With the April 22nd Primaries quickly approaching, Pennsylvania is buzzing. While I’ll be featuring columns on Hillary Clinton leading up to the primaries, regardless of who becomes our president, I am ecstatic that the apathy shrouding this country for the last two terms is lifting and people are engaged in politics again. People care again. People are passionate again.
Now, I’ve been a Hillary Clinton fan as long as I can remember. I have her autobiography on VHS somewhere (yes, it’s that old!), I’ve read her book a few times and I have her infamous Wellesley valedictorian speech engrained in my mind. That being said, I don’t support Hillary because she is a woman. I support her because she is a notable individual who has effected change through her roles as an attorney, First Lady and Senator.
As president, Hillary will work with the LGBT community and allies in Congress to change discriminatory laws, not merely empathize with how unfair they are. The following is Hillary Clinton’s “gay agenda” so to speak; her LGBT platform. The latter is merely a recitation of her prior record on some LGBT issues, current fights she is engaged in and future promises she has made.
- Hillary is sensitive to and appalled by the fact that, in states like Pennsylvania, people can still be fired because of who they are or who they love. She supports, and was an original co-sponsor of ENDA, and aims to put an end to the blatant employment discrimination that still runs rampant across the United States.
- Hillary supports the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. She acknowledges that hate crimes undermine the fundamental principle upon which our nation was founded, that all men and women are equal.
- Hillary supports civil unions, not gay marriages, and will work to ensure that all Americans in committed relationships have equal benefits, gay or straight, from health insurance to life insurance and the many more (give or take 1,038) rights we struggle without. Doing so will mean amending the Defense of Marriage Act, which was ironically bestowed upon us by the “other” Clinton and legislation that she supported at the time. More on that in a subsequent column.
- Hillary is an original co-sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act, which would grant the same benefits, including health insurance, to domestic partners of federal employees that are currently offered to employees’ legal spouses.
- Again, in line with undoing legacies instilled by the “other” Clinton, Hillary vows to repeal the ever-so-patriotic “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. Personally, my only bittersweet moment in law school occurred when I was accepted into the Judge Advocates General Corp (JAG) program and on principle, I turned down the offer. I couldn’t fathom explaining to people 10 years down the road that at one point in my career I compromised who I was for what I wanted to be. Hillary has been in support of repealing the policy since she ran for Senate in 1999, which proves her conviction is based on more than just winning the “gay vote” in this moment. On a realistic note, she’s rightfully concerned that the military is discharging people with critical skills, including desperately needed Arabic language skills.
- Hillary worked to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). The FMA would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and included language which could have prevented recognition of civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. The amendment failed by a vote of 49-48.
- Last but definitely not least, Hillary wrote the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which expands access to vital treatment options for low-income individuals living with HIV ensuring they receive needed treatments before the disease progresses. Hillary also signed the 08 Stop AIDS platform, committing to support $50 billion dollars by 2013 to fight the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
I realize Hillary is a controversial candidate. The right believes she’s a liberal under a centrist cloak and the left wonders whether they even know who she is. The country is asking, can she win? We’ll see soon enough whether Hillary will “go hard or go home”. In the meantime, she has my full support and I’m enjoying every minute of the journey.