John Kerry finally supports marriage equality on record! Hooray!

(Fair questions, I think.  The ballot question to reduce the income tax from 5.95% to 5% was, in effect, a 16% reduction in the income tax.  We saw how that went. - promoted by David)

This past Wednesday, 10/22, I attended John Kerry’s speech at Tufts University.  The auditorium was full when I got there, but thankfully a friend was able to get me in and had a seat saved.  The speech was one of Kerry’s best I think (and this is coming from a tough critic of his).

When it came time for the Q&A session, I was the first to raise my hand.  I knew what question I wanted to ask Senator Kerry.

Kuhn ~ Speak your mind even if your voice shakes

I stood up to the mic.  My voice and knees were shaking, but I did my best to ask Senator Kerry why he didn’t support marriage equality.

At first he focused on the rights of marriage and how he had voted against DOMA in 1996.  

With some persistent questioning however Senator John Kerry did indeed distinguish between his own personal religious beliefs and his public policy stance on civil marriage rights.

Towards the end of the video I asked, “So you do support civil marriage rights for same-sex couples?” and Senator Kerry responded “Absolutely.”

Now I don’t think this means Kerry will become an advocate for civil marriage.  It is nice to see though that a major politician can distinguish between a religious view and constitutional view.  Hopefully this will help other Democrats along.  Kudos Senator for taking this step and supporting equality.

And thanks for all the support from fellow BMGers that were at this event and Noisy Democrat for filming and uploading this video!

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17 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Huh

    Interesting that Kerry moves toward publicly supporting marriage equality after a primary campaign where opposing it was one of his opponent's favorite bludgeons.  Better late than never, of course.  I'm curious why people think he changed at this time.  Possibilities that come to me:

    -He's struggled with this for a while, and concern about Prop 8 pushed him over to the side of the angels;

    -He's sick of being on the losing end of the issue in Massachusetts;

    -He's had a change of principles;

    -He's "clarified" his principles;

    -He wants a happy memory before securing his appointment from President Obama.

    What say you?

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • I'm not sure we can know

      until he is in the position of either having to defend or poop on marriage equality with a vote or a speech.  but certainly if he made a substantial contribution to any of the campaigns in CA, AZ or FL opposing the hate amendments, i'd believe that his change of heart was sincere.

    • I think he thought insinuating he supported

      marriage equality, without actually saying so, was enough.  It's the safer position to take by saying one is against a constitutional amendment rather than one is for marriage equality.

      My two points of evidence would be,

      1. Kerry stated during the Q&A:

      "I was in favor, very early on, of civil unions"...."but that's gotten now blurred because of the states that have moved forward and I'm not in favor of those states overturning that position at this point."

      He was using that as support to say that his position was right.

      2.  I brought up the issue of Kerry saying it's a "settled issue" this past year when he was in a primary battle.  You can tell from the video that Kerry, I think, assumed constituents would simply take that phrase as meaning he pretty much supports it.

      I of course gave him my own view of it in that "settled issue" meant he would no longer work against marriage rights (as he did in 2004 by backing a constitutional amendment), but it did not necessarily mean that he supported it.  That was the distinction I made and was hoping he would take the last step forward.  He did.

      So I personally think it was political caution/pragmatism (even though he has nothing to worry about here in Mass).

    • Curious?

      "I'm curious why people think he changed at this time"

      I like to think it may be related to the excellent way Cambridge Paul phrased the question.  He was cornered to become explicit where he had depended on being vague in the past.

      • I kinda hope not

        Nothing against the clarity and courage that C_P showed in asking the question, but it's scary to think he did in his one question from the audience what the political chatterers of Massachusetts couldn't for the last two years.

        sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • When I heard the answer, I didn't think he'd changed

          his position at all. I thought it was what he'd been saying for a long time. Back in 2004, according to the article, he said he would support the Amendment to the MA state constitution if it were re-written to include guarantees that civil unions would have all the same rights as marriage. That challenge was never met, of course (I don't think anyone seriously expected the backers of that amendment to write in all kinds of protections for civil unions), so he didn't back the amendment -- despite the misleading headline in that article saying "Kerry supports amendment." The truth is that he would've, hypothetically, supported a re-written amendment that never existed. I realize that many people here would not agree that you can make civil unions equal to marriage -- I don't think you can, myself; I think equality means marriage, period --, but the bottom line remains: he didn't actually get on board with the amendment as it was written.

          Since then, he's been saying for some time that marriage equality is now settled law in Massachusetts, and he has said that it should not be repealed. I'm really glad that now there's a clip that makes that point perfectly clear, so I'm glad Cambridge Paul asked and that I was able to catch it on film, but I wasn't surprised to hear him say it.

          I realize that none of this makes him a leader on the issue of marriage equality, and for those who only want to support politicians who lead on this one issue, that may be a concern -- but maybe people here can see why some of us Kerry supporters couldn't understand what all the sturm-und-drang was about when people made it sound as if he'd been some kind of leader against marriage equality. It just hasn't been one of his issues in either direction, though he has led on gay rights in other areas.  

          • I don't think the headline was misleading....

            the Globe made it perfectly clear that John Kerry would support a constitutional amendment that banned marriage and provided for civil unions instead.  Such a bill may never have materialized, but Kerry certainly spoke out in its favor and would have supported that bill.  This is in direct contrast to the point he made about voting against DOMA.

            And I really don't get the argument that saying marriage is "settled law" roughly equates to supporting it in a roundabout way.  Two perfect examples are Obama and Biden.  Surely Democrats take the position that you can be against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but also not support marriage itself.  

            Politicians also choose their words carefully.  That was no mistake saying it's a "settle issue".  Kerry was trying to straddle the issue since he was being challenged by a pro-marriage equality candidate.  If he did indeed support full marriage equality at the time, his campaign would've made it well known so that issue couldn't have been used against him anymore.  I don't buy that argument one bit.

            • Well, I think we're at a point of diminishing returns

              Rehashing what we think John Kerry said in the past isn't really worth too much more energy. The Kerry supporters I've spoken with all thought this was his position all along, which is one reason "our side" could never understand why Ed O'Reilly was beating on that horse so hard, but it's also definitely true that it wasn't spelled out before as clearly as here, so you did a service by asking the question, and I'm glad I managed to catch it on video.  

          • And yet the leader of Marriage Equality's fight here in Massachusetts

            Arline Isaacson, said and I quote, "John Kerry was counter-productive" to the Equal Marriage fight in Massachusetts.

            Back in 2004 when the "Compromise Amendment" was being pushed, even Mitt Romney was negotiating Civil Unions.  You are forgetting or not articulating a major point of all of your arguments.  In 2004, we HAD Marriage Equality!  The scared state legislature, the GOP, and John Kerry were trying to compromise our Equal Rights.  And for most the motives were not that they were afraid that the LGBT would end up with nothing so CU was better than nothing.  For most, and I don't think I am going out on a limb here, their motives were purely political.

            • $quot;our side$quot;?

              um I think Arline Isaacson is on "our side" just a little...

              Noisy Democrat, you need to broaden your range of contacts of people on "our side."

              • You are misreading her point

                She said "Kerry supporters".

                In 2004, Kerry said as little as he could on gay marriage. He was running for President and it was a wedge issue. He gave an answer consistent with his position - even though it was for an option that didn't exist. Would you want him to throw away ANY chance of winning? Note that NO ONE is upset that Obama hasn't said he is for gay marriage.

                • From the WashingtonPost in 2004

                  "Kerry's apparent discomfort with the issue showed at a news conference yesterday at his campaign headquarters in Washington. Asked by a reporter what he would say "on a personal level" to same-sex couples married in his state, Kerry said: "It's not my job to start parceling advice on something personal like that. I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and in extending our rights under the Constitution in a nondiscriminatory manner."

                  Hmmmm..."marriage is between a man and a woman"  and in 2004 when our marriages were at the point of possibly being ripped from us in our State House...  I wonder if John Kerry had a "One Man One Woman" stick figure bumper sticker on his car too back in 2004.

                  With regards to "Note that NO ONE is upset that Obama hasn't said he is for gay marriage."  I think Laurel and I would disagree with you.

                • yes, I meant Kerry supporters

                  In the primary arguments here on BMG, "our side" was the Kerry supporters.  

                • NO ONE is upset about Obama's anti-gay bigorty?

                  You need to talk to more gay people and our allies if that is what you think.  We're plenty upset, and have had lots of discussion about that here at BMG and, well, just about everywhere gay people and people who value civil rights and the 14th amendment congregate.  

                  Most gay people put up with Obama's bigotry because he's better than McCain and because they think he couldn't win* if he took a principled stand on equality, but I've heard NO ONE say they aren't upset that that is his position.  Aren't you upset by it, and if not, why not?

                  *I don't agree with this btw, and think it is a weak and disappointing cop out for a "civil rights lawyer" and "constitutional scholar" to adopt.  He can never convince the hater-voters that he isn't pro-equality, so the only reason for him not to be is personal cowardice or bigotry.

    • Actually,

      I do not see that huge a change since 2004 - though it is an important statement and Cambridge Paul did a great job in asking the question and pushing for an answer. In 2004, Kerry was took a postion for civil unions with the full federal and state rights. That was MORE than any other nominee of the party had ever said and it was done knowing the Republicans were making gay marriage a wedge issue. The difference at that point was just on the word, "marriage".

      The one constant on this as on other civil rights issues is a strong declaration of equal rights - something he has always fought for. This is not to deny that there was an evolution - there are few people of the Senator's generation, now in favor of gay marriage, whose postion did not shift from the time they came of age.

      From the words of a Massachusetts legislator, Kerry appealed to him to vote the right way on legislation and credited Kerry's call for the legislator's unexpected vote. Kerry also was saying that gay marriage was settled law and he agreed with the repeal of that early 1900s law that prevented marriages of out of state couples. Those three actions showed significant support, though not leadership, for gay marriage- and were movement on their own. This is far more an evolution than a "change in principles"

      Given those steps and his unprecedented 2004 position, this comment is not unexpected. It might be that no one asked the question that Cambridge Paul asked during the primaries.  Or the fact that O'Reilly made it an issue might have actually made him LESS likely to change that position before the primary - because then - in the Democratic primary, it might have look political - and O'Reilly clearly would have called it that. Now, it really isn't.

      I have no idea what Beatty's position is on gay marraiage - or many other issues not covered on his website, but it is not likely that he had a more progressive opinion or that Kerry has any reason to worry about Beatty - given that he has been over 35 points ahead in the last 3 polls.

    • Repost of comment by Alexander

      The following is a repost of a comment by Alexander, with a personal cell phone number removed.  Please be careful about posting personal information on BMG if you are not sure you have permission to do so.

      Excellent job Cambridge Paul but we need to ask him...  

      "Civil Marriage Rights" for LGBT, can we get a clarification?

      Does that mean on a National Level? Or was he answering with regards to MA.  Does that mean just the "rights" ie not the word also?  John Kerry has always wanted us to have the "rights" but not the word "marriage" that he believes is "between a man and a woman."

      Remember, even Hillary Clinton would say things like this...when asked if she why she is against same sex marriage, she would say, "I like to think of myself as 'pro-Civil Union."  and to add spin she was quoted as saying, "I believe in 'full equality' of benefits."

      I understand others points here that we need to see what will happen with John Kerry when he is asked to put his money where his mouth is.  But we need to know 100% where his mouth really is first!

      Cambridge Paul, contact Drew O'Brien, John Kerry's State Director for an exact clarification.

      email:   Drew_O'Brien@kerry.senate.gov

      617 565-8519 (main office) 617 565-8251 (direct line)

      by: Alexander

  2. Straddling

    Why can't you people just admit that Kerry is a typical politician, straddling to please the idiots who vote for him.  If he's such a great guy, why can't he support true equality for all people and forget the bullshit?  I am sick of his phony pallavering.  Enough already.

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