Ten years ago, Hillary Clinton demonstrated her support for LGBT rights by becoming the first First Lady to march in a pride parade.
This week, she continued making history with a bold speech at a State Department event celebrating LGBT pride month. The ceremony included human rights activists from Africa, where gay rights violations in Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe have made international headlines recently. Speaking of the danger LGBT people face in such situations around the world, Clinton said, “These dangers are not ‘gay’ issues. This is a human rights issue.” Reflecting her speech in Beijing 15 years ago when she said that women’s rights are human rights, she added, “Let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all.”
Clinton noted that the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report includes a section on the treatment of LGBT individuals in every country and mentioned a new grant from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to provide aid to human rights advocates in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia who are in danger because they either are LGBT themselves or work on LGBT issues.
She also highlighted LGBT rights policies enacted during her tenure:
Last year, I received a petition with more than 2,200 signatures supporting equal benefits to same-sex partners [of State Department employees]. And I was delighted that soon after, the President signed an executive order to that effect. This month, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued new regulations making it easier for transgender Americans to amend their passports, ensuring dignified and fair processing. And today, I’m pleased to announce that for the first time, gender identity will be included along with sexual orientation in the State Department Equal Employee Opportunity Statement.
Clinton drew laughter when she spoke of her perspective on the progress toward equality.
I know that when you’re in the midst of a great movement of change it seems like it is glacial, but any fair assessment, from my perspective, having lived longer than at least more than 75 percent of you that I see in this room — [laughter] — is that it is extraordinary what has happened in such a short period of time.
She acknowledged, however, that much remains to be done.
The struggle for equality is never, ever finished. And it is rarely easy, despite how self-evident it should be. But the hardest-fought battles often have the biggest impact. So I hope that each and every one of us will recommit ourselves to building a future in which every person – every, single person can live in dignity, free from violence, free to be themselves, free to live up to their God-given potential wherever they live and whoever they are. And I thank you for being part of one of history’s great moments.
The entire speech is a bit over 16 minutes and seeing her deliver it is an inspiration. And she looks gorgeous — obviously, the presence of Gay brings out the best in her.
Watch it when you have time — you’ll be glad you did.
You can read the transcript here.
What do you think of Hillary Clinton’s address? Does she show stronger support for us than President Obama? Do you think this administration is making progress toward full equality for the LGBT community?