Hil­lary de­fends Bill on ho­mo­sex­ual rights

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton de­fended her hus­band’s record on ho­mo­sex­ual rights on Aug. 9 in an emo­tional ex­change with singer Melissa Etheridge dur­ing a broad fo­rum hosted by the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign.

Miss Etheridge told the New York Demo­crat she felt be­trayed in the years af­ter she came out as a les­bian dur­ing the week of Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1993.

“Our hearts were bro­ken, we were thrown un­der the bus, we were pushed aside, all those great prom­ises that were made to us were bro­ken,” Miss Etheridge said, al­lud­ing to Mr. Clin­ton’s go­ing back on his prom­ise to re­peal the ban on open ho­mo­sex­u­als in the mil­i­tary and his sign­ing the De­fense of Mar­riage Act.

“Are we go­ing to be left be­hind the way we were be­fore?” she asked.

Mrs. Clin­ton lauded her hus­band’s achieve­ments on ap­point­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als to ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tions but also said she would scrap her hus­band’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­icy and al­low ac­tive ho­mo­sex­u­als to serve openly in the mil­i­tary.

“I don’t see it the way you de­scribe,” she told Miss Etheridge. “We cer­tainly didn’t get as much done as I would have liked but I be­lieved there was a lot of hon­est ef­fort go­ing on.”

Mrs. Clin­ton was the fi­nal 2008 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to speak dur­ing the two-hour Vis­i­ble Vote ’08 fo­rum, hosted in Los An­ge­les by the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign (HRC), streamed on­line and tele­vised na­tion­ally only by the Logo cable chan­nel.

The for­mer first lady pledged to work “to change at­ti­tudes and per­suade peo­ple that they should be more open, more re­spect­ful, more un­der­stand­ing” and said the “mean-spir­ited” era of tar­get­ing ho­mo­sex­u­als is no more.

“That will end, that is over,” she said.

Sen. Barack Obama noted his ex- pe­ri­ence “at times be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against,” and said there are sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween fight­ing for ho­mo­sex­ual rights and the civil rights move­ment of the 1950s and ’60s.

“When you’re a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what it’s like to be on the out­side,” the Illi­nois Demo­crat said, call­ing him­self a leader on ho­mo­sex­ual rights is­sues and said in­equal­ity in­spired him to en­ter pol­i­tics.

An Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would en­sure “the rights that are pro­vided by the fed­eral, and the state and the lo­cal gov­ern­ments are the ones that are pro­vided to ev­ery­body,” he said. “That’s a stan­dard I think I can meet, and I don’t make prom­ises I can’t keep.”

He was later praised on a Logo fo­rum for his an­swer about re­li­gious op­po­si­tion to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity among blacks.

“There are peo­ple who rec­og­nize that if we’re go­ing to talk about jus­tice and civil rights and fair­ness, that should ap­ply to all peo­ple, not just some,” he said. “There are some folks who, com­ing out of the church, have, you know, el­e­vated one line in Ro­mans above the Ser­mon in the Mount.”

The can­di­dates made their ap­peals to ho­mo­sex­ual vot­ers, promis­ing ex­pan­sion of rights and tread­ing a care­ful line on the “mar­riage” is­sue. The fo­rum was de­signed to high­light ho­mo­sex­ual is­sues in a way not seen in pre­vi­ous elec­tions.

For­mer Sen. John Ed­wards of North Carolina said pub­lic school stu­dents “need to un­der­stand why same-sex cou­ples are the par­ents of some of the chil­dren.”

When pressed, he said he hadn’t thought about what age would be ap­pro­pri­ate to ed­u­cate chil­dren about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

New Mex­ico Gov. Bill Richard­son, a for­mer con­gress­man, said he re­gret­ted vot­ing for the De­fense of Mar­riage Act dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion but said he prefers civil unions and fight­ing for “what is achiev­able.”

“The coun­try isn’t there yet,” he said.

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