July 30, 2007
Ask the Dems: Joe Biden
Posted by: Chris
Time to put on our thinking caps and come up with the toughest gay-related question we can think to ask another Democratic presidential candidate. The idea behind the exercise is to consider the weaknesses of each contender and the areas that ought to be probed at the upcoming Aug. 9 forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and Logo.
Next up: Joe Biden. The Delaware senator has a strong if not stellar record of supporting gay rights. His scores on the HRC congressional report cards over the years have run from 86 ('99-'00), 100 ('01-'02), 63 ('03-'04), and 78 ('05-'06). He's been marked down mostly for failing to sign on as a sponsor for gay rights legislation, even though his voting record is good.
Even today, Biden comes off as commitment-phobic. HRC gives him full credit on its presidential candidate "report card" for supporting the Uniting American Families Act, which extends immigration rights to gay Americans wanting to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship, and the Early Treatment of HIV Act, which extends Medicaid coverage to those who are HIV-positive but don't have an AIDS diagnosis. And yet Biden has never signed on a co-sponsor for UAFA or its predecessor or ETHA.
Asked specifically in the HRC questionnaire whether the federal government should recognize marriages and civil unions entered into by gay couples, or extend federal marriage rights to gay couples in long-term relationships, Biden dodged, saying only in general terms that, "he believes that legal recognition should not be denied to same-sex couples."
And unlike his primary opponents, Biden dodged even on the question of gay marriage, saying only that he backs civil unions.
Senator Biden, you've avoided express commitments and delayed or avoided co-sponsorship on some gay rights legislation pending in Congress. And you've not said to what extent gay couples who are married or in civil unions should receive federal recognition. Are you prepared now to make firm, clear commitments and if so, why has it taken you so long?
For a complete summary of gay issues in the presidential race, go to: http://www.gaynewswatch.com/whitehouse08
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