Live Blogging Logo’s “Visible Vote,” Part 4: Hillary Rodham Clinton


Last but not least: New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary’s wearing a bright orangish satiny jacket. She seems very at ease as she enters the studio and shakes hands and smiles at people.

Margaret’s first comment is, "I like the coral jacket." Oy. I know I’ve been mentioning everyone’s fashion, but Margaret hasn’t mentioned anybody’s fashion except for Hillary’s. I have mixed feelings about this, but no time to get into it!

Joe gets the first question, about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Why haven’t you introduced legislation to repeal DADT?

Hillary first thanks everyone quickly and then says, "We didn’t have a chance." She says she wants to get it done when she’s president. She’s very convincing. Go Hillary!

Hey, Asian American woman is fully onscreen now. Damn, Hillary’s good — she’s pointing out Staff Sergeant Eric Alva in the audience while she talks about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; he was the first marine wounded in Iraq. Was he a Clinton campaign placement or does she really have that ability to pick people out under the hot studio lights and identify them correctly while answering political questions? Possibly both.

She points out that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was an advance from previous practices, but it wasn’t implemented appropriately and was always supposed to be a transitional thing. In 1999, she says she came out against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and that she remembers the "intense debates" about this in ’93 (yep, remind us of your experience, check). She says General Powell is starting to rethink it. She wants to lay the groundwork, but then when she’s president she’ll get it done.

Joe asks: What is at the heart of your opposition to same-sex marriage?

Hillary: "Well, Joe I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions." Everybody laughs. I think that’s really quite a sophisticated way to answer, actually. It’s as if she’s acknowledging that this is a spin she’s putting on the issue, and that it’s a spin that has to be done in this cultural and political climate.

But then she goes on to say that her opposition is a "personal position." She goes into how she wants states to maintain jurisdiction over marriage. She says she wants to repeal section 3 of Defense of Marriage. She basically avoids the question.

Joe asks if she can sympathize with the frustration over the position that it’s a strates’ rights issue — in the civil rights movement that same position was seen as a red herring. Basically, don’t you get it? Hillary says she "abolutely" gets the frustration, and she respects the advocacy they’re doing on behalf of marriage and is "very much impressed by the intensity and the persistence" of the advocacy.

But, she says, people in the states are moving more rapidly at the state level than at the federal level. She keeps hammering home how she fought to get the federal marriage amendment off the ballot. She says she doesn’t know if they could have defeated the amendment if they didn’t have DOMA. She slams into the Republicans and Bush who "cynically use marriage as a political tool."

She makes the lack of support of gay marriage sound good! How do you do it, Hillary?

Melissa then talks about how she came out when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, how she (and many gay folks) were very hopeful at that time but in the years that followed, their hearts were broken and promises made to us weren’t kept. She says she understands politics and how hard it is to bring about change, but what are you gonna do to be different from that?

Watch the video:

Hillary says she doesn’t see it quite the way Melissa does, but she respects her feelings about it; she talks in a very intimate tone about all the stuff that she thinks Clinton did for the gay community. "I believe there was a lot of honest effort going on," she says earnestly.

Melissa pushes her: "Why not be a leader now?"

Hillary says, "I think I am a leader now." I sense a slight bit of defensiveness, but then Hillary says that if she were in Melissa’s shoes, having gone through the coming-out process and cancer, etc., she knows that time moves quickly and she’d want to see change right away. She understands and wishes it could happen as well. Hillary seems really understanding here: telling Melissa (and everyone else) that she understands our desire for rapid change, but the world as it is doesn’t always allow that.

As president, she thinks she has an opportunity to reverse the assault on people in general — a demeaning, degrading, mean-spirited kind of thing. "That will end; that is over," Hillary insists to loud applause. Memories of the impeachment, anyone?

As the forum wraps up, Margaret Carlson says that Hillary told the AFL-CIO the other night that she was their girl. Does she want to say the same to the Logo audience? Hillary responds with a grin, "I’m your girl!"

I think you meant "grrrl," Hillary.

To watch more videos from Visible Vote 08, go here.

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