Many political observers have described Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as a moderate, but his record on equal rights in fact shows a commitment to LGBT citizens.
After signaling her intent through a Twitter post Friday night, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Saturday (July 23) afternoon formally announced Kaine as her vice presidential running mate.
Clinton said Kaine is “a progressive who likes to get things done.” She praised his “commitment to social justice,” noting that his early work as an attorney was as a civil rights attorney and praising his leadership on LGBT equality.
Kaine used his first speech on the campaign trail to criticize Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. He also talked about his faith, his interest in social justice, and caring for everyone in the “rainbow of cultural diversity that embraces all people … regardless of sexual orientation.” He praised Clinton for fighting for the rights of minorities, including LGBT Americans. He said the Clinton-Kaine ticket would have a “strong progressive agenda.”
Since entering his first term in the U.S. Senate in 2013, Kaine, 58, earned a 90 score from the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard. The 10-point deduction appears to have been his decision not to co-sponsor two bills: the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
But Kaine is a chief sponsor of Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act, seeking to provide for equal treatment of LGBT citizens under federal tax codes. He is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which seeks a federal law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing. And he voted for and co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013, when the Senate passed the measure.
He also urged President Barack Obama to issue an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by contractors doing business with the federal government.
Last month, following the attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Kaine joined lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and 22 other senators in a letter to urge the Food and Drug Administration to end its “discriminatory blood donation policy for men who have sex with men.” He was also among 40 senators to ask the Department of Education to provide guidance to schools on how to best provide for the “protection of LGBT students.”
Also last month, Kaine signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief in a case in the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Kaine began elective office in 1994 as a member of the city council of Richmond, Virginia; then as mayor. He next served as lieutenant governor and governor of Virginia before being elected to the Senate.
As governor, Kaine banned discrimination based on sexual orientation for state employees. Although he was for giving same-sex couples the same rights as straight couples in marriage, he initially referred only to giving same-sex couples “relationship equality,” which many took to mean he preferred civil unions or domestic partnerships. But he campaigned against an effort to amend the state constitution to explicitly ban marriage for same-sex couples and, by the time he reached the Senate, he became a co-sponsor of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Gay Virginia state Senator Adam Ebbin called Kaine “a great choice.”
“He is a genuine and authentic leader who is respected by Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle. As a governing partner with Hillary Clinton, all Americans will benefit from Tim Kaine’s leadership – including the LGBT community,” said Ebbin.
“It is worth noting that, on then-Governor Kaine’s first day in office, in 2006, he issued an executive order barring discrimination in state hiring based on sexual orientation,” said Ebbin. “Later in 2006, when Virginia voters were faced with an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment, then-governor Kaine announced his opposition to the measure on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion with his wife and her parents.”
Kaine is married to the daughter of another former governor of Virginia, Republican Governor Linwood Holton. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, was appointed by Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, as state secretary of education.
In the Senate, Kaine serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
Kaine is a Catholic and attends a predominantly black church. He spent a year as the principal of a Jesuit school in Honduras as a missionary. There, he became fluent in Spanish. He has said that his religious beliefs render him personally opposed to abortion, but he has stood up for a woman’s right to have an abortion if she chooses. He is opposed to capital punishment but did not stop several executions from taking place when he was governor of Virginia.
The Human Rights Campaign praised the selection of Kaine, saying he has demonstrated “a solid commitment to LGBTQ equality.”
“While Donald Trump doubled down on discrimination by picking Mike Pence,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, referring to the Indiana governor who has made a name for himself by opposing equal rights for LGBT people. “Hillary Clinton has bolstered her campaign’s historic commitment to LGBTQ equality by choosing Tim Kaine.”
Kaine’s nomination for vice president will be approved by the Democratic National Convention, which begins Monday in Philadelphia.
– reported by Lisa Keen