Like many Democrats, I have spent the last six or seven months following the campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Secretary Hillary Clinton. I have read their campaign literature, watched them debate one another, saw their positions dissected by political pundits and even had the opportunity to hear each of the three remaining candidates address the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis last summer. I even had brief conversations with O’Malley and Clinton. I have been impressed by each candidate’s love for our country and our Democratic principles as well as their sincerity in their desire to build upon the accomplishments of President Obama and his administration, which have positively impacted the lives of so many LGBTQ Americans over the past seven years.
I would also be disingenuous if I did not confess that I had a broader knowledge of Secretary Clinton’s public service than the other two candidates before the campaign started. I had to be clear in my mind what are the important factors for me to support one of these fine Americans to be my president. Though there are many issues in the 2016 campaign, the issues that are the most important to me are LGBTQ equal rights, our economy, Black Lives Matter and the state of the Democratic Party.
I believe that Secretary Clinton has the most experience and the deepest understanding about how to use the power of the presidency to significantly improve the lives of ordinary Americans. I also believe she will continue to bring qualified LGBTQ women and men to into government service, ensuring that an agenda is furthered that genuinely affects the life of our communities. I know she and her administration will continue to develop policies that provide justice and opportunity, especially for transgender Americans who have been so marginalized and experienced so much indifference as evidenced by a Congress led by deeply homophobic Republicans. I strongly believe that a President Hillary Clinton will continue to build on President Obama’s legacy of LGBTQ empowerment and dignity.
Although not always fully embraced by some Americans, President Obama’s economic policies have contributed to 70 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. Clinton’s proposed economic policies will build on this foundation to expand opportunities for our younger people as well as communities of color through expanded investments in education and in job training to allow more Americans to achieve their financial hopes and dreams.
I believe the Black Lives Matter movement represents a powerful response to the lack of social, judicial and economic justice that so many black Americans have been denied far too long. It’s not simply about injustice at the hands of law enforcement but the generations of systemic social and economic injustice that so many black people have had to endure. The fact that some black people have been able to overcome some of these barriers is more a credit to our endurance as a people than the fairness of the system. I realize that no leader can change this overnight but Clinton understands — as does President Obama — that policy changes on the federal level can tilt the scales of injustice to justice as appointing fair judges and use of the Justice Department create a legal system of fairness for all.
Finally, as a Democrat, I believe in fair and just immigration reform, the right of workers to earn a fair wage, women’s reproductive rights and a host of other issues that some would say are progressive. As such, I have been concerned about my party’s inability to win local and statewide elections in many parts of our nation. I know that Clinton will work with the Democratic National Committee to rebuild our Democratic state parties so we can push back the Republican tide of racism, sexism and homophobia gripping many parts of America. Who knows? Maybe Bill Clinton can be our party chairman in 2017. I will be casting my ballot for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention this July in Philadelphia.
Earl Fowlkes is a Democratic National Committee At-Large member and chair of the DNC LGBT Caucus. He is also president of the D.C.-based Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.