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National Black Justice Coalition on Democratic Debates: Black LGBTQ/SGL Rights Matter Too!


WASHINGTON — In response to the first night of Democratic Debates, David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition released the following statement:

“Tonight’s Democratic debate officially kicks off the long road to the 2020 election – the outcome of which will be pivotal in determining America’s future. An eclectic array of Democratic candidates is eager to challenge Trump’s tenure as president and are poised to speak to diverse issues including the economy, border security, and climate change. While we can expect that every Democratic candidate will speak to the issues with deeper understanding than the current occupant of the oval office has demonstrated; however, we are left to wonder who will speak to the unique and often overlooked needs of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, families, and communities?

“Since 2016, the current administration has actively worked to restrict existing policies and practices that address the needs of Black LGBTQ/SGL people, communities, and families. Consider efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides quality and affordable healthcare to millions of Americans, including significant numbers of LGBTQ/SGL people. Black women in particular have received a number of benefits because of the implementation of the ACA. These are important gains that must be maintained. 

“In spite of the fact that Black people continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV, the current administration fired members of the President’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council in 2017. In 2018 the administration pushed the boundaries of legalizing hate speech under the veil of ‘protecting religious liberties.’ Most recently, the administration doubled down on efforts to restrict the ability of LGBTQ/SGL people to volunteer to serve to defend our country and even threatened the safety of transgender people seeking refute in shelters. These aforementioned attacks against our community is not exhaustive. It is for these reasons that the Trump Administration received a failing grade on our Federal Report Card.

“While the administration attempts to erase and restrict access to opportunities for Black LGBTQ/SGL people, the rates of reported hate crimes are continuing to increase. In 2017 alone, over twelve hundred hate crimes were reported based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And the violence has only escalated.

 In just the month of June, this year, 9 Black trans women have been murdered—that we know of.  

“While important to note that the Equality Act was recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives more must be done to ensure that Black LGBTQ/SGL people are free from harassment, hate crimes, and discrimination. The National Black Justice Coalition will continue to watch the presidential election process unfold and are thankful for Senator Booker’s acknowledgement of the specific issues facing Black LGBTQ/SGL people. But would-be nominees must do better. We eagerly await opportunities to support candidates in speaking to the importance of and creating policy responses that address the unique needs of our diverse community.

“Specifically, the National Black Justice Coalition is eager to hear candidates speak to the following three policy priorities: 

  1. Civil and legal protections: The Equality Act, criminal justice reform; and removing the barriers to employment and housing that limit economic opportunities 

  2. 2020 Census: ensure that members of our community are counted so that resources can be apportioned fairly

  3. Protect ACA & Expand Health Care: ensure every American in all 50 states and territories has access to health insurance and ability to receive quality, culturally competent care.”


The National Black Justice Coalition is dedicated to opposing oppression at the intersection of Black and LGBTQ/SGL issues. To learn more about these issues and how to support the cause, check out our Federal Report Card and Public Policy Agenda

Fast Facts on Key Issues

  • Healthcare and Black LGBTQ/SGL People

    • Before the codification of the ACA, nearly 50 million Americans lacked health insurance; more than 16 percent of these individuals were Black. 

    • According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey, the share of Black ages 18–64 who lacked health insurance coverage fell from 24.9 percent in 2013 to 15.1 percent between January and September 2016.  

  • Hate Crimes

  • There was a 17% increase in hate crimes based on bias against someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity from 2016 to 2017.

  • The FBI reports a 16% increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.