Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced her running mate Friday evening to little fanfare. Instead of going with a younger politician like current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro or Sen. Corey Booker, or pleasing progressive voters with Senators Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, Clinton went with Sen. Tim Kaine, the former Virginia governor and DNC chairman. He's a fine, if a bit lackluster, pick. Chances are, you've head Kaine's name plenty times before, but don't know his exact stance on important issues like queer and transgender rights. What's Tim Kaine's stance on LGBTQ issues? He falls right in line behind Clinton, but he wasn't always so open to LGBTQ rights.
In the past, Kaine has been described as an across-the-board moderate. At one point, he was even against same-sex marriage (just like Clinton).
Way back in 2001, when he was mayor of Richmond and running for lieutenant governor of Virginia, Kaine told the Associated Press that he was completely against same-sex marriage. However, he was supportive of more rights for same-sex and queer relationships.
"I have never said I supported gay civil unions, gay marriages," Kaine told the AP in 2001. "I do believe that people shouldn’t be kicked out of their jobs or discriminated against because of who they are."
It wasn't so unusual at the time for Kaine, a Democrat, to be against same-sex marriage; most Democratic politicians were, outside of the Northeast. (Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2004.) More than a decade later, Kaine became a full supporter of marriage equality, telling reporters when he was running for the U.S. Senate in 2012:
The underlying issue is, should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities, and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. I believe in the legal equality of relationships. The debate about, you know, is it marriage? Is it civil union? Is it domestic partnership? I just kind of let that one go and say should committed couples be treated the same by law, and I think the answer is yes. ... There should be a license that would entitle a committed couple to the same rights as a married couple.
Kaine also displayed a pro-LGBTQ stance while serving as governor of Virginia, campaigning against a measure to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state's constitution. Kaine also issued an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace after the Republican-controlled legislature blocked a similar bill from passing.
Tracking Kaine's political career over the years, it's clear he's become a reliable LGBTQ ally. The Human Rights Campaign celebrated Clinton's choice for vice president on Friday, praising the Clinton-Kaine ticket for showing unprecedented support of equal rights for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and queer Americans.
"While Donald Trump doubled down on discrimination by picking Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton has bolstered her campaign's historic commitment to LGBTQ equality by choosing Tim Kaine," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “[W]e are confident Clinton and Kaine will tear down the walls of discrimination that hold all of us back."