Barack Obama in 2007 Democratic primary debate on GLBT issues


On Civil Rights: Has any marriage broken up because two gays hold hands?

The notion of gay marriage has been used to divide people in black churches. I pointed out that if thereís any pastor here who can point out a marriage that has been broken up as a consequence of seeing two men or two women holding hands, then you should tell me, because I havenít seen any evidence of it. And if you think that issue is more important to the black family than the fact that black men donít have any jobs and are struggling in the inner cities, then I profoundly disagree with you.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Civil Rights: We need strong civil unions, not just weak civil unions

It is my strong belief that the government has to treat all citizens equally. I come from that in part out of personal experience. When youíre a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what itís like to be on the outside. And so my concern is continually to make sure that the rights that are conferred by the state are equal for all people.

Thatís why I opposed DOMA in 2006 when I ran for the Senate. Thatís why I am a strong supporter not of a weak version of civil unions, but of a strong version, in which the rights that are conferred at the federal level to persons who are part of the same sex union are compatible.

When it comes to federal rights, the over 1,100 rights that right now are not being given to same sex couples, I think thatís unacceptable, and as president of the United States, I am going to fight hard to make sure that those rights are available.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Civil Rights: Legal rights for gays are conferred by state, not by church

Q: You have said in previous debates that it is up to individual religious denominations to decide whether or not to recognize same-sex marriage. What place does the church have in government-sanctioned civil marriages?

A: It is my strong belief that the government has to treat all citizens equally. I donít think that the church should be making these determinations when it comes to legal rights conferred by the state. I do think that individual denominations have the right to make their own decisions as to whether they recognize same sex couples. My denomination, United Church of Christ, does. Other denominations may make a decision, and obviously, part of keeping a separation of churches and state is also to make sure that churches have the right to exercise their freedom of religion.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Civil Rights: Disentangle gay rights from the word ďmarriageĒ

Q: If you were back in the Illinois legislature where you served and the issue of civil marriage came before you, how would you have voted on that?

A: My view is that we should try to disentangle what has historically been the issue of the word ďmarriage,Ē which has religious connotations to some people, from the civil rights that are given to couples, in terms of hospital visitation, in terms of whether or not they can transfer property or Social Security benefits and so forth. So it depends on how the bill wouldíve come up. I wouldíve supported and would continue to support a civil union that provides all the benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage. And it is then, as I said, up to religious denominations to make a determination as to whether they want to recognize that as marriage or not.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Civil Rights: Gay marriage is less important that equal gay rights

Q: On the grounds of civil marriage, can you see to our community where [your stance of separating gay rights from the word ďmarriageĒ] comes across as sounding like ďseparate but equalĒ?

A: Look, when my parents got married in 1961, it would have been illegal for them to be married in a number of states in the South. So obviously, this is something that I understand intimately, itís something that I care about. But if I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said itís less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state. Now, itís not for me to suggest that you shouldnít be troubled by these issues. But my job as president is going to be to make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day to day basis for loving same sex couples all across the country.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Civil Rights: Gay rights movement is somewhat like civil rights movement

Q: Would you put the fight among gays and lesbians for civil rights on a par with the civil rights movement for African-Americans?

A: My attitude is if people are being treated unfairly and unequally, then it needs to be fixed. So Iím always very cautious about getting into comparisons of victimology. You know, the issues that gays and lesbians face today are different from the issues that were faced by African-Americans under Jim Crow. That doesnít mean, though, that there arenít parallels in the sense that legal status is not equal. And that has to be fixed. Iím going to be more sympathetic not because Iím black. Iím going to be more sympathetic because this has been the cause of my life and will continue to be the cause of my life, making sure that everybodyís treated fairly and that weíve got an expansive view of America, where everybodyís invited in and we are all working together to create the kind of America that we want for the next generation.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Health Care: We need condom distribution to deal with the scourge of AIDS

Iím somebody who is willing to talk about these issues, even when itís hard, in front of black ministers. Iím willing to talk about AIDS at Saddleback Church to evangelicals and talk about why we need to have condom distribution to deal with the scourge of AIDS. So thatís the kind of political courage that I hope all of you recognize is going to be necessary in order for us to create the kind of America that we all want.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

On Jobs: Chief co-sponsor of IL ENDA, against gay job discrimination

Q: A recent poll of young Americans show that 44% favor same-sex marriage compared to 28% of the older public. Now, youíre running as a candidate of change. But how can you run as a candidate of change when your stance on same-sex marriage is decidedly old school?

A: Oh, come on, now. Thereís a reason why I was here first. Itís because Iíve got a track record of working on these issues. If people are interested at the federal level, they can look at who was the chief co-sponsor of Illinoisí version of ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Acts, focusing on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation], which we passed. If people are interested in my stance on these issues, Iíve got a track record of working with the LGBT community. What I have focused on and what I will continue to focus on is making sure that the rights that are provided by the federal government and the state governments and local governments are ones that are provided to everybody.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

The above quotations are from 2007 Democratic primary debate sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC, a gay-rights group) and the LOGO Network (a gay-oriented cable TV channel), Aug. 9, 2007.
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