Weeks of intense
speculation ended early Saturday morning when Senator
Barack Obama announced that he had selected Senator Joseph
Biden Jr. of Delaware to be his running mate. CNN
first reported the choice, which was disclosed to
Obama supporters via a highly anticipated text message at
3:31 a.m. EST.
Biden, 65, brings
to the Democratic ticket a strong but not perfect
record on gay rights accumulated since he was elected to the
Senate in 1972. He received a score of 78 percent on
the Human Rights Campaign's 2006 Congressional
In 2006, Biden
voted against the federal constitutional amendment to ban
same-sex marriage. Although he stated in 2003 that he
believes same-sex marriage is inevitable, he currently
supports civil unions that would grant the same legal
rights as marriage. He voted for the Defense of
Marriage Act in 1996.
As chairman of
the influential Foreign Relations Committee, Biden
supports ending the "don't ask, don't tell"
policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving
openly in the U.S. military. The outspoken Senator
invoked first-hand observations of combat zones to criticize
the policy in 2007 when he said, "Let me tell
you something, nobody asked anybody else whether
they're gay in those foxholes."
has yet to co-sponsor the Uniting American Families Act
that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to give
same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful
permanent residents the same immigration benefits that
legal spouses of U.S. residents receive.
supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act including
protections for transgender Americans, and in 2002 he voted
to add sexual orientation to the definition of hate
crimes. He voted "yes" on expanding hate crimes to
include sexual orientation in 2000.
Obama and Biden
are scheduled to make their first public appearance
together at a rally on the steps of the Old State Capitol in
Springfield, Illinois on Saturday afternoon. Biden
will be the headline primetime speaker at this
week's Democratic National Convention on Wednesday
night, when the theme will be, "Securing
America's Future." (Julie Bolcer, The