Lining Up Gay Voters Behind a Clinton Presidency

Lisa Changadveja is LGBT Americans director at Ready for Hillary, a group urging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president.  
National Journal
Oct. 30, 2013, 12:52 p.m.

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.”

What We're Following See More »
SAYS CANNOT BE HELD IN HOUSE CHAMBER WITH GOVERNMENT CLOSED
Pelosi Won't Back Down on SOTU
8 hours ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE WAS THREATENED BY TRUMP
Cohen Postpones Testimony
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
HE IS PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Trump Recognizes Guaido as Interim Venezuelan President
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
ALSO STEPS DOWN FROM JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE
Sheila Jackson-Lee Resigns as CBC Foundation Chair
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS
STANDOFF WITH PELOSI ON TUESDAY?
Trump Says He's Delivering SOTU as Planned
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login