The VP Candidates’ Stark Differences On LGBT Issues

As Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan meet in Danville, Kentucky tonight for their lone head-to-head debate, millions of LGBT Americans are celebrating National Coming Out Day. While it is unclear whether issues relating to equality will be among the topics discussed tonight, it is worth remembering that Biden and Romney have starkly different views on LGBT civil rights.

Here’s where they stand:

Paul Ryan Joe Biden MarriageRyan is a fierce opponent of granting any legal rights to same-sex couples. Ryan twice voted for a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. He supported a same-sex marriage ban in his home state, and claimed that preventing same-sex couples from getting married was a “universal human value.” He even voted to prevent any funds being used to implement or enforce a domestic partnership benefits law passed by the DC City Council to give health care benefits to same-sex couples and voted for a 1999 amendment that would have overruled the District of Columbia’s elected city council and prohibited any funding for the “joint adoption of a child between individuals who are not related by blood or marriage.” Biden supports marriage equality. In May, he explained on Meet the Press “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”DADTRyan voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy which prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. Biden campaigned for repeal of the policy. He was one of just 33 Senators in 1993 supporting a resolution against codifying the discriminatory policy. Hate Crimes Ryan voted against hate crime protection for LGBT Americans. Biden co-sponsored and supported hate crimes protections for LGBT Americans. ENDARyan believes that employment discrimination protection for LGBT people should be left out of the hands of the federal government. While he did (after much hand-wringing) once vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, the fact his congressional office employment policies do not include protections for sexual orientation is worrying enough. Saying that it “changes the equation,” Paul Ryan indicated his support for gay and lesbian discrimination protection would diminish if it also included for transgender employees. “It makes it something you can’t vote for,” he said. Biden voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate in 1996 and co-sponsored the 2003 version of the bill.

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Earlier this month, Ryan told Focus on the Family president Jim Daly that if elected he and Mitt Romney “will protect traditional marriage and the rule of law and we will provide the Defense of Marriage Act the proper defense in the courts that it deserves.” Obama and Biden have a section on the White House website highlighting their support for LGBT civil rights.

Watch Biden’s It Gets Better video: