Thomas F. Steyer is an American billionaire, hedge fund manager, philanthropist, environmentalist, liberal activist, and fundraiser. Steyer is the founder and former co-senior-managing-partner of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of Onecalifornia Bank, which became (through merger) Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland–based community development bank. Since 1986, Steyer has been a partner and member of the executive committee at Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco–based $8 billion private equity firm.v In 2010, Steyer and his wife signed The Giving Pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime. Steyer launched NextGen America, a nonprofit organization that supports progressive positions on climate change, immigration, health care, and education, in 2013. He announced his candidacy for the presidency on August 6, 2019 in a four-minute video on Twitter.
On the Issues
AAI tracks the official and campaign-trail statements of each presidential candidate on 12 issues that are critical for our community.
Scroll to see what Tom Steyer has said about each.
HENDERSON: And next we're going to bring in Kevin Medina, who works at UCLA's School of Public Affairs and also works for -- some shout- outs there -- for L.A. County as a consultant on hate crime research. Kevin, your question.
QUESTION: Hi there. Good evening. Unlike our current federal administration, I believe in data, so my question is centered around that. LGBTQ Americans will not be counted on the 2020 census. What is your plan to account for this and to ensure that LGBTQ Americans' identities will not be erased?
STEYER: Kevin, let me ask you a question about this. They -- when you say they won't be counted, what do you mean by they won't be counted on the census? They will not be identified on the census?
QUESTION: Correct, like LGBTQ identities will be removed from being asked the question on the census in 2020.
STEYER: So I think it's clear that this administration is scared of data that contradicts their underlying beliefs.
I think -- I think -- look, it is absolutely critical to get the data on subjects like this, because I think that kind of information gives a power to this community politically that is really important. And when I said, how do you make change here? Someone asked me, the first questioner, how do you make change? My answer was grassroots. This kind of data is the proof that at the grassroots the LGBTQ community has real power. So it's absolutely critical that we, in fact, get this information. And if it's not going to happen in 2020 -- and I know that in California we're spending an extra, I think, $80 million to make this census work, but whatever happens as president, I will collect this data, because this is going to be the data that empowers this community to make the changes and to scare the politicians into doing what's right. It's that critical to me. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
"What I have done for the last 10 years is to try and organize Americans at the grassroots to push for justice throughout the society. So in this case, I understand that there may be people in the Congress who will push for the wrong thing, and it seems to me the only real way to push back against them is to go to the grassroots and get the people, their constituents, to push.
I've also talked about putting in term limits for congresspeople and senators. One of the things that's true in the United States about attitudes towards the LGBTQ community is that there's been a generational shift. And if we, in fact, push through what I've talked about, that people in D.C. find, you know, very awkward and unnerving, 12-year term limits for congresspeople and senators, we'd get a wave of new blood into the Congress of the United States.
I mean, we have a broken system. This is an example to me of a straightforward breakdown in terms of American values and American democracy. And our only real response is to push at the grassroots as hard as we can and, secondly, to have structural change in our government to break this, you know, stranglehold on our government and on the rights of the human beings who live in the United States of America." (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
- "It's the reason - one of the reasons that I'm running for President is I feel as if we have a failed government. We have to return that government to the people. That's what I've been trying to do for 10 years as an outsider, and that's why I'm running for President...You've got to go back to my basic thesis, which is the corporations have bought the democracy. We can see it in climate. We can see it in drug pricing. We can see it in gun violence. We can see it across the board. Eight out of 10 Americans agree with that statement. And we've got to break that corporate stranglehold and return the democracy to the people. And honestly, that's what I've been doing in the States for 10 years, by organizing people--
STEYER: --direct democracy.
STEYER: Passing propositions going around the legislature--
CUOMO: Tricky on the federal level.
STEYER: --directly to the people.
"You'd think Congress would be actively working to protect our democracy. Instead, #MoscowMitch blocked election security legislation right before a six week recess while Russia and Iran—among others—plot to hack our elections." (6/26/2019, Twitter)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
"First of all, I think it's absolutely critical that antidiscrimination laws be applied very, you know, clearly and severely in terms of the LGBTQ community. Second of all, I think it's absolutely critical in the military that there be senior members of this community so that, in fact, those -- the ideas and the feelings are represented directly, not indirectly. Whether that appointment should be a specific appointment to a specific job is a different question. What I believe is, we need members of this community at senior levels across the government.
You know, I started a grassroots organization, one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the United States called NextGen America, which is really about registering, engaging, and turning out people who otherwise wouldn't vote.
On the way over here, I checked to see how many of the people in that organization, which is at least 1,000 people, self-identified as part of this community, and the answer was 30 percent. So what I believe in is representation at the highest level of Americans of every single type, but specifically making sure that the people of this community are represented at high levels so that at no point is there a discussion that doesn't include people who are LGBTQ members openly, proudly, and will stand up for the rights of this community." (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
Securitization and Surveillance
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- QUESTION: To date, at least 19 black transgender women were murdered in the U.S. this year. Anti-transgender violence is an epidemic that many transgender Americans believe is not only largely due to a lack of protections, but also an extreme lack of prosecutions of these horrific crimes. Specifically what will you do to ensure that law enforcement and the judicial system prioritize penalizing these crimes and violence and murder against transgender citizens as hate crimes?
STEYER: So, Carter, there is nothing that I can think of that would be more painful as an American than what you just said, that there are citizens in our society who are being targeted for murder as a result of who they are. That is something which absolutely the resources -- police resources, shelters for people to go to, trying to take people off the street who may be homeless.
I know, in my hometown of San Francisco, 10 percent of the homeless people are transgender youths. So I know that this is a question at some level of resources of protection, but also of support for people who are in this circumstance and are particularly vulnerable.
But then the question about -- the second part of your question was, what are you going to do to make sure that the hate crimes are prosecuted?
STEYER: There is -- look, this is a straightforward attack on humanity itself to kill somebody for who they are. That has got to be the definition of a hate crime. We have got to prosecute those as severely as possible, as a symbol of who we are, a symbol of the thing that we won't put up with. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
And every prosecutor has got to know that, that this is something that goes to the heart of American equality and justice. And that's got to be straightforward, unequivocal, not a 99 percent rule, a 100 percent rule.
- "184 hate crimes in New York City this year—a 64% increase over the same period in 2018—with anti-Semitic incidents up 90%. This is a reflection of the hateful man who sits in the White House. This kind of behavior does not belong in the mainstream." (6/6/2019, Twitter)
Criminal Justice Reform
"Officer Pantaleo is only one police officer in one city. Black and brown Americans know that every interaction with a cop could reveal another. There is a crisis of police violence against our neighbors. We must speak out and stop it. #blacklivesmatter" (8/20/2019, Twitter)
Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use
- "Mr. Trump’s attempt to isolate, vilify, & stigmatize members of Congress with whom he disagrees strikes at the central notion of our democracy & continues his attempt to separate & divide Americans along racial and religious lines, and further his bigoted and destructive agenda." (8/15/2019, Twitter)
QUESTION: Hi. I want to start by saying that ICE detention centers are an LGBT issue. LGBT asylum-seekers are being denied parole in detention centers across the country. Two have died in ICE custody in the past two years and a half due to lack of access to HIV care. At least 24 immigrants have died in the past three years in ICE custody. Will your administration be ready from day one to put in place strong measures and penalties to increase oversight over health care access, HIV health care access in detention centers across the country and save lives of LGBT asylum-seekers?
STEYER: Maria, of course we will. I mean, what we've seen from ICE in terms of inhumanity, this is a perfect example, but it's not the only example. I think it's absolutely critical for the United States of America to treat people in a humane and decent fashion. It's very obvious that this president and this administration has chosen to not only break the international laws in their treatment of asylum-seekers, but to break the basic laws of humanity.
When I think about why I started the Need to Impeach campaign two years ago, yeah, he's a criminal, it's true that he more than has earned impeachment, but it goes much beyond this, and it goes to exactly this kind of issue. The actual president of the United States committing crimes against humanity like this, in our name, is something that we should end right now, certainly the first day of my presidency. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
NO BAN Act
- "Trump followed that with an attempt to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees from coming to America. He made the baseless claim this was about security—really, it was about dividing the country. Federal judges blocked his racist efforts three times." (1/30/2018, Twitter)
- "I would consider making military aid to Israel conditional based on freezing settlement construction." (02/07/2020, The New York Times)
- On BDS: "I believe in an individual's democratic right to express themselves and not purchase goods according to their conscience." (02/07/2020, The New York Times)
- "Yes" -- On whether the United States Embassy in Israel should be moved from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. (02/07/2020, The New York Times)
- On the right of Palestinian refugees to return to what is Israel today: "This is an issue that should be determined by both parties in negotiations for a final status agreement." (02/07/2020, The New York Times)
- "I support a two-state solution. The pre-1967 borders are a starting point for negotiations — however, the exact borders should be determined by the parties in final status negotiations. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest-running and thorniest conflicts in world history. We must help the two sides reach an agreement that provides peace and stability to both Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution." (02/07/2020, The New York Times)
- "Donald Trump’s demand that Israel bar the entry of Representatives Omar and Tlaib as U.S. officials is an affront to core American ideals. His divisive demands of our allies are contrary to the principles of free speech and open, vigorous dialogue." (8/15/2019, Twitter)
- "Soleimani was a terrorist responsible for killing Americans. But this wasn't authorized by Congress and is an escalation that risks a wider war with Iran. Mr. Trump risks making a bad situation worse with reckless action. It is essential that we protect American service members and citizens throughout the region while working with our allies to prevent further escalation that could lead to a devastating war that Americans do not want." (1/3/2020, Twitter)
- "The president thinks he can go to war with Iran because Congress refuses to hold him accountable for anything else he has done." (5/16/2019, Twitter)
U.S. Role in the Arab World
- HENDERSON: And, Mr. Steyer, some of the other candidates in this race, some of who were on stage tonight, would create a special envoy within the State Department to deal with LGBTQ rights. Is that something that would happen in a Steyer administration, as well?
STEYER: I think -- let me talk about that for a second. So I know that there are 71 countries in the world that openly discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. And I know that the United States, as a value-driven country, where we're projecting to the world what we care about, what we're willing to do about it, and the kind of world that we're trying to create with our democracy- and freedom- loving partners, should definitely include a specific attempt to represent the rights of LGBTQ people who live outside the United States.
So I think it's entirely appropriate as part of our foreign policy to have a person specified for that role, but also to make it clear that part of human rights, part of civil rights, that we expect in our own country, without equivocation, and that we expect people around the world to observe, is the rights of the people in this community. So I would support that. And I think it's got to be part of our foreign policy to stand up for what we believe in most deeply. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
- "Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Jamal Kashoggi should have been met with condemnation—instead, Donald Trump offered his friendship." (10/2/2019, Twitter)
"...we need to reassert American leadership around the world. This [climate crisis] can't happen. It's a global problem. We need American global moral leadership. We need American global technical leadership. We need American global industrial leadership." (7/25/2019, CNN)
- "Donald Trump sold out the United States and our allies for the benefit of Vladimir Putin and Russia." (10/14/2019, Twitter)