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Patrick Kennedy on Civil Rights

Democratic Representative (RI-1)


Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution stating: "Marriage in the US shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."

Proponents support voting YES because:

The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. The people have a right to know whether their elected Representatives agree with them about protecting traditional marriage.

Every child deserves both a father and a mother. Studies demonstrate the utmost importance of the presence of a child's biological parents in a child's happiness, health and future achievements. If we chip away at the institution which binds these parents and the family together, the institution of marriage, you begin to chip away at the future success of that child.

Opponents support voting NO because:

This amendment does not belong in our Constitution. It is unworthy of our great Nation. We have amended the Constitution only 27 times. Constitutional amendments have always been used to enhance and expand the rights of citizens, not to restrict them. Now we are being asked to amend the Constitution again, to single out a single group and to say to them for all time, you cannot even attempt to win the right to marry.

From what precisely would this amendment protect marriage? From divorce? From adultery? No. Evidently, the threat to marriage is the fact that there are millions of people in this country who very much believe in marriage, who very much want to marry but who are not permitted to marry. I believe firmly that in the not-too-distant future people will look back on these debates with the incredulity with which we now view the segregationist debates of years past.

Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill H J RES 88 ; vote number 2006-378 on Jul 18, 2006

Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent.

To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act; Bill HR 3199 ; vote number 2005-627 on Dec 14, 2005

Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Marriage Protection Amendment - Declares that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Prohibits the Constitution or any State constitution from being construed to require that marital status or its legal incidents be conferred upon any union other than that of a man and a woman.
Reference: Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Rep Musgrave [R, CO-4]; Bill H.J.RES.106 ; vote number 2004-484 on Sep 30, 2004

Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pledge Protection Act: Amends the Federal judicial code to deny jurisdiction to any Federal court, and appellate jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance or its validity under the Constitution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Todd Akin [R, MO-2]; Bill H.R.2028 ; vote number 2004-467 on Sep 23, 2004

Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration.

Desecration of Flag resolution: Vote to pass the joint resolution to put forward a Constitutional amendment to state that Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. Note: A two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting (284 in this case) is required to pass a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HJRes.4 ; vote number 2003-234 on Jun 3, 2003

Voted NO on banning gay adoptions in DC.

Vote on an amendment banning adoptions in District of Columbia by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Largent, R-OK; Bill HR 2587 ; vote number 1999-346 on Jul 29, 1999

Voted NO on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions.

HR 6, the Higher Education Amendments Act of 1997, would prohibit any post-secondary institution that participates in any program under the Higher Education Act from discriminating or granting any preferential treatment in admission based on race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Riggs, R-CA.; Bill HR 6 ; vote number 1998-133 on May 6, 1998

Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender.

Kennedy co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment:

Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. Summary: States that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HJR40 on Mar 22, 2001

Rated 71% by the ACLU, indicating a pro-civil rights voting record.

Kennedy scores 71% 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

Rated 100% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Kennedy scores 100% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 92% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Kennedy scores 92% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.

Kennedy signed H.R.3017&S.1584

Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.

    Makes this Act inapplicable to:
  1. religious organizations; and
  2. the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009

Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.

Kennedy co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees

Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.

Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.

I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.

SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007

Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007

Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Kennedy co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment

Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.

"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.

"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."

Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007

Give domestic partnership benefits to Federal employees.

Kennedy signed Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

    A federal employee who has a same-sex domestic partner and the domestic partner of the employee shall be entitled to benefits available to, and shall be subject to obligations imposed upon, a married employee and the spouse of the employee. In order to obtain benefits and assume obligations under this Act, an employee shall file an affidavit of eligibility certifying that the employee and the domestic partner of the employee:
  1. are each other's sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely;
  2. have a common residence, and intend to continue the arrangement;
  3. are at least 18 years of age and mentally competent to consent to contract;
  4. share responsibility for a significant measure of each other's common welfare and financial obligations
  5. are not married to or domestic partners with anyone else;
  6. are same sex domestic partners, and not related in a way that, if the two were of opposite sex, would prohibit legal marriage in the State in which they reside; and
  7. understand that willful falsification of information within the affidavit may lead to disciplinary action and the recovery of the cost of benefits received related to such falsification and may constitute a criminal violation.
      An employee or domestic partner of an employee who obtains benefits under this Act shall file a statement of dissolution of the domestic partnership not later than 30 days after the death of the employee or the domestic partner or the date of dissolution of the domestic partnership.
      Source: H.R.2517 2009-H2517 on May 20, 2009

      Honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

      Kennedy signed bill honoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP

      • Whereas the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, originally known as the National Negro Committee, was founded in New York City on February 12, 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, by a multiracial group of activists who met in a national conference to discuss the civil and political rights of African-Americans;
      • Whereas the NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States;
      • Whereas the mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination;
      • Whereas the NAACP is committed to achieving its goals through nonviolence;
      • Whereas the NAACP advances its mission through reliance upon the press, the petition, the ballot, and the courts, and has been persistent in the use of legal and moral persuasion, even in the face of overt and violent racial hostility;
      • Whereas the NAACP has used political pressure, marches, demonstrations, and effective lobbying to serve as the voice, as well as the shield, for minority Americans;

        Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Congress
      1. Recognizes the 100th anniversary of the historic founding of the NAACP.
      2. Honors and praises the NAACP on the occasion of its anniversary for its work to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons.
      Source: SCR.3&HCR.35 2009-SCR3 on Jan 28, 2009

      2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Civil Rights: Patrick Kennedy on other issues:
      RI Gubernatorial:
      Lincoln Chafee
      RI Senatorial:
      Jack Reed
      Sheldon Whitehouse

      Dem. Freshmen
      in 112th Congress:

      AL-7:Terri Sewell
      CA-33:Karen Bass
      DE-0:John Carney
      FL-17:Frederica Wilson
      HI-1:Colleen Hanabusa
      LA-2:Cedric Richmond
      MA-10:Bill Keating
      MI-13:Hansen Clarke
      RI-1:David Cicilline
      GOP Freshmen
      in 112th Congress:

      AL-2:Martha Roby
      AL-5:Mo Brooks
      AZ-1:Paul Gosar
      AZ-3:Ben Quayle
      AZ-5:David Schweikert
      AR-1:Rick Crawford
      AR-2:Tim Griffin
      AR-3:Steve Womack
      CA-19:Jeff Denham
      CO-3:Scott Tipton
      CO-4:Cory Gardner
      FL-12:Dennis Ross
      FL-2:Steve Southerland
      FL-21:Mario Diaz-Balart
      FL-22:Allen West
      FL-24:Sandy Adams
      FL-25:David Rivera
      FL-5:Rich Nugent
      FL-8:Dan Webster
      GA-2:Mike Keown
      GA-7:Rob Woodall
      GA-8:Austin Scott
      ID-1:Raul Labrador
      IL-8:Joe Walsh
      IL-10:Bob Dold
      IL-11:Adam Kinzinger
      IL-14:Randy Hultgren
      IL-17:Bobby Schilling
      IL-8:Joe Walsh
      IN-3:Marlin Stutzman
      IN-4:Todd Rokita
      IN-8:Larry Bucshon
      IN-9:Todd Young
      KS-1:Tim Huelskamp
      KS-3:Kevin Yoder
      KS-5:Mike Pompeo
      LA-3:Jeff Landry
      MD-1:Andy Harris
      MI-1:Dan Benishek
      MI-2:Bill Huizenga
      MI-3:Justin Amash
      MI-7:Tim Walberg
      MN-8:Chip Cravaack
      MO-4:Vicky Hartzler
      MO-7:Billy Long
      MS-1:Alan Nunnelee
      MS-4:Steven Palazzo
      GOP Freshmen
      in 111th Congress:

      NC-2:Renee Ellmers
      ND-0:Rick Berg
      NH-2:Charlie Bass
      NH-1:Frank Guinta
      NJ-3:Jon Runyan
      NM-2:Steve Pearce
      NV-3:Joe Heck
      NY-13:Michael Grimm
      NY-19:Nan Hayworth
      NY-20:Chris Gibson
      NY-24:Richard Hanna
      NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle
      NY-29:Tom Reed
      OH-1:Steve Chabot
      OH-15:Steve Stivers
      OH-16:Jim Renacci
      OH-18:Bob Gibbs
      OH-6:Bill Johnson
      OK-5:James Lankford
      PA-10:Tom Marino
      PA-11:Lou Barletta
      PA-3:Mike Kelly
      PA-7:Patrick Meehan
      PA-8:Mike Fitzpatrick
      SC-1:Tim Scott
      SC-3:Jeff Duncan
      SC-4:Trey Gowdy
      SC-5:Mick Mulvaney
      SD-0:Kristi Noem
      TN-3:Chuck Fleischmann
      TN-4:Scott DesJarlais
      TN-6:Diane Black
      TN-8:Stephen Fincher
      TX-17:Bill Flores
      TX-23:Quico Canseco
      TX-27:Blake Farenthold
      VA-2:Scott Rigell
      VA-5:Robert Hurt
      VA-9:Morgan Griffith
      WA-3:Jaime Herrera
      WI-7:Sean Duffy
      WI-8:Reid Ribble
      WV-1:David McKinley
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