The Human Rights Campaign announced in January that they were endorsing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her work on behalf of the LGBTQ community, a decision that has led to public outcry from her opponents. Bernie Sanders supporters frequently touted their candidate’s “superior record,” stating that endorsing Clinton ignores her record. Clinton’s and Sanders’ supporters use a ‘who said it first’ approach to forming arguments about which candidate is a more ardent supporter of same-sex marriage. While marriage has proven an important issue for the LGBTQ community, it is an entirely inadequate litmus test for which candidate has the most progressive stance on LGBTQ rights. The fight for equality in the United States consists of countless issues, and a should not be entirely focused on the subject of marriage equality.
Now that almost a year has passed since the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide, the LGBTQ rights movement needs to expand their goals. Clinton’s campaign has currently put forth the most comprehensive and progressive plan for increased equality, which is more than six times longer as her competitor’s. Her brief on LGBTQ equality provides detailed solutions to numerous issues that Sanders’ does not even address, such as banning gay conversion therapy for minors, combatting LGBTQ youth homelessness and making it easier for transgender individuals to change their federal identity documents.
It is naive for Sanders supporters to insist that the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Clinton because it is an “establishment” organization supporting an “establishment candidate” when it is clear that Clinton is the candidate with the most detailed plan for LGBTQ rights. Dismissing her legitimacy as a proponent for LGBTQ rights based on her previous stances under anti-gay administrations disregards the bold progressive policies she is now proposing to the country. And her support for LGBTQ rights is not a new position. White House documents show that as First Lady, Clinton actively worked to dismantle anti-gay legislation, and lobbied on the behalf of the gay community during her husband’s administration. She was also the face of the United State’s push towards universal gay rights while she was Secretary of State — it’s rumored that she pressured Obama to act on this issue, as she has a reputation of being more progressive than him on the subject.
Clinton has experience pushing pro-LGBTQ legislation through the toughest of environments, and as president, she would finally be able to implement her views in an administration conducive to her ideas regarding equality. Her stated plans for advancing LGBTQ rights is the most detailed and the most explicitly beneficial to all members of the LGBTQ community. Clinton’s progressive credentials on LGBTQ issues should not be dismissed as inadequate based solely on her past stance on marriage equality.
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