April 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
It’s official: Hillary Clinton kicks off 2016 presidential run

Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton has declared her candidacy for president. (Photo via YouTube)

In a move likely to generate support within her massive fan base in the LGBT community, Hillary Clinton has formally kicked off her 2016 run for the White House.

Ending massive speculation that she would pursue a run, the former secretary of state announced on Sunday she would pursue the Democratic nomination for the presidency in a video message showcasing American families making plans for 2015.

“I’m getting ready to do something, too,” Clinton says in the video. “I’m running for president.”

A significant portion of Clinton’s video message is making the case for ensuring the economic growth in the country is shared by all Americans.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said. “Every day Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion, so you can do more than just get by, you can get ahead and stay ahead because when families are strong, America is strong.”

Her video includes a segment with a male same-sex couple holding hands, where someone is overheard saying, “I’m getting married this summer to someone I really care about.” What seems like a lesbian couple is seen briefly toward the end of the video.

According to the Associated Press, the next step for the Clinton campaign, which will be headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., is in-person meetings with voters in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The campaign to win the White House is a second attempt for Clinton, who in 2008 unsuccessfully ran in a bitter primary against then-Sen. Barack Obama before the party decided to anoint him as the Democratic nominee.

As she did in 2008, Clinton will likely tout her experience in government over the course of her presidential campaign. In addition to serving as secretary of state during the first term of the Obama administration, Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York between 2001 and 2008. She was also first lady of Arkansas and first lady of the United States as the spouse to former President Bill Clinton.

The candidate is far and away seen as the likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in addition to being competitive in the general election. However, she still may face competition in the primary from former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s indicated he may pursue a presidential bid.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, drew attention to the same-sex couples in her video as evidence that she’ll be a champion for LGBT people.

Clinton has enjoyed significant support within the LGBT community even before her 2016 campaign was underway. In fact, one statewide LGBT group, Equality California, endorsed her campaign for the White House in March a full month before she officially declared her candidacy.

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said upon news of Clinton’s announcement helping to elect her to the White House is imperative for the LGBT community.

“We asked her to run, and now that she has entered the race, Equality California will pull out all the stops to help her win,” Zbur said. “Electing Hillary Clinton as our next President is one of the most important things we can do to advance LGBT equality and acceptance. Throughout her career, Sec. Clinton has been a champion for the LGBT community. Not only is the Supreme Court at stake, but her election is crucial to backstop the potential targeting of our community by the current anti-equality Congress.”

Over the course of her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton earned a reputation as a supporter of LGBT rights. In addition to ensuring same-sex benefits for gay Foreign Service officers at the State Department, Clinton coined a now heavily used phrase within the Obama administration for international LGBT rights: “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

In December 2011, Clinton delivered a high-profile speech in Geneva, Switzerland, saying the United States stands with LGBT people persecuted overseas because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave,” Clinton said at the time. “It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives.”

In the weeks prior to her presidential run, Clinton also came out against the initial version of religious freedom measures in Indiana and Arkansas seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in those states.

Not everything about Clinton’s track record on LGBT rights is rosy. Clinton’s withheld her endorsement of marriage equality until March 2013, nearly a full year after Obama came out in favor it. Other Cabinet members in the Obama administration, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, came out for marriage equality. When asked about the issue during her tenure as secretary of state at a forum in Australia, she reiterated she has believed marriage is between one man, one woman.

During an interview last year on NPR, she bristled at the suggestion that she couldn’t speak out sooner for political reasons. Clinton talked about supporting state efforts to advance marriage equality, despite pending litigation that seeks to make it legal across the nation, and said enacting the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act had value because it somehow prevented Congress from passing a more restrictive measure against gay people.

Although Clinton has come out for marriage equality, she has yet to articulate in the wake of the interview whether state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and her hopes for pending marriage litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said Clinton must answer questions on LGBT issues as she pursues her candidacy.

“With her candidacy formally declared, Mrs. Clinton now has the duty of providing answers to numerous questions that should give LGBT voters and allies pause, regardless of party affiliation,” Angelo said.

Among the questions posed by Angelo in a statement is whether she still thinks marriage is an issue that should be left to the states, if she supports the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by her spouse, whether she backs comprehensive non-discrimination legislation for LGBT people and whether she backs repeal of the estate tax.

Still, her supporters within the LGBT community are likely to rally behind her campaign despite lingering questions on the way she’ll lead the country on LGBT rights.

Lane Hudson, a gay D.C. Democratic activist and Clinton supporter, expressed excitement about the campaign, but warned a challenging road lies ahead.

“Millions of people have been waiting for this exciting announcement,” Hudson said. “Today we celebrate. Tomorrow we work. This won’t be easy, but we are ready for the challenge.”

Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image via YouTube)

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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