John Kerry on Civil Rights

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


2004: Agreed with people of Missouri on banning gay marriage

In early August, the state of Missouri voted on a referendum to add prohibition of same-sex marriage to the state constitution.

Missouri's vote in favor if the constitutional amendment locking in traditional marriage was not close: 71% for, 29% against

As it happened, Senator Kerry was campaigning in St. Louis the day after the vote. The Democratic nominee said he had no problem with the outcome. He said he would have voted the same way as the 71% did. He, after all, unlike President Bush, said each state should be able to make up its own mind on the future of marriage. (Kerry didn't add that in 1996 he was one of 14 senators, all of them liberal Democrats, who voted to PROHIBIT individual states from defining marriage as they wished. At the time of this 1996 debate, Kerry said he cast his no vote because he believed the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.

Source: The Case for Polarized Politics, by Jeff Bell, p. 89-90 , Mar 6, 2012

Right of public dissent vital for patriotic Americans

The lesson [from Iraq War dissent] is not that some of us were right then and some of us were wrong. The lesson is that true patriots must defend the right to question and to criticize. The patriotic obligation to speak out becomes even more urgent when so-called leaders refuse to debate their policies or disclose the full facts, and even more urgent when they seek, perversely, to use their own military blunders to deflect doubts and to answer their own failures with more of the same.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

FactCheck: Kerry would change Patriot Act, as Bush claims

BUSH_CHENEY CLAIM: “Kerry would weaken the Patriot Act used to arrest terrorists and protect America.”

CNN FACT CHECK: Although Kerry voted for Patriot Act, he now says that several provisions of should be scaled back and that a new law is needed to “assure our enhanced security does not come at the expense of our civil liberties.”

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2004 statements by Bush and Kerry , Oct 29, 2004

FactCheck: Bush DID meet with Congressional Black Caucus

KERRY: This is a president who hasn’t met with the Black Congressional Caucus. This is a president who has not met with the civil rights leadership of our country.

Kerry wrongly claimed Bush “hasn’t met with the Black Congressional Caucus.” He garbled the organization’s name, for one thing. It’s actually the Congressional Black Caucus, made up of 39 African-American members of the House. And in fact, Bush met with the caucus a few days after taking office, on Jan. 31, 2001. “This will be the beginning of, hopefully, a lot of meetings,” Bush told them. “I hope you come back, and I’ll certainly be inviting.” But it was more than three years before the next meeting, on Feb. 25, 2004. Bush met with members of the caucus after they paid an impromptu visit to the White House to discuss the crisis in Haiti, according to a statement issued by the White House press secretary.

Source: Analysis of Third Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck 2004) , Oct 14, 2004

Help minority business by small business set-aside programs

Q: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor?

KERRY: Regrettably, we have not moved far enough along. And I regret to say that this administration has even blocked steps that could help us move further along. On the Small Business Committee, we have a goal for minority set-aside programs. [The Bush Administration] doesn’t reach those goals. They don’t even fight to reach those goals. They’ve tried to undo them. The fact is that in too many parts of our country, we still have discrimination.

BUSH: Like my opponent, I don’t agree we ought to have quotas. I agree, we shouldn’t have quotas. I believe the best way to help our small businesses is to unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to be able to bid and receive a contract to help get their business going. Minority ownership of businesses are up, because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona , Oct 13, 2004

We need to hold on to equal pay for women

KERRY: We need to hold on to equal pay. Women work for 76 cents on the dollar for the same work that men do. That’s not right in America. We had an initiative that we were working on to raise women’s pay. The Republicans have stopped it. They don’t enforce these kinds of things. It’s a matter of fundamental right that if we raise the minimum wage, 15 million Americans would be positively affected. We’d put money into the hands of people who work hard, who obey the rules, who play for the American dream. If we did that, we’d have more consumption ability in America, which is what we need in order to kick our economy into gear. I will fight tooth & nail to pass the minimum wage.

BUSH: Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage. But let me talk about what’s really important for the worker you’re referring to. And that’s to make sure the education system works. The No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

The President must reach out to help end discrimination

Q: Do you see a need for affirmative action?

KERRY: We still have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something that applies to people of color. It also is with respect to women, it’s other efforts to be inclusive. This president is the first not to meet with the NAACP, with the Black Congressional Caucus, with the civil rights leadership.

BUSH: It is just not true that I haven’t met with the Black Congressional Caucus. We’ve expanded Pell Grants by a million students. Do you realize today in America, we spend $73 billion to help 10 million low- and middle-income families afford college? I believe the best way to help small business is not only through loans, which we have increased, but to unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to receive a contract. Minority ownership of businesses are up, because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong. Today more minorities own a home than ever before. And that’s hopeful.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

The Patriot Act has been used to abuse people’s rights

The inspector general of the Justice Department found that John Ashcroft had twice applied it in ways that were inappropriate. People’s rights have been abused. I met a man who spent eight months in prison, wasn’t even allowed to call his lawyer. Finally, Sen. Dick Durbin intervened and was able to get him out. They’ve got sneak-&-peak searches that are allowed. They’ve got people allowed to go into churches now & political meetings without any showing of potential criminal activity or otherwise. Now, I voted for the Patriot Act. 99 US senators voted for it. And Bush’s been very busy running around the country using what I just described to you as a reason to say I’m wishy-washy, that I’m a flip-flopper. That’s not a flip-flop. I believe in the Patriot Act. We need the things in it that coordinate the FBI and the CIA. We need to be stronger on terrorism. But you know what we also need to do as Americans, is never let the terrorists change the Constitution in a way that disadvantages our rights.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO , Oct 8, 2004

Raising the minimum wage is a working women’s issue

Women make up only 48 percent of the overall American workforce, but 61 percent of the people who will get a raise when we increase the minimum wage. People who live on the minimum wage do not get cost of living adjustments - every year that their costs climb but the minimum wage stays the same is another year people living on the minimum wage can afford less. Economists believe the primary reason the wage gap expanded between middle- and low-wage women in the 1980s was the erosion in the minimum wage.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 22 , Aug 10, 2004

Questions the ultimate practicality of affirmative action

‘The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms,’ Kerry said. Insisting that he still supported affirmative action, Kerry outlined its costs, particularly the white resentment that racial preferences had fostered. Kerry went on to state, ‘We cannot lecture our citizens about fairness and then disregard legitimate questions about the actual fairness of federal regulation and law.’
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.279-280 , Apr 27, 2004

Supports affirmative action now and into the future

Kerry has been criticized for a speech in which he said:
This shift in the civil rights agenda has directed most of our attention and much of our hope into one inherently limited and divisive program: affirmative action. The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms.
When read that quote, Kerry responded, “I was pointing out the problems of the efforts in an urban agenda,” and that the speech was given as the Clinton administration was trying to take out a position in support of affirmative action. “A lot of people joined in an effort to ‘mend it but don’t end it’ when it was under attack for quotas,” Kerry explains. “That’s what I was really referring to. Maybe it was a clumsy way of referring to it.”

Kerry states: “I support affirmative action now and I will always support it in the future in order to achieve what we need to achieve in terms of diversity in this country. And it’s a strength, not a weakness.”

Source: Hazel Trice Edney, National Newspaper Publishers Association , Mar 30, 2004

Support “mend it, don’t end it” for affirmative action

Q: Would you attempt to put some kind of a sunset law on affirmative action?

A: I was part of the same movement that Jim Clyburn and Bill Clinton were, the “mend it, don’t end it.” There were a great many questions in the country about how it was being implemented. We wanted to keep it. I’ve always supported it. In the very speech in which I raised what those perceptions were, I said at the beginning, “I support affirmative action.” I said at the end, “I support affirmative action.”

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC , Jan 29, 2004

Flag burning is displeasing, but it’s free expression

Q: Should the Constitution be amended to prohibit burning the American flag?

A: Our country is defined by the rights we protect, and those of us who fought for freedom and put our lives on the line defended the right of people to do things that we disagree with. I would not be pleased to see someone burning the flag because I love the flag, but the Constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “Flag Amendment” , Jan 25, 2004

Introduced to integration at prep school

Kerry used to spend his evenings listening to Reverend Walker discuss issues like "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka," the Montgomery bus boycott, and the Little Rock Nine integration controversy. He inspired the 15-year-old Kerry to write and deliver an NAACP-like speech titled "The Plight of the Negro." "Bishop Walker wasn't a radical," Barbiero explained about his mentor. "But he had an intense sense of social justice. And John used him as a sounding board."
Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 32 , Jan 6, 2004

Voted for PATRIOT Act, but genuinely alarmed at PATRIOT II

I voted for the USA Patriot Act [but] I’m genuinely alarmed at what I’ve seen of the Patriot II Act. One of its provisions would apparently enable federal employees to strip US citizens of their rights without due process. More broadly, it would create a separate, very shadowy justice system for terrorist suspects in which most of the rights and procedures normally guaranteed criminal suspects can be abrogated at the discretion of the government.

As a former prosecutor and something of a specialist in dealing with international drug and terror networks, I know there’s a big difference between giving the government the resources and commonsense leeway it needs to track and tough and devious foe and giving in to the temptation of taking shortcuts that will sacrifice liberties cheaply without significantly enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement. Patriot II threatens to cross that line-and to a serious degree. As president, I wouldn’t propose it, and if it were passed I would veto it.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.177-8 , Oct 1, 2003

Politicians use “crime” as codeword for “race”

Despite our near panic over the levels of violence in our country, despite our near obsession with the subject in the media and in legislation, we don’t see how crime has changed. The fact is that the rates for violent street crime have declined or held steady in all major categories in recent years. Our overflowing jails can be traced to our support for growth in mandatory drug sentencing laws, which often force judges to send non-violent first-time offenders to jail for long stretches, and siphon law-enforcement resources from the job of locking up hardened criminals.

Much of our national hysteria can be traced to politicians who “crime” as a codeword for “race” and ride the wave of fear to victory on election day. This pandering to prejudice does a great disservice to our country, not least of all because, despite the serious impact of local crime, it closes our minds to the complex reality and imminent threat of the global crime lords and their complicity in street crime at home.

Source: The New War, by John Kerry, p. 23-24 , Jun 1, 1998

John Kerry on Gay Rights

Cheney’s daughter, a lesbian, would say gay is not a choice

We’re all God’s children. If you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as. If you talk to anybody, it’s not choice. I’ve met people who struggled with this for years, people in a marriage and they struggled with it. I’ve met wives supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. We have to respect that.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

The Constitution calls for same-sex partnership rights

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But I also believe because we’re the USA, we’re a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can’t discriminate in the rights that you afford people. You can’t disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I’m for partnership rights. With respect to DOMA & the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Personally believes marriage is between a man & a woman

If the Massachusetts legislature crafts an amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection. I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post on 2004 election , May 15, 2004

Defense of Marriage Act is fundamentally ugly

In 1996, John Kerry again parted with the church when he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which created a federal defintion of marriage as the union between a man and a woman and prohibited the extending of federal marital benefits, such as Social Security, for same-sex partners. Kerry called the Defense of Marriage Act “fundamentally ugly, fundamentally political, and fundamentally flawed.”
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.294 , Apr 27, 2004

Opposes Massachusetts DOMA since there’s a federal DOMA

Q: You say you oppose gay marriage. You also oppose the federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Do you think other states should have to recognize a gay marriage performed in Massachusetts?

KERRY: I said very clearly that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But notwithstanding that belief, there was no issue in front of the country when that was put before the US Senate.

Q: You also said that you believe the Defense of Marriage Act was fundamentally unconstitutional.

KERRY: I was incorrect in that statement. I think, in fact, that no state has to recognize something that is against their public policy. For 200 years, we have left marriage up to the states.

Q: So would you support the Massachusetts Defense of Marriage Act?

KERRY: No, because the Defense of Marriage Act is the law of the land today.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC , Feb 26, 2004

For partnership rights and civil union

Q: What can you do to help make sure that gays and lesbians have an opportunity to build and love their families?

A: I have always fought for the right of people to be able to be treated equally in America. Long before there was a television show or a march in Washington. In 1985, I was the sole sponsor of the Civil Rights Act to make sure we enforced that in America. I am for partnership rights. I am for civil union. I am for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I am for the hate crimes legislation

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate , Nov 5, 2003

Provide gays and lesbians with full coverage of civil rights

We have great difficulties in providing people with full coverage of civil rights in this country, particularly gays and lesbians.
Source: KERRY/WELD: CLASH OF THE TITANS, PBS.org , Jun 5, 1996

John Kerry on Voting Record

Include a sunset provision in the Patriot Act

Q: Would you revise or repeal the Patriot Act?

A: I strongly supported including a sunset provision in the Patriot Act. Bush reportedly plans to introduce a second “Patriot Act” - we have learned from the first Patriot Act that the last thing we need is John Ashcroft rewriting the Bill of Rights. I am alarmed by what has been reported to be part of “Patriot Act II” and I will very carefully review any new proposal and fight to ensure that it does not violate civil liberties.

Source: MoveOn.org interview , Jun 17, 2003

Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. 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.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
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.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Reference: Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Reference: Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1998-23 on Mar 6, 1998

Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.

This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture; Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1997-275 on Oct 23, 1997

Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Reference: Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.

Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.

Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill; Bill S. J. Res. 31 ; vote number 1995-600 on Dec 12, 1995

Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Reference: Bill HR 1854 ; vote number 1995-317 on Jul 20, 1995

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Kerry scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

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.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Increase subsidies for women-owned non-profit business.

Kerry introduced the Women's Business Center Safeguard Act

Amends the Small Business Act with respect to the women's business centers program to provide Small Business Administration funding authority for nonprofit organizations conducting projects for the benefit of small businesses owned and controlled by women. Increases from 30 to 54 the percentage of appropriated women's business center funds to be used during FY 2004 for sustained women's business center projects.

Source: Bill sponsored by 11 Senators 03-S2266 on Mar 31, 2004

Sponsored bill for a Rosa Parks commemorative postage stamp.

Kerry introduced issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks


LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Rosa Parks Stamp (S.2154/H.R.4343) 05-S2154 on Dec 20, 2005

Rated 100% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Kerry scores 100% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

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.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 100% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Kerry scores 100% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

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.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.

Kerry co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery

A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.

Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:

  1. history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
  2. the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008

ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.

Kerry signed H.R.3017&S.1584

Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.

    Makes this Act inapplicable to:
  1. religious organizations; and
  2. the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009

Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools.

Kerry signed Student Non-Discrimination Act

Source: HR.998&S.555 11-S0555 on Mar 10, 2011

Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights.

Kerry signed Equal Rights Amendment for men and women

JOINT RESOLUTION: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Constitutional Amendment: Prohibits denying or abridging equality of rights under the law by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States:
  1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
  2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
  3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com and OnTheIssues.org]:

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress, but failed to gain ratification before its June 30, 1982 deadline. This new proposed amendment is identical in wording to the original 1972 proposed amendment. It was proposed in Congress in every session from 1923 through 1970 prior to passing in 1972; and has been re-introduced in Congress in every session since 1982 after its failure at ratification. The current version removes the Congressionally imposed deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, so that if the bill passes Congress, states have no deadline as they did in 1982.

Source: HJR69&SJR21 11-SJR21 on Jun 22, 2011

Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.

Kerry co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees

Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.

Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.

I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.

SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007

Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007

Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Kerry co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment

Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.

"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."

Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007

Reinforce anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements.

Kerry co-sponsored reinforcing anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements

A bill to restore, reaffirm, and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for:

  1. establishing discrimination based on disparate impact; and
  2. rights of action and recovery for unlawful discrimination.
Source: Civil Rights Act of 2008 (S.2554&H.R.5129) 2008-S2554 on Jan 24, 2008

Honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

Kerry signed bill honoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Congress
  1. Recognizes the 100th anniversary of the historic founding of the NAACP.
  2. Honors and praises the NAACP on the occasion of its anniversary for its work to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons.
Source: SCR.3&HCR.35 2009-SCR3 on Jan 28, 2009

Other candidates on Civil Rights: John Kerry on other issues:
Incoming 2021 Biden Administration:
Defense:Lloyd Austin
State/Luxembourg:Tom Barrett
HHS:Xavier Becerra
Pres.:Joe Biden
State:Antony Blinken
DOT:Pete Buttigieg
State/Japan:Rahm Emanuel
State/Turkey:Jeff Flake
HUD:Marcia Fudge
State/India:Eric Garcetti
Attorney General:Merrick_Garland
DOE:Jennifer Granholm
DOI:Deb Haaland
V.P.:Kamala Harris
Climate:John Kerry
NASA:Bill Nelson
DHS:Alejandro Mayorkas
NASA:Bill Nelson
DOC:Gina Raimondo
Domestic Policy:Susan Rice
Public Liaison:Cedric Richmond
State/Mexico:Ken Salazar
State/N.Z.:Tom Udall
USDA:Tom Vilsack
DOL:Marty Walsh
Treasury:Janet Yellen

Cabinet Archives:
Biden Cabinet
Biden Administration
Trump Cabinet
Trump Administration
Obama Cabinet
Bush Cabinet
Biden Books
Trump Books
Obama Books
Bush Books
Former Trump Administration:

Former Obama Administration:
Pres.:Barack Obama
V.P.:Joe Biden
HUD:Julian Castro
State:Hillary Clinton

Former Bush Administration:
Pres.:George W. Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
Pres.:PBill Clinton
V.P.:Al Gore
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
DOL:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
State:Madeleine Albright
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Aug 31, 2021