Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced on Friday that if elected he would do everything possible to overturn Mississippi and North Carolina’s recent “outrageous” anti-LGBT laws. While fighting against discrimination in the U.S., Sanders also accepted an invitation to speak at a conference hosted by the Vatican on environmental, economic, and social issues.
“As president of the United States, I would do everything I can do to overturn those outrageous decisions by Mississippi and North Carolina,” Sen. Sanders declared on ABC’s “The View” on Friday. “We have gone too far as a nation. God knows we have seen so much discrimination in our history.”
Earlier this week, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a controversial bill allowing anyone to deny LGBT people marriage, adoption, and foster care services; fire or refuse to employ them; and decline to rent or sell them property for religious reasons. Last month, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill preventing transgender individuals from using public bathrooms for the sex they identify as while blocking local governments from protecting gay and transgender people with anti-discrimination laws.
“What we are trying to do is say, ‘You have your political views. That’s fine,’” Sanders continued. “But I hope we remember what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us. You judge people on their character, not on the color of their skin. And I would add to that not on their gender or sexual orientation.”
During the interview, Sanders mentioned that he has supported the LGBT community even when the majority of Americans did not. In 1996, Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which legally defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman while allowing states to refuse same-sex marriages granted in other states.
“I had the courage to vote the right way even when it was not necessarily popular,” Sanders asserted.
On the same day that Sanders vowed to overturn Mississippi and North Carolina’s anti-LGBT laws if elected president, he accepted an invitation to speak at a conference next week at the Vatican. In response, Sanders said, “I am grateful to the Vatican for inviting me to talk about an issue that is very dear to my heart, which is how we create a moral economy that works for all of the people rather than just the top one percent. I will also in my remarks be addressing the planetary crisis of climate change and the moral imperative to make sure we leave this planet in a way that is healthy and habitable for future generations.”
Also on Friday, Pope Francis released a 256-page report reaffirming the Church’s anti-LGBT views. Although the document offered some semblance of hope to divorced Catholics, the Vatican continues to strongly reject contraception and abortion while repeatedly referring to Christian marriage as a “union between a man and a woman.”
By failing to fight against discrimination, the pope continues to test the definition of “infallible.”