President Trump is feeling the Bern this month.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of almost 20 Democratic presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa this weekend ahead of the state’s caucuses, and the visit coincides with Capital City Pride in Des Moines.
During his campaign visit, the 2020 hopeful spoke Saturday at a Pride candidate forum held in People’s Plaza near the Iowa Capitol, where he and fellow candidates like Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke, John Delaney, Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, and Jay Inslee outlined their LGBTQ rights agendas.
Sen. Gillibrand may have intoxicated new fans by serving drinks at a local gay bar, but Iowa Starting Line reports that Sanders “drew the largest crowd of any candidate at the forum,” where he was “mobbed by supporters” and used the platform to rail against Trump’s anti-LGBTQ record.
Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans are under attack from the Trump administration. Today we come together to declare that this is completely unacceptable — we should be expanding efforts to protect equal rights, not rolling them back. https://t.co/MjQ9KkFYlo
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 8, 2019
“Equal rights for LGBTQ Americans are under attack from the Trump administration,” Sanders tweeted before his speech. “Today we come together to declare that this is completely unacceptable—we should be expanding efforts to protect equal rights, not rolling them back.”
“The goal of our campaign is not complicated,” he told the forum crowd. “It is about justice. It is about economic justice, it is about racial justice, it is about environmental justice, and it is about social justice.”
Sanders then promised to “end all forms of discrimination,” including discrimination with regard to employment, housing, military service, and marriage. “And it means being able to buy a wedding cake at any bakery in America,” he added.
“Unfortunately,” he said, not mincing words, “we now have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is a religious bigot, and who is a homophobe.” He later clarified that Trump, “the most dangerous president in American history,” was “fomenting prejudice against the LGBT and transgender community.”
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Sanders went on to detail the Trump administration’s assault on equality, including its removal of federal protections for trans people. “Sadly and tragically, we are seeing hate crimes against the LGBTQ community increase,” he said, “and we have recently seen the Trump State Department actually try to limit embassies from flying the Pride flag.”
“As I have always believed, real change never takes place from the top on down, it is always from the bottom on up,” he continued, acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. “Change always takes place when millions of people stand up for justice, and that is what we’re celebrating today.”
“We have a struggle in front of us at an unprecedented moment in American history. We have a president who is doing something that no president that I can recall has ever done, and that is try to divide our people up, rather than bring them together.”
The Vermont lawmaker also took the opportunity to tout his record as a very early supporter of LGBTQ rights, dating back to the 1980s, “before it was politically popular.” He noted that Vermont “was the first state in the country whose legislature legalized gay marriage.”
My message to every young person in America: You are far more powerful than the establishment allows you to think you are.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 9, 2019
Sanders’ presidential plan for LGBTQ equality, available on his official website, includes the passage of the Equality Act and anti-bullying protections in schools.
“The United States has made remarkable progress on gay rights in a relatively short amount of time,” the plan reads. “But there is still much work to be done. In many states, it is still legal to fire someone for being gay. Incredibly, it is still legal to deny someone housing or service in the military for being transgender. That is unacceptable and must change.”
Sanders ran for the Democratic nomination in 2016 unsuccessfully against Hillary Clinton. He announced his 2020 campaign in February.