Last updated on: 9/26/2008 | Author:

2004 Presidential Candidates’ Views on Gay Issues

I. 2004 Presidential Candidates on Eight Gay Issues

II. Bush and Kerry’s Responses to the question “Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?”

III. 2004 Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Constitutional Gay Marriage Amendment

I. 2004 Presidential Candidates on Eight Gay Issues

2004 Presidential Candidates on Gay Issues (? = position unknown)
1a. Democrats (Current Candidates)
Legal Marriage Civil Unions Social Security Survivor Benefits Partner Immigration Employment Non-Discrimination Fed. Domestic Partner Benefits Adoption Rights Hate Crime Legislation
Kerry, John Con Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
Kucinich, Dennis Pro ? Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
Sharpton, Al Pro ? Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
1b. Democrats (Former Candidates)
Braun, Carol Moseley Pro ? Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
Clark, Wesley Pro ? ? ? Pro Pro Pro Pro
Dean, Howard Con Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
Edward, John Con Pro ? ? Pro Pro Pro Pro
Gephart, Richard Con Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro Pro
Lieberman, Joseph Con ? ? ? Pro Pro Pro Pro
2. Republicans (Current Candidates)
Bush, George Con Con Con Con Con Con Con Con

Compiled by Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples


II. Bush and Kerry’s Responses to the question “Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?”

In the Presidential debate held on Oct. 13, 2004, moderated by CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer, the following question was asked:

“Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

Responses to the Question by the Candidates:
President George W. Bush

Senator John F. Kerry

“You know, Bob, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It’s important that we do that.

And I also know in a free society people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live. And that’s to be honored.

But as we respect someone’s rights, and as we profess tolerance, we shouldn’t change — or have to change — our basic views on the sanctity of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it’s very important that we protect marriage as an institution, between a man and a woman.

I proposed a constitutional amendment. The reason I did so was because I was worried that activist judges are actually defining the definition of marriage, and the surest way to protect marriage between a man and woman is to amend the Constitution.

It has also the benefit of allowing citizens to participate in the process. After all, when you amend the Constitution, state legislatures must participate in the ratification of the Constitution.

I’m deeply concerned that judges are making those decisions and not the citizenry of the United States. You know, Congress passed a law called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.

My opponent was against it. It basically protected states from the action of one state to another. It also defined marriage as between a man and woman. But I’m concerned that that will get overturned. And if it gets overturned, then we’ll end up with marriage being defined by courts, and I don’t think that’s in our nation’s interests.”

“We’re all God’s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.

I think if you talk to anybody, it’s not choice. I’ve met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

And I’ve met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I think we have to respect that.

The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

But I also believe that because we are the United States of America, we’re a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can’t discriminate in the workplace. You can’t discriminate in the rights that you afford people.

You can’t disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I’m for partnership rights and so forth.

Now, with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws. And they’re proving today, every state, that they can manage them adequately.”


III. 2004 Presidential Candidates’ Position on Constitutional Gay Marriage Amendment

On 2/24/04 U.S. President George W. Bush called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. The following charts denote his views and the views of other current U.S. presidential candidates (as of Feb. 27, 2004).

Summary of 2004 Presidential Candidates’ Position on
Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage




I. Republican 1. Bush, George W. Pro Constitutional amendment
II. Democrats 1. Edwards, John Con Constitutional amendment
  2. Kerry, John Con Constitutional amendment
  3. Kucinich, Dennis Con Constitutional amendment
  4. Sharpton, Al Con Constitutional amendment
III. Independent 1. Nader, Ralph Con Constitutional amendment

I. Republican

The following notes the remarks of President George W. Bush to the nation on Feb. 24, 2004, as per the White House website; “President Calls for Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage,” Remarks by the President, The Roosevelt Room, issued by the Office of the Press Secretary, Feb. 24, 2004.

Candidate Statement POSITION ON
1. Bush, George W.

“I believe that this is an issue that ought to be decided in the states. I think the federal government should honor whatever decision is made by the states.

In recent months, however, some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest court have indicated they will order the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender in May of this year. In San Francisco, city officials have issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. That code, which clearly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, was approved overwhelmingly by the voters of California. A county in New Mexico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. And unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.

After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization. Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.

On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America. Decisive and democratic action is needed, because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country.

The Constitution says that full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts and records and judicial proceedings of every other state. Those who want to change the meaning of marriage will claim that this provision requires all states and cities to recognize same-sex marriages performed anywhere in America. Congress attempted to address this problem in the Defense of Marriage Act, by declaring that no state must accept another state’s definition of marriage. My administration will vigorously defend this act of Congress.

Yet there is no assurance that the Defense of Marriage Act will not, itself, be struck down by activist courts. In that event, every state would be forced to recognize any relationship that judges in Boston or officials in San Francisco choose to call a marriage. Furthermore, even if the Defense of Marriage Act is upheld, the law does not protect marriage within any state or city.

For all these reasons, the Defense of Marriage requires a constitutional amendment. An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern. And the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honoring — honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society.

Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

America is a free society, which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions. Our government should respect every person, and protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction between these responsibilities. We should also conduct this difficult debate in a manner worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger.”


II. Democrat

The current four democratic candidates responded as follows when asked about gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act in a Feb. 26, 2004 televised debate.


Candidate Statement POSITION ON
1. Edwards, John

“I believe that this is an issue that ought to be decided in the states. I think the federal government should honor whatever decision is made by the states.

I would not support the Defense of Marriage Act today, if there were a vote today…. The Defense of Marriage Act specifically said that the federal government is not required to recognize gay marriage even if a state chooses to do so. I disagree with that. I think states should be allowed to make that decision. And the federal government shouldn’t do it.”

2. Kerry, John

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But notwithstanding that belief, there was no issue in front of the country when that was put before the United States Senate. And I went to the floor of the Senate and said … ‘I will not take part in gay bashing on the floor of the United States Senate. I will not allow the Senate to be used for that kind of rhetoric.’

… For 200 years, we have left marriage up to the states. There is no showing whatsoever today that any state in the country, including my own — which is now dealing with its own constitutional amendment — is incapable of dealing with what they would like to do.”

3. Kucinich, Dennis

“There’s a question of civil marriage, and there’s a question of marriage as performed by the church. We’re talking about civil law here…. What we have here is an example of what happens when you have a president who looks at the world with polarized thinking, of us versus them.

The same kind of thinking that led to a war in Iraq, an unnecessary war, is leading to an unnecessary cultural war here, because it should be widely assumed by all Americans that equal protection of the law ought to made available, regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.”

4. Sharpton, Al

“This is an issue of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give states the right to deal with human rights questions. That’s how we ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time.”

“I’m the only candidate that, whether I win or lose, I can perform a gay marriage, and I will do that.”

“Do I support a gay marriage? Do I support a Greek marriages? Do I support Latino marriages? Do I support black marriages? Are we prepared to say that gays and lesbians are less than human? If we’re not prepared to say that, then how do we say that they should not have the same human rights and human choices of anyone else?”


III. Independents

On Sunday, February 22, 2004, Ralph Nader appeared on the NBC television program “NBC News’ Meet The Press.” He was interviewed by moderator/panelist Tim Russert. Excerpts from that interview are below:

Candidate Statement POSITION ON
1. Nader, Ralph

“MR. RUSSERT: Civil rights: Many gay couples believe that they should be allowed to be married. You heard Governor Schwarzenegger say he disagrees with that. Democrat candidates will say they’re for civil unions but not gay marriage. Would Ralph Nader support gay marriage?

MR. NADER: I support equal rights for same-sex couples. I think there’s an interesting quote by a lesbian leader in The New York Times a few days ago when she said, “It’s not a matter of labels, it’s a matter of equal rights.” However, that can occur by adjusting state laws or having a federal law. That is certainly something that the gay-lesbian community is going to have to work out.

MR. RUSSERT: But gays should be allowed to be married if they so choose, according to you.

MR. NADER: Of course. Love and commitment is not exactly in surplus in this country. The main tragedy, what undermines marriage, is divorce, as Mayor Daley of Chicago just said.”