We’re knee-deep in the election cycle and for many of us, the candidates’ stances on LGBTQ issues are imperative.
As someone who struggled to accept myself growing up, and then fought for his rights as an adult, I believe having a leader who is a fierce ally is essential. Someone who will fight for equality and inspire the next generation. I believe Hillary Clinton is this candidate.
Yes, when you hear “Hillary Clinton” and “LGBTQ rights,” her past comes up. As Clinton has said herself, it’s been an evolution. But just because someone hasn’t always been the biggest advocate in the past, doesn’t mean we should carry judgement against them into the future.
Below are 8 times Hillary Clinton showed she was a champion of the LGBT community.
Her historic speech in Switzerland.SEBASTIEN FEVAL/AFP/Getty Images
In December 2011, Clinton delivered a major speech in Geneva on International Human Rights Day. She insisted that the international community acknowledge that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” and announced the first-ever U.S. policy aimed at aiding LGBTQ people around the world.
In her remarks, sh claimed using religion to justify homophobia was “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.”
And she addressed the global LGBTQ community directly:
“To LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone.”
“People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.”
When she urged President Obama to push harder against homophobic regimes in Africa.SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
While outlets like Fox News attacked Clinton about “hiding” emails, there was actually some good that surfaced: One leaked message revealed she pushed the Obama Administration to press leaders in Africa to change their anti-LGBT policies.
It was not a safe position, either: As Clinton revealed in her memoir, Hard Choices, after she confronted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni about gay rights, he ridiculed my concerns.”
“Like many people in Uganda and around the world, I was appalled that the police and government had done little to protect [murdered activist] David [Cato] after public calls for his murder,” she wrote. “It was the result of a nationwide campaign to suppress LGBT people by any means necessary, and the government was part of it.”
When she stood up for gay diplomats and State Department employees.J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AFP/Getty Images
In 2009, while Clinton was Secretary of State she expanded the rights for the same-sex partners and families of U.S. diplomats, granting them the many of the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts—including visas, diplomatic passports, and access to U.S. medical facilities abroad.
“Like all families, our Foreign Service families come in different configurations; all are part of the common fabric of our post communities abroad,” Clinton said in a staff memo. “At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex partners because it is the right thing to do.”
At a gathering of LGBTQ State Department staffers, she explained that “creating an LGBT-welcoming workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.”
In 2010, she ordered that the State Department’s equal employment opportunity policy explicitly protect against discrimination based on gender identity. She also made it easier for Americans to change the gender listed on their passport and made it possible for same-sex couples to obtain passports under the their married names.
When she endorsed marriage equality.Curtis Means/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Yes, Secretary Clinton did not always champion the freedom to marry, but she made her support of it known loud and clear. In a 2013 video for the Human Rights Campaign, Clinton stated:
“LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones – and they are full and equal citizens, and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage. That’s why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law, embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and for all Americans… To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons solely on the basis of who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their God given potential.”
At a town hall meeting last year, she addressed her shift on the issue.
“My views did evolve, and I think most people my age would say the same thing,” she said. “There might be some exceptions, but largely because of my strong opposition to discrimination of any sort and my personal relationships with a lot of people over the years, I certainly concluded that marriage equality should be the law of the land, and I was thrilled when the Supreme Court made it the law of the land.”
When she fought to pass the Equality Act.Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
At a town hall meeting in 2015, Clinton expressed that passing legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was her “highest priority.”
In July, she tweeted that “the Equality Act will mean full federal equality for LGBT Americans & stronger anti-discrimination protections for everyone. Past time.”
Her vow to fight for an end to violence against trans people.AwakenedEye/Getty Images
Clinton addressed the trans community in 2015, during a HRC board meeting. “We’ve got to address the crisis of transphobic violence. 2015 has seen the murder of at least 19 transgender women, primarily women of color. And nobody knows how much violence goes unreported or ignored,” she stated.
“We need to say, with one voice, that transgender people are valued, they are loved, they are us. They desire to be treated fairly and equally.”
Hillary’s message to gay teens on Facebook.Oleg Golovnev / EyeEm
When Humans of New York posted a photo of a somber teen on Facebook who declared, “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me,” Hillary quickly responded with a personal message.
“Prediction from a grown-up: You’re future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you. There will be lots of them. –H”
Her promise to the future.FG Trade/Getty Images
While Secretary Clinton has done quite a lot when it comes to the LGBTQ community, if she becomes president she’s made it clear her work is not done. On her website she outlines 24 pledges that elucidate the policies she would change or advance to help LGBTQ people. (Bernie Sanders has only advanced seven pro-LGBTQ policies).
One of them: outlawing conversion therapy.
“It is time to put an end to conversion therapy for minors,” Clinton tweeted. “We should be supporting LGBT kids—not trying to change them.”