FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday praised the Supreme Court's ruling declaring same-sex couples have a right to marry and suggested that her Republican opponents were being left behind by history.
In one of her most partisan speeches since announcing her presidential campaign, Clinton criticized the field of more than a dozen Republican candidates for opposing gay marriage, gun control, immigration reform and women's reproductive rights.
"We can sum up the message from the court and the American people in just two words: Move on," she said in a fiery speech to Democratic activists gathered in Northern Virginia for a party fundraiser.
Casting herself as a fighter for struggling Americans, Clinton pledged to advocate for all those facing economic discrimination and prejudice.
"I'm on the side for everyone who's ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out," she told the cheering audience. "I will always stand my ground so you and my country can gain ground."
Clinton equated the gay marriage decision with the decision striking down bans on interracial marriage, saying that "love triumphed in the highest court." She vowed to fight discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and accused Republicans of being "determined to lead us right back into the past."
"Instead of trying to turn back the clock, they should be joining us in saying no, no to discrimination once and for all," she said.
Clinton was making the first stop of her presidential campaign in Virginia, a state likely to be closely contested in the general election. President Barack Obama won the state in 2008, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had captured its electoral votes in decades, and again in 2012.
Clinton's political tactics in the state will likely mirror Obama's winning strategy: increase the number of black and minority voters at the polls while capturing a sufficient share of the white vote in suburban Washington, D.C.
Her personal connections may give her an additional advantage. She took the stage alongside Gov. Terry McAuliffe, her longtime friend and fundraiser, who won office in 2013. His fundraising efforts helped bankroll the campaigns of both Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. After they left the White House, McAuliffe used his personal wealth to help the couple get a mortgage on their house in Chappaqua, New York.
McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign was run by a young operative, Robby Mook, who now is working as Clinton's campaign manager.
"This is personal for me," McAuliffe told the crowd at the fundraiser. "I've known Hillary for decades. We've worked hard together. We've played hard together."
He added: "She's a lot more fun than Bill Clinton is and I love him, too."