Is This What a 'Radical Lesbian' Looks Like?
Tammy Baldwin has been called a "radical lesbian" in her quest for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but what does she actually believe, and does it sound radical to you?
Just last week Jeffrey Kuhner, a columnist for The Washington Times, penned a screed headlined, "Radical Lesbian Knocking on Senate Door." The conservative pundit warned that if Tammy Baldwin — who in 1998 became the first woman in Wisconsin’s history to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first openly gay nonincumbent elected to Congress in American history — wins her current bid for the Senate that it "would mark a watershed for the homosexual movement" and a "major blow against traditional America."
Kuhner warned about Baldwin’s "lesbian lifestyle," predicting "increased child abuse, higher rates of drug addiction and alcoholism, soaring violence and rampant teenage promiscuity" as a result of her election.
Of course, her opponent, Republican Tommy Thompson has a talking point: "Tammy Baldwin is so liberal that even Nancy Pelosi has to turn left to talk to her." Although Baldwin isn't the most liberal member of the House, the most recent of National Journal’s annual vote ratings concur that Baldwin is the more liberal of the two, ranking Baldwin at number 21 on the list of most liberal members of the House, with bogeyman Pelosi at number 79.
Since this isn’t the first time Baldwin has been called a "radical lesbian" (though one assumes Kuhner and his ilk aren't familiar with actual "radical lesbians" from the 1960s like Rita Mae Brown), we decided to examine what the political platform and voting record of a "radical lesbian" such as Baldwin really looks like.
Economic Security and Fiscal Responsibility
Baldwin says she stands up against "powerful, corporate special interests" and says that "fighting for Wisconsin's middle class" is her top priority, noting jobs shipped overseas, stagnant wages, dwindling retirement accounts, rising health care costs, and the rising cost of college tuition.
- She voted against extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
- She is the lead sponsor in the House of Representatives of the Buffett Rule (which would make millionaires and billionaires pay more in taxes).
- She voted against repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which divided investment and commercial banking. The repeal won, a move that many experts say helped cause the 2008 economic collapse.
- She fought for stronger tariffs on China and against what she says are unfair trade deals with China and Central and South America, saying they encourage outsourcing and lead to job losses in Wisconsin.
- In 2001 she opposed tax breaks for overseas corporations; in 2004, she voted against a corporate tax bill that included $42 billion in tax cuts for overseas operations of U.S. companies. She opposes "taxpayer hand-outs for big oil."
- As part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Baldwin offered a budget plan that would raise taxes by $3.9 trillion over 10 years and reduce the deficit by $5.6 trillion over the same time.
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Medicare and Social Security
Raised by her grandparents, Baldwin is a staunch proponent of Medicare and Social Security and opposes Republican attempts to cut or privatize either. She opposes the Paul Ryan budget plan, which turns Medicare into a voucher system for some future seniors. Baldwin says it "would end Medicare, as we know it, while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the country."
- She lobbied for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and she authored the provision that allowed young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.
- She voted against a ban on so-called partial-birth abortions.
- She authored a 2007 measure reauthorizing funding for screenings and other services related to breast and cervical cancer.
- She authored a resolution in 2007 that made it easier for veterans to quality for disability coverage if they have service-related vision impairments.
Baldwin's home state of Wisconsin was the first in the country to adopt a comprehensive law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, something Baldwin takes as a sign of her constituency's welcoming attitude. Baldwin was a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress, and she's been a strong advocate for preventing bullying and suicide among LGBT youth.
- She worked on the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which expands federal hate-crimes law to include attacks based on victims' actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
- In 2009 she introduced the Respect for Marriage Act "in order to uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples, repealing DOMA."
- She was a lead sponsor of the 2010 repeal of the military’s "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
- She is a sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to expand antidiscrimination employment laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
- She supports including college students, Native Americans, immigrants, and LGBT individuals in the Violence Against Women Act to protect all victims of domestic violence.
- Baldwin supported emergency K-12 funding included in the Recovery Act.
- She voted in favor of No Child Left Behind.
- She voted in favor of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and doubling the maximum number of Pell Grants.
- She voted for President Obama’s Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Baldwin has voted for sanctions against Iran twice and against them four times. In 2007 she voted "present" (basically a neutral vote) on a resolution that condemned Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she worried that then President George W. Bush would have used the resolution as a pretext to go to war with Iran.