When the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in January, citing the Secretary’s “long record as a champion for LGBT rights,” it sparked a wave of backlash and criticism from the Bernie Sanders campaign and its supporters.
Since that day, Senator Sanders and those who support him have continued their “who said what, when, where, and why?” argument, aimed at painting Clinton as some sort of flip-flopper with an inconsistent record on LGBT rights, who acts solely out of the interest of her own political gain. Those folks constantly highlight her evolving views on same-sex marriage. When it’s pointed out that Sanders has also evolved they argue that he evolved quicker.
Those who support Clinton haven’t fared much better. I personally have been criticized for supporting her. Several have even gone so far as to label me a “Republican lite.” I have also been hounded as to why I am living in some sort of denial as to her credibility and commitment to the LGBT community.
While I respect Senator Sanders, I am not going to vote for him simply because I’m a millennial. I am proud to be a gay millennial supporting Hillary Clinton because she has been a loyal ally of the LGBT community. Given her experience and values, she is the best candidate to further the cause of the LGBT community and preserve the significant progress achieved under President Obama.
So, lets clear the air.
Yes it’s true, Clinton did not initially support same-sex marriage. But, she evolved on the issue, and announced her support in 2013 just nine years after fighting against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Why should someone be criticized for coming around to the right side of history? Shouldn’t we be welcoming of such progress?
While many attack Clinton they forget that numerous people have evolved on the issue of marriage equality including President Obama. Senator Sanders can attempt to jockey his vote against the Defense of Marriage Act into evidence of support for same-sex marriage, but the truth is that it was done in the name of states’ rights rather than marriage equality or some moral high ground.
Like Clinton, Sanders originally believed marriage was a states’ rights issue. But in 2006 when marriage equality was knocking on Vermont’s door, Sanders stood in opposition, and instead flip-flopped back to his endorsement of civil unions. Sanders may have evolved before Clinton, but his record is not without holes.
More recently there is ample evidence to support Secretary Clinton’s commitment to the LGBT community and causes. In her video campaign announcement last April, she included a diverse group of Americans, most notably featuring a gay and lesbian couple showing that LGBT folks are part of her vision.
As Secretary of State, she remained steadfast in her commitment to the LGBT community. In her 2011 speech to the United Nations recognizing International Human Rights Day, Clinton reaffirmed her pledge to the LGBT community, and acknowledged the work that still needs to be done.
“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she declared. In this capacity she also helped President Obama launch the Global Equality Fund, modified the State Department’s equal opportunity policy to protect employees and job applicants based on gender identity and extended many benefits enjoyed by heterosexual employees and their families to same-sex partners and their families.
But, even before becoming Secretary of State, Clinton was at the forefront on many LGBT rights issues. In 2000, she voiced support for the extension of domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. That year she also addressed issues of hate crimes and intolerance. Clinton was the first, First Lady to march in a gay pride parade, and one year later expressed support for civil unions.
Since then, Clinton has continued being an advocate for the LGBT community. In a recent speech to the HRC, Clinton laid out her agenda for furthering progress on LGBT rights as President. Among her promises was a plan to sign the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes with regards to housing and employment discrimination.
Even with nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage, there is much at stake in the 2016 election. While, yes, Sanders has been on the side of the LGBT community, he has never, in over 25 years in Congress, pushed for major LGBT rights legislation.
LGBT rights is not a single-issue cause. Throughout her years of public service, Hillary Clinton has been on the side of the LGBT community. And if you look at her website she has a detailed 6-point plan for LGBT rights that includes full federal equality for LGBT Americans; supporting LGBT youth, parents, and elders; Honoring the military service of LGBT people; Securing affordable treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS; Protecting transgender rights; and promoting human rights of LGBT people around the world.
I believe her campaign slogan, “She’s fighting for us,” and in return I am going to fight for her. I hope you will join me.