passage) at the following link: Dario's response to Georgia