Jeb Bush on Civil Rights

Former Republican FL Governor


Accommodate conscience on gay marriage at local level

I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith. Religious conscience is a first freedom. It's a powerful part of our Bill of Rights. And, in a big, tolerant country, we should respect the rule of law. I was opposed to the decision, but we can't just say, "well, gays can't get married now." But this woman, there should be some accommodation for her conscience, just as there should be for people that are florists that don't want to participate in weddings, or bakers.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

OpEd: "One Florida" scrapped affirmative action

In early 2000, state Sen. Kendrick Meek was angry at Bush's "One Florida" decision scrapping affirmative action in Florida's higher-education system. Bush said he issued the order to head off a ballot initiative that would have been more stringent. He contended his move would increase minority enrollment in state universities. It guaranteed admission to the top 20% of high school seniors, expanded the state's student financial aid budget and made it easier for minority businesses to be certified to work across Florida.

But the surprise nature of the governor's executive order incensed lots of Floridians--to the point that Meek showed up uninvited in Bush's office. He insisted he wouldn't leave until the affirmative action ban was rescinded. Seeking to end a public relations nightmare, Bush agreed to meet lawmakers in a Capitol conference room. There he agreed to delay his order ending affirmative action so public hearings could be held on the issue. The plan did go through, slightly delayed

Source: Washington Post, "Florida affirmative action ban" , Apr 7, 2015

Let businesses express religious freedom against gays

Bush opened up a bit about his Catholic faith and religious freedom laws. He embraced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's recent signing of a controversial religious-freedom law calling it "the right thing" to do. The legislation has sparked intense backlash from Democrats and gay-rights groups, but Bush noted that President Clinton had signed a similar measure two decades ago. "This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to be able to be people of conscience," Bush said. "I just think, once the facts are established, people aren't going to see this as discriminatory at all."

In recent weeks, some of Bush's biggest skeptics in the faith community had specifically mentioned wanting to hear from Bush on the issue of religious liberties. His comments put him publicly in line with the conservative evangelical right that he is quietly wooing ahead of his expected presidential run.

Source: National Journal 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 30, 2015

Respect civil unions & same-sex lifetime commitments

On same-sex marriage, Bush has not embraced legalization, yet he has adopted sympathetic, accepting language. A Bush friend says, "There is an evolution in temperament and an evolution in judgment--and there is an evolution in his respect for others' point of view."

Policy adjustments big & small are routine in American politics. Pres. Obama and Hillary Clinton both previously objected to same-sex marriage; today, they support it.

For Bush, the pattern was illustrated last week by a head-turning statement on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Florida, when he urged "respect" for the unions and offered words of conciliation to same-sex couples "making lifetime commitments to each other."

In 1994, as he ran for governor in Florida, Bush employed strikingly different language when discussing gay rights, arguing that "polluters, pedophiles, pornographers, drunk drivers and developers without permits receive--and deserve--precious little representation or defense from their governor."

Source: New York Times 2015 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 11, 2015

1994: LGBT protections are tantamount to elevating sodomy

A sharply conservative tone came to characterize Bush's entire 1994 gubernatorial campaign. In July, Bush published a now-infamous op-ed arguing against anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, which he said were tantamount to elevating "sodomy." Bush's team has since sought to distance him from that piece, with a spokeswoman telling BuzzFeed that it "does not reflect Gov. Bush's views now."
Source: New York Times 2015 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 11, 2015

Don't-ask-don't-tell ok if it doesn't affect policy

Bush was less of a hard-liner when a gay Floridian hoping to win a job in Bush's administration gently asked if his sexual orientation would present a problem.

"On the other stuff, don't ask, don't tell is fine with me," Bush responded, appropriating the terminology Pres. Clinton used regarding gays in the military. "What you do in your private life is your business. If it crosses over into the public policy realm, then that is another matter. If you are comfortable with that, then we can proceed."

Source: N.Y. Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 24, 2014

Traditional marriage best; but recognize gay couples

Bush believes in traditional marriage, but he supports recognition for gay couples: "I don't think people need to be discriminated against because they don't share my belief on this, and if [gay] people love their children with all their heart and soul, that should be held up as examples for others to follow because we need it," he told Charlie Rose last June. Likewise, he told the conservative CPAC conference earlier this month that "way too many people believe Republicans are anti-everything," including "anti-gay."

Back in 2006 Bush said he was leaning towards support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Florida, after previously holding that the ban was unnecessary. (Same-sex marriages were already illegal under state law). But in the gay marriage debate, six years is a long time. Bush seems positioned to move toward gay marriage support if he so chose.

Source: Rachel Weiner in Washington Post on 2016 election , Mar 26, 2013

Replaced affirmative action with "One Florida" initiative

An ardent proponent of privatization, Bush helped eliminate nearly 14,000 jobs, and by executive order he replaced affirmative action in university admissions and state contracting with his own "One Florida" initiative, a move that generated lasting ill will with many in the African American community.

Bush was alternately dubbed the "best governor in America" by admirers and "King Jeb" by detractors, but few would dispute that [Bush will] "go down as one of Florida's most consequential governors."

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.132 , Jun 19, 2012

Insisted on more racial and gender diversity in trial judges

Florida's nominating commissions recommend candidates for the Florida Supreme Court, the district courts of appeal, and all midterm vacancies in the circuit and county courts. Since 2001, the governor has appointed not just three but all nine members of each commission. One way in which Governor Jeb Bush used his vastly increased influence was to insist on more racial and gender diversity on the trial bench. But he was criticized for making the process much more partisan, and for appointing several conspicuously ideological attorneys and politicians to the district courts of appeal.
Source: A Most Disorderly Court, p. 162, by Martin Dyckman , Mar 30, 2008

Dismantled Florida's affirmative action program

Two black lawmakers staged a sit-in, to protest his unilateral dismantling of Florida's affirmative action programs--designed, in part, to thwart a petition to put the question on the November ballot. Brother George was running as a compassionate conservative. The last thing Jeb wanted was a divisive, hot-button question like that on the Florida ballot.

Two months later, 10,000 black protesters descended on the Capitol on opening day of the legislative session, the largest such demonstration in decades. One of the sit-in legislators, Kendrick Meek, made it his personal mission to avenge Jeb's affirmative action decision with a voter registration drive to turn out the black vote against George. Now, most voter registration drives end in failure. Signing up new voters is one thing. Getting them to actually show up is another. Meek delivered, and the 280,000 extra black voters who cast ballots over the 1996 turnout gave Al Gore a virtual tie, broken a month later by the US Supreme Court.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 12 , Feb 15, 2007

One Florida: equal minority contracts and admissions

The One Florida initiative was actually designed to maintain the status quo--to admit just as many black and Hispanic students to Florida universities and award just as many contracts to black and Hispanic businesses as was possible under affirmative action, except to do this without specifically using race. The college admissions, for example, would be done using a "Talented 20" scheme, in which students in the top 5th of any high school class would be guaranteed entrance to a public university, regardless of their actual grade point average or SAT scores. The net result was to be the same. Students in predominantly minority high schools who scored at the top of their class would have a huge leg up over white students in suburban schools.

This was a program that, had Jeb used some savvy in rolling it out, blacks and Hispanics could easily have embraced. Jeb's problem, as was typical, was that he reached out for their support only when it came time to roll out the proposal.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.187-188 , Feb 15, 2007

Don't create gays as another category of victims

It is not only the poor Jeb cannot empathize with. It is also gays and lesbians. Not that he actually discriminates against them.

Rather, he has made it clear that he does not feel any need to specifically protect gays from discrimination. "I don't believe we need to create another category of victims," he told a lesbian couple who heckled him at a 1993 campaign event. Also in that campaign, his staff asked that caterers at a fund-raiser he held at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center remove the red ribbons that they regularly wore in remembrance of AIDS victims. Apparently these ribbons were a political statement. The wrong political statement.

All of which is a long way of pointing out that while Jeb would, in a presidential run and a presidency, hire gay and lesbian staff, the Log Cabin Republicans will probably find a more sympathetic ear somewhere else.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.192-193 , Feb 15, 2007

Removed Confederate battle flag from Florida Capitol

Jeb unceremoniously banished the "Stainless Banner"--a small Confederate battle flag on an otherwise white field--from the grounds of the Florida Capitol. Previously it had flown along with all the others flags that Florida had flown under in the 5 centuries since Europeans arrived.

There was no announcement, no nothing. The official reasoning, released after the fact, was that the flagpoles had all been taken down anyway for some renovation work on that side of the building, and, when it was over, it was decided that the Confederate flag would not go back up. Simple as that. Passive voice construction--it was decided--and that was the end of it.

No one really noticed, in fact, until the local papers got a complaint from the head of the Sons of the Confederacy, the self-described nonracist group that is merely interested in preserving Southern heritage. To his credit, Jeb did not back down. He didn't even waste much breath defending his decision. The action spoke for itself.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.195 , Feb 15, 2007

1981: Left Houston based on prejudice against Mexican wife

Shortly after his father was sworn in as Vice President, Jeb moved his family out of Houston because the prejudice against his Mexican wife had become too hurtful. Columba also wanted to be closer to her mother and sister, so George H.W. loaned his son $20,000 to buy a house in Miami, where Jeb had helped his father campaign in the anti-Castro Cuban communities.

"That's when I caught the bug," Jeb said. "I learned how to deal with people. I learned how to overcome fear: fear of humiliation, fear of not doing as well as you want to do."

Within 2 years Jeb launched himself politically. Jeb was elected chairman of Dade County GOP. As someone who played country-club tennis and spoke fluent Spanish, he was uniquely situated to bridge the chasm between the Anglos and Cubans within the party. Each group viewed the other with veiled contempt but revered Ronald Reagan--so the 36 year old son of Reagan's Vice President was well and favorably received.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.404-405 , Sep 14, 2004

Provide licensure exams in Spanish, for free

Senate Bill 1016 contains a provision that recognizes the changing face of Florida. Currently, licensure exams are given in English. An applicant who seeks to take a licensure exam in Spanish must provide six months notice and pay the cost of developing the test. This bill relieves Spanish-speaking Floridians from that burden. Exams in Spanish will be generally available without an additional cost. Taken together, these provisions make this a good bill.
Source: Approval notification on Florida Voting Record S.B.1016 , Jun 23, 2000

Supports Affirmative Action; against quotas

Source: 1998 Florida National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

No hate-crimes status for gays; no gay marriage

Q: Do you believe that the Florida government should include sexual orientation in Florida’s anti-discrimination laws?

A: No.

Q: Do you believe that the Florida government should recognize same-sex marriages?

A: No.

Source: 1998 Florida National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

Gay rights & feminism are "modern victim movements"

Since the 1960s, the politics of victimization has steadily intensified. Being a victim gives rise to certain entitlements, benefits, and preferences in society. The surest way to get something in today’s society is to elevate one’s status to that of the oppressed. Many of the modern victim movements-the gay rights movement, the feminist movement, the black empowerment movement-have attempted to get people to view themselves as part of a smaller group deserving of something from society.

It is a major deviation from the society envisioned by Martin Luther King, who would have had people judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin-or sexual preference or gender or ethnicity. Eventually there will come a time when everybody will be able to claim some status as a victim of society, leaving few in society who will actually be considered the victimizers. Who, then, will be left to blame in a world in which it is victim against victim?

Source: Profiles in Character, by Jeb Bush & B.Yablonski, p. 59-60 , Nov 1, 1995

Support principles embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment.

Bush adopted the National Governors Association policy:

In 1976 the National Governors Association expressed support for ratification and implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would constitutionally guarantee full citizenship rights and opportunities for women. In 1982 the drive for ratification fell short, and efforts to initiate the amendatory process were taken.

The National Governors Association reaffirms its support for the principles embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment, i.e., that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the basis of gender.

Source: NGA Executive Committee Policy EC-14: Equal Rights Policy 01-NGA1 on Feb 15, 2001

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Jeb Bush on other issues:
Former Presidents/Veeps:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
V.P.Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
V.P.Al Gore
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Religious Leaders:
New Testament
Old Testament
Pope Francis

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
Tea Party
Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Joe Scarborough
Gov.Jesse Ventura
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Oct 27, 2021