Candidate Bill Bradley Becomes First To Oppose Anti-Gay California Initiative

September 16, 1999

Also endorses same-sex domestic partner benefits

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

The Bradley For President Campaign released two statements to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on Thursday stating Bradley's opposition to the anti-gay Knight Initiative on the March 7, 2000 California ballot and expressing his support for domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples.

Bradley's announcement came in a letter to The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responding to specific questions about the Initiative and partner benefits. Earlier this week, the Policy Institute released a report entitled, Courting the Vote: The 2000 Presidential Candidates' Positions on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. The report documents the positions of the two Democrats, nine Republicans and one Independent on issues of concern to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender voters and was sent to the Bradley campaign earlier this week.

The Knight Initiative — which will be decided by California voters the same day as the California Presidential primary — would ban recognition of same-sex marriages. Because California already bans same-sex marriage and because same-sex marriages currently are not recognized by any state government in the United States, the measure is seen as an extraordinary, divisive and targeted attack on GLBT people.

In the letter to NGLTF from the Bradley campaign, Bradley is quoted as opposing gay marriage but stating that "if I were a California voter I would vote against the Knight Initiative because as a referendum issue I think it is divisive and has the potential to contribute to an atmosphere of hate, which is the last thing I want to have any role in abetting."

Bradley also said he supports "efforts to provide to committed gay couples the ability to enjoy all the economic and legal benefits that are available to married couples, including inheritance, taxation, right to visit your partner in the hospital Ð all of those elements."

Thus far, Bradley's only Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, has come out in favor of domestic partner benefits. The Gore campaign has not come out for or against the Knight Initiative.

Urvashi Vaid, Director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), welcomed Bradley's announcement. "Some candidates no longer run from issues important to the GLBT community," Vaid said. "Bill Bradley's condemnation of this homophobic initiative is critical for others to emulate. Both Bill Bradley and Al Gore have taken important stands in support of domestic partners benefits. Now it is time for the truly moderate Republican candidates to pry themselves from the clutches of the right wing of the GOP and support policies that promote fairness and equality."

NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel also praised Bradley. "We look to those running for office to take bold steps to unite our country," Lobel said. "With today's announcement, Bradley has taken such a step."

The Policy Institute is a think-tank based in New York dedicated to research, policy analysis, strategy development and coalition building to advance the equality and understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people.

The NGLTF Policy Institute report, Courting the Vote: The 2000 Presidential Candidates' Positions on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues will be provided to media representatives upon request. Please call the NGLTF Communications Department at 202-332-6483.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.