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Lincoln Chafee on Civil Rights

Independent RI Governor; previously Republican Senator (1999-2007)


People of color are the future of Rhode Island

[We funded a study], "An Equity Profile of Rhode Island"; it tells us:This is the future of Rhode Island. And the best way to prepare for it is to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to quality public education. We cannot afford to have disparity in RI where there are areas of opportunity and others where poverty holds back our economy as a whole. If we can open the doors of opportunity to those who are driving growth, it will be a bright future for all, not just for some.
Source: 2014 State of the State Address to Rhode Island legislature , Jan 15, 2014

Longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community

LGBTQ Issues--Chafee has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community, and is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights. If he were elected governor, he would not only sign marriage equality legislation, but would champion it as well.
Source: 2010 gubernatorial campaign website, chafeeforgovernor.com , Nov 2, 2010

1964: Opposing Civil Rights Act was wrong side of history

The Republican Party of George W. Bush did not suddenly spring into being in November 2000. Its roots go back to 1964, the year the Democratic South cast its electoral votes for Sen. Barry Goldwater, a determined opponent of the Civil Rights Act. I was 11, but old enough to know he was on the wrong side of history.

My father, Rhode Island governor John H. Chafee, had been asked to speak at the convention that year, in San Francisco. He was hoping to see his Republican Party nominate one of our moderate eastern governors. My father was among this new generation of forward-looking Republican governors, the "Rockefeller Republicans." But the delegates booed Rockefeller long and loud.

Their man, Senator Barry Goldwater, stood for unchanging tradition, a view of government so limited that even the Civil Rights Act was meddlesome legislation. It made no difference that everyone at the convention knew he had little chance of winning the presidency. Being right was more important than winning.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 17-18 , Apr 1, 2008

2006: Marriage Amendment ignores states' rights

Republicans wanted gay marriage in the national political dialogue that fall, too, but there was a problem. The 50 states owned the issue. How could we in Congress claim jurisdiction? The leadership came up with the radical idea of transforming a legislative state issue into a constitutional federal issue. We would propose a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, one that would ban states from enacting their own social compacts on the issue.

Republicans are generally seen as the party that favors independence at the state level. But now we wanted to amend the US Constitution to forbid any state to allow gays to marry. Congress itself would not ban gay marriage; but the amendment would prevent liberal states from recognizing gay couples as married, even if most citizens in that state wanted such a law enacted. Democracy might be everything in Iraq, but we were declaring an urgent need to rein it in here at home.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.181 , Apr 1, 2008

Gay marriage is a state issue, not for federal constitution

Q: Should same sex marriage be considered a state or federal matter?

CHAFEE: For our whole history, the federal government has never been involved in marriage issues. So this is a state issue. There was a vote to change our federal constitution to forbid states from passing their own laws and of course I voted against that.

WHITEHOUSE: I support the right of states to allow same-sex marriage. It is wrong for the federal government to intervene in what has always been a state issue.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 , Sep 13, 2006

Supports “Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws”

Chafee voted YES on S.2549, an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Source: Voted FOR including gays in hate crimes , Sep 20, 2000

Continue affirmative action programs

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 1, 2000

Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Reference: Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Require 90 day delay for compliance before ADA lawsuits.

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

H.R. 914/S. 872 the ADA Notification Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership Congressman Mark Foley (FL) introduced this legislation to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act from a growing number of lawyers who are generating huge sums in legal fees for pointing out accessibility violations by business when often simple fixes would bring properties into compliance with the ADA's accessibility standards. This variety of litigation abuse stems from the lack of any notification provision in the ADA. RMSP supports a 90-day delay between notification of an alleged accessibility violation and any legal proceedings. This notification will allow honest business owners to become ADA compliant without added legal expense while freeing up the courts to pursue legal action against bad players.

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP8 on May 24, 2002

Limit interstate class-action lawsuits to federal courts .

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

H.R. 2341/S. 1712 Class Action Fairness Act.
Class Action suits, most often claiming product defects, have increasingly become fertile ground for unscrupulous trial attorneys. Using jurisdictional loopholes, trial lawyers are suing for enormous sums with little or no payout to injured parties. Multi-million dollar interstate lawsuits filed on behalf of irrelevant plaintiffs, often unaware that a claim has been filed, are filed in state courts. This increases the volume of claims filed, and leads to multiple, expensive, settlements. H.R. 2341, supported by Republican Main Street Partnership Reps. Judy Biggert (IL), Tom Davis (VA), Porter Goss (FL), Melissa Hart (PA), George Nethercutt (WA), and Rob Simmons (CT), eases the burden of addressing interstate claims in federal court. At the federal level, courts have greater resources and uniform rules. This provides a more appropriate venue for such cases and protects legitimate claimants ability to recover losses.

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP9 on May 24, 2002

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Chafee scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Other governors on Civil Rights: Lincoln Chafee on other issues:
RI Gubernatorial:
Donald Carcieri
RI Senatorial:
Jack Reed
Sheldon Whitehouse

Election 2013:
NJ-R: Chris Christie (won)
NJ-D: Barbara Buono (lost)
VA-R: Bob McDonnell(Retiring)
VA-R: Ken Cuccinelli (lost)
VA-D: Terry McAuliffe (won)

Gubernatorial Debates 2014:
AL: Bentley(R) vs.Griffith(D)
AR: Ross(D) vs.Hutchinson(R)
CA: Brown(D) vs.Solis(D) vs.Villaraigosa(D)
CO: Hickenlooper(D) vs.Tancredo(R) vs.Hess(L)
CT: Malloy(D) vs.Foley(R)
FL: Scott(R) vs.Crist(D)
GA: Deal(R) vs.Carter(D)
HI: Abercrombie(D) vs.Djou(R)
IA: Branstad(R) vs.Hoefling(R) vs.Culver(D)
MA: Coakley(D) vs.Grossman(D) vs.Berwick(D) vs.Baker(R)
ME: LePage(R) vs.Michaud(D) vs.Cutler(I)
MI: Snyder(R) vs.Schauer(D)
OK: Fallin(R) vs.Boren(D)
PA: Corbett(R) vs.Schwartz(D) vs.Critz(D) vs.Wolf(D)
Up for re-election 2014:
AK-R: Sean Parnell
AL-R: Robert Bentley
CA-D: Jerry Brown
CO-D: John Hickenlooper
CT-D: Dan Malloy
FL-R: Rick Scott
GA-R: Nathan Deal
HI-D: Neil Abercrombie
IA-R: Terry Branstad
ID-R: Butch Otter
IL-D: Pat Quinn
KS-R: Sam Brownback
ME-R: Paul LePage
MI-R: Rick Snyder
MN-D: Mark Dayton
NH-D: Maggie Hassan
NM-R: Susana Martinez
NV-R: Brian Sandoval
NY-D: Andrew Cuomo
OH-R: John Kasich
OK-R: Mary Fallin
OR-D: John Kitzhaber
PA-R: Tom Corbett
SC-R: Nikki Haley
SD-R: Dennis Daugaard
TN-R: Bill Haslam
VT-D: Peter Shumlin
WI-R: Scott Walker
WY-R: Matt Mead
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Local Issues
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty

Term-Limited or Retiring 2014:
AR-D: Mike Beebe
AZ-R: Jan Brewer
MA-D: Deval Patrick
MD-D: Martin O'Malley
RI-I: Linc Chafee
TX-R: Rick Perry

 

Page last updated: Mar 24, 2014