Guest post by Matthew 7:1 from American News X:
One reason I love Bernie Sanders? I’m not sure I could pick just one. But this time, I’m going to focus on something pretty extraordinary. Travel back in time to Bernie Sanders – 1995 – over two decades ago (video down the page). Seems unreal that time has flown by that fast, doesn’t it? To put the time period into context, Justin Timberlake made his debut with infamous boy band NSYNC that year:
- Michael Jackson teamed up with his sis, Janet for the epically expensive music video, Scream.
- The Criminal trial of O. J. Simpson opened in California, January 24th, and an estimated 150 million people watched as the not guilty verdict was read.
- The Academy Award, Best Picture was Forrest Gump.
- eBay went live for the first time.
And then there was Bernie Sanders, who in 1995, was fighting homophobia in the US government!!! In that year, it was apparently thought socially acceptable by Republicans to use the term, ‘homos’ while addressing the floor of Congress. Republican Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) set Bernie ablaze with a fury after daring to disparage gay people serving in the military. To put Duke in context, he would later resign in disgrace from his position, “tearfully confessing” to evading taxes and taking 2.4 million in bribes. He would also serve the longest prison sentence of any member of Congress – 8 years.
It was this man that Bernie would put in his place for his unabashed homophobia in a day when it was virtually unheard of to defend the LGBT community, much fewer gays in the military. Don’t ask don’t tell ring a bell? 1995 was the year that Utah passed a law prohibiting same-sex marriage, followed by 30 states with the ill-named ‘Defense of Marriage’ law. Notably, President Bill Clinton singed the Defense of Marriage Act into law quietly in the middle of the night in 1996.
Not that there weren’t other champions for the LGBT community at the time: The Golden Girls had an episode about gay marriage in 1991. Disney extended same-sex health benefits to employees in ‘95 and fought against DOMA. And of course, good ole’ Madonna was a vocal advocate for LGBT people. But in the higher levels of government, Bernie was definitely unique. His views on the matter then match his position today –a real pioneer for civil rights, when it wasn’t politically expedient or popular. His Bern was Berning just as bright, only to gain into the formidable fireball that we see today.
For another take on this shining moment in Bernie history, check out Jen Froderman’s awesome article too!
See the video of Bernie taking on mega-doofus Duke Cunningham’s open homophobia in Congress here: