Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; 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:
RI's share of people of color increased from 7% to 24% between 1980 and 2010.
That all of our state's recent population growth is attributable to people of color, who will
continue to drive growth for the foreseeable future.
That by 2040, 41% of RI's residents will likely be people of color.
That communities of color are growing not just in our core cities, but throughout RI.
And , that today, 36% of Rhode
Island's youth population is people of color, while only 9% of our seniors are.
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.
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.
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.
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
Supports the following principles concerning affirmative action:
The federal government should consider race and sex in making government contracting decisions.
The federal government should continue affirmative action
The federal government should utilize merit and qualifications in making government contracting decisions.
Support affirmative action in public college admissions.
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:
the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
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.
Proponents of the Resolution say:
Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to
Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
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.
Proponents of the motion say:
If Members of the Senate vote as their States have voted on this amendment, the vote today will be 90 to 10 in favor of a constitutional amendment.
Marriage is a foundational institution. It is under attack by the courts. It needs to be defended by defining it as the union of a man and a woman as 45 of our 50 States have done.
The amendment is about how we are going to raise the next generation.
It is not an issue that the courts should resolve. Those of us who support this amendment are doing so in an effort to let the people decide.
Opponents of the motion say:
This proposal pits Americans against one another. It appeals to people's worst instincts and prejudices.
Supporters rail against activist judges. But if this vaguely worded amendment ever passes, it will result in substantial litigation. What are the legal incidents of marriage? Is a civil union a marriage?
Married heterosexual couples are wondering, how, exactly, the prospect of gay marriages threatens the health of their marriages.
This amendment would make a minority of Americans permanent second-class citizens of this country. It would prevent States, many of which are grappling with the definition of marriage, from deciding that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And it would write discrimination into a document that has served as a historic guarantee of individual freedom.
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.
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.
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
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
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.