With the Iowa caucuses days away, the Log Cabin Republicans unveiled an online video Saturday hammering Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her earlier opposition to same-sex marriage.
The 46-second video focuses on three clips of Clinton expressing her opposition to same-sex marriage, which she didn’t publicly endorse until 2013.
“I believe that marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman,” says Clinton in one the clips showing her on the U.S. Senate floor.
It should be noted that clip was part of a 2004 floor speech in which Clinton was explaining her opposition to the Republican-led Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have made a ban on same-sex marriage part of the U.S. Constitution and prohibited it nationwide.
Another clip shows Clinton telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews simply “no” when asked if she thinks New York should legalize same-sex marriage. (When New York finally legalized marriage equality in 2011, she praised the state at a Pride event at the State Department even though she had yet to publicly back same-sex marriage.)
Following the Clinton clips, another clip is shown of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” in which Bernard Sanders says consistent leadership on LGBT rights is important for a presidential candidate.
“We live in a tough world and leadership counts,” Sanders said. “It’s great that people evolve and change their minds. I respect that. I’m not being demeaning to her. But it is important to stand up when the going is tough, and that was a particularly tough vote.”
(In that same interview, Sanders defended his opposition to same-sex marriage in 2006, when he told a Vermont newspaper “not right now” in response to a question about whether his state should legalize gay nuptials.)
The clips in the video stand in contrast to Clinton’s 2013 Human Rights Campaign video in which she declared support for same-sex marriage for the first time.
“I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples,” Clinton says in the video. “I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and all Americans.”
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement the Log Cabin video serves as a reminder of Clinton’s past on LGBT rights when other groups are keeping silent about it.
“Not everyone in the United States Senate supported marriage equality in 2004, but few took to the floor of the chamber to hammer home the point the way Hillary Clinton did,” Angelo said. “Democrats and members of the LGBT community have given Hillary Clinton a pass on past transgressions and even allowed her to rewrite the history of the gay rights movement; Log Cabin Republicans will not. It’s time for the people of Iowa — and the country —to know that when it mattered, Hillary Clinton was wrong on gay rights.”
The video comes days before the caucuses on Monday in Iowa, where polls show a close race between Clinton and Sanders on the Democratic side.
In an interview with the Blade, Angelo said the video was intended to influence the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, but said it’s not limited to that.
“We’re not just looking to influence the Iowa caucuses,” Angelo said. “We’re looking to influence the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina primary, and I personally think and Log Cabin Republicans thinks that voters should be aware of Hillary Clinton’s past, specifically on marriage equality. We felt that urgency to do so now, obviously, with the Iowa caucuses looming, but also because other LGBT organizations have not done due diligence regarding Hillary Clinton’s past, and we felt we were in a unique position to step up in that regard.”
Angelo said Clinton’s views on marriage at the time of the clips should be important for voters to consider if they cast their ballot based on a candidate’s strength of support for LGBT rights.
“Hillary Clinton has not led on the marriage-equality issues,” Angelo said. “Not only has she not led on the marriage-equality issue, but she let so many other Democrats and even so many other Republicans get out ahead on this issue.”
Angelo said as marriage was moving through the courts, Republicans like Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were leading on the issue while Clinton was not. When the Blade pointed out Clinton beat all those Republicans to the punch on marriage with the exception of Portman, Angelo insisted “that’s not the case” because Clinton didn’t clearly say gay couples had a constitutional right to marry until weeks before the Supreme Court arguments on marriage last year.
(It should be noted only Kirk and Collins signed a Republican friend-of-the-court brief calling for a nationwide ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, not Portman and Murkowski, so Clinton beat the latter two on that position as well.)
Asked if Log Cabin believes Sanders has been consistent on gay rights unlike Clinton, Angelo said he thinks everyone in the country over the age of 50 has gone through some evolution on the issue.
“But many have evolved, especially on the Democratic side, faster than others,” Angelo said. “Essentially the point that we’re making with our video is that it’s a little disingenuous, especially for supposed LGBT advocates, to celebrate and coronate someone as late to the game on the marriage-equality issue in particular as Hillary Clinton is and was.”
Angelo added Sanders wasn’t perfect “out of the womb” on LGBT rights, but was “still leading at a time when Hillary Clinton was not.”
Each of the Republican presidential candidates shares the opposition to same-sex marriage expressed by Clinton in those clips, and in some cases want to go further than her views at that time by enshrining a ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. But Angelo nonetheless said he doesn’t think the video is disingenuous.
“Log Cabin Republicans is not going to stop urging Republicans to stop opposing marriage equality, Log Cabin Republicans is not going to stop lobbying Republicans to support full equality for LGBT individuals — marriage equality, non-discrimination and otherwise,” Angelo said. “But we can do multiple things at once and one of the activities we’re in a unique position to execute is calling out past hypocrisies and holding Democrats’ feet to the fire, especially one who seems to be the heir apparent to the party’s presidential nomination.”
Clinton addressed her evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage in October, saying her views changed as a result of “personal relationships.”
“Yes my views did evolve, and I think most people my age would say the same thing — there might be some exceptions,” Clinton said. “But largely because of my strong opposition to discrimination of any sort and my personal relationships with a lot of people over the years, I certainly concluded that marriage equality should be the law of the land, and I was thrilled when the Supreme Court made it the law of the land.”
The Log Cabin Republican video isn’t the only one by Republican groups critical of Clinton ahead of the Iowa caucuses even though she’s running in an exclusively Democratic contest. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC has attacked Clinton with an ad in Iowa calling her a tool of Wall Street for accepting campaign contributions from financial institutions.
Angelo said the only Republicans Log Cabin consulted for the video before making it public were its members across the country who “shared their ire over Hillary Clinton’s politically motivated and convenient evolution on marriage equality.”
The Blade has placed a call to the Clinton campaign seeking a response to the Log Cabin video and to the Sanders campaign asking if Sanders is OK with his presence in the clip compilation.