The announcement just came out from various news agencies- Barack Obama has named Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) as his vice-presidential running mate.
I wanted to put together a look at Biden's stance on LGBT rights over the years. Biden scored a 78% from the HRC 2006 rankings on LGBT rights. I've gathered information on his votes and quotes about hate crimes legislation, employment discrimination, DADT, immigration equality, marriage equality and civil unions. This list is by no means complete. If you know more information, feel free to leave it in the comments!
Extensive Joe Biden quotes and sources on LGBT issues after the jump.
Updates at the end of the post...
On Hate Crimes:
Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.
Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Reference: Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002
On Employment Discrimination:
Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.
Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996
"voiced support for ENDA, which would prohibit employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity."
- Society for Human Resource Management
On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
Nobody asks if you're gay in a foxhole
"I've been to Afghanistan, I've been to Iraq seven times, I've been in the Balkans, I've been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them. Let me tell you something, nobody asked anybody else whether they're gay in those foxholes. Our allies -- the British, the French, all our major allies -- gays openly serve. I don't know the last time an American soldier said to a backup from a Brit, 'Hey, by the way, let me check. Are you gay? Are you straight?' This is ridiculous."
- Joe Biden
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007
Checked YES in response a Human Rights Campaign questionnaire asking if the candidate "Supports repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy."
On Immigration Equality:
Biden has not signed on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act:
Title: A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
Sponsor: Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] (introduced 5/8/2007) Cosponsors (14)
Related Bills: H.R.2221
Latest Major Action: 5/8/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Voted for PEPFAR, which included provisions to repeal the HIV Travel Ban
On Marriage Equality:
Civil unions ok; gay marriage is probably inevitable
Q: In November 2003, you were asked, "Do you believe gay marriage is inevitable?" And you responded, "I'm not sure. I think probably it is."
A: Well, I think it probably is because social mores change. But I don't think the government can dictate the definition of marriage to religious institutions. But government does have an obligation to guarantee that every individual is free of discrimination. And there's a distinction. I think government should not be able to dictate to religions the definition of marriage, but on a civil side, government has the obligation to strip away every vestige of discrimination as to what individuals are able to do in terms of their personal conduct.
So New Hampshire coming out in favor of civil unions is OK by you?
A: Yes. Yes, it is.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 "Meet the Candidates" series Apr 29, 2007
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Proponents of the motion say:
•If Members of the Senate vote as their States have voted on this amendment, the vote today will be 90 to 10 in favor of a constitutional amendment.
•Marriage is a foundational institution. It is under attack by the courts. It needs to be defended by defining it as the union of a man and a woman as 45 of our 50 States have done.
The amendment is about how we are going to raise the next generation. It is not an issue that the courts should resolve. Those of us who support this amendment are doing so in an effort to let the people decide.
Opponents of the motion say:
•This proposal pits Americans against one another. It appeals to people's worst instincts and prejudices.
Supporters rail against activist judges. But if this vaguely worded amendment ever passes, it will result in substantial litigation. What are the legal incidents of marriage? Is a civil union a marriage?
•Married heterosexual couples are wondering, how, exactly, the prospect of gay marriages threatens the health of their marriages.
•This amendment would make a minority of Americans permanent second-class citizens of this country. It would prevent States, many of which are grappling with the definition of marriage, from deciding that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And it would write discrimination into a document that has served as a historic guarantee of individual freedom.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006
Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Reference: Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996
Checked NO in response a Human Rights Campaign questionnaire asking if the candidate "Supports allowing civil marriage rights for same-sex couples."
On Civil Unions/Relationship Recognition:
But one of the things I think more Americans are trying to figure is whether or not somehow a gay union is a threat to a heterosexual union. And I find difficulty in figuring how it's such a threat, if in fact it brings stability, if in fact you have two women who decide to stay with one another for 35 years and are sound and solid in terms of their commitment to one another. I don't know why we should be frightened of that... I just keep thinking, what would happen if one of my children had been gay? I don't know that I'd love him anymore, or think that they need any -- or they're entitled to any fewer rights than any other American.
- Joe Biden
Checked YES in response a Human Rights Campaign questionnaire asking if the candidate "Supports civil unions for same-sex couples."
Supports extending federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples
Checked YES in response a Human Rights Campaign questionnaire asking if the candidate "Supports extending federal benefits, rights, privileges and responsibilities to same-sex couples and their children provided the partnership meets certain federal standards of commitment and mutuality of interest."
Joe Biden believes legal recognition should not be denied same-sex couples. He advocates for re-examining federal laws, including the tax code, to ensure our national laws are not unfair to same-sex couples, and that committed adults who are adopting are not discriminated against because of sexual orientation. He supports letting states determine how to recognize civil unions and define marriage.
As I find more issues and statements, I'll be sure to update the post.
UPDATE 1: At 3AM on Saturday morning, the Obama Campaign myspace page changed its profile picture to this:
UPDATE 2:: At 3:30am, I received the official text message from the campaign:
Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden as our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live 3pm ET on www.BarackObama.com. Spread the word!