Beto O`Rourke on Civil Rights

Democratic candidate for President; Texas Senator nominee


Conversion therapy for gay children is tantamount to torture

Q: Conversion therapy is a widely discredited practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or possibly their gender identity. Should this be illegal?

O'ROURKE: It should be illegal. As president we will seek to outlaw it everywhere in this country. In my opinion, this is tantamount to torture, a torture that we're visiting on children who are absolutely defenseless.

Q: What should the penalty be?

O'ROURKE: We're going to make sure that whatever the penalty is, it is steep enough to dissuade anybody from entering into this practice or being able to torture kids with the kind of impunity that we have seen so far. And we're also going to recognize that these kind of practices, in addition to the immediate torture that that child or that person feels, also adds to other challenges that we have. So, yes, we will outlaw it, and, yes, we will ensure that there are penalties stiff enough, enforcement vigorous enough to make sure that it does not continue.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

Racism is endemic and foundational in America, since 1619

Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational. We can mark the creation of this country not at the Fourth of July, 1776, but August 20, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will and in bondage and as a slave built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would ever be able to fully participate in and enjoy.

We have to be able to answer this challenge. It is found in our education system, where in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin. In our health care system, where there's a maternal mortality crisis three times as deadly for women of color, or the fact that there's 10 times the wealth in white America than there is in black America. I'm going to follow Sheila Jackson Lee's lead and sign into law a reparations bill that will allow us to address this at its foundation.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Legacy of slavery is alive and well: we need reparations

Sen. Amy KLOBUCHAR: There are people that voted for Donald Trump before that aren't racist. But I don't think anyone can justify what this president is doing [attacking four Congresswomen of color]. Little kids literally woke up this weekend and saw their president calling Baltimore nothing more than a home for rats.

O'ROURKE: I want to acknowledge something what we're all touching on, which is the very foundation of this country, the wealth that we have built, was literally on the backs of those who were kidnapped and brought here by force. The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country. As president, I will sign into law a new Voting Rights Act. I will focus on education, address health care disparities, but I will also sign into law Sheila Jackson Lee's reparations bill so that we can have the national conversation we've waited too long in this country to have.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

We don't just tolerate our differences, we embrace them

Q: How do you heal President Trump's racial divide?

O'ROURKE: We'll call his racism out for what it is, and also talk about its consequences. It is changing this country. Hate crimes are in the rise--every single one of the last three years. We must ensure that we don't just tolerate or respect our differences, but we embrace them. That's what we've learned in El Paso, my hometown. One of the safest cities in the US, not despite, but because it's a city of immigrants & asylum seekers & refugees.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

Upgrade records of LGBTQ vets who were discharged

O`Rourke also says he would require the Defense Department to upgrade the service records of LGBTQ veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation.
Source: CNN coverage of 2020 Democratic primary , Jun 24, 2019

Impeachment necessary to signal this can't happen again

Q: What about Trump's willingness to take foreign information?

O'ROURKE: If there are no consequences, then we will have set the precedent that it is OK to accept help from a foreign government. Impeachment is incredibly important to get to the facts, but also to send the signal that this can never happen again. It's the only way that we're going to be able to meet the challenges that we face. It's the only way that we're going to be able to maintain our system of government.

Source: CNN "SOTU" 2019 interview on impeaching Trump , Jun 16, 2019

Supports commission investigating reparations for slavery

Asked whether he would back a House bill that would create a commission to study the issue of reparations. He said he would back the bill. "Until all Americans understand that civil rights" also involves "the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people, we will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country. So absolutely I would sign that into law," he said.
Source: Associated Press, "Reparations," on 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 3, 2019

Supports NFL players taking a knee during national anthem

[In the 2018 Senate race] Promising to visit every county in Texas, he ran his campaign as a marathon of live-streamed political performance art--road-tripping with a Republican congressman with an iPhone on his dashboard for 36 hours; then debating Ted Cruz at Southern Methodist University. O'Rourke came off as free of political calculation, as if his charisma were a mere side effect of Beto just being Beto.

O'Rourke gave an extemporaneous monologue defending black N.F.L. players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Now This News packaged it into a viral video, and it rocketed O'Rourke to the national stage. CNN broadcast one of his town-hall meetings and O'Rourke's crowds ballooned. Donor contributions poured in, peaking at $80 million, the most for any Senate campaign in U.S. history. The expanding press pack became more aggressive "to the point where they were knocking the kids and I out of the way to get to Beto," recalls Amy O'Rourke.

Source: Joe Hagan in Vanity Fair on 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 13, 2019

Voted YES on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Congressional Summary:
    Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms used in such Act, including :
  1. "culturally specific services" to mean community-based services that offer culturally relevant and linguistically specific services and resources to culturally specific communities;
  2. "personally identifying information" with respect to a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  3. "underserved populations" as populations that face barriers in accessing and using victim services because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  4. "youth" to mean a person who is 11 to 24 years old.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (The Week; Huffington Post, and The Atlantic): House Republicans had objected to provisions in the Senate bill that extended VAWA's protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. For example, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) voted against the VAWA bill because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference." The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas--that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a "feminist" attack on family values. The act's grants have encouraged states to implement "mandatory-arrest" policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation. Critics also say VAWA has been subject to waste, fraud, and abuse because of insufficient oversight.

Reference: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.11 ; vote number 13-HV055 on Feb 28, 2013

Endorsed as "preferred" by The Feminist Majority indicating pro-women's rights.

O`Rourke is endorsed by by the Feminist Majority on women's rights

The Feminist Majority endorses candidates for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. In addition to the stronger "endorsement," the organization also determines "preferred" candidates in races where they do not endorse. Their mission statement:

"Our mission is to empower feminists, who are the majority, and to win equality for women at the decision-making tables of the state, nation, and the world. The Feminist Majority promotes non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity, age, marital status, nation of origin, size or disability. The purpose of Feminist Majority is to promote equality for women and men, non-violence, reproductive health, peace, social justice and economic development and to enhance feminist participation in public policy. Feminist Majority supports workers’ collective bargaining, pay equity, and end of sweatshops. We encourage programs directed at the preservation of the environment."

Source: FeministMajority.org website 12-FemMaj on Oct 31, 2012

Enforce against anti-gay discrimination in public schools.

O`Rourke co-sponsored Student Non-Discrimination Act

Congressional Summary: