September 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
In email, Clinton opposed pro-gay State Dept. change
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton said the State Department forms should retain the presumption of mother and father. (Blade file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton objected in 2011 to the modification of State Department forms to accommodate same-sex parents overseas, saying the administration should have “retained the presumption of mother and father.”

Her apparent consternation over the change was revealed in the latest batch of emails the State Department made public on Wednesday. The former secretary of state expressed her view in a Jan. 8, 2011 email to her assistant and confidante Cheryl Mills.

Judging by the email subject line “Wash Post article,” Clinton was responding to a media report about the bureaucratic change that would have eliminated the titles “mother” and “father” with the gender neutral term “parent” in reports of overseas births.

“Who made the decision that State will not use the terms ‘mother and father’ and instead substitute ‘parent one and two’?” Clinton wrote. “I’m not defending that decision, which I disagree w and knew nothing about, in front of this Congress. I could live w letting people in nontraditional families choose another descriptor so long as we retained the presumption of mother and father. We need to address this today or we will be facing a huge Fox-generated media storm led by Palin et al.”

Clinton objects to a pro-gay change at the State Department.

Clinton objects to a pro-gay change at the State Department.

The email was written at a time when Clinton had yet to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. That didn’t happen until after she left the State Department in 2013.

Clinton’s opposition to the change to the State Department form was already known. A Washington Post article on the subsequent day reports the State Department rolled back the change as a result of Clinton’s order to forestall a backlash from congressional conservatives. At the time, Republicans had just taken control of the U.S. House as a result of the Tea Party victories in the 2010 election.

But the exact language by which Clinton opposed the change wasn’t made public until the State Department published the email Wednesday.

The Clinton campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the candidate regrets those words in her email. The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said the email demonstrates Clinton’s lack of commitment to LGBT rights.

“I hate to be a told-you-so, but as with so many other matters related to LGBT equality, this latest revelation about Hillary Clinton underlines what Log Cabin Republicans has long said: Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted as a standard-bearer for the community,” Angelo said. “She’s always been a follower in the work toward LGBT rights, never a leader. How many more revelations await in future email dumps before LGBT Democrats understand that her position on these issues is largely no different from Republicans?”

Another email in the latest dump is from a transgender person, whose name is redacted by the State Department, praising Clinton for allowing transgender people to change the gender markers on their passports. The email was forwarded to Clinton, who responds by saying she’ll respond directly.

She then pivots to an unrelated different topic in the same email: “Did Bill tell you that on the receiving line of his second speech yesterday, he had the weirdest exchange ever when a woman loudly announced that her father “circumcised Bin Laden!” What a claim to fame. Love to all'”

In another email to Mills dated June 23, 2011, the then-president of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies attempts to allay Clinton’s concerns about receiving an award from the State Department’s LGBT affinity group.

“First, we totally get the Secretary’s discomfort with the image of her employees presenting her with an award, especially one named after her,” Jon Tollefson wrote. “GLIFAA, however, is comprised of employees of all of the U.S. foreign affairs agencies — not just State — as well as even foreign embassies. We have had a history of independence throughout our nineteen years, often criticizing administrations for their lack of attention and even negative actions with regard to LGBT issues. We are so excited to have an Administration and a Secretary who are such leaders on LGBT equality and on the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT people.”

Those emails are but a few in a series of thousands of emails the State Department has made public as a result of a court order stemming from Freedom of Information Act requests from media organizations.

For the most part, the emails demonstrate a keen interest by the State Department in promoting LGBT rights during Clinton’s tenure. In an earlier email batch, Clinton responded to a report about human rights abuses in Iraq by saying “we should emphasize LGBT rights.”

The latest emails were made public days before Clinton is set to address the Human Rights Campaign’s board of directors and supporters in D.C. on the same day as the organization’s national dinner. Vice President Joseph Biden is set to deliver the keynote address at the dinner itself.

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

21 Comments
  • In politics we are unfortunately faced with always picking the less of two evils and seldom if ever have someone to vote for that gives us everything we want and is all we want! The real issue is mitigating the damage that will result by picking the candidate that is relatively more beneficial to us as a community!

  • She has been a leader on a number of important actions. There is not much to this newstory. She is right about an award from GLIFFA — it looks a little sucking up, but I’m sure their enthusiasm about her was real and authentic.

  • The only thing the Clintons have ever fought for is their own access to power. Had Hillary Clinton been elected President in 2008, she would have continued to defend DOMA and it might still be the law of the land.

    • Gosh Jack, I think you are so right. I’m so disappointed in Hillary. And until Bernie came along, I thought she was my only choice. I’d take Sanders or Biden over Clinton in a heartbeat. The Clintons just love the power, don’t they?

    • The Bush family isn’t always fighting for their own access to power? Isn’t that what running for President means?

      Any Republican would have continued to defend DOMA and say that marriage is between a man and woman. What GOP candidate running for President is embracing marriage equality let alone promoting our rights?

  • I support Sanders, but to have a Log Cabin Republican lecturing us about Hillary… Is there no sense of irony or at least a passing acquaintance with Theatre of the Absurd???

  • The headline and the substance do not match. This position is hardly antigay.

    • The headline is right on. It doesn’t say her position was “anit-gay”, it says she opposed a “pro-gay” state department change which would have removed the presumption that prospective parents would be a man and woman. The change being made was clearly pro-gay, which she recognized by saying how Fox news would be all over her for it. She also said that she directly opposed it saying “I’m not defending that decision, which I disagree w”…

      • It’s not antigay. The State Dept was making a change to passport applications without Congressional authorization. Clinton worried that it might raise concerns on the Hill. This email was posted just as John Boehner took over the House. Given that Speaker-in-waiting McCarthy just admitted that the Benghazi Committee was designed to derail her, she doesn’t sound at all paranoid.

        This was also before Windsor (2013) declared that the Federal government could recognize gay marriage. This change may have violated DOMA, and Clinton did not want to be called up on the Hill to defend it without understanding why the change was made.

        Quit making her out to be Anita Bryant when she is just trying to be a responsible adult. Activists can scream like petulant children, but Cabinet Secretaries and Presidents have to uphold the law and answer to more than one segment of the public.

        • Nobody (neither the headline nor me) said anything was “antigay”. In fact, that was the whole point of my post. I was going to go on but you clearly aren’t going to bother actually reading this before responding anyway.

  • Not only a liar, but a bigot as well! I knew I didn’t trust or like Hil-LIAR-y Clinton, now everybody else knows it too!

  • Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said the email demonstrates Clinton’s lack of commitment to LGBT rights.

    And what commitment to LGBT rights have ANY of the Republicans running for President shown? Hillary publicly advocated for international acceptance of LGBT rights in a speech while Secretary of State, and she is now firmly in favor of marriage equality. She has also recognized the need for workplace equality moving forward. None of the Republicans have done any of this. Is Hillary’s record perfect? No. But it’s a hell of a lot better than any of the Republicans. These log cabin people seem really ignorant.

    • I’m not sure it’s ignorance. It’s blind devotion to political dogma because their fiscal objectives to them outweigh anything else even human rights including their own!

      They have the nerve to call us single issue voters! How many times did their party vote on repealing Obamacare at the expense of getting anything else done? Talk about single issue focus!

      Their brains are fried with all the conditioning they received from birth. They’ll bash us for putting our civil rights first yet have no problem sucking off what we’ve achieved for them! They are ungrateful blood suckers!

  • HRC’s HRC.

    Just sayin’….

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