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What Is Steve Bullock's Record On LGBTQ Rights?

What Is Steve Bullock's Record On LGBTQ Rights?

The Montana governor supports workplace protections and marriage equality, but he once defended the state's right to deny spousal benefits for gay couples.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock formally announced on Tuesday that he's running for president. The decision makes him the 22nd major Democratic candidate to jump into the 2020 fray. But what's his agenda look like on LGBTQ rights?

Notably, Bullock enters the race a day after incumbent President Donald Trump came out against the Equality Act.

As for the Democratic governor, he issued an executive order in 2016 that offered some of the Equality Act's workforce protections to LGBTQ workers in the state. Bullock took that action on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and said protecting queer people from discrimination followed in the civil rights leader's footsteps.

In a speech, he said it was time to "recommit to King's values of compassion and equity" by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While his order affected only state employees, he said he hopes private employers would follow suit.

But Bullock's legacy on marriage equality remains more complicated.

A video announcing Bullock's candidacy makes note that he strongly supports marriage equality. It even includes an image of the governor performing a ceremony for two grooms.

And he suggested that as he's traveled his expansive but sparsely populated home state --one Trump won by 20 points -- he's found support for his position.

"I look for common ground to get things done," he said.

But he wasn't always known as a red state hero for marriage equality.

In 2010, Bullock as Attorney General of Montana filed a motion asking courts to dismiss a lawsuit led by seven same-sex couples who sought equal rights as opposite-sex married couples.

The Montana constitution at the time defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Bullock argued the court does not have the authority to compel states to extend spousal benefits.

Of course, it was the Supreme Court of the United States that a few years later in 2015 said states must recognize marriage equality. By that point, Bullock had been elected governor, and he celebrated the ruling.

"This ruling protects the right of all Montanans to marry the person they love, and moves our state and nation closer to the promise of freedom, dignity, and equality that they were founded upon," Bullock said in a 2015 statement.

"All people, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the opportunity to make a good life for themselves and their families."

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