Capitol Beat Opinion

Hillary Clinton’s LGBT Rights Evolution

Linda Pentz
Written by Linda Pentz

I’m a big fan of evolution.  It’s a case-closed issue for me.  Empirical, period.  That’s why I don’t buy the argument that the LGBT community should support Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton because Clinton only recently “evolved” into a supporter of LGBT rights.

Evolving is good.  It means she learned and it means advocacy worked and we should keep doing it.  There are plenty of other good reasons to support Sanders over Clinton, but who arrived first at the pro-LGBT finish line isn’t one of them.

LPAC, the lesbian political PAC, was the first national LGBTQ organization to endorse Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, way back in April 2015.  The announcement was reinforced by a statement from LPAC member and tennis legend, Billie Jean King, who co-chairs LPAC’s Lesbians 4 Hillary grassroots campaign.

“Hillary Clinton is a proven leader and she has a strong track record when it comes to inclusion — specifically for women and the LGBTQ community,” King said.  “Her entire career has been a road map to get her to this moment and she has earned my respect and my vote to become the next President of the United States of America.”

The LPAC board decision to endorse Clinton was unanimous, but was it a difficult one I wondered, given Sanders’ strong views and record on LGBT and social justice issues?

“It was not contentious,” Shipp told me when we talked recently.  “It was an easy decision for the board to make.”

There were, said Shipp, a couple of reasons for picking Clinton over Sanders.

“The Board feels very strongly she is the woman, and the person, who is most experienced,” Shipp said.  “We talked a lot about the experience factor.  She has such a depth and breadth unlike anyone we’ve seen in a long time for any candidate.”

Supreme Court marriage equality plaintiff, Jim Obergefell, also threw his hat in the Clinton ring, but he’s not part of the Hillary or bust movement.

On February 10, Obergefell Tweeted: “Support @BernieSanders? Thank you. Support @HillaryClinton? Thank you. Whoever the nominee is #VoteBlue. If you don’t the GOP wins & we lose.”


The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest and most powerful LGBT advocacy group, announced its endorsement of Clinton in January 2016.  Like LPAC, it was a unanimous decision of the HRC board.  And it was no real surprise given Clinton’s close personal relationship to HRC President and Arkansan, Chad Griffin, and her appearances at HRC events.

For LPAC however, finally shattering that glass ceiling with a Clinton victory may mean as much, if not more, than her championing of LGBT rights.

“It would be huge, so incredibly impactful for so many people,” exclaimed Shipp.  And, while young voter turnout is still a sore point — and seemingly lacking for Clinton — Shipp remarked that the young women who are attending Clinton events are “having a rockstar moment.”

Concluded Shipp: “It’s time for a woman, but particularly this woman, to be president of the United States.”