Tyler Clementi's Death An Issue Of 'Equality,' DNC's Tim Kaine Says

'We've got to model the right behavior, as leaders, if we expect our young people to learn the right messages,' he tells MTV News.

Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine has been following the story of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student who took his own life after his roommate allegedly posted a video of an intimate encounter between him and another man online, and, much like the rest of us, he is saddened and disgusted by what he's seen.

When MTV News attended the DNC's inaugural Gen44 Summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Kaine let it be known that he sees a direct link between Clementi's death — and a rash of other bullying-related suicides — and a spate of national policies that foster the belief that homosexuality is somehow wrong and that gays and lesbians are lesser human beings because of their sexual orientation.

Chief among those policies is "don't ask, don't tell," which forbids gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. Last week, Senate Democrats were unable to secure enough votes to block a filibuster and debate on repealing that policy, though, according to Kaine, they're determined to try again.

"The president and Democrats are trying to find that path to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' [and] I think there's going to be a chance for us to just straight-up vote on that issue solo ... between Election Day and the end of the year," Kaine said. "We are very focused on repealing 'don't ask' [because] when you have policies at a national level — as we've had for many years — that send a message that 'Hey, somebody's second-class,' then people pick up that message, and then they treat people in ways nobody should be treated.

"And so, that was what [Clementi's death] was about," he continued. "It's just basic respect and basic courtesy and dignity and equality, and we've got to model the right behavior, as leaders, if we expect our young people to learn the right messages."

It should be noted that, while serving as lieutenant governor of Virginia, Kaine went on record as being opposed to gay marriage.