January 25, 2016 at 11:36 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
O’Malley renews pledge to advance LGBT rights as president
Martin O'Malley, Maryland, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, Annapolis

Former Maryland Gov Martin O’Malley renewed his commitment to support LGBT rights at a town hall.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Martin O’Malley renewed his commitment to fight for LGBT rights at the federal level on Monday night, although he omitted any mention of federal non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act.

The Democratic presidential candidate made the remarks during a town hall at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in response to a question from Brian Carlson, who asked O’Malley what he’d do to advance LGBT rights at the federal level in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage.

“I believe that the genius of this American experiment of ours is that in every generation you take actions to include more people more fully in the economic, the social and the political life of our country,” O’Malley responded. “That’s the broader arc of American history. We have yet to arrive at a perfect union, but every generation we had the opportunity to make it a more perfect union.”

O’Malley touted his accomplishments on LGBT rights as governor of Maryland, which included signing marriage equality and transgender civil rights into law. The audience at the town hall gave O’Malley significant applause after he mentioned those achievements.

“It’s interesting, you know, the common ground we found to get things these done was this: It’s really about our kids,” O’Malley continued. “It’s about all our kids. There was some people in Maryland who said we might not be able to pass marriage equality and we made the argument all about the truth that there is dignity in every child’s home, and every child’s home needs to be protected with dignity under the law.”

O’Malley said one of the most powerful shared beliefs is “the dignity of every of person,” which he said has motivated him in addition to “the common good that we share.”

“I will do everything in my power to move us forward as a nation and make us more inclusive in every possible way I can across the board because that’s what makes us stronger as a country,” O’Malley concluded.

O’Malley never explicitly mentioned his support for the comprehensive federal non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act even though he was the first presidential candidate to publicly support the legislation,

Hillary Clinton interlaced her remarks at the town hall with words in support of LGBT rights, even though she wasn’t directly asked a question about the issue. Clinton said she has fought against “homophobic inequality” and pledged an administration that would work on “advancing gay rights.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, was present at the town hall and praised Clinton on Twitter in the aftermath for her performance. His organization endorsed Clinton last week.

Bernard Sanders didn’t mention LGBT rights during the town hall, but he was asked about earlier comment in which he called the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood. Without explicitly mentioning the Human Rights Campaign, Sanders repeated his retraction, saying he supports Planned Parenthood and would seek to expand federal funds for the organization.

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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