1976 May 21

Candidate Jimmy Carter Opposes Discrimination Against Homosexuals


Democratic Party presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, on this day, said that homosexuals should not be singled out for discrimination. He became the first major party candidate for president to oppose discrimination against homosexuals. On March 26, 1977, his administration was the first to invite lesbian and gay activists to the White House.

Despite his pioneering support for lesbian and gay rights as both a candidate and president, Carter made a major blunder in a June 18, 1977, interview on families and family policy where he stated that same-sex relations were “not normal.” The statement undermined much of the support he had won among lesbians and gays, and as result he was subject to protests and pickets at events.

As a candidate, Bill Clinton endorsed the idea of gays in the military, but upon become president encountered strong opposition from both Congress and the Pentagon. The result was the compromise policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which satisfied no one. Congress finally voted to repeal DADT in late December 2011 and the policy officially ended on September 20, 2011.

In 2010, Jimmy Carter said the U.S. was ready for a gay president: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC3B4dl_r9Y

Learn more abut Jimmy Carter’s record on civil liberties: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

Learn more about Carter’s post-presidential work at the Carter Center: http://www.cartercenter.org/index.html

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