July 29, 2016 at 7:24 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Clinton seeks broad coalition in acceptance speech
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention on July 28. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

PHILADELPHIA – On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for president, then forcefully sought a broad coalition to take on Donald Trump.

“We have to heal the divides in our country,” Clinton said. “Not just on guns, but on race, immigration and more. That starts with listening to each other, hearing each other, trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes.”

The speech marked the first time a woman took the stage at a major U.S. party convention to accept a presidential nomination, which Clinton recognized during her remarks as a “milestone.”

“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come,” Clinton said. “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too — because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”

Calling for a unified America, Clinton delivered a speech characterized by outreach to many segments of society.

“In this campaign, I’ve met so many people who motivate me to keep fighting for change,” Clinton said. “And, with your help, I will carry all of your voices and stories with me to the White House. I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, and independents, for the struggling, the striving and the successful, for those who vote for me and those who don’t.”

For supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton said, “our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should,” and called for overturning the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. For national security hawks, Clinton laid out her strategy for defeating the Islamic State, declaring, “Make no mistake — we will prevail.” For disaffected Americans allured by Trump, Clinton acknowledged “an awful lot of people feel there is less and less respect for the work they do, and less respect for them, period.”

“So I want to tell you tonight how we will empower Americans to live better lives,” Clinton said. “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States, from my first day in office to my last, especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind.”

At one point during her speech in which she listed various groups she would protect, Clinton also briefly referenced her support for the LGBT community.

“We will defend all our rights — civil rights, human rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities,” Clinton said. “And we will stand up against mean and divisive rhetoric wherever it comes from.”

Anthony Woods, a gay Bowie, Md.-area delegate pledged to Clinton and a former service member discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said the speech was “really, really inspiring.”

“I’m just incredibly excited about an overly qualified person who can do this and really excited about the fact that we’ve got a woman who can inspire women around the world in this country to dream incredible things,” Woods said.

In terms of policy, Clinton proposed building a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, raising the minimum wage, reaching a consensus to pass gun safety legislation, expanding the Affordable Care Act and Social Security and alleviating student debt.

“In America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it,” Clinton said. “We’re going to help you balance family and work. And you know what, if fighting for affordable child care and paid family leave is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in.”

Clinton also laid into Trump directly for seeking to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as well as derogatory comments he’s made targeting Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and just about every minority group.

“It was just too hard to fathom — that someone who wants to lead our nation could say those things, could be like that,” Clinton said. “But here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump. This is it. And in the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn’t get, that America is great because America is good.”

Clinton landed a well-received hit on Trump when she said, “Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

Sarah McBride, a transgender advocate and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, hailed Clinton for the speech, which took place hours after McBride’s own address before the Democratic National Convention, and similarly criticized Trump.

“I think it was a comprehensive, inclusive vision for this country,” McBride said. “I think it stood in contrast to Donald Trump’s messages of negativity, division and discrimination. As she said, she offered plans for moving our country forward while Donald Trump just talked about all the problems he sees and offered absolutely no path forward for our country.”

McBride predicted during the general election in November voters will choose “an optimistic, forward-thinking vision, not a message of hate and fear.”

Those attending Clinton’s speech within the Walls Fargo Center carried tall, narrow signs inscribed with “Hillary” and several waived large American flags to express support for the candidate. On the other hand, numerous times during the address protesters in the arena sought to interrupt her, but they were drowned out by overwhelming chants of “Hil-lar-y! Hil-lar-y!”

Kimberly Saylor, a lesbian delegate from Indiana pledged to Sanders who turned 40 years old on the day of speech, said Clinton hit the right notes.

“I appreciated the fact that she and President Obama acknowledged all the hard work we have done, and I appreciated the fact that she said that our issues are now her issues,” Saylor said

Despite her support for Sanders in the primary, Saylor said she plans to vote for Clinton in the general election and “would never, ever vote for Trump.”

Introducing Clinton on stage was her daughter, Chelsea Clinton who talked about raising her two children and the candidate as a mother and grandmother.

“My earliest memory is my mom picking me up after I had fallen down, giving me a big hug, and reading me ‘Goodnight Moon,'” Chelsea Clinton said. “From that moment to this one — every single memory I have of my mom is that regardless of what was happening in her life, she was always there for me.”

Elizabeth Birch, a lesbian Clinton supporter who attended the speech and former head of the Human Rights Campaign, said Clinton’s speech was “deep and detailed” in contrast to Trump’s proposals.

“She covered every part of her vision from local and community action, and what we have to do door-to-door-to-door up to the state level, federal and global,” Birch said. “And I think the primary point she made is that she will sweat the details and always has. Diplomacy is not about sarcasm, or about empty words, or rash words. She thinks hard and is enormously intelligent, and I think she brought that to the speech.”

Rallying attendees toward the end of her speech, Clinton invoked the hit musical “Hamilton,” which has a song that includes the line “we may not live to see the glory, let us gladly join the fight,” as well as the memory of the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence just miles from the convention site in 1776.

“They were drawn together by love of country, and the selfless passion to build something better for all who follow,” Clinton said. “That is the story of America. And we begin a new chapter tonight. Yes, the world is watching what we do. Yes, America’s destiny is ours to choose. So let’s be stronger together.”

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

  • Secretary Clinton gave a terrific call to American service, for all, by all. Hillary’s appeal stands in stark relief to Trump’s selfish, “I alone can fix it” declaration in Cleveland.

    As Clinton takes the reins of the Democratic Party, it was a convention that was flawlessly executed and presented to highlight that very democratic appeal to the nation.

    Kudos to everyone at the DNC– and especially Debbie Wasserman-Schultz– for making that happen so well.

    And how about a shoutout to HRC’s Chad Griifin for his speech and rebuttal to Trump? Griffin should join Senator Baldwin on the Hill someday soon.

  • And everyone – all people of good will who care about the future of our nation – can join in – now – and start or continue to take direct action to help address income inequality: Tip generously for good service. Thank you.

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