There seems to be a great deal of confusion when it comes to Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s support for gay marriage versus Mitt Romney and Ryan Paul’s records in dealing with marriage equality and other gay rights issues. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Joe Biden was officially the first of these four men to pledge his support for same sex marriage during this campaign season. The Vice President was quickly joined by Barack Obama who became the first sitting President in history to openly support marriage equality. Their opponents have both said they do not support gay marriage during this election, however both have previous acted otherwise.
During the 2008 election, neither Obama nor Biden were in support of full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Obama said he believed civil unions were a good compromise but said he was “evolving” on the issue. Biden made several statements leading voters to believe that he would support state-by-state decisions on whether or not to allow gay couples the right to legally wed. It wasn’t until Biden spilled the beans on an episode of NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2012 came out as a gay marriage supporter. Less than a week later, the President set up an exclusive interview with ABC so he too could announce that he had finally “evolved” into a position where he now supports marriage equality.
Obama and Biden have had an up-and-down relationship with the gays. The LGBT community jumped on the Obama bandwagon during the 2008 election after his campaign promised quick action on a variety of gay rights issues such as repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
However, the President’s delayed delivery of those aforementioned campaign promises quickly caused rifts.
Now if you flip over to the Grand Ole Party, you’ll find two men who say they don’t support same sex marriage at all. However, their actions may make it look differently.
Let’s start with Paul Ryan who once voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which proposed protection against discrimination in the work place based on sexual orientation.
In 2007 Ryan was one of 35 Republicans to vote for ENDA, however he also voted to try and kill the bill immediately after. That attempt was unsuccessful. Romney (who unequivocally supported ENDA while running for the Senate in 1994, actually vowing to co-sponsor it and expand it to include housing and credit). As the Republican nominee for President, Romney says he doesn’t support ENDA at all, now claiming it would harm businesses. It’s not clear whether Ryan still supports ENDA or not.
Ryan has also gone against other gay rights movements. He has voted twice, in 2004 and 2006, for a federal marriage amendment (which Romney supports). Ryan also voted against the hate crimes bill to protect LGBT Americans twice, including when it eventually passed and was signed into law by President Obama. He also opposed ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in twice. In 2011, he supported a constitutional amendment in Wisconsin to ban marriage equality there.
So, undecided voters have a decision to make. Should they vote for the candidates who pledge to support the LGBT community or for those who say they do not but have a history of voting otherwise?