There is no stronger supporter of the LGBT community running for president than Hillary Rodham Clinton. Even when Hillary, like many others, was not yet ready to support marriage equality, she nevertheless always had close friends in the LGBT community and shared a mutual respect with them.
I remember a story she told about her parents after they moved to Arkansas. They had a gay couple as neighbors and one was a doctor. Her father, whom Hillary has described as “diversity challenged,” liked the guys and one evening made disparaging comments about gays in front of them. He was shocked when her mom told him they were a gay couple rather than just good friends living together. Hillary said she owed much to that neighbor who was with him in the hospital when he died after she and Bill, who was president at the time, were urgently called back to Washington after spending time with her parents.
As the nation evolved, Hillary changed with it. Her historic speech on gay rights as Secretary of State in Geneva on Dec. 6, 2011 has positively impacted the fight for LGBT rights around the world. It is a testament to Hillary’s belief the LGBT community must have full and equal civil and human rights. In 2012, Hillary spoke in recognition of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization in the historic Ben Franklin Room at the State Department. Speaking to LGBT State Department employees she said, “Our people should not have to choose between serving the country they love and living their life with the people they love.”
One of the first things Hillary did upon leaving the State Department, when she could again make political statements, was to make a video supporting marriage equality and this year she called on the Supreme Court to determine the right for gays and lesbians to marry is guaranteed by the Constitution.
So it is fitting we celebrate and support Hillary at a Pride event in D.C. on Thursday, June 11 at Lost Society on 14th Street. You can be a part of this exciting evening with special guests like campaign manager Robby Mook, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Reps. Jared Polis, David Cicilline, Joe Kennedy and Mark Takano. To RSVP, visit hillaryclinton.com.
Hillary recognizes there are still many hurdles to full equality facing the LGBT community. She understands laws passed guaranteeing civil and human rights to African Americans haven’t ended discrimination and racism. She has spent a lifetime speaking out for women’s rights and knows we have a long way to go before women have true equality.
In many states, a gay or lesbian person can marry one day and be fired or denied a place to live the next. There is the horrendous practice of conversion therapy still legal everywhere but New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia where it has been banned for minors. I have communicated with the Clinton campaign and asked Hillary to speak out on banning conversion therapy for minors.
In addition, we need Hillary to give her full support to, and to fight for, a comprehensive LGBT civil and human rights bill in Congress. Such a bill is now being prepared for introduction by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cicilline. The bill is similar to one first introduced in 1974 by Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.). The time to pass such a bill is long overdue.
Those of us who support Hillary Clinton do so with knowledge she will fight for full equality for all because she understands the following words from the U.S. Constitution must one day speak to all of us: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Whether you are Asian, Latino, African American, LGBT, a woman, or an immigrant fighting for a pathway to citizenship, electing Hillary Rodham Clinton the 45th and first woman president of the United States will make a difference for you and to future generations.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT and Democratic Party activist. He’s a regular contributor to the Blade.