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Gay-rights group HRC declares Biden 'a proven and effective advocate for fairness and equality'

News release:

HRC President Hails Biden as “A Proven and Effective Advocate for Fairness and Equality”

Hrc_2WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, hailed the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama’s selection of Senator Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate.  During his career in Congress, Senator Biden has a proven record of fighting for and supporting issues of fairness and equality. 

“In selecting Senator Joe Biden as his running mate, Senator Obama has chosen a proven and effective advocate for fairness and equality that our entire community can be proud of,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “Senator Biden’s record in the United States Senate is one of support and understanding that has been unwavering throughout his career.”

Recently, Senator Biden, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, played an instrumental role in securing the passage of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), legislation which included Senator John Kerry and Senator Gordon Smith’s provision repealing the discriminatory HIV travel and immigration ban.  His working across the aisle guaranteed that the Kerry-Smith provision was adopted.  Furthermore, when opponents of the provision attempted to garner support to strip the provision from the bill, Senator Biden fought to keep the provision in the bill and helped secure the votes for PEPFAR'S final passage.

“We only need to look back to the recent passage of the repeal of the HIV travel and immigration ban to see the type of leadership we can expect from Senator Biden on the issues important to our community,” continued Solmonese.  “It was because of his determination and tenacity that we were able to see this relic of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS torn down.”

“If the support Senator Biden has proven on our issues is any indication of the type of Vice President he will be than our community can be assured that Senator Obama has chosen a thoughtful and staunch advocate for equality as his closest adviser,” concluded Solmonese.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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Highlights of Senator Joe Biden’s Record of Support for the GLBT Community

101st Congress (1989-1990): Overall Scorecard Rating 90%

102nd Congress (1991-1992):  Overall Scorecard Rating 91%

103rd Congress (1993-1994):  Overall Scorecard Rating 89%

104th Congress (1995-1996):  Overall Scorecard Rating 78%

105th Congress (1997-1998):  Overall Scorecard Rating 83%

106th Congress (1999-2000): Overall Scorecard Rating 86%

107th Congress (2001-2002):  Overall Scorecard Rating 100%

108th Congress (2003-2004):  Overall Scorecard Rating 63%

109th Congress (2005-2006):  Overall Scorecard Rating 78%

●  Helms Amendment – Hate Crimes Statistics Act (February 8, 1990). Senator Helms offered an amendment to a hate crimes statistics bill (S. AMDT. 1251 to S. 419) stating that “the homosexual movement threatens the strength and survival of the American family” and that “state sodomy laws should be enforced.”  The Helms amendment failed 19-77 (Record Vote No. 12).  HRC opposed this amendment.  Biden also opposed it.

●  District of Columbia’s Health Care Benefits Expansion Act (July 30, 1992). Senator Brock Adams (D-WA) offered a procedural motion to block attempts to repeal the District of Columbia’s Health Care Benefits Expansion Act, a measure adopted by the D.C. Council to provide D.C. government employees the opportunity to purchase health care coverage for their domestic partners.  The motion failed 41-51 and implementation of the D.C. law was subsequently prohibited by Congress.  HRC supported this motion.  Biden also supported it.

●  Justice Clarence Thomas Confirmation (October 15, 1991).
The Senate voted on President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Senate confirmed his nomination 52-48 (Record Vote No. 220).  HRC opposed this nomination.  Biden also opposed it.

●  Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement (November 4, 1993).
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) offered an amendment to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993 (S. AMDT. 1097 to S. 1607) to increase penalties for federal crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and other characteristics.  The Feinstein Amendment was the first piece of federal legislation to provide protection on the basis of sexual orientation.  The amendment passed 95-4 (Record Vote No. 351).  HRC supported this amendment.  Biden also supported it.

●  Codification of the Ban on Gays and Lesbians in the Military (September 9, 1993). Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1994 (S. AMDT. 783 to S. 1298) to prevent codification of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on lesbians and gays in the military.  The amendment failed 33-63 (Record Vote No. 250).  HRC supported this amendment.  Biden also supported it.

●  District of Columbia’s Domestic Partners Ordinance (July 27, 1993).
An amendment was offered to allow the District of Columbia to implement its ordinance allowing unmarried couples or partners to register with the D.C. government, making them eligible for group health insurance offered to D.C. government employees for a higher premium.  It failed 43-55 (Record Vote No. 217).  HRC supported this amendment.  Biden also supported it.

●  Employment Non-Discrimination Act (September 10, 1996).
In its first test in Congress, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 932), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, came within one vote of passage in the Senate.  Senator David Pryor (D-AR), who supported ENDA, missed the vote for a family emergency.  The bill failed 49-50 (Record Vote No. 281).  HRC supported this bill.  Biden also supported it.

●  Hate Crimes Amendment to Defense Authorization (June 20, 2000).
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, renamed the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, as an amendment to the fiscal year 2001 defense authorization bill (S. AMDT. 3473 to S. 2549).  The Kennedy-Smith amendment would extend basic hate crime protections to all Americans in all communities by adding real or perceived sexual orientation, gender and disability to the categories covered and by removing the federally protected activity requirement.  This amendment was overwhelmingly approved 57-42 (Record Vote No. 136).  HRC supported this amendment.  Biden also supported it.

●  Federal Marriage Amendment (July 14, 2004). The Federal Marriage Amendment (S.J. Res 40), introduced in the Senate by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), would have enshrined discrimination into the U.S. Constitution by defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman and prohibiting federal and state laws from conferring same-sex couples with marital status and “the legal incidents thereof,” thereby endangering civil unions and domestic partnership benefits.  The amendment needed a two-thirds majority (67) to be passed in the Senate and a three-fifths majority (60) to proceed to a vote on the amendment (cloture).  The cloture motion failed 48-50 (Record Vote No. 155).  HRC opposed this cloture motion.  Biden also opposed it.

●  Federal Marriage Amendment (June 7, 2006). The Marriage Protection Amendment (formerly called the Federal Marriage Amendment) (S.J. Res. 1) would have enshrined discrimination into the U.S. Constitution by defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman and prohibiting federal and state laws from conferring same-sex couples with marital status and “the legal incidents thereof.”  The amendment would thereby endanger civil unions and domestic partnership benefits.  The amendment failed by a vote of 49-48, falling 11 votes short of the 60 necessary to invoke cloture, a procedural motion to advance to a vote on the substance of the bill (Record Vote No. 163).  The amendment would have needed 67 votes (two-thirds majority) to pass.  HRC opposed this amendment.  Biden also opposed it.

●  Justice Samuel Alito Confirmation (January 31, 2006). The Senate voted on President W. Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Senate confirmed his nomination 58-42 (Record Vote No. 2).  HRC opposed this nomination.  Biden also opposed it.
●  Judge William Pryor Confirmation (June 9, 2005). The Senate voted on President Bush’s nomination of Judge William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Senate confirmed his nomination 53-45 (Record Vote No. 133).  HRC opposed this nomination.  Biden also opposed it.

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