Tim Kaine Is Your Basic Well-Intentioned, Foot-Dragging, Not-All-That-Pro-Gay Democrat

Tim KaineApparently Hillary Clinton thinks Donald Trump has a lock on the market for boldness, so she decided to go the safe-and-oh-so-boring route in choosing Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. Kaine is pretty much cut from the same mold as Clinton–a moderate (by the party’s 2016 standards) with extensive foreign and domestic policy experience. He’s also shown a finger-in-the-wind approach to social issues. Especially LGBT issues.

Kaine came out in favor of marriage equality in 2013, just two weeks after his would-be boss announced her support. Up until then, when it came to marriage equality, Kaine was a cross between a pretzel and a waffle.

What preceded was a long and painful-to-watch evolution during which Kaine engaged in verbal acrobatics to finesse the issue. It began in 2001, when Kaine expressed his support for “civil benefits” for gay couples, something he made clear was not marriage or civil unions. When Massachusetts legalized same-sex weddings in 2003, Kaine issued a statement that went further than necessary in distancing himself from the court ruling.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is the building block of the family and a keystone of our civil society,” Kaine, who was lieutenant governor at the time, declared. It has been so for centuries in societies around the world. I cannot agree with a court decision suddenly declaring that marriage must now be redefined to include unions between people of the same gender.”

The real test came in 2006, when Kaine was governor. By veto-proof margins, the legislature passed a bill to put an anti-marriage amendment on the ballot. Kaine opposed the measure, saying it went too far in forbidding civil unions, but he signed it nonetheless. As partial redemption, he campaigned against the measure, which handily succeeded anyway.

Fast forward as the debate heated up. In 2012, while running for his Senate seat, Kaine proclaimed himself in favor of “relationship equality.” Did that mean marriage? Well, not exactly. “The labels get in the way of the issue,” Kaine said.

All of this was the classic attempt of a middle-of-the-road Democrat to find a middle-of-the-road solution. He was trying to split the baby. Unfortunately, we were the baby.

Since his conversion, Kaine, a practicing Catholic, has been quick to celebrate our victories. And to give him credit, he was willing to spend some political capital for us on other issues. As governor, he extended an executive order forbidding workplace discrimination. He also supported the right of gay couples to adopt. He just wasn’t about to get out in front on the marriage issue, not until public opinion made it safe to do so.

Does that make Kaine a terrible candidate? Not at all. Barack Obama was a famous evolver (although you always suspected he was lying about it).

But Kaine is a throwback to the kind of candidate we saw in the Bill Clinton era. He’s coming from a mindframe that LGBT issues are a little bit risky and worth being cautious about. Contrast that with the future of the party: young Democrats overwhelmingly support LGBT rights and consider the issue closed for debate. Caution won’t cut it with them.

That attitude is shifting the party to the left. So what once looked moderate, like Kaine’s positions, now look conservative. If Kaine is going to capture the imagination of younger voters, he’s going to have to shed his past quickly. Clinton has been doing her best to do so. Too bad her choice is a reminder of a time that we’d all like to forget.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #2016election #democrats stories and more


  • Alistair Wiseman

    Oh, so Hillary adds a cisgender, privileged, white male millionaire to the ticket.

    So brave.

  • Paul Nadolski

    Perfect choice then, since Her Royal Highness Hillary I would sell out the LGBT community IN A HEARTBEAT if the political and cultural winds suddenly shifted.

    More reason why I support Jill Stein and the Green Party (who by the way have been for equal rights for us since the 1980s).

  • Alistair Wiseman

    Let the fun begin!

    The Democratic National Convention Freak Show is already beginning.

    Yes, the Democratic Party is so obsessed with fairness and gender equity that they will treat some people unfairly based purely on gender.

    The Democrats are actually barring two delegates from Vermont from their national convention next week for the simple fact that they’re men. Those Democratic bean counters!

    This is the sort of backwards thinking that makes Progressives parody themselves.

    And the story the liberal mainstream media accidentally, on purpose, forgot to report.

    A Democrat from Pennsylvania who is a delegate and would have attended the Democrat convention next week to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton won’t be making the trip because she shot her husband this week. D’oh!

    Do you think this story would be ignored if she was a Republican?

    Fat chance.

  • captainburrito

    Younger voters have poorer turnout. She is already popular with minorities and is a woman so she needs a white male to balance the ticket.

  • TrueWords

    Elections are NOT a social experiment (see Britain and the Brexit vote) to be entertained by and distracted by and ultimately to clog up one’s social media accounts.

    Educate yourself on the issues that affect your life as well as others that you care about i.e. “the human race not just in America”, your income and social well being; spread the word to friends and family in a manner that is enlightening and eye-opening.

    Lastly encourage others to register to vote as early as possible (before October) because many states have confusing and oppressive laws on the books…make a pact to take someone with you when you vote.

  • kevininbuffalo

    The only thing any politician cares about is getting elected. Period. If the pendulum swung the other way the Dems would throw us under a bus in the blink of an eye and Trump would build a wall around West Hollywood. That’s politics. Kaine was chosen because he’s the safe white bread choice who doesn’t scare anyone. The only way LGBT people get liberated is to do it themselves. That was the message of Stonewall.


  • robho3

    I totally agree with you kevininbuffalo. The problem is who do we vote for? Voting for a third party candidate is the same as voting for Trump. My reasoning is I have to vote for the lesser of two evils.

  • Brian

    Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are very similar. Both are not particularly gay-friendly. They say and do nothing unless forced to.

  • Masc Pride

    @robho3: “Voting for a third party candidate is the same as voting for Trump.”

    So if someone really likes a Green Party or Libertarian candidate, they’re supposed to scrap their their vote for the candidate they want and vote for Hillary? That doesn’t sound like democracy. If you like another candidate that isn’t one of the two self-serving evils, you should absolutely cast your vote for him or her.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Global thinkers, both. The Tedious Right digs for truffles. Anemic, hysterical, and misguided about the laws protecting us. Overzealous nut jobs will set a precedence that has the potential to undermine our nation, a blend of many. Using our government to coerce other citizens with very sincerely held religious beliefs is dangerous. Supreme Court appointees and politicians will win no hearts, using governmental avenues to be heard. Oppression has tendrils. Religion and politics provides rich compost.

  • [email protected]

    Tim Kaine is my senator and former governor. I have met with him numerous times (including at the Equality Virginia dinners) and you can not wish for a better ally.

  • Xzamilio

    Judging from the title of the article, Kaine seems to be Hillary Clinton with a penis.

    Well… a smaller penis.

  • Sweetie Pie

    @Paul Nadolski: Right…vote for the Green Party and actually you´ll be voting for Trumpo

  • Maine Bound

    So Kaine is pro-coal, pro-fracking, cozy with Wall St and favors deregulating regional and community banks, pro defense industry (yay for more war!), supported NAFTA and supports TPP. What a crappy pick.

  • Aromaeus

    Any credibility the secretary had as a progressive went out the window when she made this pick. She’s one if not the most untrustworthy politician right now and she picks someone who basically is against everything she was for while running the primary race. We all knew she’d pivot back to the right in the general but I didn’t expect her to make such a long jump.

  • martinbakman

    If we don’t do what it takes to defeat Trump and to elect a Democratic Congress
    LGBTQ people will regret it.

    I get it that our system doesn’t seem to be a perfect democracy, yet it has been the Dems that moved with the will of the people and the will of the courts on gay rights.

    Repubs are a fvcking disaster.

  • Kangol

    Kaine is a conservative Democrat who grudgingly supports LGBTQ issues.

    Pence is a ultraconservative Republican who has fought LGBTQ issues at every step.

    Hillary’s pick sucks, but Trump’s is far worse. Neither is all that appealing for LGBTQ people.

    I will grab my barf bag and vote for Hillary, because Trump is an insane, unstable fraud. Just wait till the rape allegations get national coverage. He’s a monster.

  • Modernliving3

    Yep, basically another Obama administration.

  • Masc Pride

    @Ukin: So not surprised to see you’re anti-democracy on top of being ill-informed. You’re consistent; I’ll give you that.

  • crowebobby

    @Alistair Wiseman: Would you prefer she added something else and forfeited the election to Der Trump?

  • JessPH

    I’d vote Tim Kaine for President.

  • CWM85

    Trump is more genuine for gay rights than these two. These two want unvetted refugees from countries we don’t know where they come from… Hillary is silent on the whole ordeal because those countries pay her millions in donations. Just corruption, I can not and will not vote for Hillary. Hillary and Kaine two career, wall street owned who will talk a lot and do nothing… vote Trump or third party…

  • dean089

    We know that the Republicans don’t give a shit, but they at least have the balls to say so. The Democrats don’t give a shit, either, but they’ll say whatever it takes to get your vote.

  • zipperzone

    I agree that Trump is a monster – dangerous and could quite literally start a war that could end civilization.

    As for the rape allegations, this is the 1st I’ve heard of them. If they are out there, why isn’t the media shouting out loud about them?

    I can’t wait to hear what dirt Clinton will throw at him in the upcoming sebates.

  • vaguy

    the political naif who wrote this item about Kaine should be mildly throttled. Kaine is a great guy and will support the LGBT community.

  • NateOcean

    Don’t confuse “boldness” with Trump’s narcissistic psychopathy.

  • Kangol

    @zipperzone: There are several.Trump’s wife Ivana accused him of rape. This is on the record. Another woman, Jill Harth, also accused him of rape. After he and Ivanka trashed her, she’s airing the allegations. The third is the most disturbing: a woman alleges that when she was 13 Trump raped her. This allegation is linked to convicted pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein; others named by other formerly underage women include Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. The mainstream media are keeping mum about this, perhaps because it’s so shocking.

  • Kangol

    @CWM85: You’re saying a man, Trump, running for a party actively working against gay rights and equality is better than two people, Clinton and Kaine, who are now on the record, like the Democratic Party, actively supporting gay/LGBT rights? Are you kidding? Also, all the refugees are carefully vetted, multiple times. That closet-case fanatic who slaughtered queer people in Orlando was American born, not a refugee or immigrant. But seriously, how is Trump going to stop ISIS? Why won’t we offer any plans or policies? He’s like 1968 Nixon 2.0.

  • o.codone

    Somebody forgot to mention that he’s catholic, so, how this helps Hillary is a mystery. And how about that he’s very discretely proplife. I of course am thrilled because this annihilates her 1% lead in the real polls. How did this happen?

  • Karlis

    Oh, give the guy a break! Very, very few politicians in America have been on the gay marriage and equal rights bandwagon from the git-go, and Tim Kaine deserves props for evolving on the matter. Just like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did, by the way. Above all, he is up against Mike Pence, who has not just not evolved, he has moved backward on LGBTQ issues. No matter whether you think that Senator Kaine was not the best choice for Hillary to make, you must go out and vote for her in November, because the alternative is unthinkable.

  • Kangol

    @o.codone: The original Queerty piece above clearly states that he’s Catholic. Did you not read it? VP Joe Biden is Roman Catholic and “anti-abortion,” and he was elected twice with Obama. Al Gore was “anti-abortion” and elected twice with Bill Clinton. Seriously, this has little bearing for most most Democratic voters, because they know these “anti-abortion” Democrats will still uphold the law allowing legal abortions, unlike Republicans.

  • GayEGO

    My lifetime partner of 54 years, married 12 years, have watched society learn and evolve to support us. The fact that Barack, Hillary, and Tim have learned more recently than others, that we are part of normal society who live like they do and are not a threat to civilization, shows they are on the right side of history.

    On the other hand, Trump flip flops, and Pence and Cruz are vehemently against us, and do not deserve our support.

  • GayEGO

    @Karlis: Well said, and at least Tim Kaine shows he can learn, like Barack and Hillary did to support marriage equality.

    Who knows about Trump other than he acts like an idiot, but Mike Pence is a definite no no.

  • AxelDC

    What a nasty hit piece against a smart, capable man who lead a right-leaning state into progress. It’s completely unfair to judge his gay rights record when his state legislature was controlled by Republicans.

    What exactly has Elizabeth Warren done for gay marriage? As a private citizen, she may have supported it, but in a state that legalized it 12 years ago before she was even relevant. What about Corey Booker, or even Bernie Sanders? Sanders send that he only wanted civil unions for Vermont in 2006 and said that he opposed Federal recognition of gay marriage for neighboring MA.

    Kaine is a smart pick on the only ticket choice for gay people. Trump promised Evangelicals that he will pack the courts with antigay judges. Jill Stein is an anti-vaxxer with no hope of winning. Gary Johnson did nothing for gay marriage while governor of NM, and he has no hope of winning either.

    Don’t be like the Nader voters who gave Bush NH and FL, ensuring no movement on climate change for a decade. Electing Trump means that gay marriage will be banned again, and those 4-5 he appoints Justices will be on the bench for 20 to 30 years.

  • AxelDC

    Another very telling thing about Tim Kaine: the people most excited about him are those in Virginia and nearby states. He may not be high profile, but he’s admired by those in his state who have followed his career.

  • Sluggo2007

    What does it matter what Kaine thinks? He’s running for Vice President, a non-job, and will have no authority whatsoever.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Safe and predictable.

Add your Comment

Please log in to add your comment
Need an account? Register *It's free and easy.