Hillary Clinton on April 19 after winning New York’s Democratic primary. | DONNA ACETO
More than half a century ago, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, participants at the first Annual Reminder march picketed, chanted, and sang. They did this to show their fellow Americans that the LGBT community lacked fundamental civil rights. Four years later, the Stonewall Rebellion took place in Greenwich Village in response to a police raid on a Christopher Street bar.
In the decades since those protests, our country has come a long way. Marriage equality is the law of the land. This year, the last state law prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children was finally struck down. And President Barack Obama signed an executive order protecting federal workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We should celebrate that progress.
But the simple truth is that even now, in 2016, there are still too many states in America where LGBT people can be fired or evicted from their home because of who they are or who they love. You can get married on Sunday and fired on Monday, just for being gay or transgender.
That goes against everything we stand for as a country.
We need to act on the federal level to take on discrimination in all its forms. That’s what I’ll do as president — with your help.
But first, we have to win this election. Donald Trump must not be elected president. He would rip away so much of the progress we’ve made. He would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality and rescind many of President Obama’s executive orders — including those protecting LGBT people.
It’s not just Trump’s policies that reveal the kind of president he would be. So does his choice of running mate. Mike Pence is one of the most anti-LGBT public officials in America. As governor of Indiana, Pence supported a bill that legalized discrimination against LGBT people. As a member of Congress, he voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, saying that doing so would be “social experimentation.” And he’s said that homosexuality would bring about “societal collapse.”
That’s why the stakes in this election are so high.
If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll protect the progress we’ve fought so hard to achieve — and I’ll keep fighting until every American can live free from discrimination and prejudice.
That means working to pass the Equality Act. It would finally provide LGBT people full federal nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and so much more. I know that differences of opinion on LGBT equality still exist in the hearts of some Americans, but they should not exist under our laws. As president, I’ll be your partner in bringing about the vision of the inclusive nation that advocates, activists, and allies have been seeking for decades.
I also believe we must address the ongoing issue of violence against the LGBT community. LGBT people are now more likely than any other group to be the target of a hate crime. America saw the effects of hate in Orlando, with the attack on the Pulse nightclub — the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in our history. The danger is compounded for LGBT people of color, who face intersectional pressures and dangers, particularly transgender people of color. Last year, more than 20 transgender women were killed in America.
We need to stop the violence and save LGBT lives. We need to collect more data around gender identity and sexual orientation in hate crimes, so we can stop them in a smarter, more effective way. And we need to finally pass common sense reforms to address the gun violence epidemic. Along with the vast majority of Americans, I believe that we can protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners while still making sure that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Finally, we need to continue our fight to achieve our goal of an AIDS-free generation. HIV and AIDS still disproportionately impact gay and bisexual men, communities of color, transgender people, and young people. We need to increase research, expand the use of effective prevention medications like PrEP, cap out-of-pocket drug costs, and reform outdated HIV-criminalization laws.
Like many, I’ve lost friends and loved ones to AIDS. We owe it to them — the people we love and miss, and the people whose names we’ll never know — to continue this fight.
As first lady and senator, I fought to significantly expand funding for AIDS research. As secretary of state, I changed the rules so that State Department employees in same-sex relationships were treated the same as their colleagues and so that transgender Americans could obtain passports that reflected their true gender identity. So these fights aren’t new to me.
And as president, I’ll keep fighting for LGBT rights, because — as I told the world in one of the most important speeches I gave as secretary of state — they are human rights. And I won’t quit until all our laws reflect that basic reality.
This perspective piece is running in member publications of the National Gay Media Association — a trade association of leading LGBT publications across the US — following an invitation from the Philadelphia Gay News to both major party candidates. Donald Trump’s campaign chose not to submit such an op ed.