Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful Beto O’Rourke has been labelled a “wacko” by President Donald Trump after the Texas politician called for anti-LGBTI churches to have their tax exemptions removed.
Beto O’Rourke who proposed the removal of the tax-exemption status of churches that oppose same-sex marriage made the comments in Los Angeles during an LGBTI forum hosted by CNN and the Human Rights Campaign.
During the forum moderator, Don Lemon asked O’Rourle if “religious institutions, like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage.”
“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organisation in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” O’Rourke said.
“And so as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”
Taking exception to O’Rourke and his comments, Trump retaliated saying, “As you know, just a few days ago, a Democrat running for president proposed revoking the tax-exempt status of many churches and religious groups.”
“And you why, and you know it is. He’s a wacko.”
The forum featured nine Democratic presidential candidates. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the only top-tier candidate who missed the event, having declined the invitation after suffering a heart attack last week, though he addressed the group by video before the forum began.
Their attendance was a clear sign of how LGBTI rights have become an essential part of the party’s platform. Several candidates said they would withhold aid from countries that condone discrimination against the L.G.B.T.Q. community and several said they would consider withholding money from nonprofit groups and schools that do not recognize same-sex couples.
The event featured questions from the audience, many of whom were activists and health and social work professionals, on topics such as family leave for gay couples, violence against transgender people and the conflicts between religious freedom and LGBTI rights.
Peter Buttigieg, the first openly gay presidential candidate, released an 18-page plan hours before the forum, saying he would rescind the policy that blocks military veterans from receiving insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery, and add non-binary gender options on federal documents, including passports.