O'ROURKE: It should be illegal. As president we will seek to outlaw it everywhere in this country. In my opinion, this is tantamount to torture, a torture that we're visiting on children who are absolutely defenseless.
Q: What should the penalty be?
O'ROURKE: We're going to make sure that whatever the penalty is, it is steep enough to dissuade anybody from entering into this practice or being able to torture kids with the kind of impunity that we have seen so far. And we're also going to recognize that these kind of practices, in addition to the immediate torture that that child or that person feels, also adds to other challenges that we have. So, yes, we will outlaw it, and, yes, we will ensure that there are penalties stiff enough, enforcement vigorous enough to make sure that it does not continue.
O'ROURKE: I'm going to listen to trans women of color. They will be the guide on this issue. They will direct our policy. What that means is that we will no longer allow trans women of color to be killed at this alarming rate and to be killed with what is functionally impunity. If local law enforcement won't make it a priority, the local DA will not prosecute, we are going to involve our Department of Justice to look at these as civil rights violations and a matter of restoring the very fabric of America, equal treatment under the law. I think it's really important, from the highest office in the land, to set the standard, to speak in the most positive terms, to overturn that transgender troop ban on day one, and to make stopping this epidemic of violence against trans women a top priority for the United States of America.
O'ROURKE: You're right that there is discrimination against our fellow Americans, as well as discrimination against those who are coming to this country. I think about asylum seekers, families who are separated based on the HIV status of a single family member. We don't do that for families who come here with the flu or other health care challenges right now in this country. We've singled out a population in America. And end the discrimination against those who have HIV in America today.
O'ROURKE: We no longer recognize this as a valid claim for asylum, though we know that when we turn people back to their country of origin, where they face persecution, they often face certain death. We've got to make sure that we welcome all those who have literally no other place to go to and retake our place as the indispensable country in the world again, setting the moral example so we can exert the moral leadership across the world and make this a cornerstone of our foreign policy. In fact, I'm going to have a full-time person in the State Department who works with other countries to advocate for the full human rights of their citizens, as well. But we won't wait on those countries to change. If someone needs to come here to seek shelter or asylum or refuge, we are going to welcome them now.
The above quotations are from LGBTQ Town Hall: hosted by CNN in Los Angeles.
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