Sixth in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality.
After losing his 2006 re-election after his infamous bullying of an Indian-American campaign tracker who he called “macaca,” former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is seeking to return to the Senate. In June, he won the Republican nomination to run against former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D). Unlike Kaine, who has a solid record of supporting equality, Allen has amassed a consistently anti-LGBT record.
Over his time as Governor of Virginia, in the U.S Senate, and as a candidate:
1. Allen said homosexuality was not “acceptable” and should be “illegal.” In a 1994 radio broadcast, then-Gov. Allen told listeners that he didn’t want his children “even seeing the news of some of these things here, thinking that, this is acceptable behavior.” He added: “I don’t think this is acceptable behavior… and as a matter of government policy I don’t think we should condone that sort of behavior.” In the same broadcast, he praised Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law –which made private consensual sex between same-sex adults a felony — saying “It’s against the criminal law in Virginia, that homosexual acts are illegal, and I think should stay illegal.”
2. Allen has vigorously fought to stop any recognition for same-sex unions. As Governor, he signed Virginia’s state defense of marriage law in 1997. Allen campaigned for the 2006 state constitutional amendment that banned all state recognition of same-sex unions. He co-sponsored the “Federal Marriage Amendment.” He continues to reaffirm his support for both the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act and a federal constitutional amendment, noting “My stand on marriage is clear: I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman.”
3. Allen opposed Hate Crimes protections for LGBT Americans — and still does. Though he promised in his 2000 Senate campaign that he would support adding sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes law, in 2005 he changed his mind. “I wouldn’t define it as a flip-flop,” his Virginia state director told reporters. Allen’s reasoning? He feared “some courts that would use that as a building block toward civil rights status, which he is opposed to.” In other words, he worries that treating terrorism against LGBT Americans in the same way as the law treats terrorism against other minority groups would be okay if it weren’t for the risk of a slippery slope that might mean LGBT Americans would have other civil rights. Perhaps unaware that President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in 2009, on Allen’s current campaign website he bizarrely promises to “vote against adding sexual orientation to federal hate crimes statutes, as he did in 2005.”
4. Allen opposed adding employment protections for LGBT people. Fearing anything that would raise sexual orientation to civil rights “status,” he has never supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or other efforts to end anti-LGBT discrimination. In 2004, the Human Rights Campaign listed him as refusing to adopt a voluntary office policy not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Allen’s civil rights record is not much better for other minority groups–he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and even voted against making Martin Luther King Day a holiday in Virginia.
5. Allen opposed allowing same-sex couples to raise kids. In his 1994 anti-gay radio tirade, he said he opposes same-sex couples raising kids because it is “not in the best interests of a child to be raised in that environment.” His view has not evolved — last year, an Allen spokesman told Politico that the former Senator has never been a supporter of same-sex couples adopting and that he “agrees with Governor [Bob] McDonnell’s [R] recent decision to keep current adoption regulations in place.” Allen also backed efforts to allow adoption agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. His campaign website notes that he “does not support same-sex couples adopting children.”
6. Allen fought against same-sex couples being eligible for low-interest home loans. As Governor, he backed a restriction preventing the Virginia Housing Development Authority from making low-interest home loans to LGBT families. “Governor Allen doesn’t agree with these relationships and is not going to be advocating these relationships in his administration. This could establish a precedent that could lead to a redefinition of what family is,” an Allen spokesman noted at the time, adding that homosexuality was “basically viewed by the governor as an unnatural relationship.”
7. Allen opposed allowing LGBT servicemembers to serve openly and opposes chaplains conducting same-sex ceremonies. In 2000, he criticized his Senate race opponent’s support for allowing gay and lesbian Americans to serve in the military as “Vermont values.” Allen told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the same campaign that he opposed using the military for “social experimentations.”
Watch Allen explain why he still supports the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act:
While some anti-LGBT politicians quietly oppose equality, Allen puts his opposition front-and-center in a special section on his campaign website. Allen’s return to the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.