August 18, 2015 at 11:09 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton pledges to enforce marriage equality decision
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton addressed marriage equality and ENDA during a town hall event.

Amid media reports of clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay nuptials “needs to be enforced across our country.”

Clinton made the remarks during the question-and-answer portion of a town hall meeting in Las Vegas in response to a question from someone who identified as a local LGBT business owner and founding president of the Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Nevada.

According to a transcript provided by her campaign, the Clinton supporter asked the candidate if she could speak to how she intends to support the LGBT community as president, such as by improving economic equality and creating safe spaces for youth.

“I certainly can,” Clinton replied, eliciting applause. “Well, first, as president, I will do everything I can to make sure that marriage equality is enforced. It’s the law of the land and it needs to be enforced across our country.”

Clinton offered no details about what this enforcement would look like, but made the comments amid turmoil in some areas around the country on same-sex marriage. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to withhold marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a federal court order instructing her to give the documents to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. Meanwhile, a same-sex couple in Texas won $44,000 in a settlement over a lawsuit they filed against Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, who denied them a marriage license on religious grounds.

The Washington Blade has placed a call to the Clinton campaign to clarify what enforcement of the marriage equality decision would look like, such as by requiring clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples regardless of religious beliefs.

During the town hall, Clinton said immediately after making the comments on marriage that attention should turn to tackling discrimination, saying as a member of the U.S. Senate she co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“And we have a lot of work to do there,” Clinton said. “There’s just so much continuing discrimination and bias.”

ENDA hasn’t been introduced this Congress, but previous versions were restricted to barring workplace discrimination against LGBT people. The legislation has fallen out of favor with some LGBT advocates in favor of a more comprehensive bill. During the town hall, Clinton didn’t mention the Equality Act, legislation pending before Congress that would bar LGBT discrimination in all areas of civil rights law, but she’s endorsed the legislation via Twitter.

Clinton also spoke during the town hall at length about issues facing LGBT youth. In remarks that elicited applause from the audience, Clinton noted they face a high rate of homelessness in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the country.

“I particularly worry about young people because there is a lot of misunderstanding and even mistreatment still today by families of young people who are LGBT, and they’re hoping to be accepted and they are not, and they find themselves on the street,” Clinton said. “I know you’ve got people in Las Vegas who are homeless on the streets, who are young LGBT people who have had to leave home.”

But Clinton said she was prepared to address this issue as president by fighting for more services and visibility for LGBT youth.

“So we need more services, we need more support, and we all need to be speaking out in favor of treating these young people with respect and dignity and giving them a chance,” Clinton said. “And I hope that as president, I will not only be able to speak to that, but demonstrate how we do it, and then support laws that will make it easier for a lot of our people, particularly young people.”

According to media reports, the atmosphere during the town hall, which was favorable to Clinton, contrasted sharply with a news conference in a gymnasium that followed shortly thereafter in which she defended herself amid continued controversy over use of a personal email address as secretary of state and classified information found on her server.

During a testy exchange captured on video with Fox News’ Ed Henry, Clinton shrugged when asked whether she wiped the server, making an ad-homimem joke of “like with a cloth or something?” instead of answering the question.

According to Politico, a reporter asked Clinton as she exited the gymnasium if the questions indicate the email controversy won’t go away and will continue to dog her campaign.

Clinton reportedly turned around and again shrugged by raising her hands in the air. “Nobody talked to me about it — other than you guys,” Clinton is quoted as saying as she exited with her top aides around her.

The transcript of the Q&A with Clinton on LGBT issues follows:

QUESTION: Hi, Hillary. My name is Tina Kurdow (ph). I am a local LGBT business owner and founding president of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce here in Nevada. So my question to you is: How are you going to support the LGBT community in our country – improving economic equality, creating safe spaces for our youth? Can you speak to that?

HILLARY CLINTON: I certainly can. (Applause.) Well, first, as president, I will do everything I can to make sure that marriage equality is enforced. It’s the law of the land and – (applause) – it needs to be enforced across our country. And then we have to tackle discrimination issues. I, when I was in the Senate, was one of the senators sponsoring what was called ENDA, a bill to end discrimination against the LGBT community. And we have a lot of work to do there. There’s just so much continuing discrimination and bias.

And I particularly worry about young people because there is a lot of misunderstanding and even mistreatment still today by families of young people who are LGBT, and they’re hoping to be accepted and they are not, and they find themselves on the street. I know you’ve got people in Las Vegas who are homeless on the streets, who are young LGBT people – (applause) – who have had to leave home. So we need more services, we need more support, and we all need to be speaking out in favor of treating these young people with respect and dignity and giving them a chance. And I hope that as president, I will not only be able to speak to that, but demonstrate how we do it, and then support laws that will make it easier for a lot of our people, particularly young people. (Applause.)

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

  • GayEGO

    I appreciate the support Hillary is providing the LGBT community and she will do as she says if she becomes president.

  • Dina Proto

    Chris, Thank you for taking the time to reach out. Can you please issue a correction for my name? Thank you…Dina Proto

  • Wayne Turner

    A contrast to a few years ago when Hilary and Bill aired campaign commercials bragging about DOMA or her more recent position that states should decide. I wonder what her position on marriage equality will be tomorrow.

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