When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she's running for president in 2016, many feminists celebrated. But just because she's the only woman on the left in the race hardly means she's the only feminist. In fact, socialist septuagenarian Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may give Clinton a run for her money.
Sanders' record proves it: The American Civil Liberties Union gave him a 93% rating for his pro-civil rights voting record. He has a 100% rating by the Human Rights Campaign for his pro-LGBT rights stance, and has proven himself a dedicated advocate for several other important issues. When it comes to issues like reproductive rights and violence against women, Sanders is hardly shy about his beliefs. Here are just five times the progressive senator spoke the feminist truth.
On reproductive rights:
Sanders is truly pro-choice: He has voted against banning family planning funding in U.S. aid abroad and against funding health care providers that don't offer simple information on abortions, Bustle recently reported.
Sanders elaborated on his pro-choice stance in a moving Huffington Post op-ed. "We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed," he wrote in 2012. "The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family and physician to make, not the government."
On violence against women:
The Violence Against Women Act not only includes measures to protect victims and prevent abuse but also to strengthen legal action taken against perpetrators and provide support for survivors.
"While the incidence of domestic violence has been reduced, too many women and girls are still suffering from domestic violence and sexual abuse," he said, calling the Violence Against Women Act a "crucial law."
On marriage equality:
Americans may support same-sex marriage more than ever before, but Sanders has backed his belief in this right for years. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which barred the federal government from recognizing legal unions of same-sex couples, and his home state of Vermont was the first to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2000. In general Sanders supports the idea that relationships should not have to hinge upon gender to be recognized by the government for full rights and benefits.
"It's time for the Supreme Court to catch up to the American people and legalize gay marriage."
"Of course all citizens deserve equal rights," he said after the nation's highest court heard arguments in cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage rights in April. "It's time for the Supreme Court to catch up to the American people and legalize gay marriage."
On income inequality:
Today, the United States has more billionaires than any other country and is also the "world leader" in childhood poverty. Sanders is widely known for his passion in ending this inequality and has advocated for increasing the minimum wage, extending emergency unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and creating jobs.
Sanders says he believes income inequality is not just an economic issue but a moral one as well. "A land where millionaires and billionaires have never had it so good, while tens of millions struggle just to survive is not what Christianity is about," he said. "It's not what Judaism is about. And it's not what America is supposed to be about."
Ultimately, Sanders backs policies that support equal opportunity for and the equal treatment of all.
"Finally, let understand that when we stand together, we will always win," he wrote in the Huffington Post. "When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win. When straight and gay people stand together for justice, we win. When young and old stand together for justice, we win. When working families stand together, we win."
This belief in solidarity is not just one Sanders can get behind but one that's at the core of feminism and one worth supporting no matter an individual's political leaning.