July 23, 2016 at 8:45 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton’s VP pick Kaine reliable on LGBT rights
Tim Kaine, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton has selected Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) as her running mate. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Hillary Clinton has selected as her running mate a U.S. senator from Virginia who’s been a largely reliable voice in support of LGBT rights.

As first reported by The New York Times, Clinton announced late Friday her choice is Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who’s also former chair of the Democratic National Committee and former Virginia governor. A Spanish speaker, Kaine is set to make his joint campaign appearance with Clinton on Saturday in Miami.

Since his tenure as Virginia governor between 2006 and 2010, Kaine has taken action on behalf of LGBT rights. Upon taking office, Kaine signed an executive order barring anti-gay discrimination in the state workplace (the direction didn’t contain explicit protections on the basis of gender identity). His Republican successor, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell reversed the order, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, reinstated it and added protections for gender identity.

Upon election to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Kaine generally hasn’t been at the forefront of initiatives advancing LGBT rights, but has rose to the occasion as needed. In the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard, Kaine scored a “90” out of possible “100,” losing points for not co-sponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Kaine is an original co-sponsor of comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act. The senator also cast votes in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and an amendment along the lines of the Student Non-Discrimination Act. However, he isn’t a co-sponsor of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which seeks to ban widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy nationwide by classifying it as fraud.

Kaine has signed amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and state bans prohibiting same-sex marriage. More recently, Kaine signed a brief urging the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to find sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under current law.

In 2010, Kaine, as chair of the Democratic National Committee, took part in a three-and-a-half minute video to answer on questions on LGBT rights, outlining accomplishments already made under the Obama administration.

“We have a long way to go, but we’re already making progress for LGBT individuals,” Kaine says. “President Obama and congressional Democrats have already begun to address barriers to equality for LGBT Americans by guaranteeing these families the right to visit and make medical decisions for a partner in America’s hospitals, by enacting hate crimes legislation to protect LGBT Americans — to name just two significant accomplishments.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, drew a stark contrast between Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whom Donald Trump has selected as his running mate.

“While Donald Trump doubled down on discrimination by picking Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton has bolstered her campaign’s historic commitment to LGBTQ equality by choosing Tim Kaine,” Griffin said. “Having proven time and time again that they have the experience, determination, and leadership needed to move equality forward for all Americans, we are confident Clinton and Kaine will tear down the walls of discrimination that hold all of us back.”

But Kaine, like many Americans, including President Obama and Clinton, appears to have gone through an evolution on LGBT rights. When running to become Virginia governor in 2006, Kaine said he didn’t support adoption by gay couples, but reversed his position by 2011.

Kaine was also initially opposed to same-sex marriage. Although he now supports marriage equality, it’s hard to say exactly when he changed his mind. In 2012, he sought to find a middle ground, not yet clearly supporting same-sex marriage, but backing some kind of relationship recognition.

“The underlying issue is, should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities, and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes,” Kaine said, according to The Washington Post.

In 2013, when many U.S. senators declared their newfound support for same-sex marriage, Kaine joined them in declaring his support for marriage equality.

“I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be guaranteed the full rights to the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage under the Constitution,” Kaine said at the time. “I hope the Supreme Court will affirm that principle.”

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said Kaine is “now solidly pro-LGBT equality” after undergoing the same kind ‘evolution’ on LGBT rights as the nation as a whole.

“With her selection of Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has highlighted the stark differences between her ticket and her opponent’s,” Zbur said. “In contrast to the extremes of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and homo- and transphobia on display this week at the Republican National Convention, Kaine presents an alternative: a pragmatist who works across ideologies and across the aisle to get things done.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    So, how does Sen. Kaine tip?

    • Brian’s Ions

      Pretty well, I think. And he brings all kinds of little-known BYO goodies to Hillary’s banquet.

      Kaine is as well-liked, personally, by legislators on both sides of the aisle, as Cruz is hated. So that bodes well for passage of the Equality Act and other Clinton 45 legislative agenda items.

      As a former DNC honcho, Tim Kaine has a countrywide, first-name relationship database that far exceeds the communication power of mere digital rolodex cards and direct mail lists.

      Of more immediate concern, Senator Kaine can obviously cement Virginia for Hillary and the Dems, as he is well-liked on both sides of the Rappahannock River.

      Given the genealogical ties Virginians have with many generations of North Carolinians also means that the Clinton/Kaine ticket will be given serious consideration by North Carolinians, too. NC is already in play, but Virginia neighbor Kaine will only improve Dems odds of winning there.

      Just as North Carolina is now in play, Kaine might help put Missouri in play for Hillary, too– since he grew up and went to college in Missouri.

      Then there is Kaine’s fluent Spanish (from his time working in Honduras) which will help with blocks of Latino voters in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado… plus the ‘must-have’ biggie for Trump– Florida.

      Kaine’s concern and personal affinity for African American and Latino civil rights and advancement is well-known– at least in Virginia.

      Behind the Virginia senator’s moderate reputation is a history of quiet progressive activism.

      • Mark Hatchett

        What a load of hooey. Kaine is despised in Virginia and North Carolina.

        • Brian’s Ions

          Yeah… among some sore losers. America saw those dour, dank and brownshirt screamers in Cleveland.

          You’re just trolling for Trump here because YOU know that most Americans know which party is leading them out of the Great Republican Recession of 2008.

          Now go help the Donald find his tax returns so the country can see what he’s hiding– besides his common huckster scams like Trump U.

  • Brooks Austin

    Far left progressives opposed to Kaine because he isn’t ideological pure are proving the old saying about not making the perfect the enemy of the good. Far left progressives should also remember that their idol, Bernie Sanders (oh wait, I forgot he was a sell out now too) also used to only support a state by state approach to marriage equality and he evolved like the rest of America did.

  • Steve Peterson

    Actually Kaine has an open marriage since he is gay himself. His wife goes out with other straight men. Similarly, Bill and Hillary have an open marriage since Hillary is a lesbian. One by one, old barriers are being broken down. Obama was the first half African American, gay, Muslim president and Michelle the first transsexual first lady. Hillary and Kaine are the first gay ticket for the presidency. Kaine and the Pope are both gay Jesuits.

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