When news hit last month that the Human Rights Campaign backed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential election campaign, I was more than a little shocked. After all, Bernie Sanders has been on record for supporting LGBT rights for forty years, while Hillary has come around on the issue only very recently.
This is not to say that Hillary is somehow undeserving of support because her views have evolved recently, but it begs the question: is it worth backing a politician who has supported the issues you or your organization strongly believe in for most of his career? Or is it better to go with the more recently supportive candidate who is more likely to make it to the White House?
Backing the pragmatic candidate is understandable. With a more likely chance of them winning the presidential nomination, you can pour money into campaigning for them and them alone, instead of having to switch camps halfway through the race when someone drops out. However, it’s still worth wondering why the Human Rights Campaign made their decision to support Hillary so early. On their own website, they mention that they didn’t endorse President Obama until June 2008 and John Kerry until June 2004. Why did they support Hillary before primaries even began?
Interestingly, Hillary’s website says, in bold, that she “has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights throughout her career.” While the announcement the Human Rights Campaign made notes that Hillary “has a long record as a champion for LGBT rights…” and points to her strong record on “key votes and legislation that mattered” to LGBT Americans.
However, here is a video of her saying marriage is a “sacred bond between a man and a woman” in 2004. And then there’s also the fact that she supported her husband, the former President Clinton, when he passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. She may have come around on the issue, but certainly not long enough to call it a “long record” like Bernie Sanders has.
What are we to make of this? The official reasoning the Human Rights Campaign uses to validate their support for her is exaggerated, while her own website also makes it sound more impressive than it really is. I applaud her again for being publicly supportive of LGBT rights, but is it worth supporting a candidate with a questionable record in regard to your beliefs?
Perhaps it’s because as a new poll suggests, a majority of LGBT Americans are already supporting Hillary’s candidacy; meaning HRC is only going with what the people dictate. This is, of course, despite the fact that the same poll shows that more people think Bernie Sanders is more supportive. If this is the case, then the support thrown Hillary’s way is based upon her perceived ability to lead, not for her LGBT support.
For me myself, as a gay man, Bernie’s long standing support of LGBT rights is part of why I’m voting for him. I can only speak for myself, though. For the rest of you out there, I urge that you look at the two candidates (the only two who are positive on LGBT issues) and decide for yourselves. There is something to be said for supporting a candidate who has changed their mind on the issue, there’s also something else to be said for the politician who has been fighting for us all of his life.
Feature photo courtesy of OECD.
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