It’s well into election season, and we’re all looking at the candidates for how they will address LGBTQ issues. Counter to the GOP frontrunners, both Democratic candidates are staunch allies. We enumerated Hillary Clinton’s record of LGBTQ support, and now its time to feel the Bern.
Below, we spotlight eight times Bernie Sanders stood up for LGBTQ rights.
He supported equality before most of you were born.Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
When Sanders was running for governor of Vermont in the early 70s, he penned an open letter that espoused the then-radical idea that people should have control of their bodies, their minds and their hearts.
“Let us abolish all laws that attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or “right” on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with abortion, drugs, sexual behavior (adultery, homosexuality, etc.).”
He endorsed a Pride parade before most people knew what one was.David McNew/Getty Images
The future senator from Vermont supported a Pride parade in Burlington back in 1983, way before most politicians even spoke about LGBTQ rights.
“In the city of Burlington and in the state of Vermont, people have the right to exercise their lifestyles,” he stated. “It’s an American right, anyone’s right to have a march… This is a civil liberties question.”
He knows there’s no place like home.Caiaimage/Himalayan Pics
Some politicians have flip-flopped, but Sanders has been steadfast in his support: As mayor of Burlington in the 1980s, he implemented an ordinance that banned anti-gay housing discrimination.
“It is my very strong view that a society which proclaims human freedom as its goal, as the United States does, must work unceasingly to end discrimination against all people,” he declared.
“I am happy to say that this past year, in Burlington, we have made some important progress by adopting an ordinance which prohibits discrimination in housing. This law will give legal protection not only to welfare recipients, and families with children, the elderly and the handicapped — but to the gay community as well.”
He supports the Equality Act.Alex Wong/Getty Images
You can still be fired simply for being gay or trans in 27 states, but Bernie is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
And if elected president, he says he’d happily sign it into law.
“We’ve got to end LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. Vermont did this 22 years ago when it passed one of the first state laws in the country protecting lesbian and gay workers. Congress should have acted long ago, but Republicans have blocked action.”
He asked and he told.Camrocker/Getty Images
Sanders opposed President Clinton’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which put gay service members in a kind of limbo. In a 1995 debate, he called out an opponent for saying he didn’t want “homos in the military.”
“Was the gentleman referring to the many thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line for countless wars defending this country? Is that the group of people the gentleman was referring to?” he asked. “You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line!”
He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images
Unlike some Democrats, Sanders didn’t have to “evolve” on the freedom to marry: He was one of the few congressman to oppose DOMA back in 1996. “That was a tough vote,” he admitted. “Not too many people voted against it, but I did.”
In 2011, he called on Barack Obama to support marriage equality—something the president did the very next year.
He advocates for the transgender community.Dünzl\ullstein bild via Getty Images
“In many states, it is legal to deny someone housing for being transgender,” Sanders stated. “That is wrong and must end.”
In addition, Senator Sanders supports requiring police departments nationwide to adopt policies ensuring fairer interactions with transgender people, especially transgender women of color, who are often wrongly targeted.
He wants to protect same-sex families.Dünzl\ullstein bild via Getty Images
In 1993, Sanders voted against an amendment that would ban same-sex couples in Washington, DC, from adopting children.
More recently, he’s backed the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA), which prohibits child-welfare agencies receiving federal aid from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. In addition, ECDFA prevents discrimination against any foster youth because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.