George Bush Sr. on Civil Rights
President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)
For the first 4 years after leaving the White House, my father's personal aide, Michael Dannenhauer, went just about everywhere with Dad. They had developed a very close relationship, but all that time Michael also lived with a deeply held fear. "All those years I always wondered if the president assumed I was gay," Michael said. "In 1998, in the back of my mind I wondered if he would want me to be his chief of staff if he knew I was gay."
1998: gay status of personal aide "doesn't matter to us"
[In the 1980 GOP primary], the press forced George to clarify his positions, most of which contrasted sharply with Ronald Reagan's. Bush said he favored an Equal Rights Amendment, and he opposed an amendment that would overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion. He also opposed licensing and registering firearms.
1980: Supported Equal Rights Amendment, but not as V.P.
When Pres. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, George wrapped himself in the mantle of states' rights, which was conservative code for no federal intervention on racial matters. "The new civil rights act was passed to protect 14% of the people," George said. "I'm also worried about the other 86%."
1964: Advocated states' rights over Civil Rights Act
Dr. John Walker, the brother of George's mother, Dorothy, had joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 1952 as a clinical assistant in surgery. He was struck with polio in 1950 and lost most of the use of his limbs, eventually becoming bound to a wheelchair.
1990: Signed Americans with Disabilities Act
Moving from Midland to Houston in the summer of 1959 required logistical planning by the Bushes because they were transporting a business, building a house, and expecting a baby.
1959 home carried a restrictive racial covenant
In June 1963, the President sent to Congress the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country's history. To demonstrate a mandate for the legislation, Martin Luther King led 250,000 people to Washington that summer with the incandescent rhetoric of his "I Have a Dream" speech.
1963: Civil Rights Bill violates constitutional rights
Geraldine Ferraro, a former congresswoman from NYC, had been chosen as the first woman to run for national office on a major-party ticket. Her selection by Walter Mondale as his running mate had galvanized many women. [There was] enormous pressure on Ferraro, who had to surmount the bigotry and sexism her candidacy unleashed, particularly among men in the media.
1983: Debated Geraldine Ferraro; "We kicked a little ass"
The day after the [1983 VP debate with Geraldine Ferraro] the Vice President referred to the previous evening: "I tried to kick a little ass." Hours later his staff showed up on the press plane wearing buttons that said, "We kicked a little ass."
No professional women on Bush staff, nor in Bush family
Ralph Neas, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, felt the sting of Bush's retaliation after the President vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, which was intended to prohibit discrimination in employment. "I was very critical of the President for that veto and for calling the bill a quota bill simply to pander to the right wing," said Neas. "I said he was acting beneath the dignity of his office."
1990: vetoed Civil Rights Act & voter registration bill
The president had already vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, claiming it was a "quota bill." Determined not to veto any more civil rights legislation, the President directed his White House counsel to work with the Senate and House Democrats to reach a bipartisan agreement on the 1991 Civil Rights Act.
Signed 1991 Voting Rights Act after 1990 veto
If we seek--and I believe that every one of us does--to build a new era of harmony and shared purpose, we must make it possible for all Americans to scale the ladder of opportunity. If we seek to ease racial tensions in America, civil rights legislation is, by itself, not enough. The elimination of discrimination in the workplace is a vital element of the American Dream, but it is simply not enough.
Legislation is not enough to eliminate discrimination
(Remarks on signing the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Rose Garden.)
I wrote this note to Senator Jack Danforth, when we could not agree on a civil rights bill.
Civil Rights Act: ban discrimination without quotas
Dear Jack,I signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 on November 21. It did not include quotas. It did promote the goals of ridding the workplace of discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, and disability....Needless to say we don’t feel we are “turning back the clock on civil rights.” Indeed I have stated that I want to sign a civil rights bill. I’ve also said that it is important that we get a bill, and rather than haggle over what some have called tiny differences, why not take a gigantic step forward by going with a bill where we have total agreement, leaving a handful of the knotty unresolved questions to later on.Isn’t it more important to take a 90% step forward than to take no step at all? Anyway, let’s keep plugging away not letting the extremes on either side of this debate carry the day.
Author's note: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 President Bush would later call "really the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality" for disabled people.
ADA is first declaration of equality for disabled people
(Remarks on signing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, White House South Lawn.)
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) were under fire for underwriting an art exhibit that featured a controversial painting of Jesus.
Avoiding censorship more important than defunding NEA
Diary entry March 28th:
Take the NEA for example. When I see Jesus Christ shooting up heroin or floating on a bottle of urine, I figure that there ought not to be one dime of federal funds going into this. And then you think of the alternative that comes to mind-federal censorship-and you worry, “Where will this lead?”