Kerry: Discrimination Against Gays Must End

Thu. October 14, 2004 12:00 AM by

Tempe, Arizona - Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush squared off in their third and final presidential debate Wednesday night. When it was over most political analysts declared Kerry the winner. With three debate victories under his belt and only 19 days left until voters go to the polls Democrats are cautiously optimistic of unseating Bush on Nov. 2.

While most of the debate focused on the economy and jobs, the two candidates were asked at one point by moderator Bob Schieffer whether homosexuality is a choice.

"I don't know," Bush answered. Then after saying that all people should be "treated with respect" the president launched into a defense of his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"The reason I did so was because I was worried that activist judges are actually defining the definition of marriage, and the surest way to protect marriage between a man and woman is to amend the Constitution." Bush said.

When the question was presented to Kerry, the Democratic candidate said, "It's not a choice. Talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you she's being who she was."

"We're all God's children," Kerry said.

"I believe that because we are the United States of America, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace. You can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people."

However, he said that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and that the issue should be left to the states. Eleven states will vote on proposed constitutional amendments Nov. 2.

The proposed federal amendment failed in both the House and the Senate, but Republicans vow they will revive it in the next session of Congress.

Bush's continued support for the amendment drew criticism from the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization Wednesday night.

"President Bush has been promoting discrimination and using a constitutional amendment as his weapon," said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques.

"You can't respect and discriminate at the same time. President Bush put politics ahead of the science that being gay is not a choice. Senator Kerry made clear that gay Americans should have the basic rights, responsibilities and protections that all American families have. Senator Kerry made clear that it is wrong that in most states it is legal to fire the star employee simply because of who they are."

Earlier Wednesday Bush refused to join 85 other heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, health care, and choice about having children.

The Bush administration withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to "sexual rights."

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Ryan wrote to organizers of the statement that that the United States was committed to the Cairo plan of 1994 and "to the empowerment of women and the need to promote women's fullest enjoyment of universal human rights."

"The United States is unable, however, to endorse the world leaders' statement," Ryan said, because it "includes the concept of `sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community."

The U.S. on numerous occasions has raised objections to the phrase "sexual rights," speaking out against abortion, gay rights and what the administration sees as the promotion of promiscuity by giving condoms to young people to prevent AIDS.

by Paul Johnson Newscenter
Washington Bureau Chief
© 2004

The Gay Vote: Political News

Voice Your Choice: Message Boards | Who Gets Your Vote in November?

Related Resources: Decision '04 | Windy City Times | Chicago FreePress
Human Rights Campaign | Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
National Stonewall Democrats | Log Cabin Republicans
Democratic National Committee | Republican National Committee
Chicago Sun-Times Elections | Chicago Tribune Election Coverage (Requires Subscription)
CNN Election Center

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.