Tom Harkin Hub

Joe Biden Says Gay Marriage is 'the Civil Rights...Issue of Our Day' — VIDEO


Vice President Joe Biden attended Tom Harkin's (D-IA) steak-fry fundraiser on Sunday, a Democratic confab typically seen as the place where candidates get their feet wet for a forthcoming presidential race.

Biden spoke about Syria, and Obama's economic policies, but he also spoke about gay rights, defending his Meet the Press interview in May 2012 at which he came out for same-sex marriage, sprinting ahead of Obama on the issue.

Said Biden at the Harkin event over the weekend:

“A lot of people criticized me for speaking out, not long ago, about gay marriage. I could not remain silent any more. It's time we stopped talking. It’s the civil rights of our day. It’s the issue of our day.....That's why the president eliminated DOMA, Don't Ask, Dont' Tell. That's why he came out against this notiong that marriage can somehow be recognized in one state and denied in another. And when it comes to the rights of - you know the president's phrase, and I'll paraphrase this slightly - that everybody in America should have the dignity to choose who they love and marry who they choose. He believes that but not just because it's a human right because it's about treating everyone with dignity.

Watch Biden's remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Senate Committee Schedules ENDA Vote on July 10


The Employment Non-Discrimination Act will receive consideration from a Senate panel on July 10, reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has scheduled the markup for the LGBT job anti-bias legislation two weeks to the day that the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

Scheduling the vote is first step for Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, pictured) in fulfilling the promise he announced this year to move ENDA out of the committee this year.

The bill is expected to be advanced as all 12 Senate Democrats on the panel are sponsors of the legislation.

Senator Tom Harkin: 'We're Going to Move ENDA This Year' - VIDEO


Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, promised during remarks this morning at an event at the Center for American Progress that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will "move thie year."

Think Progress notes that Harkin has the power to ensure that it receives at least a committee mark-up and vote.


Earlier this week, LGBT activists protested outside the White House over inaction by the President to make good on a first-term promise to pass ENDA. At the same time, the Washington Post reported that Obama was increasingly considering the use of an executive order to get LGBT protections passed.

Continue reading "Senator Tom Harkin: 'We're Going to Move ENDA This Year' - VIDEO" »

Bipartisan Group of Senators Asks for ENDA Markup

The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson reports that nine Senators have asked for a markup on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):

HarkinThe group is asking for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, to hold a markup on ENDA in the wake of the panel’s hearing on the legislation last week and the senator’s remarks to the Washington Blade immediately afterward that he wanted “to poll the committee” about moving the bill forward.

In the week after the hearing, the Blade solicited statements from the offices of all 22 members of the Senate panel on whether they want to see the committee move the legislation to the Senate floor. Those who responded affirmatively were spokespersons for Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), ENDA’s lead sponsor, as well as Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the only Republican on the panel who responded to the Blade’s inquiry.

All 12 Democrats on the panel — as well as Kirk, an original co-sponsor of the bill — are among the 41 total co-sponsors of ENDA, so the bill should have no trouble moving out of committee. The legislation would bar employers in most situations in the public and private workforce from discriminating against workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Harkin remains non-committal, Johnson adds:

“I’m going to poll my committee and see,” Harkin said. “Right now, I’m kind of up to here in getting [Food & Drug Administration] bill through, as you know. We got it through the Senate; we’ve got to work with the House on that trying to get that put to bed, and then I’m going to poll the committee and see what we want to do.”

Enlightened: Iowa Senator Harkin Changes Mind on Gay Marriage


Iowa Senator Tom Harkin appeared on Iowa Public Television's Iowa Press program over the weekend and told the hosts that his perspective has changed since he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1998. Harkin called the Iowa Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality "enlightening" and said he would vote against any proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, though he believes the issue will "fade" before it gets to voters.

Said Harkin: "We all grow as we get older and we learn things and we become more sensitive to people and people's lives and the more I've looked at that I've grown to think differently about how people, how we should live and I guess I'm at the point of live and let live."

Read the transcript of Harkin's marriage discussion, AFTER THE JUMP...

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