February 24th, 2010
05:07 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Fact Check: Sen. Joseph Lieberman - Gay advocate?

The CNN Fact Check Desk takes a look at Sen. Lieberman's record on gay rights legislation.
The CNN Fact Check Desk takes a look at Sen. Lieberman's record on gay rights legislation.

CNN – Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, announced Monday that he will be the main sponsor of a bill calling for the repeal of the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The policy requires gay and lesbian service members to stay quiet about their sexual orientation or risk expulsion. Commanding officers are also prohibited from asking subordinates about their orientation. Since the law was passed in 1993, more than 13,000 otherwise qualified service men and women have been discharged.

In a statement on his Web site, Lieberman writes that he would "be proud" to sponsor a bill to allow "patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security." The senator also writes that he has opposed the current policy since its inception in 1993. Lieberman has said the legislation will be introduced next week.

The CNN Fact Check Desk wondered whether Lieberman really has opposed the current policy since its inception. We also wanted to take a look at Lieberman's record on gay rights legislation.

Fact Check: Has Sen. Joe Lieberman opposed the current policy on "don't ask, don't tell" since its inception? What is the senator's legislative track record on gay rights issues?

– In 1993, Lieberman voted in favor of an amendment to a $261 billion defense appropriations bill that would have removed the original "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but the amendment was rejected. Despite his objection to the inclusion of the policy, Lieberman voted "yes" on the defense spending
bill, H.R. 2401. It was signed into law November 19, 1993, by President Bill Clinton.

– In September 1996, Lieberman voted "yes" on H.R. 3396, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage under federal law as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The act was passed and became law.

– Lieberman was one of three co-sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1996, a bill calling for the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but it was defeated.

– He announced his opposition in 2004 to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The measure died in the Senate in 2004 and 2006. Lieberman voted to continue debate on the bill, effectively killing it, both times.

– The senator co-sponsored the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act in May 2009. The bill, which would provide benefits to federal employees with domestic partners, is still in committee.

– Lieberman voted "yes" on an October 2009 measure to change the definition of a hate crime to include victims targeted because of sexual orientation. The measure, part of a large spending bill, was passed and became law.

Bottom Line:
The senator is correct in saying that he has opposed the legislation since its inception, though he did vote for the defense spending bill that included the controversial policy on gays in the military. His yes vote on the amendment calling for its removal shows he was against that particular aspect of the
legislation. Including his support of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" legislation, Lieberman has mostly voted in support of gay issues.

- CNN's Ted Barrett and Craig Broffman contributed to this fact check

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Citizen Voter

    Beware Joseph and his technicolor turncoat. I don't trust him anymore. No matter what he says today, he may say the opposite tomorrow. He has lost all credibility.

    February 24, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Andrew

    So the answer to your strange question in the headline is Yes! Sen. Joe Leiberman is a gay advocate.

    Thankfully!

    February 24, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. Don't ask but I'll tell ya anyway

    Joe's all for anyone who'll fight the war in the ME.

    February 24, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Joe saw that 69% approve the repeal of DADT, and the rest is political posturing. He will change positions at the drop of a nickel, if it will help him. Joe is a good reason to dislike politicians, in fact, he is the poster child.

    February 24, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Is it an election year for LIEberman? Please! He campaign for McCain. McCain considered him for his VP, the Republicans would never support Gay rights!

    February 24, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. Nancy Denofio

    Joe Lieberman changes like a light bulb, on the issues off the issues Be careful, some lights blow out. I've followed him on social issues...and he turns on and off with whose on the brighter side of the room.

    February 24, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Jane/Seattle

    Probably just trying to do damage control on all his other BAD decisions!

    February 24, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Otto

    His history proved he is worth mention and should lead this bill.

    February 24, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Larry

    Sen. Joseph Lieberman is on the correct side of this issue. Anyone who believes that all men are created equal must believe that for each and every human being. Anyone who does not believe that it applies to each and every human being is either a racist or a Nazi or a bigot or just plain stupid.

    February 24, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    That's all well and good. I mean, he's gay too isn't he? I could swear it was his shoes I saw moving around under the CEO's desk when I went to interview at a large CT insurance company....

    February 24, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. Patrick F

    His vote for the defense bill has nothing to do with the inclusion or exclusion of the amendment; he was always a massive supporter of the military.

    That he just so happens to be ok with gay rights legislation is a good thing, but I think his support for this measure largely comes from his opinion that it will help the military retain valuable specialists (which it theoretically will).

    February 24, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. serita

    The military has done a better job than Hollywood at keeping generalizations about gay men and women intact. I'm sure they have a few choice names now for Leiberman.

    February 24, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Democrats for the Next 20-Years

    The only way John McCain can get this legislation delayed is to get his BFF...Best Buddy – Joe Lieberman to take care of it.

    We will never see the light of day on this bill as long as Joe is in charge of it. Never.

    February 24, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. No Incumbents 2010

    Lieberman knows nothing about how to run the US military. This is all about pandering to his base in Connecticutt so he can get re-elected.

    February 24, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. normajean

    I would like to see this man in charge of himself for a change He doesn't seem to have any idea what he believes in nor which party he wants to be associated with. This is a dangerous situation for either party because this man cannot be trusted. He's like a flea hopping from one place to another. What he's for today will be forgotten by tomorrow. Move on Joe!

    February 24, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. JF

    Oh, yeah – I trust this guy. Like the way he said he'd support the early Medicare buy-in, then changed his tune in the eleventh hour. I think he sincerely gets-off on the power trip of it all .....

    February 24, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. ailisha

    Im not gay but i have people in family like this and i dont agree wat they do all the time. I love them no matter what happens to them just leave the homosexual ALONE.

    February 24, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. kyle

    It figures that an Independent would sponsor this bill. Republicans can't be counted on to do it. It might go against some rule that was "supposedly" written 2,000 years ago in the Middle East. Democrats will not spend the political capital to sponsor this bill, no matter how many piles of money the gay community pours into their coffers. Future generations will be scratching their heads and wondering what weak men and women must have lived at this time. There does exist an entire city of lawmakers with a very weak understanding of life and how short it really is. President Obama's mention of this topic in his state of the union speech amounted to one very short and sweet sentence. That will probably be all of the lip service that gays will get from this president this year. More time has been spent on the topic of the new White House dog.

    February 24, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. valwayne

    Good for Lieberman!!! Why don't you fact check Obama and the rest of the Democrats. They've been promising to end discrimination against the gay heroes risking their lives for us in the military since before Bill Clinton was President, and betrayed every promise. Obama and his party have been in complete control of our Government for over a year, and Obama is still our Discriminator in Chief. When will it end? Even former VP Dick Cheney supports and end. When will Obama, Pelosi, and Reid do something? Not a penney or a votoe for any Democrat from any Gay Man or Woman until they keep their promises. Promises are no longer enough!!!!

    February 24, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Michael from Ventura

    Joe was right on this one- he STILL needs to go for all the things he's wrong about! His actions in 2008 and his turn about on Healthcare Reform speaks much louder than words. He caucuses with the Democratics and campaigns for republiCANTS. Ugh.

    February 24, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. Donkey Party

    Lieberman a "gay advocate"? Do we take into consideration his lisp and man-crush on McCain before we decide?

    February 24, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. Honest Joe

    You can trust Joe, he tells the truth.

    February 24, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  23. E.J.in Tacoma

    It's refreshing to see Lieberman being honest and not wishy washy.
    Kudos..
    E.J.in Tacoma

    February 24, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  24. They call me "tater salad"

    I'm not gay, but I find it kinda funny that the GOP won't let them get married, don't want to let them serve their country ,(openly) but are more than happy to let them pay taxes just like the rest of us!

    February 24, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The Lisper-and-Whiner-in-Chief of the Senate richly deserves the honor of fronting for the ego-dystonic homosexuals who arrogate to themselves the claim of being "the civil rights issue of the decade". Most gays in my anecdotal experience also suffer from other concomitant mental health isuues, most notably an unhealthy focus on their sexuality as the defining issue in their lives.

    February 24, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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