In a post earlier today, I referenced a Baltimore Sun article where Democrat Presidential nominee Walter Mondale said he heard President Ronald Reagan speak against discrimination against gays. I found a transcript of that June 14, 1984 press conference in the Reagan archives which supports Mondale’s statement. Here is the brief answer to a reporter’s question about gay rights in employment:
Employment Rights for Homosexuals
Q. Mr. President, there is a move afoot in the Congress that has the support of many of the Democratic Presidential candidates to change the Federal civil rights law to prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals. Is that something that you would favor?
The President. Now, I was so — you’re going to have to start again here for — first few words. I missed them. I was so confused about three of you — –
Q. There’s a measure before the Congress to change the Federal civil rights law to specifically prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals. Is that something that you would favor?
The President. Well, I just have to say I am opposed to discrimination, period. Now — –
Q. Well, would you support the measure, Mr. President?
The President. What?
Q. Will you support that measure, putting it into — –
The President. I want to see — I want to see what else they have there.
A few months later, Mondale told a Tupelo, MS crowd that he held essentially the same position as Reagan.
But the issue arose last Thursday when Mondale was asked at a Tupelo, Miss., appearance, why he supported “perversions” such as “gay rights.”
He answered: “I saw Reagan on a news conference a couple of months ago and someone said that about homosexuals.
He said, I wouldn’t discriminate against them.
That’s my position.
Does that draw a distinction between us?”
Reagan’s words in 1984 are consistent with his actions in 1978, opposing discrimination in CA by campaigning against the Briggs Initiative. When Reagan said that he wanted to see what else was in the bill referenced by the reporter, it seems clear that he was unfamiliar with the specific piece of legislation. However, on the broader question, Reagan expressed opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Will those who now seek congruence with Reagan’s policies follow his lead?