December 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Email reveals Clinton sought to assist Md. marriage effort
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Human Rights Campaign, HRC, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton helped with passage of marraige equality in Maryland. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails made public by the State Department reveals she made an effort in 2012 to help with passage of same-sex marriage in Maryland, even though at the time she had yet to come out for gay nuptials.

The message is part of the batch of around 5,500 pages of emails made public on Thursday by the State Department, which is making them available on an gradual basis as a result of a court order.

In a Feb. 20, 2012 email, Clinton sought to inform Georgetown University law professor Peter Edelman an attempt was made on her behalf to convince then-Rep. Sam Arora to support legislation in favor of same-sex marriage.

“Pls let him know Bill called — unsuccessfully,” Clinton wrote.

An email reveals Hillary Clinton sought to help with the Maryland marriage effort in 2012.

An email reveals Hillary Clinton sought to help with the Maryland marriage effort in 2012.

An earlier batch of emails had already revealed Edelman solicited Clinton for help in persuading Arora to vote for marriage equality in Maryland.

At the time, the Huffington Post reported former President Bill Clinton was among those who contacted Arora in an effort to convince him to vote “yes” on the bill. The lawmaker ended up voting against same-sex marriage, much to the chagrin of LGBT advocates who contributed to his campaign because he vowed to support the legislation. The one-term lawmaker didn’t seek election to a second term.

Two other newly public emails on same-sex marriage are from Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress.

In one email dated July 19, 2011 and forwarded to Clinton, Stachelberg shared her organization’s statement on then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s announcement President Obama has endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

In another email dated May 9, 2012 and forwarded to Clinton, Stachelberg sought to inform the State Department about a tweet from New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro on the upcoming interview that day in which Obama came out for same-sex marriage.

No response from Clinton on these two developments is included in the latest batch, which means she may have not responded, responded offline or responded in emails that aren’t yet public.

The emails updating Clinton on same-sex marriage are notable because during her tenure as secretary of state she had yet to endorse marriage rights for same-sex couples. Clinton endorsed marriage equality in 2013 in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.

Marriage isn’t the only LGBT development on which Clinton is revealed to have received updates in the latest email batch. Shortly after her high-profile speech in favor of international LGBT human rights in Geneva, Daniel Baer, then-deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, sent an alert in a Dec. 15, 2011 email about a draconian anti-gay law heading toward passage in Nigeria.

“I just wanted to give you a quick heads up/update about the very concerning legislation working its way through Nigeria’s legislative branch right now,” Baer wrote. “The legislation — which, among other things, would criminally penalize witnessing or participating in a gay marriage ceremony, participating in LGBT advocacy organizations etc—has passed the Senate and is in the House, where it could pass at any time. It would then go to President Jonathan’s desk for signature.”

Baer proposed “one idea” to stop passage of the legislation, but the State Department redacted the substance of that idea from the email before making it public. Former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-gay measure into law in January 2014.

In a June 17, 2011 email forwarded to Clinton, Baer sought to inform the State Department about passage of a historic resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in favor of human rights for LGBT people.

“A big win for human rights — expanding the circle of who counts as fully human, affirming the universality of human rights,” Baer wrote.

Bear said during discussion “there were some fireworks — and the atmosphere was somewhat raucous, but all well in the end.”

Chiming in on the discussion was Suzanne Nossel, then-deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

“I give South Africa great credit for going forward despite such a close vote — that took real courage,” Nossel wrote. “But our leadership paved the way, no question. This may be among South Africa’s most consequential acts on human rights in their foreign policy, certainly in the last few years.”

The batch of email falls short of the State Department’s requirement under court order to produce 82 percent of Clinton’s emails by Dec. 31. According to the State Department, more emails will be made public next week to meet that goal.

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

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