March 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Equality PAC latest to endorse Clinton
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Human Rights Campaign, HRC, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by the Equality PAC. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

The board of the Equality PAC, a political action committee formed by leaders of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, announced on Monday it has thrown its support behind Hillary Clinton in her bid to win the White House.

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who’s gay and co-chair of the Equality PAC, said in a statement he’s “thrilled” the political action committee has endorsed Clinton, saying she’s “worked to break down barriers for LGBT Americans and our families” for more than 20 years.

“As president, she will fight to pass the Equality Act and protect the gains we’ve made in recent years,” Takano said. “Under President Obama, LGBT Americans have learned how important it is to have a president who will stand with us against those who would deny us equality. We will have the same sort of advocate in President Hillary Clinton, and so we are proud to endorse her in this campaign.”

Among the aspects of Clinton’s record benefiting LGBT people Takano cited were her efforts as a U.S. senator to increase funds to combat HIV/AIDS, her support for LGBT employment non-discrimination protections and helping to block a federal amendment that would have barred same-sex marriage nationwide. Takano also pointed to her advocacy as secretary of state for LGBT people at the State Department and overseas.

The endorsement comes the day before primary contests on “Mini-Tuesday” when delegates in Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio are up for grabs. The day is seen as a more-or-break moment that will determine if Clinton is able to secure the Democratic presidential nomination or if her rival Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) will have staying power.

Upon its official launch last month, Equality PAC endorsed Angie Craig, a lesbian running as a Democrat for the U.S. House seat representing Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district, as well as Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The goal of the Equality PAC is to support candidates running for federal office who are LGBT or seek to advance LGBT rights.

Roddy Flynn, executive director of the Equality PAC, said Clinton has the kind of record on LGBT rights necessary to receive an endorsement from the political action committee.

“Equality PAC was formed to create the right environment in Washington to bring about full societal and legal equality for LGBT,” Flynn said. “Secretary Clinton has made LGBT equality a top priority in her campaign, and can be trusted to make equality a top priority when she is president. She has committed to fighting hard for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protection, and we look forward to the day she signs the bipartisan Equality Act into law.”

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has received numerous endorsements from LGBT groups and advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign; Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the marriage case before the Supreme Court; and Jimmy LaSalvia, a gay Independent who’s bolted the Republican Party. The Clinton campaign announced earlier this month nearly 100 LGBT leaders have endorsed Clinton and have pledged to mobilize their networks to support her ahead of the “Mini-Tuesday” primaries.

In a statement, Clinton said she’s “honored” to receive the endorsement and is “proud to stand with the Equality PAC in this fight to make our country and our world more just, fair and equal.”

“As president, I will continue to fight alongside the LGBT community to pass the Equality Act and end discrimination in all its forms,” Clinton said. “I will fight to end the dangerous practice of ‘conversion therapy’ on minors and confront the epidemic of violence facing the transgender community, especially transgender women of color. And I will continue the efforts I led as Secretary of State to advance the human rights of LGBT people around the world.”

Following controversial remarks in which Clinton praised Nancy Reagan’s HIV efforts and her subsequent apology for that praise, Clinton also took the opportunity of the endorsement to remind voters of her pledge achieve an “AIDS-free generation.”

“And we need to recognize and honor the strength, courage, and determination of the advocates, activists, and countless heroic individuals who told us all that ‘Silence = Death’ and brought the AIDS crisis to the forefront of the national consciousness in the 1980s,” Clinton said. “They fought on the front lines of the crisis, from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath—and without them, we would not be where we are today in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. They saved lives. And we can save more. We need to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment, work with states to remove outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws, and fight at every moment to achieve that which is at last within our reach: an AIDS-free generation.”

The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the Sanders campaigns seeking comment in response to the Equality PAC’s endorsement of his rival.

The board of directors for the Equality PAC consists of co-chairs Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Takano as well as Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Joseph Kennedy, III (D-Mass.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). All of Democrats and members of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

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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