Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Human Rights Campaign Endorses John Kerry for Re-election

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has announced it is endorsing John Kerry for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, made the following statement: “Senator Kerry has been an outspoken leader for GLBT equality in the United States Senate. Most recently, Senator Kerry’s leadership was crucial to the advancement of legislation to lift the discriminatory HIV travel ban. We are pleased to endorse Senator Kerry for re-election and look forward to working with him on achieving equality for our community."

Senator Kerry responded, "I am honored to have the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the savviest, most respected and most influential political, civil rights and human rights organizations in our country. When you’re in a fight to change our country, you can always count on HRC to be there with you in the trenches, and there’s no better ally in the fight to advance the cause of freedom and equality for all Americans. I have been proud to work with the Human Rights Campaign for close to 25 years now in the U.S. Senate. We’ve fought together to combat AIDS, including our fight this year in the Foreign Relations Committee to lift the HIV Travel Ban, to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to end discrimination in the workplace through ENDA, and to work toward the day when same-sex couples are granted the same rights other Americans take for granted. We’ve spent a lot of our energy these last years stopping bad things from happening with a Republican in the White House. We’ve been proud to fight those fights, but I can’t begin to tell you how much I look forward to serving in a bigger, stronger Democratic majority in Congress under a Democratic president so we can wage and win the progress we’ve been waiting for and which the community deserves."

Senator Kerry's office issued a press release which described the Senator's activities on behalf of GLBT rights:

Kerry has a long record of fighting for equal rights for all gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered (GLBT) Americans.

Twenty-four years ago, one of Kerry’s first acts as Senator was to introduce a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He supports passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and has adopted a nondiscrimination policy for his Congressional offices based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

He is an original co-sponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention bill, which would extend federal jurisdiction over serious, violent hate crimes. It would also finally include crimes motivated by sexual orientation and sexual identity to be considered hate crimes.

Kerry also introduced the HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act that would repeal the outdated, misguided provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act, which bars HIV positive individuals from entering the United States, including HIV positive family members, doctors and experts, as well as refugees seeking asylum. This long standing ban against those with HIV only serves to stigmatize the disease and discriminate against those infected.

In 1990, Kerry cosponsored the first Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (CARE)—which represents the largest discretionary federal investment in treating individuals with HIV and AIDS. Kerry also sponsored the Vaccines for the New Millennium Act, aimed at boosting contributions to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a non-profit group working to promote development of an HIV vaccine in 2000. Kerry also introduced the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria Act, which would increase the federal funding of international HIV/AIDS efforts from approximately $1.7 billion in 2003 to $1.9 billion in 2004. This effort led to the Act’s unanimous passage in May 2003. AIDS activists have characterized Kerry as one of Congress’s top leaders on HIV/AIDS policy.

During the Clinton Administration, Kerry opposed the White House’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy.” He was one of a few senators to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and call on the President to rescind the ban on gay and lesbian service members.

Kerry has repeatedly said that same-sex couples should be granted rights, including access to pensions, health insurance, family medical leave, bereavement leave, hospital visitation, survivor benefits, and other basic legal protections, that all families and children need. He has supported legislation to provide domestic partners of federal employees the benefits available to spouses of federal employees including the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. He was one of 14 Senators -- and the only one up for reelection in 1996 -- to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In Massachusetts, just last spring, Kerry worked with Governor Deval Patrick and progressive legislators to help defeat a narrow and discriminatory constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage in Massachusetts .

The HRC is America ’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. Altogether, HRC endorsed 14 Senators or candidates for Senate it says will continue advancing the issues the campaign cares about. In 2006, the HRC and its 700,000 members were involved in 200 House and Senate races. Their candidates won 94% of those races.


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