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Chitown Kev

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Member since: Thu Aug 20, 2015, 08:59 PM
Number of posts: 2,197

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Bernie Sanders on Marriage Equality October 23, 2006



UPDATE: Look, I really don't have a problem with Sanders' answer in 2006. He gave a politician's answer; for all I know, he did support full and unconditional same-sex marriage rights in 2006.

But he didn't say that. Could it be because of the fact that he was running for the U.S. Senate seat in his state?

By Number 23's request- My first diary here at DU

Some background first:

At the time this essay was written, I was rather exhausted by some of the more, shall we say, overzealous supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who have taken to browbeating black people and, to a lesser extent, LGBT people about Bernie Sanders' civil rights record.

A Black Kos member tipped me to a well-researched 4-part series by Aphra Behn at Shakesville; research that led me to some of the conclusions that I drew in this essay written for Daily Kos about Bernie Sanders opinions and statements on marriage equality.

Bernie Sanders and Marriage Equality

To hear some Bernie Sanders supporters here at the GOS tell it, Senator Sanders is more than capable of walking on water, parting the Red Sea, and has fought hard for the civil rights of all people and maybe even a few of those extraterrestrials over at Area 51. For his entire life.

And those of us "others", who choose to simply play "identity politics," do not show sufficient appreciation for all that Senator Sanders has done for us.

Senator Sanders' actual record, however, is a bit murkier.

Let's take marriage equality, for example.

Aphra Behn over at Shakesville did a highly detailed 4-part series on many aspects of Bernie Sanders' record that should be required reading. In Part 4, she reviews Senator Sanders record on gay rights, with an emphasis on the fight in Vermont over civil unions in 2000.

Simply put, Seven Days political columnist Peter Freyne lit into Saint Bernie's ass.

U.S. Sen. Pius J. Leahy, er, sorry, Patrick J. Leahy, belongs to the flock that has Most Rev. Kenneth Angell as CEO. But St. Patrick’s not marching to the drumbeat of Vermont’s Bingo Bishop. Nor is he marching with fellow Democrats Backus and Flanagan.

According to a finely crafted statement issued by St. Patrick’s Washington, D.C., office Tuesday afternoon, “The Vermont Supreme Court produced a thoughtful and well-grounded decision. I believe the best solution now would be legal protections through a comprehensive domestic partnership law, but I respect those who support other remedies.”

At least he took a position.

Obtaining Congressman Bernie Sanders’ position on the gay marriage issue was like pulling teeth...from a rhinoceros. Last month, shortly after the decision of the Amestoy Court was issued, Mr. Sanders publicly tried walking the tightrope — applauding the court’s decision and the cause of equal rights without supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples.

This week we were no more successful getting a straight answer. All we did get was a carefully crafted non-statement statement via e-mail from Washington D.C. And Bernie’s statement wins him the Vermont congressional delegation’s Wishy-Washy Award hands down.

Once more he “applauds” the court decision but won’t go anywhere near choosing between same-sex “marriage” and domestic partnership. “By all accounts the legislature is approaching this issue in a considered and appropriate manner and I support the current process.”

Supports the current process, does he? What a courageous radical!

That’s as far as Ol’ Bernardo would go. It’s an election year, yet despite the lack of a serious challenger, The Bern’s gut-level paranoia is acting up. He’s afraid to say something that might alienate his conservative, rebel-loving rural following out in the hills. Something that could be interpreted as “Bernie Loves Queers!”

As can be expected, this diary was not well received by some of the Bernie Sanders supporters at Daily Kos, in spite of the fact that I went out of the way to clarify:

I will be the first to admit that Sanders' has a great record LGBT on issues. Behn suggests that the "regressive nature" of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was the reason for Sanders' "nay" vote on the 1993 measure. And Sanders did vote "nay" on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (then again, both of my United States Senators voted "nay" on DOMA, although my representative at that time was a "yes" vote for DOMA).

I went on to research for affirmative statements that Bernie Sanders made about marriage equality:

Let's take note of Senator Sanders' April 28, 2015 statement urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

In the 4/28/15 press release, Senator Sanders notes his support of both the 2000 civil unions law in Vermont and the landmark 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage. I have no doubt that he supported both measures. Yet I do not see any 2009 press releases from Senator Sanders' office urging then Vermont Governor Jim Douglas to sign the same-sex marriage bill passed by the Vermont legislature (Douglas vetoed the bill), no press release congratulating the Vermont legislature for overriding Governor Douglas' veto, or any statement celebrating the commencement of marriages in Vermont September 1, 2009.

That does not constitute the "fierce advocacy" of gay civil rights (at least on the same-sex marriage issue) that Bernie Sanders supporters claims that it does.

Now at no time was I actually criticizing Bernie Sanders' record on LGBT issues other than he seems to have been more of a reliable vote (a leas in his time in Congress) rather than the "fierce advocacy" that some Sanders supporters claim for him.

Now, of course, I can pull up years of his "scores" from various groups like the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign that show that Sanders is a reliable vote but that he has rarely sponsored or even co-sponsored various pieces of legislation related to civil rights.

Nevertheless, the mere suggestion that Mr. Sanders is anything less than a civil rights "diva" is ridiculed by Mr. Sanders supporters.

So the reaction to some of what I researched and learned at an LGBT forum here at DU was not surprising. At all.

Some Bernie Sanders supporters that I have encountered both here a DU and "back home" at DK cannot seem to bear the slightest criticisms of Bernie Sanders record (or Dr. Cornel West, from the looks of today's posts).

It seems as if the job of a small sector of Sanders supporters is to get the rest of us "low-info voters" to assimilate or to be insulted...and for the record, I am an uncommitted voter at this time.
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