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Bernie Sanders tells ultra-conservative Liberty University: ‘I believe in gay rights’

Bernie Sanders tells ultra-conservative Liberty University: ‘I believe in gay rights’

Bernie Sanders

US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday (14 September) spoke out for LGBTI rights at the ultra-conservative Liberty University in Virginia, despite a hostile crowd.

The 74-year-old Democrat made no attempt to hide his 20-year record of voting for LGBTI rights in Congress, but said he hoped to find ‘common ground.’

‘Let me start off by acknowledging what I think all of you already know, and that is the views that many here at Liberty University have and I on a number of important issues are are very, very different,’ he told the nearly 12,000 capacity audience.

‘I believe in women’s rights, and the right of a woman to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. Those are my views, and it is no secret.

‘But I came here today because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.’

Liberty University was founded by evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11.

LGBTI groups are banned at the school, and anti-gay Republican Senator Ted Cruz chose to announce his candidacy there in March.

Sanders, on the other hand, was give a perfect equality score by the Human Rights Campaign. He defended gay people in the military in Congress back in 1995 and was among only 67 House members to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act the following year.

He is currently leading Hilary Clinton in polls in early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Vermont independent senator mentioned LGBTI rights once more in his 27-minute speech.

‘I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about,’ he said.

‘We disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and, in fact, to the entire world that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on. And maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve them.’

Watch the full speech below: