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As the country continues through the 2020 presidential election year, with the New Hampshire primaries tonight, we at National Crittenton feel it is imperative to highlight the many ways in which girls and gender-expansive young people are impacted by the positions and policies many of the candidates build their campaigns on. That’s why we’ve decided to issue a special series of the Centering Girls in Systems Change newsletter – a newsletter a week covering juvenile justice, gender-based violence, health and reproductive justice, education, child welfare and youth homelessness, and immigration. We will focus on the 12 candidates (11 Democrats and one Republican, not including the President) running for office, taking a closer look at their stances and track records on issues that impact the health and livelihood of girls and gender-expansive young people across our country. Read last week’s edition on juvenile justice here.

WEEK 2: GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

In October of 2019, Tarana Burke wrote an op-ed in Time Magazine that called out that, “not one remaining presidential candidate has prioritized addressing sexual violence as a platform issue.” We emphatically agree with Tarana’s statement that, “sexual violence is a national problem that deserves a national response,” which is why this week’s edition of Centering Girls in the Race for the Presidency focuses on the candidates’ policies, positions, and track records concerning the issue of gender-based violence.

We are well aware that a number of allegations of various forms of sexual violence have been made against some of the candidates running for president. We encourage voters to explore the available information about these serious allegations in order to make an informed decision about for whom they will cast their ballot. For the purposes of this newsletter, we have chosen to include only their official policy positions and track records.

Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Bennet does not explicitly address gender-based violence in his campaign platform.

Track Record: Bennet’s track record includes support for the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which included “provisions that Bennet co-sponsored: the Campus SaVE Act” and the SAFER Act.

Joe Biden, Former Vice President

Current Policies/Positions: Biden’s plan to “end violence against women” includes: “enacting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization” if it has not been enacted by his first 100 days in office; establishing a new coordinated housing grant program to help survivors keep housing; strengthening housing VAWA provisions; protecting survivors from housing discrimination; providing cash assistance to survivors; allowing survivors access to their retirement savings without the standard penalty; guaranteeing paid domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking leave; expanding requirements for comprehensive sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence prevention education on college campuses; pushing for legislation that requires schools to improve their reporting practices; strengthening enforcement of the Clery Act and Title IX; training college administrators and staff to appropriately support survivors; expanding prevention services to public K-12 schools; convening a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse; allocating new funding for law enforcement training to address online abuse; supporting the enactment of the SHIELD Act; strengthening VAWA’s civil cause of action for survivors; expanding access to legal assistance and advocates; banning mandatory arbitration clauses imposed by employers; ending the rape kit backlog; investing $20 million in training law enforcement on evidence-based and trauma-informed practices for investigating and prosecuting gender-based crimes; closing the “boyfriend” and “stalking” loopholes in gun legislation; connecting the dots between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women; launching a public awareness campaign to inspire cultural change; expanding grants to enhance culturally-specific services–including sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination protections and permanent funding for the National LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act; extending tribal authority against non-Native abusers and expanding federal resources for Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls; combatting the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color; supporting states, territories, tribes, and educational institutions to promote “a public health approach to teaching young people” with disabilities about bodily autonomy, consent, and healthy relationships; expanding funding for the VAWA funded, End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Grant Program; and removing barriers to safety for immigrant women.

Track Record: Biden’s track record includes introducing the original 1994 Violence Against Women Act and supporting subsequent updates and renewals of the legislation. Note: we have not included any legislation passed during the Obama administration because it is not technically part of Biden’s Congressional record.

Michael Bloomberg, Former Mayor of New York City

Current Policies/Positions: Bloomberg’s campaign website does not explicitly mention a plan to address gender-based violence. However, he does list closing the “boyfriend loophole” to gun possession which “allows domestic abusers to have guns, despite criminal convictions or restraining orders–simply because they are not married to their victims.” In a section of his campaign website titled, “LGBTQ+ Equality” Bloomberg also says he will: address the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color; reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act; fund family justice centers and community-based programs; and mandate oversight, accountability, and training for federal law enforcement.

Track Record: Bloomberg does not have a political track record regarding gender-based violence.

Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana:

Current Policies/Positions: Mayor Buttigieg’s “Women’s Agenda for the 21st Century includes: investing $10 billion over ten years to end workplace sexual harassment and discrimination against women; requiring companies in industries with the highest risk of harassment to conduct climate assessments and create or update harassment prevention plans every three years; assigning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the task of developing a standard for workplace violence that includes sexual violence; passing and signing the BE HEARD act; banning forced arbitration clauses that deny women their day in court; working to pass the EMPOWER act; reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and implementing automatic reauthorization with a five year review; increasing funding for affordable housing and shelter services to support women and children escaping domestic violence; supporting the SHIELD act; addressing the epidemic of violence against Black transgender women and other transgender women of color; enacting a student-centric and comprehensive process to amend Title IX regulations; closing the “boyfriend loophole” to protect victims of domestic violence; supporting the Oliphant fix to address the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls; ensuring first responders, law enforcement, and members of the judiciary receive regular training on trauma-informed practices; eliminating the rape kit backlog; changing the culture of harassment and discrimination through trainings on consent and bystander intervention; enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, JR. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and training law enforcement and requiring reporting on issues specific to LGBTQ+ people.

Track Record: Buttigieg does not have a political track record regarding gender-based violence.

Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawai’i

Current Policies/Positions: Congresswoman Gabbard does not have a specific section of her campaign website dedicated to ending gender-based violence. However, she does mention standing up to, “bigotry, hatred, and violence against others because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation” on her “human rights and equality for all” page.

Track Record: Gabbard’s track record includes support of the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, the Violence Against Women Act of 2018Military SAVE act and Military Justice Improvement act, Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act, the Me Too Congress act, and the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport AuthorizationAct of 2017.

Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Klobuchar’s positions and proposed policies regarding gender-based violence are included across various sections of her campaign website. These include: closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ in the Violence Against Women Act; restoring asylum for victims of gender-based violence; eliminating Title IX regulations proposed under the Trump administration; and pushing for the passage of Savanna’s act.

Track Record: Klobuchar’s track record includes supporting the passage of multiple bills, including the Abolish Human Trafficking ActSupport for Survivors actJustice Served ActSexual Harassment legislationStalkers actSAFER act of 2017, and Military Assault Prevention act, among others.

Deval Patrick, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Current Policies/Positions: Patrick does not explicitly address gender-based violence on his campaign website. However, his gun safety page includes plans to eliminate the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and his civil and human rights pageincludes plans to stop violence against transgender people.

Track Record: Patrick’s track record includes signing a bill into law as Governor that “protected the housing rights of survivors of sexual violence.”

Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Sanders’ plans to address gender-based violence include: “immediately reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act”, including provisions that “provide critical resources to women in Indian country and allow all tribes to prosecute non-Native criminals”; fighting to end sexual harassment in workplaces, the military, and other institutions; and protecting women from harassment, discrimination, and violence in educational settings by strengthing enforcement of Title IX.

Track Record: Sanders’ track record includes supporting the original Violence Against Women Act and co-sponsoring the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA.

Tom Steyer, Philanthropist

Current Policies/Positions: Steyer does not formally address the issue of gender-based violence on his campaign website. However, his criminal justice reform plan includes fully funding the Violence Against Women Act and increasing funding for the Rape Prevention and Education program. Steyer’s gun reform plan also includes closing the ‘boyfriend loophole.’

Track Record: Steyer does not have a political track record regarding gender-based violence.

Bill Weld, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Current Policies/Positions: Weld does not explicitly address gender-based violence on his campaign website.

Track Record: Weld’s track record includes meeting with survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault and condemning Donald Trump’s treatment of women. According to Weld himself, he “was one of the first U.S. attorneys to appoint a victim witness coordinator for all cases so that the voices of victims of crimes could be heard.” As Governor, Weld also recognized the defense of “battered women’s syndrome” and recommended commuting the life sentence of a woman who was a survivor of domestic violence.

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts

Current Policies/Platforms: Senator Warren’s plans to address gender-based violence are not explicitly outlined on her campaign website. However, her gun reform plan includes closing the ‘boyfriend loophole;’ her “LGBTQ+ Equality” plan includes “requiring school districts to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;” her criminal justice reform plan includes “reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act” and ending the rape kit backlog; and her “Honoring Tribal Nations” plan includes a full Oliphant fix, increasing funding for victim and family services, and creating a nationwide “Missing Indigenous Woman Alert System modeled after the Amber Alert System and fully funded by the Department of Justice.”

Track Record: Warren’s track record includes co-sponsoring Savanna’s actand the BE HEARD act.

Andrew Yang, Entrepreneur

Current Policies/Positions: Yang does not explicitly address gender-based violence on his campaign website. However, his website does mention ending “the systemic threat to and real violence against the trans community,” and ensuring that those with a history of domestic abuse are not allowed to purchase guns.

Track Record: Yang does not have a political track record regarding gender-based violence.

Thanks for Tuning In

The issue areas highlighted in this series are particularly and uniquely important to the lives and opportunities afforded to girls and gender-expansive youth and were identified through an assessment of various advocate resources, news reports, and research. Information presented here on the candidates’ current positions was gathered from what they have committed to in writing on their respective websites–primarily focused on their published policy platforms rather than their interviews with the news media, social media posts, or debate responses. Information about candidates’ track records was compiled via the sources linked within this newsletter. Candidate’s platforms and records are listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of any candidates’ platform or track record, and we encourage folx to explore these issues further, as this is neither a full assessment nor an endorsement of any political party or candidate. Next week’s edition will focus on a different issue area and will be released on Tuesday.

Please feel free to reach out to Natalia Orozco with any corrections, questions, or suggestions for improvement at natalia@nationalcrittenton.org.

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