32 Years Before SCOTUS Decision, Sanders Backed Gay Pride March

By:  Paul Heintz

The day after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage a constitutional right, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) assured an audience in Nashua, N.H., Saturday morning that he's no newcomer to gay rights.

Sanders' evidence? His 1996 vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman" and allowed states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, husband of Sanders' rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton.

"Back in 1996, that was a tough vote," Sanders told his audience, according toThe Hill. "Not too many people voted against it, but I did."

That was hardly the first time Sanders went to bat for LGBTQ community, according to records of his tenure as mayor of Burlington, which are housed at the University of Vermont Library's Special Collections. 

When gay rights organizers planned Burlington's first-ever pride parade in June 1983 — two years after Sanders was elected mayor of the Queen City — they called on the Board of Aldermen to designate June 25 Lesbian and Gay Pride Day. 

"This human rights issue is of great importance to our community," the Organizing Committee of the Lesbian and Gay Pride Celebration wrote in a June 6 letter to the board. 

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