By Dakota Neff–
Hillary Clinton has just announced support for same-sex marriage in a heart-felt video posted by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the country. Is this a shocking development? Not really, as President Barack Obama & Vice President Joe Biden announced support last May. But this does mean something greater in terms of the broader political landscape, and advancing the recognition of marriage equality in the United States.
Hillary states in the video, “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.”
This is a moving sentiment, as it comes from one of the most well-respected political figures on the planet. As more and more politicians indicate their support, this announcement will leave the issue largely settled within the Democratic Party’s platform.
We’re all expecting a 2016 presidential bid from the former Secretary of State, though that is not a certainty. But as the widely popular Democratic frontrunner, Mrs. Clinton needed to align herself with the President, as well as shifting public opinion. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll suggests that 58% of the American public now supports the idea of same-sex marriage, while 72% of Democrats support the issue. Hillary needs to stay ahead of the game, politically, if her 2016 bid ever comes to fruition. Many Democrats have announced support for federal recognition of same-sex marriage, many of whom could turn out to be contenders for the 2016 Democratic Primaries. Even a few Republicans have announced a belief in marriage equality. Rob Portman, a notable Republican senator from Ohio, has come out in favor of marriage equality; after realizing his own son is gay. I find this to be inspirational, as Mr. Portman defied political expectations within his party; placing family before selfish political ambitions. This proves marriage equality should no longer be a partisan issue, but an issue of human rights.
Flexing her political muscle, Hillary likely wanted to influence landmark Supreme Court decisions expected later this week. A challenge to Proposition 8, as well as a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into lay by, you guessed it, President Bill Clinton. Though even the former POTUS has announced a change-of-heart recently, suggesting in a Washington Post op-ed that the law he signed, requiring the federal government to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages, is discriminatory and must be overturned. Personally, I feel like when a leader who signs a piece of legislation into law wants to overturn that measure, it probably means it’s time to overturn it.
Hillary’s announcement means a great deal to Southern Democrats, who may support Clinton’s fiscal policy, yet remain socially conservative. She speaks to these citizens directly when she states, “People of goodwill and good faith will continue to view this issue differently. So I hope that as we discuss and debate, whether it’s around a kitchen table or in the public square, we do so in a spirit of respect and understanding. Conversations with our friends, our families, our congregations, our coworkers; are opportunities to share our own reflections, and to invite others to share theirs. They give us a chance to find that common ground, and a path forward. For those of us who lived through the long years of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, the speed with which more and more people have come to embrace the dignity and equality of LGBT Americans has been breath taking and inspiring.”
Throughout the announcement, Hillary stresses that the United States must remain a leader in the advancement of human rights, “A little over a year ago in Geneva, I told the nations of the world that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights, and that the United States would be a leader in defending those rights.
Now there were some countries that did not want to hear that, but I believe America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being. That’s who we are, it’s in our DNA.”
Photo courtesy of usnews.com