Jill Stein on Civil Rights
Green Party presidential nominee; Former Challenger for MA Governor
OnTheIssues:In the wake of national same-sex marriage, what about transgender rights?
Stein: I include transgender rights in GLBT protection. Sexual orientation should not be a basis for discrimination whether it's LGB or T. In my first run for office in 2002, when this issue was first brought to my attention, I was for marriage, not just civil unions. It wasn't until 3 years ago that the leadership of the Democratic Party changed its tune--even in 2004 Hillary was still opposing gay marriage. Vice President Joe Biden finally broke the ice [by saying he was "comfortable" with gay marriage in 2012]-- by that time gay marriage was rating highly favorable in the polls--is that leadership? I believe in doing what is right and leading the way. The Democratic Party is doing the opposite of that.
Stein: Yes, like Hobby Lobby. I ask, "Whose freedom?" Freedom of corporations and the economic elite, or freedom of employees and consumers? We need to be about freedom for everybody. We need to uphold the law of the land--everybody's freedom needs to be respected--if your freedom means dominating someone else, then you don't get it--businesses cannot discriminate based on gender or religion or lack thereof--businesses are public entities that exist in the public marketplace and need to respect the dignity and human rights of everyone, period.
OnTheIssues: How do you respond to Hobby Lobby's argument?
Stein: Religion is used there as a surrogate for patriarchy--usually male--to dominate women's reproductive lives. It's a misuse and an abuse of the concept of religion that is simply be used as a surrogate.
Stein: My sense is that we need to end discrimination in the workplace and housing. There are 28 states that have not enacted protection in the workplace. Suicides are four times elevated among LGBT youth.
OnTheIssues: You mean you're worried about same-sex couples being "Married on Sunday; fired on Monday?"
Stein: Yes that's right.
A: When you look at US history--the abolition of slavery, the women's movement, the labor movement--[those started with] direct action & very difficult struggles in the street, but those struggles then became political. In the words of Frederick Douglass, "power concedes nothing without a demand," and that demand needs to happen in the street, in our communities, in our schools and in the voting booth. Because failing that, all the progress that we make in the street and in our communities will be rolled back if we simply wave the white flag of surrender inside the voting booth. History says these movements didn't move forward inside the established parties at the time. They needed independent parties. These things [direct action and electoral politics] go together
STEIN: This has also been the direction of the Green Party. The Green Party has expanded over the last 8 years. Cynthia McKinney and that race, that was a wakeup call, for a lot of Greens to understand the broader agenda. We sort of historically associated with the green movement, and there's been sort of a progressive understanding that we will never fix the environment unless hand-in-hand we are fixing the economy and the system of racism and the civil liberties and police state and all those issues that--they cannot be separated. We have become much closer as a community. I began working with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and that whole network as of four years ago. And we have worked together over the past four years.
A: All people are entitled to full civil and human rights in America. My administration will defend those rights for everyone, regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, or sexual preference.
OBAMA: The first bill I signed was something called the Lilly Ledbetter bill.
ROMNEY: [As governor faced with an all-male cabinet], I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks?" And they brought us whole binders full of women.
STEIN: Well, we basically just heard Mitt Romney say, "Trust me. You know, I'm a CEO that likes to invest my money offshore, that likes to fire people, and that supports free trade agreements and Bain Capital-type investments that move our jobs overseas." So, this doesn't sound exactly reassuring for providing work equity for women. And Barack Obama points to many programs that he says have made the difference, but clearly they haven't made the difference. Women are still being paid far less. Women-headed households have a 40 percent poverty rate relative to the 15 percent poverty rate among the general population. So, we have a critical problem.
A: Yes; we're proud that we were the first gubernatorial campaign in that race to support same-sex marriage, in the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Q: I recall that Robert Reich supported same-sex marriage early in that race.
A: Yes, but we were earlier. Reich came out initially for civil unions. He did later support gay marriage, but after our campaign
A: When you have a football game you have referees--that is the role of the government--to ensure that we have an inclusive economy and that all members of society have access to full participation. An economy that is not fully inclusive is an inherently unstable economy. That's why the CIA keeps track of inequality around the word--when inequality reaches a certain level, instability results.
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