Weeks ahead of the first 2016 presidential election contest in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has launched “LGBT for Hillary” to rally LGBT supporters.
During a 30-minute conference call with supporters on Monday, the Democratic presidential candidate kicked off the initiative, which aims to organize LGBT supporters to knock on doors and make phone calls on behalf of Clinton.
Clinton told supporters the LGBT rights movement has made significant advancements, including the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, but said more work remains.
“Even as we celebrate progress, nobody should forget how much work still lies ahead,” Clinton said. “That work isn’t finished until every single person, no matter who you are or who you love or where you live is treated with the equality and dignity that you all deserve.”
In addition to recalling the high-profile speech she delivered four years ago in favor of international LGBT human rights, Clinton reiterated her support for the Equality Act to enshrine into federal law a prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination, ensuring service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” receive honorable discharges and ending the ban on transgender service in the U.S. military.
Clinton said she’ll announce more plans and policies related to the LGBT community soon, saying she wants LGBT supporters to know “the issues you’re fighting for are not only central to my campaign, but they’re at the heart of everything I think we stand for as a country.”
Also speaking on the call were two celebrities and members of the LGBT community who’ve pledged to support Clinton as a part of “LGBT for Hillary.”
Among them was Ricky Martin, a gay Puerto Rican singer who came out as gay in 2010 and said he’s supporting Clinton because “listening to the Republican Party is the scariest thing that me as a gay man and a Latino man is facing at the moment.”
“What happens with Hillary is that she makes me feel comfortable, she makes me feel protected,” Martin said. “I listen to her on the debates, and she’s just real, she’s honest, she’s classy…and it makes me feel completely at ease when I listen to her speak. As a gay man, what she brings to the table is what I want for me, for my kids, for my family.”
Legendary tennis player Billie Jean King, a lesbian, also declared her support during the call for Clinton as a member of “LGBT for Hillary,” saying she plans to go to Iowa and New Hampshire to help campaign in the Democratic primary.
“It’s an opportunity to bring all of ourselves, our heads, our hearts and our guts to making sure Hillary Clinton wins on Nov. 8,” King said. “It is so important. We cannot take this lightly. We can never, ever underestimate our opponents, the Republicans, others, and any time you start to sit back and think it’s going to be easy, it’s not.”
King also said Election Day falling on Nov. 8 in 2016 is significant because the “8” could be seen as two rings in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage or an infinity symbol.
Gautam Raghavan, former White House LGBT liaison for President Obama, was also on the call and said electing Clinton is important because a Republican victory could reverse victories seen under the Obama administration.
“All the progress we’ve seen so far could easily be rolled back,” Raghavan said. “Just think about where we were seven years ago. You could only get married in two states, gay and lesbian service members could be discharged for who they are, we didn’t have a federal hate crimes law. So, we’ve seen a lot of progress over those seven years and Secretary Clinton was a key part of that progress.”
Clinton unveiled “LGBT for Hillary” as she maintains a strong position in the polls. In addition to being the Democratic front-runner, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published Monday finds she would defeat Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head general election matchup, but would lose to Marco Rubio or Ben Carson.