Independent senator Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday (19 February) that he is running for president in the 2020 election.
The 77-year-old democratic socialist from Vermont will be running in an increasingly crowded Democratic field.
Despite not being a Democrat, Sanders ran as one in the 2016 presidential race — a political necessity given the dominant nature of the United States’ two-party system.
He emerged as Hillary Clinton’s main contender for the Democratic nomination, but lost by nearly 1,000 delegates and three million in the popular vote.
Sanders’ political career, and election history, is based on left-wing politics, with an emphasis on issues like economics and healthcare.
Where does he stand on LGBTI issues?
With a 100 score from the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard, Sanders has touted his long-standing support of LGBTI rights.
In 1983, as mayor of Burlington, he approved a resolution declaring ‘Gay Rights Day’ (though LGBTI people of his native Vermont hesitated at calling him a ‘leader’ on LGBTI rights).
A decade later, he opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
He’s supported pro-LGBTI legislation like employment and student non-discrimination acts. He has also consistently voted against discriminatory legislation, such as constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and woman.
In 2015, when the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, Sanders said: ‘My view is that people have a right to love each other, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. […] I think, if people are in love, they should be able to get married in this country in 50 states in America. And I strongly support what the Supreme Court recently said.’
He is also a current cosponsor of the Equality Act.
A need for change?
There are concerns among Democrats, however, that Sanders does not represent the changing political party. Currently, the race is dominated by a more diverse lineup of women and people of color.
When asked about this, Sanders responded: ‘We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age.’
Many disputed this idealistic statement.
At a time where folks feel under attack because of who they are, saying race or gender or sexual orientation or identity doesn’t matter is not off, it’s simply wrong.
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) February 19, 2019
It sounds suspiciously as though he thinks color and gender are the *only* reasons a voter would choose a candidate besides himself.
— Auntie van Stabby (@1technodiva) February 19, 2019
Some voters are also worried about him causing friction in the Democratic party.
Here he goes, dividing the party again.
— CindyInCA. (@LoveMyCymba) February 19, 2019
Still, others are excited about his announcement.
I am so glad that @BernieSanders is running. He will energize and engage voters in all 50 states. I've gotten to know and love Bernie over these past few years and he is among the most principled leaders in the world.
He makes this race better in so many ways. https://t.co/lyjOY5eqNJ
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 19, 2019