March 16, 2015 at 8:54 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Equality California endorses Hillary Clinton for 2016
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Equality California has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A major LGBT group on Monday announced it has endorsed Hillary Clinton in her likely bid for the White House in 2016, even though she hasn’t yet declared her candidacy.

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, declared the group’s support in a statement, making the organization the first LGBT group to formally back Clinton.

“We want Hillary Clinton to run and are ready to mobilize our 800,000 members to help her win,” Zbur said. “We’re enthusiastic about her candidacy because she has the best record of accomplishment on LGBT issues of any potential candidate. Equality California is ready for Hillary!”

A two-page fact sheet from the organization ticks off a dozen of Clinton’s pro-LGBT accomplishments.

As a U.S. senator, Clinton is credited with voting twice against a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage and for voting in favor of HIV funding as well as hate crimes protection legislation.

During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton is credited with making LGBT rights a priority for U.S. foreign policy, implementing policies at the State Department on behalf of LGBT Foreign Service officers and leading efforts to pass a United Nations resolution on LGBT rights. Also noted by Equality California is a high-profile 2011 speech she delivered in Geneva, Switzerland, in favor of international LGBT rights.

“While serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made her support for the LGBT community abundantly clear when she said ‘gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,’” Zbur said. “Although she has yet to formally announce her candidacy, we unequivocally believe that she is not only the most qualified candidate, but also the best candidate to advance LGBT rights.”

Not mentioned in the fact sheet is Clinton’s decision to withhold endorsement of marriage equality until March 2013. The timing of that endorsement made her one of the last top Democrats to come out in favor of same-sex nuptials.

During an interview last year on NPR, she bristled at the suggestion that she couldn’t speak out sooner for political reasons.

In the interview, Clinton also talked about supporting state efforts to advance marriage equality, despite pending litigation that seeks to make it legal across the nation, and said enacting the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act had value because it prevented Congress from passing a more restrictive measure against gay people.

According to the news statement, Equality California is set to initiate a campaign aimed at building a diverse coalition of support for Clinton among its members across the state and country.

Clinton has offered no public commitment that she’ll pursue a bid for the White House in 2016, although she’s participated in public events that give the appearance she’s planning a run.

On the heels of a controversy revealing that she used her personal email address when writing correspondence as secretary of state, Clinton is expected to formally announce her candidacy in the next month, according to a recent report in the New York Times.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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