Clinton tries to lock down gay voters

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton has given an interview to an American gay newspaper in an attempt to portray herself as the obvious candidate for LGBT votes.

The former First Lady, who is facing a serious and sustained challenge for the Democratic party nomination from Barack Obama, spoke to the Washington Blade on Sunday about issues such as workplace protection and hate crimes legislation.

Her comments came just two days ahead of today’s primaries in the states of Maryland and Virginia and Washington DC.

The candidate lost no time in trying to establish her “gay-friendly” credentials.

She even promised to become the first US President to march in a Pride parade if she is elected.

In reality there is little difference between Senators Clinton and Obama on LGBT rights issues.

Neither supports same-sex marriage, and while Senator Obama wants a complete repeal of the Defence of Marriage Act, the Senator Clinton wants to remove the prohibition on the federal government recognising same-sex couples.

“I think extending federal benefits is a very important step forward,” she said.

“I don’t see why a same-sex couple in California, which has a domestic partnership law, should be able to take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act if one of them is ill, while a couple in another state without such a law cannot.”

In his Martin Luther King day address last month Senator Obama, speaking at the Atlanta Baptist church where Dr King began his career as a minister, made his support for the gay community explicit.

“If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community,” he told a congregation of African Americans.

“We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.”

He regularly references gay people in his speeches.

In contrast, Senator Clinton’s comments on gay issues throughout the campaign have been made in front of gay audiences.

Many LGBT Americans are unhappy that the former First Lady and other Senate Democrats have not responded in a visible and assertive way to attacks against gay marriage and other gay rights efforts by conservative Republicans and religious advocacy groups.

“I talk about gay issues frequently,” she told the Washington Blade.

“I’ve been a longtime friend of the gay community.

“I’ve been talking about these issues since 1999 when I first ran for Senate and went on record as the first major candidate to say we’re going to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“I talk about ending discrimination all the time.”

Senator Obama also wants an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy instituted under President Bill Clinton that allowed LGB people to serve in the US Armed Forces as long as they were not open about their sexuality.

During her interview she criticised her opponent for allowing an “ex-gay” activist to a campaign for him in South Carolina, where he beat her by a wide margin.

Going into today’s primaries, CNN reports that Senator Clinton has 1,148 pledged delegates to the August nominating convention, Senator Obama has 1,121.

To win the nomination a candidate needs 2,025.

Click here to read Hillary Clinton’s Washington Blade interview.