Al Gore on Civil Rights

2000 Democratic Nominee for President; Former Vice President


Mass violations of civil liberties in the war on terror

In a blistering critique, Al Gore accused President Bush of eroding personal freedoms and weakening the nation’s security through “mass violations of civil liberties” in the war on terrorism. “Where civil liberties are concerned, they have taken us much farther down the road to an intrusive, Big Brother-style government-toward the dangers prophesized by George Orwell in his book 1984-than anyone ever thought would have been possible in the US,” Gore said.

Gore charged that many of the domestic security policies the administration has pursued since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have actually weakened the nation’s security by distracting attention from the most urgent threats. Gore said Bush was frustrating the public’s right to information about its government by resisting investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks; by instructing federal agencies to resist requests for documents under FOIA; and by refusing to disclose details about individuals of Arab descent detained after the attacks.

Source: Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times , Nov 10, 2003

Repeal the USA Patriot Act

Gore called for the repeal of the USA Patriot Act. “These constant violations of civil liberties promote the false impression that those violations are necessary in order for them to take every precaution against another terrorist attack,” Gore said. “But the simple truth is that the vast majority of these violations have not benefited our security at all; in fact, they have hurt the effort to improve our security.”

“I believe that the Patriot Act has turned out to be, on balance, a terrible mistake, and that it became a kind of Tonkin Gulf Resolution conferring Congress’ blessing for this president’s assault on civil liberties,“ Gore charged.

In a series of speeches this year, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft defended the administration’s actions as being respectful of civil liberties and effective in disrupting potential terrorist attacks. ”The Patriot Act,“ Ashcroft said this summer, ”gives us the technological tools to anticipate, adapt and outthink our terrorist enemy.“

Source: Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times , Nov 10, 2003

Civil rights & Supreme Court are at stake in this election

“The Supreme Court is at risk here. Equal rights and women’s rights and civil rights and disability rights and the basic interpretation of our constitution for the next 30-40 years is very much on the ballot this fall.”
Source: Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times on 2000 election , Oct 30, 2000

Hate crimes stigmatize whole groups; enforce as civil rights

James Byrd was singled out because of his race in Texas. Other Americans have been singled out because of their race or ethnicity. We can embody our values by passing a hate crimes law. These crimes are different because they’re based on prejudice and hatred. These crimes that have not just a single victim but they’re intended to stigmatize and dehumanize a whole group of people. We need tough enforcement of the civil rights laws. We still need affirmative action. And I would pass a hate crimes law.
Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University , Oct 11, 2000

First civil rights act will ban racial profiling

Q: Do you support a federal law banning racial profiling by police?

GORE: Racial profiling is a serious problem. Imagine what it is like for someone to be singled out unfairly and feel the unfair force of law simply because of race or ethnicity. That runs counter to what the United States is all about. If I am entrusted with the presidency it will be the first civil rights act of the 21st century.

BUSH: I can’t imagine what it would be like to be singled out because of race and harassed. That’s just flat wrong. So we ought to do everything we can to end racial profiling. One of my concerns, though, is I don’t want to federalize local police. I believe in local control of governments. Most officers are dedicated citizens who are putting their lives at risk, who aren’t bigoted or aren’t prejudiced. I do think we need to find out where racial profiling occurs and say to the local folks, get it done and if you can’t, there’ll be a federal consequence.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University , Oct 11, 2000

Commitment to helping disabled reach their potential

Al Gore today announced new initiatives as part of his comprehensive agenda to expand independence and opportunity for people with disabilities. “I’m running for president to fight for the people -- all the people. There are millions of Americans who are held back, not because they have a disability, but because that disability is misunderstood -- because they are not recognized for the abilities they have. That’s wrong, and together, we are going to change it.”
Source: Press Release, “More Opportunities for the Disabled” , Jul 25, 2000

Invest in independent living & enforce disabled rights

Source: Press Release, “More Opportunities for the Disabled” , Jul 25, 2000

Latino values are America’s best values

Gore asserted that his approach to education, health care, & the economy would “unleash the promise of every brave young Latino in this nation. The values and virtues that are at the heart of the Latino experience-honor & responsibility, faith & family, caring & community-are the same values that are most important in keeping America strong. We can create a future where new Americans and all Americans can swing open the gates to education and opportunity and live out their lives in peace and plenty.”
Source: James Dao, NY Times on 2000 election , Jul 1, 2000

Tipper & Al pushed for voluntary record lyric labeling

[Tipper and Al were stunned by the explicit violence in rock lyrics] when their children, ages 6 and 8, began to ask questions about things they had seen on MTV videos. Tipper, who as a teenager had inscribed “Rolling Stones Forever” on her old boyfriend’s 45rpm, was now an anxious mother of preadolescents. “These images frightened my children; they frightened me!” she wrote in her 1987 book Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society.. Tipper co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center and petitioned record makers for “voluntary self-restraint,” proposing a categorical rating system similar to the one employed by the film industry. In a committee hearing, Al Gore said about record executives, “I think they should take a look at what their companies are doing and just ask themselves whether or not this is the way they want to spend their lives, if this is the way they want to earn a living.”
Source: Inventing Al Gore, p.168-72 , Mar 3, 2000

Confederate flag divides-remove it, but no boycott

Q: Do you support the NAACP’s boycott of of South Carolina until the Confederate flag is removed from their Statehouse? A: The Confederate battle flag divides America. It stands as a hurtful symbol to millions because it recalls the pain of slavery. It should be removed from the SC State Capitol building & from any government institution so as to make them welcoming to all. I do not think a president should ever boycott an individual state [but] we need to bring the Confederate flag down.
Source: Democrat Debate in Des Moines, Iowa , Jan 17, 2000

Latinos considered for Supreme Court, but no pledge

Q: Will you take a pledge that you will appoint a Hispanic to the Supreme Court? A: I’m going to avoid listing names of people to appoint, because I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I’m fighting to get the Democratic nomination. [However], If I am entrusted with the presidency, I will make appointments and nominations that fully reflect the diversity of our country to the Supreme Court as well as to the Cabinet, and that includes Latinos, yes.
Source: Democrat Debate in Des Moines, Iowa , Jan 17, 2000

Review disenfranchisement of felons but keep concept

Q: The 14th Amendment allows the states to disenfranchise convicted felons. As a result, 1.4 million African-American males are unable to vote. Comments? A: The principle that convicted felons do not have a right to vote is an old one. The definition of what kind of crimes automatically fall in the category that triggers that exclusion from the franchise could well benefit from a fresh review. [But I support] the established principle heinous crimes should result in a disenfranchisement.
Source: Democrat Debate in Des Moines, Iowa , Jan 17, 2000

End discrimination based on mental illnesses

Gore has been a leader in [opposing] discrimination against people with disabilities in housing, schools, workplaces and public areas across the nation. [Gore has worked] to expand home- and community-based care, and to protect the crucial Medicaid guarantee for people with disabilities. Through Tipper’s leadership, the administration took landmark steps to end discrimination based on mental illnesses. Gore [supports] increasing accessibility through sound transportation and infrastructure policies
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/disabled.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

Fund and enforce the Disabilities Act

As President, I promise to advocate for increased support and funding... for the Americans with Disabilities Act. We need not have such a high unemployment rate for our fellow citizens with disabilities. I will advocate for the Disability and Civil Rights section of the Justice Department to increase enforcement of the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. No citizen needs to be denied access to every day activities.
Source: http://www.disabledforgore.org 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

Al Gore on Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action: mend it, don’t end it

Our future as a nation depends upon whether or not we can break down the barriers that have been used to pit group against group, and bring our people together. We must take extra steps to acknowledge the history of discrimination and injustice, and to bring all people into the American dream. I am against quotas-they are illegal and un-American. We have to mend affirmative action-to make sure that programs are carefully targeted and fair and that they meet legal requirements-but we should not end it.
Source: Associated Press , Oct 25, 2000

Affirmative action does not mean quotas

Q: What about affirmative action?

BUSH: I’ve had a record of bringing people from all walks of life into my administration, and my administration is better off for it. But quotas are bad for America. It’s not what America is all about, which is equal opportunity and the opportunity for people to realize their potential. So to answer your question, I support affirmative access.

GORE: I don’t know what affirmative access means. Affirmative action isn’t quotas. I’m against quotas. They’re against the American way. Affirmative action means that you take extra steps to acknowledge the history of discrimination and injustice and prejudice.

Q: Are you opposed to affirmative action?

BUSH: No. If affirmative action means quotas, I’m against it. If affirmative action means what I just described, then I’m for it.

GORE: He said if affirmative action means quotas, he’s against it. Affirmative action doesn’t mean quotas. Are you for it without quotas?

BUSH: I may not be for your version.

Source: (X-ref Bush) St. Louis debate , Oct 17, 2000

Gore emphasizes long-term commitment to NAACP

“I am a member of the NAACP. It’s good to be home,” Gore told the annual convention of the NAACP. Gore said, “I have come here not just in an election year, but year after year. I have worked with you. I have stood with you. I am proud to have won some battles alongside you.” Hundreds leapt atop chairs as Gore entered. He received standing ovations [as he spoke about] his commitment to public schools, hate-crimes legislation and an end to racial profiling -- where police target minority members.
Source: AP article in NY Times on 2000 election , Jul 12, 2000

Close gender gap; equal pay for women

Marking Equal Pay Day, Al Gore today announced his support for measures to help women gain equal pay in the workplace. He applauded administration efforts that encourage women to study science and technology and that strengthen wage discrimination laws.

As president, Gore would continue to study the causes of the nation’s gender gap. He would strengthen and enforce equal pay laws at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Working women in this country will never have the futures they deserve until they earn the pay they deserve,“ Gore said. ”I’ll fight to strengthen equal pay rules in the country to crack down on the wage discrimination that results in far too many women getting smaller paychecks.“

Equal Pay Day is sponsored each year by the National Committee on Pay Equity and marks the day which American women’s wages, added to their previous year’s earnings, equal what men make in just one calendar year.

Source: Press Release in Nashville TN , May 11, 2000

Investigate racial profiling at the federal level

Q: Comments on racial profiling?
A: We have a problem with racial disparities in law enforcement. You see it in the sentencing differences for crack versus powder cocaine. The experts say you can’t justify that wide disparity. We are now investigating to see whether or not there is a pattern of racial discrimination and distortion in federal law enforcement. [We should] collect information to see whether or not racial profiling is common, anecdotal evidence would have us believe that it is.
Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles , Mar 1, 2000

Constitution evolved for women & blacks; & will evolve more

The proof that the Constitution should be a living and breathing document can be seen in the progressive unfolding of the American dream throughout the last 211 years of our republic. Jefferson wrote the powerful words of our declaration but didn’t absorb them in his heart enough to free his slaves. Our founders created a work of genius in the Constitution, but didn’t absorb the meaning deeply enough to give women the right to vote. We now understand that these things are part and parcel of the Constitution. The right of privacy, just to take one example, was found by Justice Blackmun in the Constitution, even though the precise words are not there. And the next president will appoint probably three justices of the Supreme Court and that makes this court one of the major issues in this election.
Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles , Mar 1, 2000

Keep affirmative action; reject numerical quotas

Q: How will you re-define affirmative action as an assurance against discrimination? A: In order to make certain that we keep affirmative action, we have to reject the idea of strict numerical quotas. Affirmative action that opens up new opportunities and makes available the resources, the spots in universities, the loans, the investment capital, that is the direction that we should go in. But we should also understand the importance of communications media; television stations, radio stations.
Source: Democrat debate in Harlem, NYC , Feb 21, 2000

Ban racial profiling by Executive Order

Q: In Oneonta, NY, an elderly white woman was attacked in her home. She only saw one of his hands. The police went and questioned every single African-American man in town, old, young, middle aged, bald. Comments? A: On the first day of a Gore presidency, I would issue an executive order to ban racial profiling. And the first civil rights bill introduced from the White House of the year 2001 would be a bill outlawing racial profiling. There’s a lot of pain out there in this country on the part of Latinos and Asian-Americans who feel as if they have been singled out unfairly and sometimes in a very harsh way because of the way they look. That is unacceptable. We need more community police officers, more contacts between officers walking the beat and the leaders in each community. And we need more diverse police departments with African-Americans and Latinos and others represented fully on the police force so the police force understands the community well.
Source: Democrat Debate in Des Moines, Iowa , Jan 17, 2000

Affirmative action still needed - continue the fight

Gore touted the administration’s record [including] the most diverse Cabinet in history, and a defense of affirmative action against efforts to roll back the federal program. “Anyone who says affirmative action is no longer needed because we’ve reached the promised land, has confused wilderness with Canaan,” Gore said. “We fought for the black farmer. We have fought for the downtrodden, and we are going to continue fighting for them, because we know what obstacles lie out there.”
Source: Boston Globe on 2000 race, p. A11 , Dec 12, 1999

Need more opportunities for women-owned businesses

We’ve got to open up new opportunities for women-owned businesses - which are growing at twice the rate of all businesses. Some of the smartest entrepreneurs in America today are women striking out on their own and realizing their goals on their own terms. I respect that spirit: that’s why I fought so hard to triple the number of small business loans to women entrepreneurs. Now I’ll fight to make this simple principle a reality: you deserve an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.
Source: Women for Gore speech, Washington DC , Jun 1, 1999

Al Gore on Gay Rights

All crimes are not hate crimes; only those aimed at groups

Gov. Bush [takes the position] that all crimes are hate crimes. Well, is shoplifting a hate crime? There are crimes committed by people who have various motivations, and all crimes are wrong. But crimes that are motivated by hatred are different. They are intended to have more than one victim. They are intended and aimed not only at the victim who is initially singled out. They are intended to intimidate and dehumanize an entire group of people, to give expression to the hatred that corrodes the soul.
Source: Speech at a Philadelphia church , Nov 6, 2000

Find some way for civic union; but not gay marriage

Q: What is your position on gay marriage?

BUSH: I’m not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I appreciated the way the administration signed the Defense of Marriage Act. I presume the vice president supported it.

GORE: I agree with that, and I did support that law. But I think that we should find a way to allow some kind of civic unions. And I basically agree with Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, and I think the three of us have one view and the governor has another view.

BUSH: I’m not sure what kind of view he’s ascribing to me. One day he says he agrees with me, then he says he doesn’t. I will be a tolerant person. I’ve been a tolerant person all my life. I just happen to believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t really think it’s any of my concern how you conduct your sex life. That’s a private matter. I support equal rights but not special rights for people.

Source: (X-ref Bush) Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University , Oct 11, 2000

Supports Vermont’s Civil Union law

On gay rights, Gore said he strongly favors ending discrimination against gays and lesbians. “I just think we’ve come to the point in our nation’s history where it’s time to take that step. It’s indefensible. Let’s just leave people alone and stop discriminating against them because of who they fall in love with.” He said he supported civil unions like those recently approved in Vermont.
Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times on 2000 election , Sep 27, 2000

Stop discrimination against same-sex domestic partnerships

Q: Do you support California Prop 22? If passed, only marriages between a man and a woman would be recognized.

GORE: I oppose it. Under current California law, only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized. Frankly, I think that we should have legal recognition for domestic partnerships that have legal protections. I do not favor changing the definition of a traditional marriage as it has always been understood between a man and a woman. But this Knight initiative, Prop 22, is in part a kind of a mean-spirited wedge initiative and I just think it’s time for us to put this discrimination against gays and lesbians behind us. I think that it’s time just to leave people alone because of the way God made them and stop the discrimination.

BRADLEY: I don’t support the Knight initiative. Like Al, I don’t support gay marriage, but I do support domestic partnership legislation that would provide to gays and lesbians all the legal and financial rights that accrue to a state of marriage.

Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles , Mar 1, 2000

Eliminate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’; let gays serve in army

Gore suggested his mind was made up by the fatal bludgeoning of Pfc. Barry Winchell in his barracks on July 5. Prosecutors said Winchell was targeted because he was rumored to be gay. “In light of the Winchell case and other evidence, I believe the ‘don’ ask, don’t tell’ policy should be eliminated,” Gore said today. “Gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve their country without discrimination.” In June, before Winchell’s murder, Gore said only, “I would implement the policy with more compassion.”
Source: ABCnews.go.com, “Daily news” , Dec 13, 1999

Supports same-sex partnerships; but not “marriage” title

Q: What are your thoughts and feelings about legalizing same-sex marriage? A: I’m for domestic partnerships having legal protections, but not the same sacrament, not the same name, because I favor protecting the institution of marriage as it has been understood between a man and a woman. But I think that a partner should have legal protection and contractual rights and health care and the rest
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College , Oct 28, 1999

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Gore adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

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