Joe Biden on Civil Rights
Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
BIDEN: Barack knew my position. Back in 1963, my dad drove me [to a downtown city] and two well-dressed men kissed one another as I was opening the door. And I hadn't seen that before. And I looked at my dad, and he looked at me and said, "it's simple. They love each other. It's just basic. There is nothing complicated about it." That's how I was raised, for real. And Barack knew that. And he knew that if I was going to be a good boy until the administration moved unless I was asked--no one ever doubts I mean what I say. The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.
BIDEN: We have to pass the Equality Act. That's important because it would change a whole range of things. This is a civil rights issue, protected by the Civil Rights Act, and we should focus on how to enforce that. My Justice Department will do that. Lastly, I think that it's important we start early and educate the population.
BIDEN: If I were president, you would not have to choose. The fact of the matter is transgender men and women should be able to do anything anybody else can do. There should be no difference.
The interviewer wanted to clarify. "And you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?"
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another, are entitled to the same exact rights," Biden said. "All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."
Whether he had intended to or not, Joe Biden had just made history, and we all know what happened next.
Biden had no idea at the time that Obama's polling operation had begun inserting questions into focus groups about Clinton's viability as a vice presidential replacement, a revelation that surfaced only late last year in "Double Down." [An Obama aide] told me the dump-Joe polling never even led to a discussion among Obama's senior advisers (in part because Clinton seemed to offer no significant re-election benefit).
A: Remember, I got criticized for saying I support gay marriage. I just decided I couldn't be quiet about it anymore, and everybody was stunned that that's where the public is. And I'm not stunned; it's where the public's been for a while. Talk to any of your kids, for God's sake.
Q: Did you get blowback from the president or people in general?
A: I got blowback from everybody but the president. I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, "Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think." I knew he agreed with me. It wasn't like he was in a different place.
The comments by Biden, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's support of same-sex marriage, opened up speculation that the White House is moving towards a new position of support for gay marriage, beyond its already stated backing for civil unions. But Obama's main political strategist played down the prospect of an imminent shift. In a conference call with reporters on Monday, he insisted that Biden's comments are "entirely consistent with the president's position, which is that couples who are married, whether they are gay or heterosexual couples are entitled to the very same liberties. When people are married, we ought to recognize those marriages and afford them the rights to which they are entitled."
BIDEN: Absolutely positively. Absolutely no distinction from a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. Same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, etc. That’s only fair.
Q: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?
PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
Q: Let’s try to avoid nuance. Do you support gay marriage?
BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.
PALIN: My answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
A: Well, I think it probably is because social mores change. But I don’t think the government can dictate the definition of marriage to religious institutions. But government does have an obligation to guarantee that every individual is free of discrimination. And there’s a distinction. I think government should not be able to dictate to religions the definition of marriage, but on a civil side, government has the obligation to strip away every vestige of discrimination as to what individuals are able to do in terms of their personal conduct.
So New Hampshire coming out in favor of civil unions is OK by you?
A: Yes. Yes, it is.
BIDEN: Sure, I've benefited just because I don't have to go through what my black brothers and sisters have had to go through, #1. But #2, growing up in Scranton, we're used to guys who look down their nose at us. People who look at us and think that we're suckers; they think that we're not equivalent to them. "If you didn't have a college degree, you must be stupid." If in fact, you didn't get to go to an Ivy school. Well, I tell you, it bothered me. When you guys started talking on television about Biden, "if he wins, he'll be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president." I think, "who the hell makes you think I have to have an Ivy League degree to be president?" Guys like me, were the first in my family to go to college.
BIDEN: I think COVID safety is a problem no matter where people are if they don't have masks on. The context of praising people who protest peacefully, is--there was a question of right to speak, not to loot, not to burn, not to do anything that causes damage. The right to speak out makes sense, but there is a big difference between people walking, moving along, and people sitting down cheek to jowl, shoulder to shoulder, a thousand of them breathing on one another indoors.
BIDEN: I've condemned every form of violence, no matter what the source is. It is simply wrong to engage the military, in dealing with domestic unrest as a consequence of people protesting. We can take care of this. It can be taken care of-- we took care of in our administration. There's no need to escalate this.
BIDEN: I didn't feel pressure to select a Black woman but I think that the government should look like the people, look like the country. 51% of the people in this country are women. In order to be able to succeed, you've got to be dealt in across the board. I cannot understand and fully appreciate what it means to walk in her shoes.
HARRIS:ÿJoe and I have talked about the state of Black America. He has a deep sense of awareness and knowledge about systematic racism. And Joe actually knows how to say the words "Black Lives Matter."
BIDEN: I was asked about voting for Trump, and I said, "How can a Black man vote for him?" I shouldn't have said that. I was trying to make the point that this is a man who spent his entire career denigrating African Americans. But the truth is, there's a fundamental difference between Donald Trump and me on the issue of race across the board.
At that moment, I knew I'd have to run. My father taught us that silence was complicity. And I could not remain silent or complicit.
Maybe George Floyd's murder was the breaking point. Maybe John Lewis's passing, the inspiration. However it has come to be, America is ready to, in John's words, to lay down "the heavy burdens of hate at last," and to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.
What I did was, I made a commitment. Never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee. So I went out and I campaigned for two people: Carol Moseley Braun and Dianne Feinstein on the condition that if they won, they would join the committee. I kept that commitment.
BIDEN: The first thing I would do is make sure we pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. I wrote the original act. We have to fundamentally change the culture of how women are treated. It's everyone's responsibility.
Joe BIDEN: It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true. I was a public defender. I didn't become a prosecutor. I came out and I left a good law firm to become a public defender, when my city was in flames because of the assassination of Dr. King. In terms of busing, you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That's fine. That's one of the things I argued for. Everything I have done in my career, I ran because of civil rights, I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights, and those civil rights include not only African-Americans, but the LGBT community.
V.P. Joe BIDEN: I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.
HARRIS: There was a failure of states to integrate public schools. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley public schools.
BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision.
HARRIS: That's where the federal government must step in. That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That's why we need to pass the Equality Act. That's why we need to pass the ERA, because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.
For Biden, the remarks seemed intended to build on the narrative he's framed for himself as an old-school politician, versed in bipartisanship, who knows how to make Washington work. Decrying the current state of affairs in the Beltway, Biden added: "Today you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."
Biden's remarks drew swift rebukes from 2020 challengers, including Sen. Cory Booker and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio--both of whom insisted Biden should apologize. Senator Kamala Harris also expressed concern over Biden's "misinformed" praise of openly racist politicians.
Senator Eastland was an avatar of the darkest racism of the Civil Rights-era South. He championed white supremacy in language that now shocks the conscience.
Biden said, "I could not have disagreed with Jim Eastland mor
Biden's spokesman said the former V.P. still believes he was right to oppose busing, noting, "He never thought busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware--a position which most people now agree with. As he said during those many years of debate, busing would not achieve equal opportunity. And it didn't."
The spokesman said Biden has a distinguished history of working for civil rights and against segregation. As a young man, Biden fought to desegregate a movie theater in Delaware, and worked as the only white employee at a largely black swimming pool. "Joe Biden is today--and has been for more than 40 years in public life--one of the strongest and most powerful voices for civil rights in America," the spokesman concluded.
I traveled to 24 states in support of 65 of our candidates. And thanks to supporters everywhere, we contributed more than $600,000 to candidates this cycle.
All that effort paid off-and helped some exceptional leaders win tough races."
Narrowly speaking, Biden may have voted against an amendment here or there. Biden's record of voting and pushing for anti-busing measures goes back to when he first took office as a Senator in 1973. As historian Jason Sokol noted in a 2015 article for Politico, Biden told the Senate in 1975 that he was "convinced that busing is a bankrupt concept." Busing, according to Biden, "implied that blacks have no reason to be proud of their inheritance and their own culture."
In 1962, while still at college, Joe made some extra cash as a lifeguard. A dozen lifeguards worked at the Prices Run swimming pool, but he was the only white guy. He was one of the only white people in the entire pool, which was filled with hundreds of African American swimmers.
Biden played hoops with the other lifeguards. Made friends. And perhaps for the first time, he began to see the world through a different, less privileged set of eyes. He heard stories of segregation at movie theatres, of naked racism, of how black people endured "a dozen small cuts a day."
He got along well with the community. Fifty years later, Joe returned to that swimming pool. Wearing a navy suit instead of swim trunks, he sat in the lifeguard chair. "I owe this neighborhood," he told the crowd. " I learned so, so much." By then the pool had a new name: The Joseph R. Biden Jr. Aquatic Center.
Despite those repugnant positions, Biden did his best not to vilify the man, and he watched as Thurmond's positions on race gradually evolved.
Biden believes in our ability to change so much, in fact, that he unwittingly used the word five times in one paragraph. "Strom knew America was changing, and that there was a lot he didn't understand about that change. Much of the change challenged many of his long-held views. But he also saw his beloved South Carolina and the people of South Carolina changing as well, and he knew the time had come to change himself."
Before Strom Thurmond died, he made sure to include one last detail in his will: The eulogy would need to be delivered by Joe Biden.
While Biden agreed that busing was warranted to combat segregation by law as imposed in the Deep South, he was against busing to deal with de facto segregation based on residential patterns, as was the case in Delaware.
In 1975 he introduced and won Senate approval of two anti-busing amendments. Busing, he wrote, "was a liberal train wreck, and it was tearing people apart." Biden was categorical: "I oppose busing. It's an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me." He made the distinction between de jure integration, required by a court order to end segregation, to which he acquiesced, and de facto integration, motivated by a desire to alter the racial composition of a school absent a court order, which HEW espoused and Biden strenuously opposed.
His concerns [about Bork] touched on "the relationship of people of different races in our land; whether it was wrong for state courts to enforce covenants that prohibited black couples from buying homes in white neighborhoods; whether the court was wrong in allowing literacy tests in voting; and whether in the future the Court will intervene to protect the rights of the races.." Biden listed other privacy rights: in marriage, in child-raising, in having private schools; above all in freedom of expression in politics and the arts.
A hotly contested United States Senate debate over Bork's nomination ensued, partly fueled by strong opposition by civil and women's rights groups concerned with what they claimed was Bork's desire to roll back civil rights decisions of the Warren and Burger courts. Bork is one of only three Supreme Court nominees to ever be opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with William Rehnquist and Samuel Alito. Bork was also criticized for being an "advocate of disproportionate powers for the executive branch of Government, almost executive supremacy," as allegedly demonstrated by his role in the Saturday Night Massacre.
Seven months after the rioting, Gov. Terry refused to call off the Guard. News cameras would show up to do stories about the only city where the Guard was still patrolling black neighborhoods. The white citizens were almost all happy to have the Guard there. They were afraid riots might ignite in the ghetto and spread. They were afraid Wilmington’s police force wasn’t big enough to keep it contained.
In the black neighborhoods of East Wilmington residents were afraid. Guardsmen were prowling the streets with loaded weapons. Curfews were in effect. The news had a way of making these stories seem like a conversation between the races, but I knew blacks & whites weren’t talking to each other.
BIDEN: I'm going to ask every governor to step up. This isn't about freedom; it's about freedom for your neighbors. It's about a patriotic responsibility to protect your neighbors. The only way you can do that is to be socially distanced and wearing a mask when you're in public, when you're outside. This is the first time I've ever heard people say that doing something patriotic you can save other people's lives, impacts on their freedom. Give me a break; this is about saving lives.
Q: Would you be prepared to shut this country down again?
BIDEN: I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration's thinking. In order to keep the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus. I would shut it down, I would listen to the scientists.
I stand by this statement, but it was probably the single stupidest moment I could have chosen to make it. I actually felt physically threatened.
Busing took effect just a few weeks before the 1978 Election Day.
- the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
- the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
- abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
- destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
The amendment is about how we are going to raise the next generation. It is not an issue that the courts should resolve. Those of us who support this amendment are doing so in an effort to let the people decide.
Supporters rail against activist judges. But if this vaguely worded amendment ever passes, it will result in substantial litigation. What are the legal incidents of marriage? Is a civil union a marriage?
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
EXCERPTS OF RESOLUTION:
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.
"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."
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