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. Jesus Francisco

    Thank you Senator Lieberman for being on the right side of this issue.

    February 24, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. Angela

    I don't trust Senator Lieberman as far is I can throw him. He has a stellar record of changing positions He may have voted for gay issues in the past, but to trust this friend of flipflopper McCain is just as likely to do one thing as another. Not interested in anything the liar says, I just hope the people in Connecticut get rid of him in 2012.

    February 24, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. leonardofru

    Kill the fact check thing guys. The results are always supportive of Obamist propaganda and makes CNN look very foolish and partisan.

    February 24, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. Adalbert

    Trader Joe is kissing up to the dems.

    February 24, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Dwayne

    Switch! Don't trust'em! This dude's a true cell out!

    February 24, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. But Michelle and Barack Obama.....

    are not gay advocates......they are openly and totally AGAINST gay marriage.....deal with it.....

    February 24, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. Andy

    Who cares? Alot more to worry about ,let Joe L and the military worry about this.

    February 24, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. LYNETTE IN CA

    I guess Joe has to get onboard with something liberal for a change.

    February 24, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. Alex

    Joe and his Likud Party pals have decided that they can no longer be choosy about the sexual interests of the people sent from the US to defend Israeli interests and attack its enemies. Straight, gay, bi, queer, trans... If they're willing to die for the American/Israeli war and oil machine, that's good enough for Diamond Joe!

    February 24, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. AndyBlue

    I dont trust him. He flips back and forth depending on who is donating to his campaign.

    I think this is a ploy to draw attention away from his disgraceful actions on healthcare reform. I also think he may be putting himself in the position to "hold up" repealing DADT. Christian groups will be calling and donating i bet.

    Thanks Connecticut for screwing over the rest of the country. Yet again. It isnt bad enough most of you work in the health insurance industry and take a huge part in denial of services and dropping people from their insurance altogether. Anything for the dollar. Even if its destroying the lives of people across the rest of the country.

    "Connecticut, The Greedy State". should be on your license plates.

    February 24, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. marc in california

    Incredible. Over the years, Lieberman has been in support of Bush's Faith-Based Initiative, voted for the war in Iraq, supported McCain over Obama in 2008, and said he may support Republicans in this year's election.

    Now he goes and announces that he is favoring repealing "don't ask don't tell".....AND COMPLETELY REDEEMS HIMSELF! Way to go Sen. Leiberman! Now you are starting to see the light! All that is left is for you to realize that gay people should have the same right to marry the person they love as hetero people do and you will be among the human race again!

    February 24, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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