Tim Kaine was a rare LGBTQ ally during Virginia’s harshest anti-LGBTQ times
Former Virginia Governor, former Senator and former Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine was brought onto the Democratic Presidential ticket as Vice President last week and that’s good news for Virginia’s, and the country’s, LGBTQ population.
In Hilary Clinton’s intro speech she called Kaine “a progressive who likes to get things done” and commented on his “commitment to social justice” during his tenure in the Commonwealth. Mostly notable, however, was his commitment to LGBTQ issues as best he could in his role as Governor from 2006- 2010 as well as his more recent time in the Senate.
He took time in his first 2016 campaign speech to recall those efforts when he asked people to remember the importance of America’s “rainbow of cultural diversity that embraces all people…regardless of sexual orientation.”
Kaine’s first year as a Virginia Senator earned him a score of 90 from the Human Right’s Campaign. He lost 10 points for failing to endorse the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, but made up for it in other ways.
In 2015 he co-sponsored the Equality Act, which seeks a federal law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing. And later that year he introduced Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act which aimed to provide equal treatment for LGBTQ couples under federal tax laws.
“This bill clarifies what the Supreme Court affirmed in June—same-sex couples deserve full and equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” said Kaine in a press release at the time of the bill’s release. “By eliminating outdated language, we will ensure our tax code recognizes the right of all couples to marry and respects all types of families.”
The bill was introduced by hasn’t made it much further then that.
Kaine has also personally sought protections for LGBTQ citizens since entering the Senate. In a March, 2014 letter, Kaine asked Obama for the since-issues executive order which required federal contractors to offer protections for sexual minority and gender identity employees.
“An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace,” Kaine wrote, comparing it to the 1941 EO issued by President Roosevelt which prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin, helping to expand the civil rights movement for Blacks in spite of attitudes towards race at the time. “In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded these protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.”
But Kaine’s support for LGBTQ rights stretches back before his time in the Senate.
When he was on the campaign trail in 2011, Kaine spoke out against a law which allows state-funded, private adoption agencies the right to deny adoptions to same-sex couples.
“I think the best interest of the child is a pretty hard standard to argue with and I think that ought to be the standard,’’ Kaine told the Washington Post. “I don’t think we should be putting artificial barriers in front of the judges who are sitting there with the family.”
It was during this interview he also told the post his views on same-sex marriage had changed and he now supported marriage equality.
But even before that, when he won in 2006 and became Governor of Virginia, one of his first executive orders was to provide protections for LGBTQ state employees.
Kaine also campaigned against the Marshall Newman Amendment, Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was put on the ballot the year he entered office.
“Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) urged Virginians to vote against a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, saying the ballot question puts thousands of unmarried couples at risk of losing a slew of benefits,” read a Washington Post article published in a few months before the referendum.
Though it appears Kaine was still opposed to same-sex marriage back then, he told the Washington Post he didn’t feel comfortable with the language going into the state’s Constitution. “I’m married. You ask what the benefits of marriage are? They are infinite. . . . Unmarried individuals are not entitled to any of those?”
Traces of LGBTQ impacts in Richmond are a bit harder to find, but if his record over the last decade is any indicator of his views on these issues, he should make a great ally in the Whitehouse.
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