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John Kerry on Civil Rights

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


FactCheck: Kerry would change Patriot Act, as Bush claims

BUSH_CHENEY CLAIM: "Kerry would weaken the Patriot Act used to arrest terrorists and protect America."

CNN FACT CHECK: Although Kerry voted for Patriot Act, he now says that several provisions of should be scaled back and that a new law is needed to "assure our enhanced security does not come at the expense of our civil liberties."

Source: CNN FactCheck on statements by Bush and Kerry: Oct 29, 2004

FactCheck: Bush DID meet with Congressional Black Caucus

KERRY: This is a president who hasn't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. This is a president who has not met with the civil rights leadership of our country.

Kerry wrongly claimed Bush "hasn't met with the Black Congressional Caucus." He garbled the organization's name, for one thing. It's actually the Congressional Black Caucus, made up of 39 African-American members of the House. And in fact, Bush met with the caucus a few days after taking office, on Jan. 31, 2001. "This will be the beginning of, hopefully, a lot of meetings," Bush told them. "I hope you come back, and I'll certainly be inviting." But it was more than three years before the next meeting, on Feb. 25, 2004. Bush met with members of the caucus after they paid an impromptu visit to the White House to discuss the crisis in Haiti, according to a statement issued by the White House press secretary.

Source: Analysis of Third Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck.org) Oct 14, 2004

Help minority business by small business set-aside programs

Q: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor?

KERRY: Regrettably, we have not moved far enough along. And I regret to say that this administration has even blocked steps that could help us move further along. On the Small Business Committee, we have a goal for minority set-aside programs. [The Bush Administration] doesn't reach those goals. They don't even fight to reach those goals. They've tried to undo them. The fact is that in too many parts of our country, we still have discrimination.

BUSH: Like my opponent, I don't agree we ought to have quotas. I agree, we shouldn't have quotas. I believe the best way to help our small businesses is to unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to be able to bid and receive a contract to help get their business going. Minority ownership of businesses are up, because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona Oct 13, 2004

We need to hold on to equal pay for women

KERRY: We need to hold on to equal pay. Women work for 76 cents on the dollar for the same work that men do. That's not right in America. We had an initiative that we were working on to raise women's pay. The Republicans have stopped it. They don't enforce these kinds of things. It's a matter of fundamental right that if we raise the minimum wage, 15 million Americans would be positively affected. We'd put money into the hands of people who work hard, who obey the rules, who play for the American dream. If we did that, we'd have more consumption ability in America, which is what we need in order to kick our economy into gear. I will fight tooth & nail to pass the minimum wage.

BUSH: Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage. But let me talk about what's really important for the worker you're referring to. And that's to make sure the education system works. The No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

The President must reach out to help end discrimination

Q: Do you see a need for affirmative action?

KERRY: We still have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something that applies to people of color. It also is with respect to women, it's other efforts to be inclusive. This president is the first not to meet with the NAACP, with the Black Congressional Caucus, with the civil rights leadership.

BUSH: It is just not true that I haven't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. We've expanded Pell Grants by a million students. Do you realize today in America, we spend $73 billion to help 10 million low- and middle-income families afford college? I believe the best way to help small business is not only through loans, which we have increased, but to unbundle government contracts so people have a chance to receive a contract. Minority ownership of businesses are up, because we created an environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong. Today more minorities own a home than ever before. And that's hopeful.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

The Patriot Act has been used to abuse people's rights

The inspector general of the Justice Department found that John Ashcroft had twice applied it in ways that were inappropriate. People's rights have been abused. I met a man who spent eight months in prison, wasn't even allowed to call his lawyer. Finally, Sen. Dick Durbin intervened and was able to get him out. They've got sneak-&-peak searches that are allowed. They've got people allowed to go into churches now & political meetings without any showing of potential criminal activity or otherwise. Now, I voted for the Patriot Act. 99 US senators voted for it. And Bush's been very busy running around the country using what I just described to you as a reason to say I'm wishy-washy, that I'm a flip-flopper. That's not a flip-flop. I believe in the Patriot Act. We need the things in it that coordinate the FBI and the CIA. We need to be stronger on terrorism. But you know what we also need to do as Americans, is never let the terrorists change the Constitution in a way that disadvantages our rights.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Raising the minimum wage is a working women's issue

Women make up only 48 percent of the overall American workforce, but 61 percent of the people who will get a raise when we increase the minimum wage. People who live on the minimum wage do not get cost of living adjustments - every year that their costs climb but the minimum wage stays the same is another year people living on the minimum wage can afford less. Economists believe the primary reason the wage gap expanded between middle- and low-wage women in the 1980s was the erosion in the minimum wage.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 22 Aug 10, 2004

Questions the ultimate practicality of affirmative action

'The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms,' Kerry said. Insisting that he still supported affirmative action, Kerry outlined its costs, particularly the white resentment that racial preferences had fostered. Kerry went on to state, 'We cannot lecture our citizens about fairness and then disregard legitimate questions about the actual fairness of federal regulation and law.'
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.279-280 Apr 27, 2004

Supports affirmative action now and into the future

Kerry has been criticized for a speech in which he said:
This shift in the civil rights agenda has directed most of our attention and much of our hope into one inherently limited and divisive program: affirmative action. The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms.
When read that quote, Kerry responded, "I was pointing out the problems of the efforts in an urban agenda," and that the speech was given as the Clinton administration was trying to take out a position in support of affirmative action. "A lot of people joined in an effort to `mend it but don't end it' when it was under attack for quotas," Kerry explains. "That's what I was really referring to. Maybe it was a clumsy way of referring to it."

Kerry states: "I support affirmative action now and I will always support it in the future in order to achieve what we need to achieve in terms of diversity in this country. And it's a strength, not a weakness."

Source: Hazel Trice Edney, National Newspaper Publishers Association Mar 30, 2004

Support "mend it, don't end it" for affirmative action

Q: Would you attempt to put some kind of a sunset law on affirmative action?

A: I was part of the same movement that Jim Clyburn and Bill Clinton were, the "mend it, don't end it." There were a great many questions in the country about how it was being implemented. We wanted to keep it. I've always supported it. In the very speech in which I raised what those perceptions were, I said at the beginning, "I support affirmative action." I said at the end, "I support affirmative action."

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Flag burning is displeasing, but it's free expression

Q: Should the Constitution be amended to prohibit burning the American flag?

A: Our country is defined by the rights we protect, and those of us who fought for freedom and put our lives on the line defended the right of people to do things that we disagree with. I would not be pleased to see someone burning the flag because I love the flag, but the Constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Flag Amendment" Jan 25, 2004

Voted for PATRIOT Act, but genuinely alarmed at PATRIOT II

I voted for the USA Patriot Act [but] I'm genuinely alarmed at what I've seen of the Patriot II Act. One of its provisions would apparently enable federal employees to strip US citizens of their rights without due process. More broadly, it would create a separate, very shadowy justice system for terrorist suspects in which most of the rights and procedures normally guaranteed criminal suspects can be abrogated at the discretion of the government.

As a former prosecutor and something of a specialist in dealing with international drug and terror networks, I know there's a big difference between giving the government the resources and commonsense leeway it needs to track and tough and devious foe and giving in to the temptation of taking shortcuts that will sacrifice liberties cheaply without significantly enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement. Patriot II threatens to cross that line-and to a serious degree. As president, I wouldn't propose it, and if it were passed I would veto it.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.177-8 Oct 1, 2003


John Kerry on Gay Rights

Cheney's daughter, a lesbian, would say gay is not a choice

We're all God's children. If you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as. If you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people in a marriage and they struggled with it. I've met wives supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. We have to respect that.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

The Constitution calls for same-sex partnership rights

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But I also believe because we're the USA, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people. You can't disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I'm for partnership rights. With respect to DOMA & the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Personally believes marriage is between a man & a woman

If the Massachusetts legislature crafts an amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection. I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post May 15, 2004

Defense of Marriage Act is fundamentally ugly

In 1996, John Kerry again parted with the church when he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which created a federal defintion of marriage as the union between a man and a woman and prohibited the extending of federal marital benefits, such as Social Security, for same-sex partners. Kerry called the Defense of Marriage Act "fundamentally ugly, fundamentally political, and fundamentally flawed."
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.294 Apr 27, 2004

Opposes Massachusetts DOMA since there's a federal DOMA

Q: You say you oppose gay marriage. You also oppose the federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Do you think other states should have to recognize a gay marriage performed in Massachusetts?

KERRY: I said very clearly that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But notwithstanding that belief, there was no issue in front of the country when that was put before the US Senate.

Q: You also said that you believe the Defense of Marriage Act was fundamentally unconstitutional.

KERRY: I was incorrect in that statement. I think, in fact, that no state has to recognize something that is against their public policy. For 200 years, we have left marriage up to the states.

Q: So would you support the Massachusetts Defense of Marriage Act?

KERRY: No, because the Defense of Marriage Act is the law of the land today.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

For partnership rights and civil union

Q: What can you do to help make sure that gays and lesbians have an opportunity to build and love their families?

A: I have always fought for the right of people to be able to be treated equally in America. Long before there was a television show or a march in Washington. In 1985, I was the sole sponsor of the Civil Rights Act to make sure we enforced that in America. I am for partnership rights. I am for civil union. I am for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I am for the hate crimes legislation

Source: CNN "Rock The Vote" Democratic Debate Nov 5, 2003

Provide gays and lesbians with full coverage of civil rights

We have great difficulties in providing people with full coverage of civil rights in this country, particularly gays and lesbians.
Source: KERRY/WELD: CLASH OF THE TITANS, PBS.org Jun 5, 1996


John Kerry on Voting Record

Include a sunset provision in the Patriot Act

Q: Would you revise or repeal the Patriot Act?

A: I strongly supported including a sunset provision in the Patriot Act. Bush reportedly plans to introduce a second "Patriot Act" - we have learned from the first Patriot Act that the last thing we need is John Ashcroft rewriting the Bill of Rights. I am alarmed by what has been reported to be part of "Patriot Act II" and I will very carefully review any new proposal and fight to ensure that it does not violate civil liberties.

Source: MoveOn.org interview Jun 17, 2003

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1998-23 on Mar 6, 1998

Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.

This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture; Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1997-275 on Oct 23, 1997

Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one wo
Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.

Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.

Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill; Bill S. J. Res. 31 ; vote number 1995-600 on Dec 12, 1995

Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Bill HR 1854 ; vote number 1995-317 on Jul 20, 1995

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Kerry scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Increase subsidies for women-owned non-profit business.

Kerry introduced the Women's Business Center Safeguard Act

Amends the Small Business Act with respect to the women's business centers program to provide Small Business Administration funding authority for nonprofit organizations conducting projects for the benefit of small businesses owned and controlled by women. Increases from 30 to 54 the percentage of appropriated women's business center funds to be used during FY 2004 for sustained women's business center projects.

Source: Bill sponsored by 11 Senators 03-S2266 on Mar 31, 2004

Other candidates on Civil Rights: John Kerry on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts