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.”