Bill Richardson on Civil Rights

Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee


Extend Domestic Partnership rights as anti-discrimination

It's time to fully extend Domestic Partnership rights. A committed couple, who agrees to spend their lives together, deserves equal protection under the law. And as I've said before and I will say again--As a state whose diversity is its strength, we cannot accept discrimination in any form.
Source: New Mexico 2010 State of the State Address , Jan 19, 2010

Wonít accept honorary chair of Boy Scouts due to gay issue

Q If youíre president of the United States youíre automatically honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America. In light of that organizationís position on sexual orientation, would you accept that position?

A: No, I wouldnít. Because I think, as president, I would commit myself, number one, that I will be a leader that prevents discrimination on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Focus on achievable civil unions as a path to full inclusion

Q: In response to a question on same sex marriage at the CNN-YouTube debate, you said you would focus less on marriage and more on whatís ďachievableĒ in terms of rights and responsibilities for same sex couples. When will same sex marriage be achievable

A: The nation, I believe, is on a path to full inclusion. A president must lead that effort. In my judgment, what is achievable is civil unions with full marriage rights, with domestic partnership. I believe thatís achievable.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Voted for DOMA, but now regrets vote; repeal it

Q: In 1996 why did you vote for DOMA?

A: I was the chief deputy Democratic whip at the time, and Clinton was president. The objective in passing DOMA was to fight a huge assault for a constitutional amendment in the Congress to ban gay marriage. It was sort of a cheap political way to decimate a bad initiative. I would repeal that horrendous initiative that I voted for and I regret now. DOMA would preclude a number of the full partnership rights that I want to see with civil unions.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Included transgender in hate-crimes law

    Look at what Bill Richardson as governor has done.
  1. I passed a hate crimes act that was based on non-discrimination I was the first governor to include transgender.
  2. I also passed domestic partnerships avoiding discrimination. Iím the only governor that called a special session to expand domestic partnership.
  3. Iíve appointed Cabinet members that are gay and lesbians. All through my administration I have been inclusive of the lesbian/gay community.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Apologizes for ďmariconĒ comment; but look at the record

Q: As a guest on the Don Imus show, ďImus in the MorningĒ, in March 2006, you were asked by Imus in a gag if a staffer was a ďmaricon,Ē which is Spanish for ďfaggot.Ē In your response, you repeated the epithet. But youíve since apologized and now you question the timing of this issue coming up. Do you not believe that you should be held accountable for repeating that word?

A: Sure, you know, and Iím Hispanic. I felt the sting as a kid of being stereotyped. And I apologized but I meant no harm when I said that. It was, you know, one of those exchanges that I was caught off guard. No, I am not backing off. I apologize, but I think you should look at my actions and not words. Let me tell you what Iíve done as governor. You can talk about what mistakes people have made. Iíve made plenty. And Iíve probably said things that I regret across the board. But we should look at what weíve done. I accept [responsibility] obviously -- but you should look at my record. Action speaks louder than words.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

The country isnít there yet on gay marriage

Q: You said youíre calling a special session for domestic partnerships in NM....

A: No. I did [call it last session].

Q: Oh, you did. And how did it go?

A: It didnít pass. We lost by one vote.

Q: So you didnít call a special session for same sex marriage because you canít get domestic partnership through. If the New Mexico legislature handed you a marriage bill, would you sign it?

A: I am pushing the NM legislature very hard to expand domestic partnership. Itís a question of going through a path that is achievable.

Q: If the legislature hands you that piece of legislation, in your heart, where are you on that issue?

A: Well, you know, in my heart, Iím doing what is achievable. And Iím not there yet. And the country isnít there yet. New Mexico isnít there yet. We have to bring the country on. We have to move in the direction of making this happen. That doesnít mean that Iím closed on this issue. It means that you do what is achievable.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Homosexuality is a choice, but itís not an issue of science

Q: Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?

A: Itís a choice.

Q: I donít know if you understand the question. Do you think a homosexual is born that way, or do you think that around seventh grade we go, ďOoh, I want to be gayĒ?

A: Well, Iím not a scientist. I donít see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as people as a matter of human decency. I donít like to categorize people. I donít like to answer definitions like that, that perhaps are grounded in science or something else that I donít understand.

Q: Well, itís hard when you are a citizen of a country that tells you that you are making a choice when you were born that way.

A: As a Hispanic, I grew up with people thinking because of my darker skin and because I wasnít fully speaking English at a time, that I was not equal. So I understand that issue of inequality, and so across the board Iíve always felt that every human being desires the same rights.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Full civil unions with full marriage rights

Q: Would you allow us, [a lesbian couple], to be married to each other?

KUCINICH: Yes. Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender [people] should have the same rights as anyone else, including a civil marriage ceremony.

Q: [to Dodd]: You supported the Defense of Marriage Act.

DODD: [Same-sex couples] ought to have civil unions. But I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

RICHARDSON: I would do what is achievable. What I think is achievable is full civil unions with full marriage rights. I would also press for a hate crimes act in the Congress. I would eliminate ďdonít ask/donít tellĒ in the military. If weíre going to have in our military men & women that die for this country, we shouldnít give them a lecture on their sexual orientation I would push for domestic partnership laws, nondiscrimination in insurance and housing. I would also send a very strong message that, in my administration, I will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Diversity isnít just talking points; itís facts of life

Q: Is race still the most intractable issue in America?

A: Leading on the issues of race is about being authentic, about speaking honestly. Race is a major issue in this country, and the next president has to talk about it. Race is not just passing new laws. Race is not just naming solid Supreme Court justices. Race is also dealing with bigotry and racism that exists in this country.

And I believe very strongly that the next president is not just going to have to pass laws and take the steps necessary to reaffirm affirmative action and take steps to make sure that our schools are integrated, but also the next president is going have to lead and speak passionately about a dialogue among all people.

And I believe very strongly that issues of diversity, for me, the first Latino to run for president, arenít talking points; theyíre facts of life.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

For hate crimes law, domestic partnerships, civil unions

Hereís what I would do. I would do what I did as governor of New Mexico. One, I would move in the Congress for a hate crimes law. I would have domestic partnerships. I would have civil unions. I would initiate laws that practice non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I would get rid of ďdonít ask, donít tell.Ē I voted against it as a congressman.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Let gay and lesbian servicemembers serve openly

In Richardsonís first term as Governor, he threatened to veto a New Mexico DOMA-type law, unless it was enacted alongside civil unions. (It was never necessary.) He is also for letting gay and lesbian servicemembers serve openly in our Armed Forces, and said so during the ďDonít Ask/Donít TellĒ debates in the 90ís. He extended civil rights laws to homosexuals and transgendered people while Governor of New Mexico.
Source: BillRichardsonBlog.com on 2008 New Mexico Voting Record HB 9 , Jan 28, 2007

Added sexual orientation & gender identity as NM civil right

You donít get better than Richardson on gay issues, and again heís not just talking the talk; heís walked the walk. In his first term as governor, he led the state from nowhere to being ranked among the best in the nation on gay rights protections: