Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is being hailed as a progressive challenger to Senate incumbent Blue Dog Blanche Lincoln. In an oppressive state for LGBT rights (marriage ban, adoption ban), it’s will be interesting to see whether either will address legislation before the U.S. Senate regarding LGBT rights during the campaign.
Halter campaigned against Iniatited Act 1, the Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban (2008)
“The last thing we need to do is make it more difficult for people to put our kids in supportive and caring homes. We need to leave it to the experts. We need to leave this to the people who know what they’re doing. We darn sure don’t need to tell people that if you want to have your sister or your brother be the adoptive parent in the event something happens to you. That you can’t do it because of their living circumstances. We need to protect our kids.”
The language of the initiative was sweeping, making it “illegal for any individuals cohabiting outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors.” The motive was prohibit same-sex couples from being adoptive or foster parents, but this measure also affected qualified couples that are not legally married.”
Halter opposed the measure, but was quite vague. . I will have to say that the dodge of using the phrase “living circumstances” as code for a same-sex couple household is pretty vague, since the measure also banned unmarried opposite-sex couples from marrying. His statement doesn’t say anything about his position specifically on same-sex couples since the initiative was so broad.
That said, both Halter and Lincoln have nothing about LGBT issues on their sites, and I am writing a piece about both of them for the blog. Giving that Lincoln gave an atrocious response to ENDA, I think if Halter wants to score some progressive points with the LGBT community, he could state what his position is on ENDA, since he would be voting on it if elected, as well as UAFA regarding immigration.
We can’t call someone progressive if they can’t even say the word gay, even in the South. For instance all three major Dems running for Burr’s Senate seat in NC have answered in the affirmative regarding all LGBT issues before the Senate. I’ve not declared my support for any one candidate, but all have said they are willing to discuss the issues on my blog (including Cunningham, who committed in person to me last Saturday). I think asking both Arkansas Dems to go on record isn’t exactly going to tank them, given other issues at the top of the list.
If Halter wants to come on the Blend for a liveblog to show the differences between his positions and Lincoln’s on the LGBT issues, I’ll certainly host it.
Blanche Lincoln’s record on LGBT issues:
Oppose amending the federal constitution to ban gay marriage. (Oct 2004)
Calls on USDA to Improve Civil Rights Record. (Sep 2000)
Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
Rated 89% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
HOWEVER, and this is a big one, she’s beyond bad on ENDA. In October 2009, Lincoln said this it:
FROM LINCOLN LETTER TO CONSTITUENT:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1584) which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, equal rights should not become special rights, and I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue. You can be sure I will remember the concerns you raised if this or similar legislation is considered in the U.S. Senate….. ”