July 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
O’Malley first 2016 candidate to endorse Equality Act

Martin O'Malley, gay news, Washington Blade

Martin and Katie O’Malley (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley became on Thursday the first candidate in the 2016 race for the White House to endorse the Equality Act.

The sweeping legislation, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), would bar discrimination against LGBT people in the areas of employment, education, jury service, federal programs, housing, credit and public accommodations.

O’Malley signaled support for the bill in a Twitter message at 12:30 just as a news conference was taking place on Capitol Hill announcing the introduction of the Equality Act. The tweet made him the first candidate out of the gate to publicly support the bill.

Hours later at 2:52 pm, Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also declared support for the legislation via Twitter.

Previously, Clinton called for an end to discrimination against LGBT people in marriage, employment and other areas, but hasn’t until now articulated a vehicle to achieve that goal.

O’Malley has in another sense beaten Clinton to the punch weeks ago. After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, an O’Malley campaign spokesperson in late June confirmed for the Washington Blade the candidate was aware of the Equality Act as it was in its planning stages and supported the bill.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders has said nothing about the bill upon its introduction on his Twitter accounts. Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesperson, confirmed his boss would be among the 40 co-sponsors of the Equality Act in the Senate.

“He believes that these protections are long overdue,” Briggs said. “Vermont has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1992 and gender identity since 2007.”

In a May interview with the Washington Blade, Sanders said he would support amending the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity — which is the basis of the Equality Act — and said he suspected he would support the legislation then being drafted by Merkley. But Sanders wasn’t a confirmed supporter of the Equality Act until Thursday when his office announced he would be an original co-sponsor.

Each of the Republican presidential candidates have stayed mute on the legislation on the day of its introduction.

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

15 Comments
  • Bernie Sanders has been actively ON RECORD for support of Gay Equality SINCE 1972. That same year he called for the repeal of all prohibitive abortion laws that forced women to seek illegal or unsanitary means of abortion on a black market system which led to the deaths and botched operations of countless women.

    Bernie Sanders in 1985 signed in Gay Pride Day in Burlington VT a year before President Reagan even dared say the word “AIDS”. IN 1990, Bernie Sanders now State Rep. helped pass some of the first ANTI-hate Crime Laws in the nation that extended to LGBT. The Federal government of Clinton Admin wouldn’t sign such Federal Hate Crime Laws until AFTER the death of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena, and countless other unknown LGBT otherwise murdered in hatred.

    Bernie Sanders voted against Clinton’s DADT, he voted against Clinton’s DOMA calling it rightfully what it was — discrimination. He supported the first legislative dissent to DADT in 1997 and voted to overturn it in the new millennium. Bernie Sanders wrote a letter of praise for his state of Vermont for being the first in the nation to permit LEGALLY EQUAL Civil Unions that were equal to heterosexual marriages in all ways except the title. Bernie Sanders fought hard and long for LGBT rights voting for and praising ENDA on November 4, 2013 which would have extended Job Protections to LGBT nationwide.

    Although ENDA was voted down in 2014…it is CLEAR indication of Bernie Sanders PRO-GAY EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY stance ON Record at a time LONG BEFORE O’MALLEY OR CLINTON… in fact Bernie Sanders championed, stood up for, and supported Gay Rights in a time it could have either cost him the whole of his political career.

    “Sanders Statement on Employment Non-Discrimination Act
    Monday, November 4, 2013
    WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement tonight after the Senate voted 61 – 30 to advance a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans:

    “I am very pleased that the Senate took a step closer to protecting gays from workplace discrimination. Vermont has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1992. It’s been illegal to discriminate against transgender Vermonters since 2007. In the U.S. Senate, it has been almost two decades since legislation was first introduced to enact strong and clear federal protections against workplace discrimination against gays throughout our country. Tonight’s vote is an important and long-overdue step in the right direction to make America the democratic and inclusive society it should be.”

  • For a comparison? For a comparison? Google Bernie Sanders Human Rights Campaign rating. And then google Martin O’Malley Human Rights Campaign rating.

  • Google: “NAACP leader and others hold O’Malley responsible for issues in Baltimore…”

  • ACLU ratings:
    Bernie Sanders – 93% for Civil Rights and Equality
    Hillary Clinton – 60% for Civil Rights and Equality
    Rand Paul – 25% for Civil Rights and Equality
    But the ACLU sued the Baltimore Police force under Mayor Martin O’Malley

  • BTW just searched for: Chris Johnson Washington Blade and Bernie Sanders …and the author/reporter hereupon does very little justice or displays very little willingness to dig for the truth of the candidates or he would be as available to this information I post as I was. I see articles about Hillary Clinton, I see articles about Martin O’Malley.
    The article I see about Bernie Sanders by Chris Johnson uses the charged word “touts” in the headline to describe Sanders extensive Pro-Gay history…as if Sanders’ were “boasting” …and as we all know “boasting” often alludes to “exaggeration”.
    But Bernie Sanders does NOT exaggerate his PRO-LGBT record. Rather, Chris Johnson IGNORES Sanders record to pitch corporate shills of lesser records of proaction for the betterment of our community in a day and age BEFORE the name HARVEY MILK was even known. Correct yourself Chris Johnson. I’ve got my eye on your slanted reporting and your blatant allegiance to the corporatist centrist that has assumed itself Democrat since the end of the Cold War. I fully expect no action on your part to correct the record NOR to promote a record of integral dignity of action and PRO action for the Equality of all LGBT and racial minorities.

  • Good for O’Malley. That and his support for Climate Action are impressive.

  • Great! We need to see more of this support for us!

  • Hillary Clinton has a 50
    year record on Civil Rights, despite any
    rumors to the contrary http://killingthebreeze.com/this-is-the-robust-civil-rights-history-of-hillary-clinton/

  • As a journalist, Chris Johnson absolutely has a duty to do his due diligence and report on the facts, without bias or editorializing. Obviously, Chris Johnson is not a journalist and rather is part of the mainstream media, controlled by this nation’s oligarchs who are controlling the DNC, as can be seen by the inherent bias in his reporting here.

    The LGBTQ community — especially our elders — is not without blame. Our elders have done a poor job at handing down our history — OUR LGBTQ HISTORY — and our culture to younger generations. Granted, there is inherent ageism (especially among gay men) that one must overcome. Still, there are ways our elders could have handed down this information so that more of our community would know of the struggles and roads we have taken on this long, global journey we all are taking to equality and human justice.

    It’s really great that Hillary has evolved on the issue of LGBTQ equality and that others are doing so as well. And likewise, it’s wonderful that Gov. O’Malley — the youngest of this trio — was the first to get a tweet sent out about the Equality Act.

    However, it speaks volumes when someone like Bernie Sanders literally put his life and his career in politics on the line to stand up for LGBTQ rights, equality, and justice — at a time when merely talking about gay rights could have gotten you arrested and imprisoned for up to 20 years by homophobic cops. And if there was any hesitation on Sanders’s part to support the Equality Act legislation, one could presume that he wanted to ensure it did a good job of its stated purpose and wasn’t merely another disastrous situation such as DADT or DOMA.

    Personally, I’d rather support the candidate who hasn’t needed — and doesn’t need to — evolve on progressive causes such as human rights and equality. Personally, I’d rather support a candidate who doesn’t rush out of the gate to support a bill without taking the time to read and study it but when they do peruse it, lends their name as an original co-sponsor.

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