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5 Times Bernie Sanders Championed Our Cause Before It Was Popular

by Rob Smith January 31, 2016

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Some are Feeling The Bern and some are Ready For Hill, and though Clinton was just endorsed by HRC, Bernie Sanders has also been an ally for many years.

Although Queerty’s political writer John Gallagher believes Hillary Clinton should be the nominee, I, like a lot of Queerty commentators believe in Bernie, who has taken actual direct action to support us.

Here are five times Bernie Sanders was a true LGBT ally (including one time where he got a homophobe all the way together right on Capitol Hill).

1. Bernie Sanders Voted Against DADT

Way back in the day, President (Bill) Clinton made a political compromise when his poorly executed plan to integrate gays and lesbians into the military openly proved unpopular. That compromise was Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which allowed gays and lesbians to serve only if they weren’t open about their sexual orientation. Which, of course, is not a compromise at all unless you believe the closet is a good thing.

Sanders wasn’t having it, and voted against it. Of course, the bill passed and led to thousands of discharges of lesbian and gay soldiers. Two years later, in 1995, he angrily censured a Republican for using the phrase “homo soldiers” right on the floor of Capitol Hill. And it was awesome.

2. As Mayor Of Burlington, He Helped Make June 25th Lesbian and Gay Pride Day

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Two years after Sanders became Mayor of Burlington, organizers were planning the first ever pride parade, but also pushed for June 25th to be officially designated “Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.” Amidst strong opposition to the proposal, it passed. In response to a Republican Alderman’s question as to why the march needed to be coupled with an official designation, Sanders replied:

“In the city of Burlington and in the state of Vermont, people have the right to exercise their lifestyles. It’s an American right, anyone’s right to have a march… This is a civil liberties question.”

We can live with the “lifestyles” remark. After all, it was 1983.

 3. He Has The Balls To Call Out HRC As “Establishment” In The Middle Of A Campaign

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Those in the straightstream media who think the Human Rights Campaign is the be all and end all of gay movement advocacy are deny the existence of a much larger and more diverse movement.

It shows that Sanders (who by the way has a 100% rating from the HRC) is in tune enough with LGBT issues to know that one rich, mostly white, group does not stand for all.

4. Bernie Sanders Voted Against DOMA

Way back in the day, President Clinton signed the Defense Of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, into law. DOMA effectively banned same-sex marriage and set the stage for years of legal battles before same-sex marriage bans were finally struct down last year. Sanders voted against DOMA from the beginning, primarily on states’ rights grounds.

While he admittedly endorsed civil unions instead of complete gay marriage in 2006, it’s fair to use his vote against DOMA as an act of solidarity with the LGBT community. It serves as yet another example of him sticking his neck out for the community in a time when it was less safe to do so.

5. And Against Banning Gay Adoption In D.C.

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In 1999, Sanders voted against an amendment that would’ve banned same-sex couple adoption in Washington, D.C. It’s important to realize that it’s very easy to be on the side of marriage equality right now, with a huge majority of Americans in support, but adoption is still a sensitive topic in some parts of the country. Even if you don’t want to have kids, plenty of ‘mos do, so it’s nice to know he’s on the side of family values.

So there it is, folks. Five times Bernie was an ally to the LGBT community.

Granted, Mr. Gallagher argues that Sanders may not have as firm a grasp on identity politics as Clinton, but we have to ask – so what?

Most of us aren’t single issue voters because we do not live single issue lives, and no amount of inclusion in Clinton campaign ads is going to answer fundamental questions that many voters have about her coziness with corporate interests who have lined her bank account with six figure speaking fees.

I’m undecided at this point (yes, one of those independents you’ll be hearing more about as we get closer to the end of the primary season), but open to those who have our backs for real and not just when it’s convenient.




Rob Smith
Rob Smith

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