Born on September 8, 1941 Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is the junior United States Senator from Vermont. A Democrat as of 2015, he had been the longest serving independent in U.S. Congressional history (16 years). He is now a candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.
Bernie Sanders’ record on LGBT begins in the 1970’s when he first ran for office in Vermont. As part of his platform he proposed abolishing all discriminatory laws pertaining to sexuality. As the Mayor of Burlington he backed the city’s first pride march in 1983. He voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993. In 1995 he openly criticized Representative Duke Cunningham (R-CA) for his stance against allowing Gay Americans to serve openly in the military.
In 1996 Bernie voted against the defense of Marriage Act. In 1999 he voted against an amendment that would have banned same sex couples from being able to adopt children. He was also a proponent of civil unions and a 2009 law in Vermont that legalized gay marriage.
“Bernie Sanders stands alone in tweeting support for trans housing rights. Yes, I get it, he’s always supported LGBT rights. But he’s never really talked about the T specifically, no one does.”
So now that we know Senator Sanders has long supported gay rights, where does he stand on transgender issues? We know in 2013 he voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which passed in the Senate but failed in the House of Representatives. On his website he pledges to sign any law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people. He also pledges that he would require police departments to adopt policies to insure fairer interactions with those who are transgender.
Andi Dier wrote an interesting piece for Planet Transgender regarding her mission to put transgender issues on Bernie’s radar. In the article she discusses how after four attempts to speak with him during one day she was able to get transgender issues to his attention. She goes on to say how two weeks later he started tweeting about the transgender cause stating, “Bernie Sanders stands alone in tweeting support for trans housing rights. Yes, I get it, he’s always supported LGBT rights. But he’s never really talked about the T specifically, no one does.” Well it looks like she was right and now he does.
Here are two of his most notable tweets.
In many states, it is legal to deny someone housing for being transgender. That is wrong and must end.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 28, 2015
Today we remember those taken from us and pledge to work to end the violence against the transgender community. #TransDayofRememberance
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 20, 2015
There is also a Transgender Advocates for Bernie Sanders Facebook page.
So it is safe to assume that Senator Sanders has been consistent regarding his positions on equality. In recent years he has become more vocal about the transgender cause. We also feel comfortable saying Bernie Sanders will fall on the side of transgender rights if he should be elected. The question is how far is he willing to go to attain these rights and does he have enough fight in him to make it happen?
We have reached out to the Sanders Campaign and will provide an update should they respond.