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Al Gore's Record is Speaking for Itself on Gay Issues

NGLTF Biography of the Democratic Presidential Hopeful

Gore Returned to the Capital to Cast a Tie-Breaking Vote


Compiled by GayToday
Courtesy of NGLTF

gore.jpg - 6.57 K Washington, D.C.—The public record of Democratic Presidential Candidate, Al Gore, speaks pointedly about his demonstrated concern for gay and lesbian issues. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has published his record, backing each of Gore's steps taken with citations from top journalistic sources:

Albert Gore, Jr.
Vice President, Democrat

Official campaign web site: www.algore2000.com

Hate Violence
Gore is an outspoken supporter of the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender in hate crimes legislation. This June, when the Senate voted to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Gore flew back to Washington from a campaign event in case he had to cast a tie-breaking vote. As it turned out, his vote was not needed. The Senate passed the bill 57-42 and it is pending in the House. (Adam Clymer, "Senate expands hate crimes law to include gays," New York Times, June 21, 2000.)

Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, the Department of Education issued a guide for school administrators and teachers which provides assistance in combatting harassment and violence against students motivated by sexual orientation bias. ("President Clinton and Vice President Gore: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans," White House website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ WH/accomplishments/ac399.html.)

Civil Rights and Employment Discrimination
Gore has been an outspoken proponent of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would outlaw sexual orientation discrimination nationwide, and has promised to reissue President Clinton's executive order banning such discrimination in federal employment. "I will reissue the executive order banning discrimination in the federal work force and fight with all my heart to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," Gore said following his endorsement by the Human Rights Campaign. ("Gay rights group endorses Gore," Austin American-Statesman, February 13, 2000.) "It is an outrage that today, in 1998, in 40 states of our union, it is 100 percent legal to fire a hard-working employee just because they are gay or lesbian. That is profoundly wrong," he said. (Human Rights Campaign dinner, September 19, 1998.) Gore has not taken a position on transgender inclusion in ENDA.

The Clinton-Gore Administration has appointed more openly gay and lesbian officials than any previous administration. President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the federal civilian workforce, and another ending the denial of security clearances on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Clinton-Gore Administration has also directed the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and fight discrimination against people with AIDS. ("President Clinton and Vice President Gore: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans," White House website, www.whitehouse.gov/ WH/accomplishments/ac399.html.)

The Clinton-Gore administration was the first ever to grant asylum to lesbians and gay men fleeing sexual orientation persecution in their home countries. ("President Clinton and Vice President Gore: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans," White House website, www.whitehouse.gov/ WH/accomplishments/ac399.html.)

goreadvocate.jpg - 12.65 K Adoption and Foster Care
Gore supports allowing gay and lesbian people to adopt and provide foster care to children, but he would leave the decision up to local adoption professionals. "We have a huge number of children who cannot find adoptive parents. Local adoption officials can evaluate the circumstances of the child and the parenting ability of prospective parents and decide if there's a good match." (Chris Bull, "Al Gore's gay vision," The Advocate, September 14, 1999.) Gore's spokesperson said that "the vice president would leave gay adoptions up to adoption professionals on an individual basis." (Katharine Seelye, "Gay voters finding GOP receptive to support," New York Times, August 11, 1999.)

AIDS and Other Health Issues
Gore cosponsored the AIDS Research and Information Act in 1987. In 1989, he was one of only four senators to oppose Jesse Helms's amendment requiring spousal notification as a prerequisite for receiving federal AIDS education funds. However, that same year, he supported an anti-gay measure, HR 2990, limiting HIV/AIDS prevention efforts seen to be "promoting homosexuality." (Congressional Record, September 21, 1989.)

In 1990, he was an original cosponsor of the Ryan White Care Act and cosponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act, which extended civil rights protections to people with disabilities including HIV. In 1991, he opposed Jesse Helms' amendment that imposed a 10-year prison term on health care providers who refuse to disclose their HIV status to patients.

In 1997, Vice President Gore was the first national figure to endorse extending Medicaid coverage to all people living with HIV, not only those with full-blown AIDS. He has supported increased funding for global AIDS prevention and treatment and increased funding for HIV/AIDS in communities of color.

Gore argues that the Clinton-Gore administration has "increased AIDS research at the NIH by 50 percent, tripled Ryan White funds, and increased drug assistance for people with AIDS by 450 percent." He claimed, "We are united in the fight for research, care, and prevention. And we will not stop until all who need it have access to the treatment they need. We will not rest until we have a vaccine¾and a cure." (Human Rights Campaign dinner, September 19, 1998.)

In 1999, AIDS activists and the Congressional Black Caucus criticized Gore for supporting pharmaceutical companies' monopolies on expensive retroviral drugs over the health care needs of Africans, Asians, and others in developing regions of the world. Millions of Africans with AIDS cannot afford these drugs and instead want to buy generic versions of the retrovirals. Recently US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky reversed the government's support for this policy, but the administration has not yet taken affirmative steps to make affordable AIDS drugs available in poorer countries ravaged by the epidemic. (Bill Roundy, "The high price of AIDS: For poor countries needing HIV drugs, new trade rules are a small step," New York Blade, January 7, 2000.)

In January 2000 Vice President Gore promised $150 million in new funding to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in Africa and other regions of the developing world and to vaccinate against Hepatitis and other infectious diseases. (White House press release, January 10, 2000.) At a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Gore also announced an initiative to work with US corporations doing business in Africa "to develop a set of voluntary principles for corporate conduct to make the workplace an effective place for the education and prevention of AIDS." He assured delegates, "We are also committed to helping poor countries gain access to affordable medicines, including those for HIV/AIDS.

Last month, the President announced a new approach to ensure that we take public health crises into account when applying US trade policy. We will cooperate with our trading partners to assure that US trade policies do not hinder their efforts to respond to health crises." (Remarks of Vice President Al Gore to UN Security Council Session on AIDS in Africa, www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R? urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/2000/1/10/6.text.2.)

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The Clinton-Gore Administration authorized the first Lesbian Health Study by the Institute of Medicine. Also under Clinton-Gore, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sponsored a number of conferences and studies examining gay, lesbian and bisexual health issues. (Andrea Solarz, editor, Lesbian Health: Current Assessment and Directions for the Future, Institute of Medicine, Washington: National Academy Press, 1999.)

Gore has expressed support for local communities administering needle exchange programs and supports the view that they are effective in reducing HIV infections without increasing drug use. However, the Clinton-Gore administration has refused to release federal funds to support these programs. (AIDS Action, "Election 2000 presidential candidate report," August 1999, www.aidsaction.org.)

Gore has flip flopped on legalizing medical marijuana. Last fall he said he supported allowing doctors "the option" to prescribe medical marijuana to "help patients who are going through acute pain." (Bill Roundy, "Gore supports 'flexibility' on medical marijuana; Candidate: Drug should be available under certain circumstances," Washington Blade, December 17, 1999.) Yet a few months later, he reversed himself. (Katharine Seelye, "The 2000 campaign: The evolution of a position; Gore retreats from earlier signal of support for medical use of marijuana," New York Times, May 17, 2000, p. A20.)

"I'm in favor of universal health care," Gore said during a recent debate on ABC-TV's Nightline. Gore has proposed an expansion of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program to provide universal coverage to children and to more parents, and to offer partial tax credits to uninsured workers and small businesses to encourage the purchase of health insurance." (Scot Lehigh, "Playing games with health care claims," Boston Globe, December 26, 1999.)

Domestic Partnership and Same-Sex Marriage
Gore is against same-sex marriage, but supports giving same-sex couples the benefits that married couples receive. He supports domestic partnership protections and civil unions. (Kai Wright, "Gore: No on marriage, yes on domestic partnership," Washington Blade, July 2, 1999.) Gore said same-sex couples should have "the legal and economic benefits that accrue to married couples." He also pledged, "If elected president, I would appoint a working group or commission to make recommendations as to how domestic partners should be recognized." (William Goldschlag, "Gore gets nod from gay group, backs benefits," New York Daily News, February 17, 2000.) Last fall Gore "applaud[ed] the nondiscrimination and equality principles inherent in Vermont's State Supreme Court ruling…that same-sex couples must be given the same benefits and legislation as different-sex couples." (Statement by the Vice President, December 20, 1999.)

Gore spoke out against the Knight Initiative in California in early 2000. The Knight Initiative banned same-sex marriage in California. Thirty-two states have passed anti-gay marriage laws since 1996. (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, April 2000, at www.ngltf.org/downloads/marriagemap0400.pdf.) In 1996, the US Congress passed and President Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Military Service
Gore supports the right of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to serve openly in the armed forces, and seeks a repeal of the current "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to serve only if they conceal their sexual orientation. ("Campaign 2000, a user's guide: Gore vs. Bush," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2000.) "In light of the Winchell case and other evidence [Barry Winchell, an army private, was murdered in 1999 for being gay], I believe the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy should be eliminated. Gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve their country without discrimination." (Sandra Sobieraj, "Gore defends trade position," Associated Press, December 13, 1999.)

Gore's current position is a shift from earlier public statements, in which he merely called for a "more compassionate" approach to the issue of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the military and claimed that "Don't ask, don't tell" was "not being implemented in a way that fully reflects the spirit of the policy." (Chris Bull, "Al Gore's gay vision," The Advocate, September 14, 1999.)

But other sources document that Gore opposed the military ban behind the scenes as early as 1993 and pushed Clinton to lift the ban outright instead of compromising wih the opponents in the military and Congress. (Sobieraj, December 13, 1999; George Stephanopolous, All Too Human: A Political Education, Boston: Little Brown, 1999; Patricia Holt, "Books: Don't defend "Don't Ask" to David Mixner," San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 1996.)

In a primary debate, Gore said he hoped to play a similar role to that Truman played in integrating the military in 1948: "I would try to bring about the kind of change in policy, on the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy, that President Harry Truman brought about after World War II in integrating the military." ("Excerpts from comments by Gore and Bradley at forum for candidates," New York Times, Jaunary 6, 2000.)

The Clinton-Gore Administration fought for the repeal of the Dornan Amendment, which required the expulsion of all HIV-positive servicemembers regardless of their ability to do their jobs. ("President Clinton and Vice President Gore: A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans," White House website, www.whitehouse.gov/ WH/accomplishments/ac399.html.)

Affirmative Action
Gore supports affirmative action programs. He told the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) convention, "I will defend affirmative action because it is still needed in this country." (Speech to NAACP 91st Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD, July 12, 2000, www.algore2000/ com/speeches/sp_07122000_md.html.)

Reproductive Choice
Gore has called abortion a "fundamental personal right" and supports the use of Medicaid funds for the procedure. When asked about the nomination of Supreme Court justices, he said, "I will protect a woman's right to choose." ("Campaign 2000, a user's guide: Gore vs. Bush," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2000.) This position represents an evolution for Gore, who in his term in the US House of Representatives did not always support a woman's right to choose.

Welfare and Poverty Issues
Gore supported the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, and continues to support welfare reform. (Campaign press release, "Al Gore proposes next step in welfare reform: Help for responsible parents, crackdown on deadbeats," at www.algore2000.com/briefingroom/ releases/pr_102099_welfare_reform.html.) Gore supports charitable choice, the provision of welfare reform that calls for a more central role for religious institutions in the provision of social services, including job training and other anti-poverty programs. (Frank Rich, "Save us from our saviors," New York Times, September 11, 1999, p. A11.)

Although an overall analysis of the effects of welfare reform - with its time limits, work requirements and sanctions for welfare recipients - is not yet available, some data indicate some negative effects on poor women and children. An analysis by Families USA, a health care advocacy group, found that in the wake of the welfare reform law signed by President Clinton in August 1996, nearly 700,000 low-income parents and children lost Medicaid benefits even though they were still eligible for the federally subsidized health care program. Some 420,000 of these were children. The study estimates that one in five of the 3 million people who left welfare in the year after welfare reform was implemented lost health insurance. (Robert Pear, "Study links Medicaid drop to welfare changes, New York Times, May 14, 1999, p. A22.)

In 1997 and 1998 total Medicaid enrollment dropped by 3.6 million. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, states that millions of families leaving welfare are not accessing Medicaid and food stamps¾for which they continue to be eligible¾because state welfare administrators are not processing applications. (Karen Houppert, "You're not entitled! Welfare 'reform' is leading to government lawlessness," The Nation, October 25, 1999, p. 12.) Studies from Boston, New York, and other parts of the country indicate that many families leaving welfare are not informed that they have to reapply to maintain these benefits. (Robert Pear, "Poor workers lose Medicaid coverage despite eligibility," New York Times, April 12, 1999, p. A1; Sean Cahill, "Tip of the Iceberg or Bump in the Road? The Initial Impact of Welfare Reform in Dorchester," Boston: Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, March 1999.)

Domestic violence against poor women and children may also be on the rise as an inadvertant result of welfare reform. In 1997 a domestic violence program in the District of Columbia documented that the number of reports of domestic violence had doubled in one three-month period compared with the same period in 1996. The Washington Post suggested that women, no longer on welfare, are "returning with their children to battering husbands and boyfriends because welfare reform is making new demands on them and the relatives they might have turned to in the past." (J. Havermann and B. Vobejda, "Children on welfare: Parents feel reform's help, hurt," Washington Post, December 27, 1997.)

Social Security
Gore has pledged to leave the current Social Security system intact and to create new savings and investment programs outside of the program. Gore's plan is similar to a plan backed by House Democratic leaders in which the government matches earner deposits on a sliding scale, with more subsidies going to low- and middle-income earners. (Richard Stevenson, "Social Security, that risky issue, is on the table," New York Times, June 22, 2000.) The rationale is that Americans, particularly low-income people, will save more for retirement. (Editorial, "Face the tough choices," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 22, 2000.)

Death Penalty
Gore supports the death penalty but advocates the use of DNA testing in death penalty cases. (E. J. Dionne, "Death penalty pendulum," Washington Post, July 11, 2000.)


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