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How the Democratic Candidates Feel About Women, Trans People, Normal Things

With the results of the Iowa caucuses about to come out, we checked out how Democratic candidates measure up with regards to the most important issues of 2016.
Photo via Flickr

The Iowa Caucuses account for only one percent of the delegates needed for a presidential candidate to win their party's nomination, but, because Iowa is the first state to kick off the primary election, the outcome can be highly influential over the remainder of the presidential campaign. There are only a few hours left before Iowa's final caucus ends tonight. To prepare for the results, Broadly measured up the Democratic candidates based on their stances on the issues that matter most in 2016. (We would evaluate Republicans too, but they're basically all unified behind one conspiratorial fear of big government overriding the bigoted and classist beliefs of their rich, white constituents.)


There is probably nothing more politically important in 2016 than securing the rights of women once and for all. Somehow we slipped into a time warp, and reproductive rights in the United States are under siege as if it's pre-1973 and abortion isn't legal. A Christian conservative right has re-emerged in recent years, and they aren't afraid of using dirty tactics to legally endanger women's wellness.

Reproductive Rights

In a 2008 forum on CNN, Hillary Clinton said, "I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare. And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices." Recently, Clinton challenged the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use tax money to be used to fund abortions, meaning that Medicaid doesn't cover the procedure—or, in simpler terms, that the poorest women in the U.S. are far more likely to have their right to healthcare denied.

Similarly, Martin O'Malley has long been an ally of women. As PBS reported, "Aides have said he supported a 1992 Maryland referendum which stated that abortions should be legal, without government restriction, until the time in pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb."

Bernie Sanders has a lifetime pro-choice record. In 2012 he stated, "We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family and physician to make, not the government." Back in 1997, Sanders argued that abortion services must be accessible, mirroring Clinton's recent remarks against the Hyde Amendment. "My position is that a woman's decision whether to have an abortion is a private one, and that this principle must hold true for all women, regardless of income."


Family Leave

Family leave is another women's issue relevant in the 2016 presidential elections. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's FAMILY Act is the most progressive proposed law to ensure that all workers have paid family leave. In a guest column on The Gazette, O'Malley explained how family leave dovetails with reproductive healthcare, in that the lack of this benefit disenfranchises women. "Part of the reason women are paid less than men for doing the same work is that many are forced to leave the workforce in order to raise their families, or penalized for doing so."

Sanders comes in first on this one, being a cosponsor of the FAMILY Act. Though Clinton has endorsed the idea of family leave as a federal requirement, she apparently doesn't support the idea of raising middle income taxes to pay for it (this is central to the FAMILY Act). According to CNN, Clinton's Press Secretary said that the candidate "fundamentally rejects the idea that we should be willing to raise taxes on middle-class households. We need to raise these families' incomes, not their taxes."

Transgender Rights

Transgender rights are the other major issue for conscionable American citizens in 2016. Last year had the highest number of reported murders of transgender women in the United States, and Congress even formed a task force to address the issues facing trans people in the U.S. In his last bill signing as Governor, O'Malley signed a law to end discrimination of transgender people. In addition, Clinton has worked in the background on this issue for several years: During her time as Secretary of State, she helped make it possible for transgender people to alter their passports to accurately represent their true identities.

Politicians are publicly expressing beliefs about trans people for the first time. Of all the Democratic candidates, Sanders made perhaps the boldest statement on transgender issues in a tweet from September of last year: "In many states, it is legal to deny someone housing for being transgender," he wrote. "That is wrong and must end."