Congressman Ted Deutch

Congressman Ted Deutch is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives for Florida’s 22nd congressional district which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. A big proponent of equality and LGBT – his support and record go back years – Deutch has lashed out recently against President Trump’s transgender ban in the military, which he called “hateful and wrong.”

Hotspots caught up with the Congressman prior to his Town Hall meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Aug 30 and Boca Raton on August 31 (details at teddeutch.house.gov).

Q: Congressman, you’ve been a huge supporter of LGBT equality for years. In fact, in 2010, you said, “Gays and lesbians should have the same rights as all American citizens including the rights to have committed same-sex relationships with the right of marriage and adoption.” What are your thoughts on the status of LGBT rights in America today under the Trump administration?

A: I think this President has made his disregard for the LGBT community quite clear through his policies and actions. Just look at his call for a ban on transgender men and women serving in our military! Since his election he has done nothing to prioritize progress towards a more inclusive, equal society. If he was serious about protecting the LGBT community, he would pressure the Congressional leadership of his own party to bring the LGBT Equality Act up for a vote, a bill with nearly 200 bipartisan cosponsors.

Q: You called President Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military in any capacity “mean-spirited, hateful and wrong.”  With the widespread backlash that has followed – including a condemnation of the ban by 56 retired Generals and Admirals – do you see the president having to retreat on this policy decision?

A: The President created a lot of confusion over his tweet that he would ban transgender Americans from serving. Contrary to what he claimed, he had not discussed the issue with leaders at the Defense Department.

These are brave Americans who are willing to risk their lives for our nation, regardless of their gender. Most constitutional law experts agree that it is blatantly unconstitutional. In addition, the number of LGBT allies in Congress has been growing, and it’s my hope that common sense and common decency will block this policy from moving forward, regardless of whether the President still thinks such an offensive, harmful policy is a good idea.

Q: You have just introduced a bill to offer Medicare Buy-in for older Americans –which, importantly, would lower the Medicare eligibility age to 50. Tell us about the benefits of this bill, which affects a large number of your LGBT constituents, especially in Broward County.

A: Access to health care should be a right in this country. At some point in every person’s life, health care will be a major personal issue. And the chances that you will need it go up as you get older. This bill would offer the option to older Americans to join Medicare at age 50. That would mean bringing a younger, healthier population into the Medicare program, while reducing the age and average health needs of people in the private market. That means lower costs for both groups, and better access to care. Since it was first established in 1965, Medicare has been a highly cost-effective program, offering affordable health care plans for 57 million Americans today. It makes sense to build on that success.

Q:  There have been calls since Hillary Clinton’s spectacular defeat for introspection if not reinvention within the Democratic Party. Is this happening? What have the Democrats learned?

A: The Democratic Party has the vision for America that will empower us all to achieve more and live fuller and better lives. The Democratic Party is willing to do more than pay lip service to the idea that diversity makes us stronger, that we can’t leave certain segments out of education, our economy, and our government. Trump’s win was certainly a surprise, but I don’t believe it should change the core of our priorities. Democrats believe that all Americans, regardless of who they are, where they live, or what they believe, deserve a better deal for themselves and their families, and a government that helps them respond to the dramatic changes in our economy.

Q:  You’ll be holding a town hall meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 30 where you will be discussing, no doubt, a broad spectrum of topics. What top 3 issues in America today concern you the most?

A: Climate change: Florida attracts visitors from all over the world who love our nature, our beaches, and our environment. And we know that those things are already threatened by effects of climate change. That’s why I’m working across the aisle, bringing in Republican voices from areas around the country that are also feeling the threat of climate change, to come up with bipartisan solutions to this growing problem.

Healthcare: We won a dramatic battle on health care just before the August break in Washington, but the fight isn’t over yet. Many constituents have shared stories of how the ACA has protected their health and their financial security. My Democratic colleagues and I are committed to improving our healthcare system, not imploding it as President Trump wants.

American leadership: President Trump’s chaotic foreign policy, his attempts to gut our diplomatic budget, his withdrawal from the Paris Accords, and his suspicious relationship with Vladimir Putin, weaken America’s leadership in the world, and his moral equivalency after Charlottesville diminishes the moral authority of the United States.

For more information, go to teddeutch.house.gov/