December 14, 2015 at 9:12 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton campaign launches ‘LGBT for Hillary’
Ricky Martin, concert, gay news, Washington Blade

Ricky Martin helped with the launch of “LGBT for Hillary.” (Photo courtesy Fly-Life Inc.)

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.

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

  • Simply the best. Better than all the rest…

  • Excuse me, but she was slow in her support of marriage equality, and she was never in the forefront to repeal DADT and never a leader in getting rid of DOMA – two shameful legacies of her husband. There’s also the significant matter of her jumping on “George W’s” bandwagon to invade Iraq; saying she regrets that vote doesn’t cut it

    • And your ‘best’ candidate is?

      • Certainly not any of the GOP candidates – all seem intent on reversing LGBT advances in equality…and all seem willing to get us into a boots-on-the-ground war in Syria, as well as in Iraq again. On that note, none of the top 5 GOP candidates have served in the military or have children who serve in the military, so another war is no skin off their nose (Graham is a veteran, kind of – mostly as a reservist, but was absent from many of his training meetings).

        I like much of what Bernie Sanders has to say and will support him in the all but meaningless caucuses here in Minnesota, but I don’t think he has a chance. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, there is still anti-Semitism in this country, and being a self-proclaimed Socialist would prevent him from being elected.

        I liked Jim Webb (he could have bet any of the GOP candidates, but he’s out. I was hoping Al Gore would enter the race, but no luck there.

        Like many activists who are part of the LGBT, peace and veteran communities, I’ll hold my nose and vote Hillary next November. She will be the best candidate left standing.

        Peace to all.

  • This is the same Hillary who is still spinning the fairy story that the 1996 passage of DOMA protected gay people from a constitutional amendment that wasn’t proposed until 2002.

    Our great friends, the Clintons, have caved in to anti-gay political action again and again. Don’t Ask 1993, the ban on travel for people with HIV in 1993, and DOMA 1996. This was after campaigning for votes from gay Americans in 1992.

    With friends like Clintons who will throw us under the bus whenever it helps them, we don’t need enemies.

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