Politics Hillary Clinton had the chance to make gay rights history. In June , Hillary Clinton, then a candidate for U. She became the first first lady to do so. As she prepared for a forum on the gay-oriented Logo network, she reached out to her friend Hilary Rosen, a political consultant who is a lesbian. Rosen expressed frustration that so many mainstream political figures opposed legalized same-sex marriage, and she challenged Clinton to speak out for a community that had strongly supported her.
Clinton just wanted to know the best way to explain the position. Hilary Rosen, at left in in New York, said she was disappointed that her friend Hillary Clinton did not vocally support same-sex marriage in This year, as the Democratic presidential nominee, she is running as a forceful advocate for the LGBT community and a full-fledged supporter of same-sex marriage.
Clinton and her husband, Bill, had stood out as being among the first to actively court the gay community as an interest group and donor base — and yet they were unwilling to stand with the community on one of its biggest civil rights issues. And on that issue, she followed. It also reflects a central challenge for the year-old candidate, who along with her husband helped to shape an era of centrist politics designed to appeal to culturally conservative voters but has struggled to adapt to a generation of Democrats who have moved further to the left.
Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton greets a throng of people attending the gay pride parade in New York City. Reuters Among the Bill Clinton-era policies that Hillary Clinton has disavowed on the presidential campaign trail is the Defense of Marriage Act, the law signed by then-President Bill Clinton in the lead-up to his reelection effort that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.
Bill Clinton sought to include the community as a part of his coalition. He spoke about increasing funding for AIDS research and ending discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
Most provocative was his unequivocal promise to lift the ban on gay people serving in the military. She would talk with same-sex couples about their children and share stories of parenthood. Rosen said that Clinton, even as she grappled with her views of marriage, was personally supportive when Rosen adopted her children.
The night before Roberta Achtenberg, then a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was scheduled to make history at the Democratic National Convention as the first openly lesbian person to ever address the gathering, Hillary Clinton called to give her a pep talk.
Members of Congress and military officials were arguing against lifting the ban on gays serving in the military. Those who spoke to Hillary Clinton at the time said she encouraged her husband to find more support in Congress to avoid the compromise. But there was little she could do. Lawmakers were crafting legislation mandating that the federal government recognize only heterosexual marriage.
Hillary Clinton, whose influence had dwindled after her failed attempt to overhaul the health-care system, mostly stayed out of those discussions, Socarides said. Still, some gay activists hoped that she might be a voice for them in the West Wing. Hillary Clinton was not receptive, Rosen recalled, because she thought she needed to stand with her husband while making tough choices.
Someone has to be first. A month later, she demonstrated the limits to her support for LGBT rights — declaring that she was unwilling to support legalized marriage. She spoke in favor of civil unions gaining equal legal status as marriage, as well as efforts to end employment discrimination against homosexuals.
In June , she strolled along Fifth Avenue behind a man on roller skates wearing only a thong and another in a pink tutu. Yet, as she was celebrating same-sex relationships, some activists in New York were losing patience. In , the mayor of San Francisco started approving marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Courts in Massachusetts had endorsed marriage rights. Bush called for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, energizing a conservative base that would help him secure a second term.
I thought it set a bad example. What it said was you could do as little as you could at that time to get our support. She supported states that legalized same-sex marriage. The position seemed dogmatic and uncompromising, Rosen said. Allida Black, a historian and longtime friend, said she chose to focus her conversations with Clinton on pressing for policies to allow gay people to visit their partners in the hospital or bury their deceased loved ones.
Nevertheless, Black said she never doubted that Clinton respected her relationship with her partner, Judy. By May , as polls showed more than half of the country supporting same-sex marriage, top Democrats began indicating their support.
Chad Griffin, the executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, said he privately pressed Clinton to shift her position. Griffin, who grew up in Hope, Ark. She told him she wanted his ideas for the best way to show her support for same-sex marriage. She was fully behind marriage. But she had known it was coming. It was from Clinton.