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The BIG RACE 2000

Liberties and Rights

By Maria Wang

Al Gore and George W. Bush, the two major presidential candidates, differ greatly on the issues of liberties and civil rights. Although both oppose same-sex marriages, the details of their positions on this issue show the fundamentally different philosophies of the Democrats and Republicans. Gore says that he is against calling same-sex unions “marriages” for religious reasons. He does, however, support civil unions like those in Vermont and domestic partner protections and rights for homosexuals. Bush, on the other hand, says that he is personally against same-sex marriages and domestic partner benefits for homosexuals, but would leave the legal decision up to the states.

Perhaps the most apparent differences between the two candidates are their diametrically opposed views on homosexuality. Gore supports allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military, whereas Bush wants to keep the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Gore believes that gay adoptions should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Bush opposes gay adoptions. Gore supports the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would make firing an employee based on sexual orientation illegal. Bush is against this act. Gore wants to pass tougher hate crime legislation, including coverage for sexual orientation, gender, and disability, and he supports prosecution of these crimes under federal law. Bush opposes expanding hate crime laws.

Gore also plans to introduce a bill banning racial profiling. He supports scholarships for communities that have been historically underrepresented in the justice system and grants to police forces that provide courses on preventing abuses.

Abortion is another issue on which the two parties differ. Bush opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life. Gore supports abortion rights and opposes restrictions on late-term abortions, whereas Bush supports them. Gore is against parental consent or notification and supports an expansion of Medicaid abortions, which are currently provided in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman’s life; Bush takes the opposite stance. Both sides, though, wish to reduce the number of abortions. Gore wishes to allocate more funds to family planning and education. Bush supports efforts to increase adoptions; he wants to make the $5000 adoption tax credit permanent.

On the issue of affirmative action, Gore supports a policy to “mend it, not end it.” He advocates solving the problems of inequalities created by the program, while keeping the original intention of affirmative action, which is to extend opportunities to underrepresented minorities. Bush wants to eliminate quotas and racial preferences; he supports “affirmative access” programs such as the Texas Ten Percent Plan, in which those who graduate in the top ten percent of their class are automatically accepted into any state college or university.