August 31, 2020

Nothing To Be Proud Of: The Biden LGBT Record

Key Takeaways:

BIDEN WAS NOT A CHAMPION FOR LGBT AMERICANS

In 1973, Biden Suggested That Gay Federal Employees Were “Security Risks”

In 1973, Responding To A Question About Gays Serving In The U.S. Civil Service Or The Military, Biden Said That He Has Not Given It Much Thought But His “Gut Reaction…Is That They [Homosexuals] Are Security Risks.” “Biden also agreed to answer later by mail a series of questions on U.S. Civil Service and military job discrimination which Robert Vane, a gay activist, presented him. Vane a North Star resident, startled Biden with his sudden queries and sent at least three persons storming from the room when he identified his cause. ‘My gut reaction,’ Biden told Vane, ‘is that they [homosexuals] are security risks but I must admit I havent’ given this much thought…I’ll be darned!’” (Hugh Cutler, “Gay Activist Gets Biden’s ‘Gut Reaction,’” The Morning News [Wilmington, DE], 9/25/73)

In 1993, Biden Voted To Block The Immigration Of HIV+ Individuals Into The United States

In February 1993, Biden Voted For An Amendment To Block The Immigration Of HIV+ Individuals. (S.Amdt. 39 To S. 1, Roll Call Vote #13, 76-23, 2/18/93, Biden Voted Yea)

Biden Voted For An Amendment To Codify The Department Of Health And Human Services’ Prohibition Of the Permanent Immigration Of HIV+ Individuals. “Vote on Senator Don Nickles' (R-OK) amendment to codify the Department of Health and Human Services' prohibition of the permanent immigration of HIV+ individuals. The amendment passed by a vote of 76-23: R 42-1, D 34-22. HRCF opposed this amendment.” (“Senate Votes Of The 103rd Congress,” Human Rights Campaign, Accessed 6/18/20; “Senate Voting Records – 103rd Congress,” Human Rights Campaign, Accessed 6/18/20)

Biden Claimed He Was “Ambivalent On The Issue” But Voted For The Amendment, Saying The Issue Was “Bigger Than Whether HIV Should Be On The List Or Off The List.” “Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, said he was ambivalent on the issue but ultimately sided against Mr. Clinton. ‘One side of me says just let the public health officials make the decision, and both Republican and Democratic officials have agreed on it [to drop the ban],’ he said. ‘But it seems to me the policy is bigger than whether HIV should be on the list or off the list.’” (Carol Innerst, “Senate Passes HIV Ban – Clinton Opposed Immigration Rule,” The Washington Times, 2/19/93)

In 1993, Biden Voted For Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Which Kicked 14,500 Servicemembers Out Of The U.S. Military

In 1993, Biden Voted For The National Defense Authorization Act Of 1994. (Conference Report To H.R. 2401, Roll Call Vote #380: Passed 77-22-1; R: 26-18; D: 51-4-1, 11/17/93, Biden Voted Yea)

  • The 1994 NDAA Contained The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Policy Which Prohibited Gay Americans From Serving In The Military. “The ambiguities in the Clinton Administration’s interpretation of the policy, as well as conflicting legal rulings at the time, seemingly encouraged Congress to act. On November 30, 1993, the FY1994 National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law by President Clinton (P.L. 103-160). Section 571 of the law, codified at 10 United States Code 654, describes homosexuality in the ranks as an ‘unacceptable risk ... to morale, good order, and discipline.’ The law codified the grounds for discharge as follows: (1) the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts; (2) the member states that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual; or (3) the member has married or attempted to marry someone of the same sex. The law also stated that DOD would brief new entrants (accessions) and members about the law and policy on a regular basis.”  (David Burrelli, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: The Law and Military Policy on Same-Sex Behavior,” Congressional Research Service, 1/2/20)

More Than 14,500 Service Members Were Discharged From The Military For Violating The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Between 1994 And 2011. “14,500 US service personnel have been thrown out of military service since the DADT policy took effect, according to the non-profit watchdog and lobby group, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.” (Karen McVeigh and Paul Harris, “US Military Lifts Ban On Openly Gay Troops,” The Guardian, 9/20/11)

In 1994, Biden Voted For An Amendment To Cut Off Federal Funding For Schools That Taught “Acceptance Of Homosexuality As A Lifestyle”

In August 1994, Biden Was One Of 23 Democrats To Vote For S.Amdt. 2434. (S.Amdt. 2434 to S.Amdt. 2433 to S. 1513, Roll Call Vote #244: Passed 63-36-1; R: 40-3-1; D: 23-33, 8/1/94; Biden Voted Yea)

  • The Amendment “Cut Off Federal Funds To Any School District That Teaches Acceptance Of Homosexuality As A Lifestyle.” “The Senate voted Monday to cut off federal funds to any school district that teaches acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle. The 63-36 vote on a proposal by Sens. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., came during debate on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides $12.5 billion in federal funds to the nation’s public schools.” (Robert Naylor, Jr., “Senate Votes To Cut Aid To Schools With Pro-Gay Stance,” The Associated Press, 8/1/94)

In 1998, Biden’s Home State Newspaper Described Him As Being Relatively Silent On Gay Rights

In 1998, Delaware Pride Board Member Vicki Morelli Said That “None” Of Delaware’s Congressional Delegation, Including Biden, Had “Come Out As Incredibly Outspoken One Way Or The Other … They’re All Good Enough Politicians That They Know Not To Make Hateful Comments Against Gays, Yet Not To Fight So Vigorously For Gay Rights That Alienate Voters.” “But Vicky Morelli, a board member of the gay rights group Delaware Pride, said the delegation runs the gamut. ‘Biden has usually been pro-gay about 80 percent of the time,’ she said. ‘Roth has been against us about 90 percent of the time. Castle has sort of flip-flopped. ‘None of them have come out as incredibly outspoken one way or the other – which could be a good thing,’ she said. ‘But it makes them hard to pin down on certain things.’ They’re all good enough politicians that they know not to make hateful comments against gays, yet not to fight so vigorously for gay rights that alienate voters, she said.” (Carl Weiser, “GOP Attacks Gays; Del. Lawmakers Stay Quiet On Issues,” The News Journal, 7/26/98)

BIDEN SPENT DECADES OPPOSING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

In 1996, Biden Voted For The Defense Of Marriage Act

In 1996, Biden Voted For The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).  “Defense of Marriage Act - Amends the Federal judicial code to provide that no State, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other such jurisdiction or to any right or claim arising from such relationship. Establishes a Federal definition of: (1) ‘marriage’ as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and (2) ‘spouse’ as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.”  (H.R. 3396, Roll Call Vote #280, Passed 85-14, 9/10/96)

  • The Defense Of Marriage Act Defined Marriage “As Only A Legal Union Between One Man And One Woman As Husband And Wife.”  (H.R. 3396, Introduced 5/7/96)

DOMA “Defined Marriage As Between A Man And A Woman And Allowed States Not To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages.” “The measure defined marriage as between a man and a woman and allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples could not claim federal benefits. Biden was one of 85 senators to vote in favor.” (Jon Greenberg, “Progressive Democratic Group’s Attack On Joe Biden’s Voting Record Needs Some Context,” PolitiFact, 4/26/19)

In The 2000s, During Discussion Of A Constitutional Marriage Amendment, Biden Called Same Sex Marriage A “State Issue,” Repeatedly Saying “Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman”

In February 2004, Biden Said He Opposed President Bush’s Proposed Marriage Amendment, But Did So By Describing It As Unnecessary And Touting His Prior Vote For The Defense Of Marriage Act. (Erin Kelly, “Amendment Unnecessary, Delaware Senators Say,” The News Journal [Delaware], 2/26/04)

  • Biden: “As President Bush Said On A Previous Occasion, This Issue Should Be Left To The States. I Agree. That’s Why I Voted For The Defense Of Marriage Act, Which Defines Marriage As ‘A Union Between One Man And One Woman’ And Does Not Require Any State To Recognize A Same-Sex Union Sanctioned Under The Laws Of Another State.” (Erin Kelly, “Amendment Unnecessary, Delaware Senators Say,” The News Journal [Delaware], 2/26/04)
  • Biden: “This Has Long Been A State Issue, And It Should Remain That Way.” (Erin Kelly, “Amendment Unnecessary, Delaware Senators Say,” The News Journal [Delaware], 2/26/04)

In June 2006, Biden Said He Did Not Oppose A Federal Marriage Constitutional Amendment On Substance, But That He Opposed “The Timing” Of The Amendment. JOHN ROBERTS: “So -- s, are you more against the amendment itself or the timing of it?” SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “I’m against the timing of it. Look, marriage is between a man and a woman. Tell me why that has to be put in the Constitution now? We already have a federal law that has not been challenged. No one’s declared it unconstitutional. It’s the law of the land, saying marriage is between a man and a woman.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” 6/5/06)

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  • Biden Said He Did Not Know Whether A Federal Marriage Amendment Would Be “Writing Discrimination Into The Constitution” As Mary Cheney Had Characterized It. JOHN ROBERTS: “You also have Mary Cheney and Russ Feingold both saying that, to pass this amendment, would be to write discrimination into the Constitution. Is this really writing discrimination into the Constitution?” SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “Look, I don't -- I don't know whether it would be writing discrimination into the Constitution. But it doesn't warrant the Constitution. There's a lot of things that don't need to be in the Constitution. And what we have always -- marriage has always been something we left to the states. We don't pass a federal law saying what age you can be married or not married. States have different ages. We don't pass a federal law telling you the conditions on which you can get married, who can marry you, how you can get married.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” 6/5/06)

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June 2006, Biden: “Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman And States Must Respect That.” TIM RUSSERT: “The president used his radio address yesterday, and tomorrow in the Rose Garden, to talk about a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.” SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “You know, think about this. The world’s going to Hades in a handbasket. We are desperately concerned about the circumstance relating to avian flu—we don’t have enough vaccines, we don’t have enough police officers—and we’re going to debate, the next three weeks, I’m told, gay marriage, a flag amendment, and God only knows what else. I can’t believe the American people can’t see through this. We already have a law, the Defense of Marriage Act. We’ve all voted—not, where I’ve voted, and others have said, look, marriage is between a man and a woman and states must respect that. Nobody’s violated that law, there’s been no challenge to that law. Why do we need a constitutional amendment? Marriage is between a man and a woman.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 6/4/06)

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During The 2008 Presidential Campaign, Biden Refused To Back Gay Marriage

Asked At A July 2007 Campaign Event If “In The Next Five Years, If You’re President, Do You See Gay Marriage In The Future,” Biden Said “I Don’t.” QUESTION: “I have to ask you this because it does affect me and my family directly. But if, in the next five years, if you’re president, do you see gay marriage in the future?” SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “I don’t. Here’s what I do see. I see an absolute guarantee of civil union with the exact same rights. Now, here’s the dilemma. Here’s the dilemma. The truth of the matter is states have made legal, through licensing, the performance of marriage what religions have essentially consecrated. That’s how they view it.” (Kimberly Schwandt, “In His Own Words: Vice President Biden’s Evolving View On Gay Marriage,” Fox News, 12/24/10)

During The 2008 Vice Presidential Debate, Then-Senator Biden Said “[Neither] Barack Obama Nor I Support Redefining From A Civil Side What Constitutes Marriage.” “‘In an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple,’ said Biden, referring to his Democratic partner, Barack Obama. Asked if he would support gay marriage, Biden said: ‘No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage.’” (Andy Sullivan, “Palin, Biden Agree On Gay Rights At Debate,” Reuters, 10/2/08)

  • GWEN IFILL: “Let's Try To Avoid Nuance, Senator. Do You Support Gay Marriage?” SENATOR JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “No.” (Sen. Joe Biden, Remarks At A Democratic Debate, St. Louis, MO, 10/2/08)

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Biden Has Falsely Claimed He Was The First Major Leader To Support Same-Sex Marriage

At The February 7 Democrat Debate, Biden Claimed He Was The First Major Leader Holding Public Office To Call For Same-Sex Marriage. JOE BIDEN: “And I was the first major leader holding public office to call for same sex marriage. So I don’t know what about the past of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was so bad.” (Joe Biden, Remarks At Democrat Debate, Manchester, NH, 2/7/20)

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At The March 15 Democrat Debate, Biden Repeated The Claim That He Was The First Person Of Any Administration “To Go On National Television” In Support Of Gay Marriage. JOE BIDEN: “And by the way, I might add, I’m the first person to go on national television in any administration and say I supported gay marriage. I supported gay marriage when asked. And so it started a ripple effect. I’m not taking all credit for it, but I’m the first major player to say I support gay marriage on national television.” (Joe Biden, Remarks At Democrat Debate, Washington, DC, 3/15/20)

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Other Prominent Officials, Including Republicans, Voiced Support And Openness To Same-Sex Marriage Long Before Biden Did

In 2000, Vice Presidential Nominee Dick Cheney “Spoke Out In Favor Of Gay Marriage And Rights.” “Dick Cheney spoke out in support of gay marriage and rights during the 2000 vice presidential debate, breaking with his running mate George W. Bush and earning the support of the progressive Human Rights Campaign. ‘The historical record is clear,’ PolitiFact wrote. ‘Cheney spoke out in favor of gay marriage during the 2000 vice presidential debate, saying, ‘freedom means freedom for everybody… I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.’ He said any ‘official sanction’ of same-sex relationships should be left to states -- not the federal government.’” (Greg Re, “‘Security Risks?’ Biden’s Past Rhetoric On Gay Rights Could Complicate LGBT Claims On Campaign Trail,” Fox News, 6/26/20)

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Multiple Prominent Democrats Came Out In Support Of Gay Marriage Before Biden. “Beyond Cheney, many Democrats also supported gay marriage before Biden. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opposed DOMA in 1996, when 14 senators voted against the legislation. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., supported gay marriage in 2011, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also came out for gay marriage in 2009. A slew of other local officials, including then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, also backed gay marriage before Biden.” (Greg Re, “‘Security Risks?’ Biden’s Past Rhetoric On Gay Rights Could Complicate LGBT Claims On Campaign Trail,” Fox News, 6/26/20)

In November 2011, Obama HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan “Became The First Sitting Cabinet Secretary To Announce Support For Marriage Equality,” Nearly A Half-Year Before Biden’s Endorsement. “U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan became the first sitting cabinet secretary to announce support for marriage equality, saying on Nov. 15 that he ‘absolutely’ supports marriage equality in an exclusive interview with Metro Weekly. ... He talked about how the [New York gay marriage] law’s passage had affected those around him, saying, ‘So many friends that I know were able to achieve a dream the day that law passed. And so many neighbors. It made me proud to be a New Yorker – not enough to get me to move back. We’ve got more work to do in the Obama administration in a second term.’ Asked if that included marriage equality, Donovan confirmed it did, saying, ‘Like marriage equality.’” (Chris Geidner, “HUD Secretary Supports Marriage Equality,” Metro Weekly, 11/15/11)

As Of June 2011, The Obama White House Was Signaling It Intended To Back Same Sex Marriage, Nearly A Year Before Biden Endorsed It

In June 2011, The New York Times Reported That The Obama White House Was Already Looking At How Obama Could Announce Support For Same Sex Marriage. “The White House would not comment on whether Mr. Obama was ready to endorse same-sex marriage. But one Democratic strategist close to the White House, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said some senior advisers ‘are looking at the tactics of how this might be done if the president chose to do it.’ … And Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is gay, said in an interview that a top adviser to Mr. Obama, whom he would not name, asked him this year, ‘What would be the effect if he came out for same-sex marriage?’ ‘My own view is that I look at President Obama’s record, he was probably inclined to think that same-sex marriage was legitimate, but as a candidate for president in 2008 that would have been an unwise thing to say,’ Mr. Frank said. ‘And I don’t mean that he’s being hypocritical. I mean that if you live in a democratic society, it is a mix of what you think the voters want and what you think is doable.’” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Obama’s Views On Gay Marriage ‘Evolving,’” The New York Times¸6/18/11)

Biden And Obama White House Aides Insisted Biden Did Not Endorsed Gay Marriage During His 2012 Meet The Press Interview

In May 2012, After Biden Signaled Support For Same Sex Marriage On An Interview With Meet The Press, Top Obama White House Officials Immediately Sought to Walk Back Biden’s Comments. “Despite his record, in several presidential debates this year, Biden questionably claimed that he was the first major political leader to support gay marriage when he unexpectedly broke with Obama during a 2012 interview with ‘Meet the Press.’ At the time, Obama said he was ‘evolving’ and wrestling with the issue, and top Obama administration officials immediately sought to walk back Biden's comments in the interview -- including through written statements and tweets. ‘Chaos ... erupted inside the West Wing after an e-mailed transcript of the interview landed in the in-box of the White House press team,’ according to an insider account by investigative reporter Jo Becker.” (Greg Re, “‘Security Risks?’ Biden’s Past Rhetoric On Gay Rights Could Complicate LGBT Claims On Campaign Trail,” Fox News, 6/26/20)

Biden’s Office Gave A Statement To NBC Saying That Biden Was Speaking On His Own, Not On Behalf Of The Administration, And That Biden “Had Not Fully Endorsed” Same-Sex Marriage. “Biden’s office, however, would tell NBC’s Chuck Todd, shortly after the ‘Meet the Press’ interview concluded, that he was speaking on his own and not on behalf of the administration. UPDATE: A spokesperson for the vice president further clarified the ‘Meet the Press’ remarks, stating in part that Biden had not fully endorsed same-sex marriage. ‘The vice president was saying what the president has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights.  That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it.  Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.’ Biden never explicitly said that he backed marriage equality, but he implied it. The follow-up comments tamping down expectations and reports, from both the vice president’s office and Axelrod, underscore just how tricky that implication remains.” (Sam Stein, “Joe Biden Tells ‘Meet The Press’ He’s ‘Comfortable’ With Marriage Equality,” The Huffington Post, 5/6/12)

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