In the last twenty years, the American public has seen a historic transformation toward the support for LGBT rights. There’s no need to demonize anybody for evolving. We all evolve on our issues, after all.
There’s a problem in expecting support from a community one has hurt in the past, however. Unlike the other Democratic candidates running for president, the Clintons have a past regarding the LGBT community. And that’s why I have a problem with the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Hillary.
The Clinton administration has directly caused the suffering of LGBT people by the thousands, with the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being passed during their reign. While the Clintons don’t have the same views anymore, there was never a single apology from them. From both Hillary and her supporters, just political distancing and posturing.
They have to address it, or else the queer vote will never belong to them sincerely. While we can't blame Hillary for the actions of her husband during his presidency, she didn't do anything to disagree with the measure nor did she stand against it.
Meanwhile, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders voted and signed a proclamation in 1983 for a Gay Pride Day. He was mayor for eight years and continued to release Gay Pride Day proclamations. In the 1990s as a senator, he voted against DOMA and DADT.
As a senator for New York, Hillary Clinton continued to support DOMA. In 2004, while she supported civil unions, she mentioned that “marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.”
Even more eyebrow raising, the president of HRC used to work for the Clintons. Chad Griffin was a junior aide during Bill Clinton's presidency. While the HRC endorsement definitely wasn't the actions of one man, the fact that they had close ties seemed to be a conflict of interest.
In 2006, the HRC gave Hillary Clinton an 89 percent rating. That same year, they gave Bernie Sanders a 100 percent. To this day, Bernie Sanders has a 100 percent Lifetime rating by the Human Rights Campaign.
What does that say about their organization? “Hey, we’re choosing the candidate with the lower rating. Even though it’s the first time in decades we released an endorsement before the start of any primaries.”
Before dropping out, even Martin O’Malley was a better contender for the endorsement. During his reign as governor in Maryland, same-sex marriage was passed through ballot for the first time in 2012. Before that, he signed city ordinances to protect transgender workers and LGBT people in general.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Hillary Clinton came out to support marriage equality publicly. That was supposed to be the fresh start, wasn’t it? The day she became humble enough to say she became a part of our fight and that she was sorry for the past?
Except that didn't happen.
As an ally, there should be more active participation than releasing LGBT-affirming videos that are politically motivating for one’s own cause. It seems to imply that the importance of our vote is fickle and doesn’t matter until it’s relevant. That might have worked in the 1990s when the Clinton administration was willing to throw our rights away for bipartisan support, but it doesn’t work that way now.
In 2013, Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about his regret in signing DOMA. Although it showed regret, there was no formal apology written in the article.
A quote from former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, during an interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show:
“I was in on some of those discussions, on both ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would — you know, chime in and talk about, ‘You can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.’ But they were. And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further. It was a defensive action.”
This was said on Oct. 23, 2015. This quote was less than six months ago.
As a millennial, I don’t want to push the idea of Hillary Clinton being unelectable. But to expect an endorsement from a community she hasn’t done enough work to support? Especially when her current and former Democratic rival candidates have better track records, even by the endorsing agency themselves?
In 2016, let’s tell people that the bandwagon is full. The queer vote doesn’t belong to Hillary Clinton without some elbow grease on her part - no major organization endorsing her will imply that. Unlike Hillary Clinton, we’re not willing to compromise anymore.
Jae Kanella is an 18-year-old South Florida native, cat parent, and avid reader. Jae’s pronoun preference is they, their, them. They enjoy writing stories, articles, and making music. Puns and the band Queen gives them life.