Hillary Rodham Clinton has not said whether she will run for president in 2016, but the prospect of the first female president has spawned an independent super PAC in her name. Ready for Hillary, which opened its doors in January, has hired constituency directors to mobilize every slice of the liberal spectrum, including the LGBT community.
“This is a personal thing,” said Lisa Changadveja, who was named LGBT Americans director and is gay herself. “If Hillary does decide to run, she’ll have LGBT leaders ready to stand by her as supporters, donors, and hard-working volunteers.”
Changadveja pointed to three instances in which the presumptive candidate has proven her gay-rights bona fides. In 2000, Clinton became the first first lady to march in a gay-pride parade. (She has marched in several gay-pride parades since then.)
As secretary of State, Clinton delivered a speech at the United Nations in which she equated gay rights with human rights. “Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human,” she declared. “And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
Finally, Clinton for the first time endorsed gay marriage earlier this year. “I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law, embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and all Americans,” she said at the time.
According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of LGBT American adults say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade. One reason: gay-rights advocacy by public figures. That same poll, which was released in June, asked respondents to identify public figures who had advanced the cause of gay Americans. Twenty-three percent named President Obama, 18 percent named comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, and 3 percent named Clinton. (Apart from Obama and DeGeneres, no one else was named by more than 3 percent of respondents.)
Nonetheless, Changadveja insists that the LGBT community is enthusiastic about the prospect of a Clinton presidency. At a recent LGBT rally in Orlando, 900 people signed up for emails from Ready for Hillary in a single day. “Hillary has been a longtime friend of the LGBT community,” says Changadveja, who took a leave of absence while in college to help with Clinton’s first presidential run. “They have a lot of love for her.”
Changadveja, who is of Thai heritage, grew up in Helen, Ga., 90 miles north of Atlanta. The science-fiction buff, who can recite snatches of dialogue from Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica, volunteered for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and worked on the successful 2006 reelection bid of Oregon’s then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat. In 2007, Changadveja temporarily withdrew from Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., to join Clinton’s presidential campaign. She was still a teenager at the time.
Changadveja has been openly gay for 10 years. She credits recent advances in gay rights — like the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act — to evolving social norms and the diligence of gay-rights activists. “It’s amazing to see how far the LGBT needle has moved in the last decade.”
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Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.
"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.
Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."