Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) declared Friday she will vote against the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general out of a belief the country should move toward being “more equal, not less equal.”
“America has made great progress over the last eight years with an administration that has taken seriously a shared responsibility to pass on to the next generation a country that is more equal, not less equal,” Baldwin said.
The only out lesbian in Congress referenced in her statement not only LGBT rights — which Sessions has opposed over the course of his career in the Senate — but also constitutional rights and civil rights issues like voting rights and the right to an abortion.
“Every American citizen deserves a government that is as good as they are and they are right to demand that our attorney general, and our Department of Justice, are committed to the principle that racism, discrimination, and hate-based crimes will not be tolerated in America,” Baldwin said. “All Americans also deserve a strong commitment from our attorney general, America’s top law enforcement official, to act on violence borne out of hatred based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic.”
The Trump transition team didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on Baldwin’s opposition to Sessions. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions despite his anti-LGBT record said he understands demands for justice from LGBT people and would ensure laws “protecting their civil rights and their safety are fully enforced,” although concerns remain among LGBT advocates.
Despite substantial opposition to his confirmation from Democrats, civil rights supporters and LGBT advocates, Sessions appears headed to confirmation. One of the more moderate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), introduced him at his confirmation hearing. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also expressed support for Sessions.
Baldwin, who’s up for re-election in 2018, said she’s basing her vote against Sessions after meeting with him on a “moral choice” and “strong belief that all Americans deserve equal opportunity and the freedom to pursue their hopes and dreams.”
“That is the promise of America and I have committed myself and my life’s work to make sure we keep it,” Baldwin said. “After meeting with Sen. Sessions, I cannot support his confirmation to be our next Attorney General because I don’t have faith that he shares these beliefs and that he will embrace these commitments, and our shared responsibility to move our nation forward for all Americans.”