Mitch McConnell on Civil Rights
Republican Sr Senator (KY)
I co-sponsored VAWA but final version went too far
Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is hitting Sen. Mitch McConnell on women's issues in her newest ad, the latest in a series featuring regular Kentucky citizens: Ilene Woods of Lynch KY asks McConnell why he voted
twice against the Violence Against Women Act and "against enforcing equal pay for women." After a moment of silence, Grimes says, "I can never get him to answer this one either." She adds, to McConnell: "I approved this message, because
senator, you must be forgetting that over half the voters in Kentucky are women like Ilene."
The charge that McConnell opposed the Violence Against Women Act and equal pay legislation is central to Grimes' pitch to female voters.
McConnell's team has pushed back, arguing that he was originally a co-sponsor of the bill and only voted against it twice because he felt one changed version of the bill went too far, and because once it was attached to a ban on assault weapons.
Source: The Hill weblog on 2014 Kentucky Senate race
, Jul 30, 2014
Flag-burning is free speech; no Constitutional amendment
Although the issue of an anti-flag-burning amendment to the Constitution had flared up yet again, McConnell was able to put it out without getting singed politically.
Seeing the issue more than ever before as one of political speech, he urged pressure on Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia to change his position and oppose the amendment.
Byrd did, announcing his switch in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This gave opponents 36 votes, two more than needed to defeat the amendment.
Only two other Republicans joined McConnell in voting "no," thus demonstrating his willingness to stand against his party on matters of principle.
Source: Republican Leader, by John Dyche, p.146
, Sep 15, 2010
Switched to opposing flag-burning amendment
Although the issue of an anti-flag-burning amendment to the Constitution had flared up yet again, Mitch McConnell (R, KY) was able to put it out without getting singed politically. Seeing the issue more than ever before as one of political speech,
he urged pressure on Byrd to change his position and oppose the amendment. Byrd did, announcing his switch in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This gave opponents 36 votes, two more than needed to defeat the amendment.
Source: Republican Leader, by John Dyche, p.153-4
, Sep 15, 2010
1963: Witnessed MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech
In the summer of 1963, McConnell served as an intern for ultraconservative Kentucky congressman Gene Snyder.
Though MLK Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, thrilled and inspired McConnell, he dared not let his enthusiasm show around Snyder's office. "I went outside to stand on the Capitol steps.
I supported Dr. King and his cause, and wanted to witness what I knew would be a pivotal point in history. In the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial,
Dr. King issued the greatest declaration of freedom since Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation a century earlier. His words moved a nation.
Source: Republican Leader, by John Dyche, p. 13-4
, Sep 15, 2010
Voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms used in such Act, including :
- "culturally specific services" to mean community-based services that offer culturally relevant and linguistically specific services and resources to culturally specific communities;
- "personally identifying information" with respect to a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
- "underserved populations" as populations that face barriers in accessing and using victim services because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity; and
- "youth" to mean a person who is 11 to 24 years old.
Opponent's Argument for voting No (The Week; Huffington Post, and The Atlantic):
House Republicans had objected to provisions in the Senate bill that extended VAWA's protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. For example, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) voted against the VAWA bill because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference." The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas--that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a "feminist" attack on family values. The act's grants have encouraged states to implement "mandatory-arrest" policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation. Critics also say VAWA has been subject to waste, fraud, and abuse because of insufficient oversight.
Reference: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act;
Bill S. 47
; vote number 13-SV019
on Feb 12, 2013
Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.
The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
- the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
- the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
- abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
- destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Proponents of the Resolution say:
- Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
- In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to
Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
- 48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment;
; vote number 2006-189
on Jun 27, 2006
- I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
- I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
- Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
- I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
- Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment;
Bill S. J. Res. 1
; vote number 2006-163
on Jun 7, 2006
Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.
Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
; vote number 2002-147
on Jun 11, 2002
Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.
Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
; vote number 2001-300
on Oct 11, 2001
Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.
Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
; vote number 2000-136
on Jun 20, 2000
Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.
Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
; vote number 1998-23
on Mar 6, 1998
Voted YES on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.
This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture;
; vote number 1997-275
on Oct 23, 1997
Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Bill HR 3396
; vote number 1996-280
on Sep 10, 1996
Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.
Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act;
Bill S. 2056
; vote number 1996-281
on Sep 10, 1996
Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.
Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill;
Bill S. J. Res. 31
; vote number 1995-600
on Dec 12, 1995
Voted YES on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.
Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Bill HR 1854
; vote number 1995-317
on Jul 20, 1995
Rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record.
McConnell scores 20% by the ACLU on civil rights issues
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve protections and guarantees America’s original civic values - the Constitution and the Bill of Rights:
We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.
- Your First Amendment rights-freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
- Your right to equal protection under the law - equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
- Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002
Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance.
McConnell scores 0% by the HRC on gay rights
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):
- 0% - 20%: opposes gay rights (approx. 207 members)
- 20% - 70%: mixed record on gay rights (approx. 84 members)
- 70%-100%: supports gay rights (approx. 177 members)
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006
Rated 7% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance.
McConnell scores 7% by the NAACP on affirmative action
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:
About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):
- 0% - 33%: anti-affirmative-action stance (approx. 177 members)
- 34% - 84%: mixed record on affirmative-action (approx. 96 members)
- 85%-100%: pro-affirmative-action stance (approx. 190 members)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels.
From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006
Other candidates on Civil Rights:
Mitch McConnell on other issues:
C. Wesley Morgan
Mary Ann Tobin
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Page last updated: Jul 16, 2020