Liberty University has a reputation for promoting anti-LGBT views and being a stopping point for the campaigns of Republican presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. On Monday, the school deviated from this path by allowing self-avowed socialist Bernard Sanders to speak.
The Democratic presidential candidate invoked his support for LGBT rights at the start of his speech, which received a level of applause perhaps unexpected at a school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.
“I believe in gay rights and gay marriage,” Sanders said. “Those are my views and it is no secret.”
Sanders also brought his up his pro-choice views and support for LGBT rights when he said addressing individuals who disagree with him is important for public discourse, even though it may be difficult.
“I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about,” Sanders 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.”
Drawing on the school’s emphasis of morality, Sanders closed his speech to question whether the United States can morally allow billionaires to increase their wealth as others in the country lack access to necessities like health care and education.
“I would hope very much that as part of that discussion and part of that learning process some of you will conclude that if we are honest in striving to be a moral and just society, it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor, to stand with working people and when necessary take on very powerful and wealthy people whose greed, in my view, is doing this country enormous harm,” Sanders said.
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