Clinton’s presidency was historic for LGBT rights

People tend to rest on their historical laurels. They assume everyone else is familiar with history as they lived it. And they’re wrong.

This misplaced trust in the past’s ability to speak for itself doesn’t stem from laziness; rather, it comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of how history works. Those who lived through a particular moment in “history,” tend to remember it, for better of worse. Those who were too young at the time, read about it instead. What they read, the source and its biases and overall accuracy, impacts what they end up believing. And what they end up believing isn’t necessarily what actually happened.

Which takes us to Bill Clinton’s presidency, and more generally Hillary Clinton’s progressive bona fides. Bernie Sanders had an interesting predicament running for president. How do you run against a liberal icon who has not only the entire party apparatus behind her, but who’s married to a sidekick who had one of the most successful presidencies, and thus is one of the biggest campaign draws, in modern memory?

Answer: You rewrite her history.

If you can’t win on the issues, rewrite the history

Team Sanders understood something that Team Clinton apparently did not: You’re only as good as the public’s memory. Hillary Clinton assumed a new generation of Democrats knew about her longtime proven commitment to the progressive cause. They didn’t. Which opened the window for Sanders to piggyback on nearly three decades of nasty, untruthful Republicans attacks to redefine Hillary as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only). A slur that is particularly ironic since Donald Trump, and the GOP generally, think Hillary is a commie. (Well, commie with a small C — Sanders, in their mind, is the big C.)

Which leads us to a discussion of Bill Clinton’s and Hillary’s record on LGBT rights.

I’ve been surprised, as someone who has worked in the top wrungs of LGBT activism at the national (and international) level for over twenty years, to read lately about how a number of lefty youth think Bill Clinton’s LGBT record is the worst ever. They usually — only — mention Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), conveniently glossing over every other quantum leap Bill Clinton took on behalf of our civil rights back in a time when it still wasn’t terribly cool to embrace the gay.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Gay people were ecstatic when Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992. Clinton had already made clear that he wasn’t just the most pro-gay (we used the word “gay” back then, rather than LGBT) president in history, but he was more pro-gay than American society at large, and even many Democrats. Clinton had promised that the first thing he’d do on assuming office would be lifting the ban on gays serving in the military.

Keep in mind, while seemingly uncontroversial today, this was the early 1990s. Clinton’s was an incredible commitment at the time. But things didn’t go so well come January 1993. A conservative Democratic Senator from the south, Sam Nunn, decided he was going to go all-out to stop Clinton from lifting the ban. Nunn took the lead so the Republicans didn’t have to. He was helped significantly by Colin Powell, the hold-over Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Nunn and Powell tag-teamed homophobia, and successfully shut Clinton done.

I watched the entire thing while working as a gay-rights fellow for Senator Ted Kennedy, who led the opposition to Nunn-Powell in the US Senate. I had just come out, and wanted to work on behalf of my community. Kennedy’s staffer handling gay and HIV issues (among others) let me work for him after-hours on gay rights policy, including DADT.

In the end, after months of wrangling, Nunn won — kind of. The ban wasn’t lifted. Instead a compromise was agreed to, the so-called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Don’t pursue) policy. The idea behind it was to stop the witch hunts, and for the first time make it acceptable for gays to serve in the military, so long as they remained in the closet. Again, in 2016 that sounds pretty bad — and to be honest, lots of us were ticked when the policy was announced — but it was actually somewhat radical, considering we were taking on the most conservative institution in America.

While discharges continued to the tune of 600 to 1,200 per year, the witch hunts stopped. And many a gay in the military will tell you today that life under DADT, while still unacceptable, was significantly better than under the previous all-out ban. It’s also important to remember that, at the time, you couldn’t even get a security clearance to work for the federal government if you were gay — Clinton lifted that ban in 1995. (He also outlawed discrimination against gays in federal service in 1998.) These things were revolutionary at the time.

In the end, it would be almost 20 years until the ban would actually be lifted. So when remembering Bill Clinton’s embrace of DADT, it’s important to remember the history and the era. The very first thing Bill Clinton did on coming to office was try to help the gay community. For that, we shouldn’t fault him, regardless of how things turned out.

And I write this retrospective on DADT as the person who won a historic DADT victory in the 1990s. (Google Timothy McVeigh, not the bomber, but the gay.)

DOMA and the rest of the Clinton LGBT legacy

Now, DADT wasn’t the only gay thing that happened in the Clinton presidency. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is often mentioned as well. I’m not going to defend DOMA, or Bill Clinton lauding his embrace of it during the 1996 campaign. I, we, were ticked about it at the time. And it annoyed us that Clinton refused to distance himself from the policy for years to come. But I still think Bill Clinton’s presidency was historic for gay people because he was in office for years, and far more happened than simply DADT and DOMA.

While I know it’s popular to do so of late, you simply should not judge someone based on one, or two, examples of “bad” things they’ve done or said. When someone has been an advocate for your people for decades, you should be very careful about throwing them, and their record, overboard because you disagree about one or two things they did, regardless of how “big” those bad things were. Why? Because often there’s so much more to the story, so many more examples of just how committed they truly were to your cause, and just how big a difference they made for your people.

Bill Clinton’s historic advances on gay rights

I wrote about this earlier, and listed a number of the Bill Clinton gay/LGBT successes, but I’ll repeat a few of them here:

  • 1997, Clinton endorsed adding sexual orientation to the Hate Crimes bill.
  • Appointed first-ever openly-gay US ambassador.
  • Had an openly-gay person with AIDS speak during prime time at the Democratic Convention in 1992. This was a multiple “first.”
  • Tried to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
  • Ended discrimination against gays in the federal workforce.
  • Ended discrimination against gays in getting security clearances to work for the feds.
  • Endorsed ENDA.
  • Blocked Republican efforts to pass legislation prohibiting unmarried couples from jointly adopting children in the District of Columbia, and legislation which would have denied certain federal funds to localities with domestic partnership laws.
  • Issued first-ever presidential gay Pride Month proclamation.
  • Dramatically increased funding for HIV/AIDS.
  • Worked to stop discrimination against people with AIDS.
  • Opposed anti-gay ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon.
  • Fought discrimination against people with AIDS in the military.
  • Directed the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to vigorously prosecute those who discriminate against people with AIDS, leading to actions against health care providers and facilities that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • First administration to help asylum-seekers based on sexual orientation.
  • First president to grant asylum for gays and lesbians facing persecution in other countries.
  • Fought harassment of students based on sexual orientation.
  • Fought for and signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which bans insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions including HIV/AIDS. In addition, President Clinton issued a directive that ensures that all providers of Federal health insurance abide by non-discrimination rules including sexual orientation.
  • Under President Clinton’s leadership, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commissioned scientific panels to study lesbian health issues and to suggest research methods for scientists who want to study specific lesbian health issues. This is the first time a U.S. Government agency has commissioned an examination into this subject.
  • Appointed more than 150 openly-gay appointees to his administration. Again, this simply wasn’t done before Clinton’s presidency.
  • Appointed first-ever White House gay liaison.
  • Appointed the first-ever White House AIDS Czar.
  • Appointed the first-ever openly-gay federal official confirmed by the US Senate. (Roberta Achtenberg, Jesse Helms’ “damn lesbian.”)
  • Convened the first-ever White House conference on HIV/AIDS.
  • First president to speak before a gay organization.

Read more about Clinton’s LGBT and HIV/AIDS work.

What about Hillary?

I wanted to limit this story to Bill Clinton’s presidency, since it’s common fare of late for some to claim that Clinton’s presidency was a disaster for the LGBT community. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a bit about Hillary, as I’m still getting tweets from youth claiming that Hillary didn’t care about LGBT rights before 2013. They couldn’t be more wrong.

What’s important to remember when you consider Hillary’s early involvement in LGBT rights, and also Bill Clinton’s history while in office, is the time in which they happened.

In 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn into office, gay people were still dropping like flies from HIV/AIDS, after a decade of neglect from the combined Reagan and Bush administrations. And other than AIDS deaths, gays simply weren’t that visible in the public eye. There was no Internet. And there were very few open-gay elected officials and movie stars and corporate officials. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until 1997 that Ellen DeGeneres became the first leading character on a TV series to come out or be openly-gay.

That’s the era we lived in. Visibility was a luxury, and it was everything. And the Clintons were glad to give it before it was cool.

These are just a few key examples of Hillary’s commitment to our issues over the past 25 years.

1991: It was Hillary in 1991, who met with AIDS organizations, and people with AIDS, to talk about the need for a Manhattan Project to take on the scourge of AIDS. Again, 19-freaking-91. It was unheard of for someone of her caliber, running for First Lady, to do this.

Hillary Clinton meets with AIDS leaders in 1991, in order to call for a Manhattan Project to combat HIV/AIDS.

1996Bill and Hillary visited the AIDS Quilt in Washington, DC in 1996. In the 1990s, sitting presidents simply did not visit memorials to “pariahs.” The Reagan administration even joked about AIDS.

2000: Hillary was there in 2000, when she was the first First Lady to march in a Gay Pride parade.

2010: Hillary issues a landmark policy letting trans people put their correct gender on their US passports.

2011: Hillary famously declares that “gay rights are human rights” before the United Nations. It was a huge deal.

2016: Hillary’s campaign commitment to the LGBT community.

Yes, Hillary dawdled in terms of coming out in favor of gay marriage. But so did Bernie, who didn’t embrace marriage equality until 2009, and so did Barack Obama and nearly every other Democrat. Also, it’s important to note that in 2013, Bernie Sanders urged the Democratic party to stop focusing on gay marriage, lest our party’s embrace of civil rights tick off Southern voters. So there are ample skeletons in every candidates closet.

And yes, Hillary made a silly comment about Nancy Reagan a few months ago that couldn’t have been anything other than a misspeak. And it’s a comment she immediately apologized for, which only reinforces the notion that she simply misspoke. But you simply do not rewrite someone’s decades-long experience sticking their neck out for your community because they, like everyone else, were late in supporting your right to marry, and because they made one stupid misspeak about Nancy Reagan, after having already proven their commitment to fight HIV/AIDS. That’s purity politics of the worst kind — trying to destroy proven leaders because you disagree with one or two things they did or said.

In the end, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have similar records on LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS. (Though Sanders talks far less about LGBT people and HIV/AIDS than Hillary, had a far less aggressive platform concerning those issues until just a month ago (after he was criticized for his lack of attention to the issues), and Sanders had yet another hiccup with the AIDS community only yesterday.)

But regardless, you don’t have the right to rewrite history in order to win a political battle. And you absolutely don’t have the right to rewrite my history, when I lived it and made it. A lot of us were there in the 1990s, and beyond, working on these issues back before it was cool. And one ally’s name kept cropping up over and over again: Clinton. Keep that in mind the next time someone without history claims that Hillary is a newcomer to LGBT rights.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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133 Responses to “Clinton’s presidency was historic for LGBT rights”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s Democrats and your Republican brothers and sisters who’ll lose.

  2. Barbara says:

    Is anybody supposed to take SERIOUSLY an argument that compares what Castro did to “the Obama, the Clintons, Biden, etc, etc, etc.”

    The nonsense from the BS camp just never ends. No wonder you lost.

  3. HandsomeMrToad says:

    ok, if u say so i will assume good faith

    u r still wrong about hillary and gays

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    We don’t say that. We do say that the DP is an agressive pro-war racist, homophobic, antiunion party no different than the RP.

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    I’m a socialist.

  6. HandsomeMrToad says:

    Yes, but not popular and also members do not tend to say things like “all Dems are bigots”

  7. Moderator3 says:

    There are other choices besides Democratic or Republican.

  8. HandsomeMrToad says:

    I see, you wrote “your party”. Indicating that you belong to the other party. Which indicates that you are trying to cut down the gays’ overwhelming preference for Hillary over any Republican. Which indicates that your bad, context-free interpretations of Hillary’s speeches and positions are caused by your bad faith, not by any error.

    I think we know all we need to know about you now.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    She was a bigot then and your party is run by bigots now.They pigheadedly refused to pass ENDA or repeal your parties DOMA . Why do you support that?

  10. HandsomeMrToad says:

    Seems very bigoted and outrageous today, but did not seem that way when she made the speech. Hillary supported civil unions, which made her part of a pro-gay minority and took considerable courage.

    Also, there is nothing bigoted about opposing gay marriage, IF you believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to sanctify natural procreation, which she says she believes at the end of the part of the speech you posted. Most opponents of gay marriage do not really believe this, because the support allowing infertile couples to marry, so most opposition to gay marriage is in fact bigoted, but not necessarily INTRINSICALLY so.

    I don’t know whether you are just anti-Hillary (maybe a Bernie supporter) or misinformed about the common ideologies of the 1990s, or maybe you are one of those people who sees no difference

    between a moderate friend and an enemy, but either way, you are wrong. You remind me of a gay housemate I had in the 1980s who said, anyone who does not want to devote THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT BUDGET, ALL OF IT, to AIDS research, is a bigot and a murderer.

  11. HandsomeMrToad says:

    You are a moron. Period.

  12. Bill_Perdue says:

    DADT was an attack on the LGBT communities. Period.

    The Clintons are bigots. Period.

  13. HandsomeMrToad says:

    No, his support of DADT was a COMPROMISE. And it was a pretty substantial improvement for gay soldiers.

    There are two ways to fight for an unpopular but righteous cause: you can fall on your sword and make a point, or you can choose your battles and accomplish as much as you safely can. The Clintons went with the latter option.

  14. Badgerite says:

    Well, I would if there were something there to comment on rather than the usual pronouncements that must not be questioned lest one have to actually deal with the facts and defend them.

  15. Badgerite says:

    29 of which were amendments to state constitutions.

  16. Badgerite says:

    The anti war movement targeted the wrong convention and the wrong candidate. In the end, it only prolonged the war. And expanded it and when South Vietnam did fall, it did not fall gently on the people who lived there. It should have ended in 68 at the table in Paris.

  17. Moderator4 says:

    Bill_Perdue, you already told Badgerite previously “Sayonara.”
    So if you wish to ignore him, then ignore him, rather than repeating yourself.

  18. Badgerite says:

    I prefer the one I made. It suits you.

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    Socialists helped lead the antiwar movement and we are very proud that we, the GI antiwar movement and the Vietnamese kicked your asses out of Vietnam and ruined the presidencies of thugs like LBJ Nixon.

    SDS and the maoists plus a lot of Democrats helped destroy your 1968 convention. But the main culprit was Boss Daley and the Chicago pigs.

    Socialists never got near it becasue we didn’t want to be victimized by your cops.

    Finally, you seem to be getting more and more personal so from now on I’ll ignore you. Sayonara, Democrat.

  20. Bill_Perdue says:

    I guess you’re unable to be political. I have no motivation to try to get you to be political so Sayonara, Democrat.

  21. Badgerite says:

    I though that one was very appropriate to the person it was addressed to.

  22. Badgerite says:

    I said 29 were Constitutional bans. Iowa’s was not and the Supreme Court in Iowa then invalidate the state law via the equal protection clause of the Iowa State Constitution. And this is exactly why there were so many state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. The courts. And of course the one court of last resort for a state constitutional ban to be reversed would be what again? Oh yeah. The Supreme Court interpretation of the US Constitution. Which, of course, could have and probably would have been forestalled by a federal constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Though it would be hard to get, please don’t tell me that no one on the right thought of this. Certainly Scalia did. And spoke of it in prior opinions.

  23. Bill_Perdue says:

    “The state bans were Constitutional bans.” Not true. THere were a total of 37 or 38 bans, some constitutiona, some not. RIF.

  24. Bill_Perdue says:

    Try making poltiical comments.

  25. Badgerite says:

    Well, how can one argue with all the reasoning packed into such a declarative sentence as that. How about……I am rubber and you are glue and everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

  26. Badgerite says:

    The Vietnamese “kicked your asses out of Vietnam” and when South Vietnam fell it was not some great humanitarian triumph. There was exactly the same kind of situation you see today with Syria and the Middle East. Desperate people drowning in boats trying to get somewhere else.
    And no one met them at the shore with tea and cookies.
    Quite a few of them live in the town where I live now. I have a cousin who was there and his wife is Vietnamese. So, can the self righteous indignation.
    Like you actually care, or something.
    As to LBJ, he had started peace talks in Paris in 1968 and suspended all bombing runs over Vietnam with the intention of achieving a negotiated settlement between all parties. Nixon wanted the White House. If there was a peace agreement on the table at election time, he would not get it.
    So, through a go between, he convinced the South Vietnamese government to walk away from the talks and all meaningful negotiation collapsed.
    Then, “you” pooped all over the Democratic convention to make absolutely sure that this man, who had acted to prevent any negotiated settlement, became President of the United States. He then proceeded with his “secret plan” to end the war which was to tell Melvin Laird, his Secretary of Defense, to come up with something. And that something was …..Vietnamization. Four years later and about half as many more dead, there was a negotiated settlement that was pretty much what the North had offered in 1968. And that is actually what the left accomplished. They made sure that the man who had interfered with negotiations to end the war in 68 took office and then proceeded to drag out and even expand the war for another 4 years.
    Well done.

  27. Badgerite says:

    Well, technically I’m an independent. But I’m not really. I consider myself a Democrat. And will probably become a card carrying one now that you mention it. Since Kim Jung Un just endorsed The Orange one.

  28. Badgerite says:

    The 5/4 decision of the Supreme Court was achieved through a compelling case which framed the issue in a new light for most thinking people.
    I would, of course, except you from that category. End of story.

  29. Badgerite says:

    No. That is not true. The state bans were Constitutional bans. It is simply much easier to amend a state constitution than it is the federal constitution.
    Obviously. And there were 29 states I believe that did just that including Wisconsin and including California. And one of the reasons they did this is because they were afraid of exactly what did happen. State courts would be bound by their own constitutions and could not, as the Court did in Iowa, strike down a ban on same sex marriage because it violated equal protection under the state constitution. In those 29 states, then, the only way to reverse those constitutional bans would be by a decision of the Supreme Court. And the right sort of thought they would prevail at that level. That by a 5/4 decision, they would at least defer to the states.
    If it would have been feasible to get a federal amendment passed and ratified banning same sex marriage quickly, as it could be done quickly in the state process, they surely would have.

  30. Bill_Perdue says:

    Things can change unexpectedly. Ask Batista. Ask the mass murdering thugs LBJ and Nixon. Ask Louis the Last or one of the Romanovs.

  31. Bill_Perdue says:

    Nonsense, stalinists, Democrat and social democrats are not part of the left. Anti gay measeures were passed after Stalin took over. “In 1917, the Russian Revolution saw the overthrow of the Tsarist government, and the subsequent foundation of the Russian SFSR, the world’s first socialist state, followed by the founding of the Soviet Union after the end of the civil war in 1922. The new Communist Party government eradicated the old laws regarding sexual relations, effectively legalising homosexual activity within Russia, although it remained illegal in other former territories of the Russian Empire. Under Lenin’s leadership, openly gay people were allowed to serve in government. In 1933, the Soviet government, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, recriminalised homosexual activity with punishments of up to five years’ hard labor. ”

    BS is not a stalinist, he’s a social democrat and he’ll prove that if HRH HRC is nominated and not knocked out of the race by her e-mail scandals.

    Unlike your partys bigots – Obama, the Clintons, Biden, etc, etc, etc, Castro apologized for his bigotry. ‘Fidel Castro has said that he is ultimately responsible for the persecution suffered by homosexuals in Cuba after the revolution of 1959.

    The former president told the Mexican newspaper La Jornada that there were moments of great injustice against the gay community.

    “If someone is responsible, it’s me,” he said.”

  32. Barbara says:

    Total nonsense. The USSR made homosexuality a criminal offense, and Cuba put gay people in prison.

    Castro in 1965:

    “[W]e would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant. A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant Communist must be.”

    This is why most gay people aren’t falling for the B.S. Some of us weren’t actually born yesterday.

  33. Bill_Perdue says:

    ” If there was no “talk” of a constitutional ban on gay marriage,etc, then why all of the state bans that proliferated even after DOMA was passed?”

    The Republicans wrote DOMA but Clintons campaigned for it, signed it as soon as he could get a pen and then gloated about it. State FMAs are imitations of Bill Clintons bigoted FMA. Gay people know that.

    Wolfson says you’re a liar. That and other ‘voices’ of competent and rational people are what I pay attention to.

  34. Bill_Perdue says:

    Leftists, and that does not include Democrats, have always opposed Obama’s bigotry and the bigotry of all Democrats.

  35. Bill_Perdue says:

    The Supremes react to mass pressure for change and not on the party affiliation.

    Hillary Clinton is a rabid warmonger. End of story.

  36. Bill_Perdue says:

    Most people aren’t and the proof is in the huge growth of the number of independents. Democrats and therir Republican brothers and sisters remain in the swamp of the lesser evil, rtightist politics.

  37. Bill_Perdue says:

    We kicked your asses out of Vietnam and ruined the presidencies of mass murderers like LBJ and Nixon, for starters. Among many other accomplishments we’re forcing a minimum wage of $15 an hour and organinzing the unorganized in spite of the rabid opposition of Democrats and your Republican brothers and sisters.

  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    Bill Clintons support for DADT was a sellout. His rabid support for DOMA was bigotry.

  39. Barbara says:

    That’s my thinking, too.

  40. Jim Olson says:

    Yep. It wasn’t like the old days, but it was a bad time to be gay in the military none-the-less. As I said, no one ever got disciplined for asking.

  41. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Jim, I actually had two friends who were part of the hunted during that time. One guy was close to making the military his career. As I understood it, he was definitely caught up in a witch hunt.

  42. Blogvader says:

    I respect your opinion. Thank you for the discussion, Badger.

  43. Jim Olson says:

    Oh? Shall I show you my discharge? And the fact that I do not have access to VA benefits, health care? Do you know for certain that there were not a dozen officers on my ship who were drummed out? Disappointed, John. Do your research.

  44. WarrenHart says:

    Hillary Clinton was for Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships for same sex couples going back into the 90’s at least. Obviously, anything besides marriage equality wasn’t good enough but at the time there wasn’t very much support for marriage equality, and when she was recorded saying what you’re refering to, support for marriage equality was going down thanks to the republicans using the issue as a wedge in the 2004 elections. Basicly she had the same political position Obama had and Biden had and most people had at that time.

  45. Badgerite says:

    “Economic equality” is in the eye of the beholder. If I had to choose what I wanted from the Obama administration, putting a couple of bankers in jail or a classified section that has more then one blurb in it, I would go with the latter. And, if I had to choose between putting bankers in jail or not having Citizens United as the law of the land, again, I would go with the latter.
    It isn’t as if we didn’t hear all of this in 2000. We did. Almost exactly the same argument. So, instead of Al Gore, the politician who first put the issue of global warming on the national agenda, and a Texas oilman, we got the Texas oil man. And, seriously, attacking Disney. Really? I am sure they have outsourced jobs. And you know, one of the reasons behind when Nixon went to China was that an isolated China is a dangerous China. And the truth is that looking at an isolated Korea with a potential nuclear arsenal, one cannot really call that the wrong call. There is a long term reason behind investment in China that goes beyond cheap labor, you know. A strategic one. And this again, is one of the problems I have with the Sanders campaign. It seems to begin and end with Wall Street.
    And if breaking up the biggest banks and jailing some people does not produce Nirvana, then what?

  46. Badgerite says:

    Not the original post. Same sex marriage is the topic of those who don’t want to admit that the Clinton’s were the very first to actually stick their necks out and support gay rights at the presidential level. That is, the very first thing they attempted to do upon taking office was to remove the ban on gays serving in the military. The very first thing. Their slogan was of their campaign was “It’s the economy, stupid”. But in actual fact, the first thing, the first thing they focused on was gay rights.

  47. moniss says:

    So in the bag it’s embarrassing.

  48. Blogvader says:

    We’d gladly support Democrats if they showed any real commitment toward economic equality, but they don’t. Remind me how many Wall Street bankers Obama jailed?

  49. rmthunter says:

    I’m aware of that, but the topic was specifically same-sex marriage.

  50. Badgerite says:

    Like what? Nevada? That accomplished what?

  51. Badgerite says:

    Yes, we are all just “Sheeple”. That is the argument of the survivalist right wing, really.

  52. Badgerite says:

    Afraid so. That is about it. But even in Europe, Britain for instance, which does have a parliamentary system, they got stuck with Cameron and austerity.
    There are no guarantees. That is why I am perfectly happy with incremental change as long as it is moving the country in the right direction. The progressive direction.

  53. Badgerite says:

    Is that before or after the sea swallows New York City and the droughts that aren’t droughts hit? They can plant flowers by the Keystone Pipeline that will snake down to the Gulf of Mexico. “Revolution”!

  54. Badgerite says:

    This is simply not true. As John has pointed out in his post. Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton in her role as first lady were the first ever at the presidential level to even speak of the issue of gay rights. It was on their radar screen before it was anyone else’s at that level. Ellen Degeneres was still risking her career by coming out. Pat Robertson opined how sad it was that she hadn’t stayed in the closet because now her future would be ruined. Those were the times.
    It is not as it is now And no, there was no one at the presidential level who had ever even breathed the words gay rights in public before. The Clinton’s were the first. Ever.

  55. Badgerite says:

    I think you under estimate, as per usual, the impact of the trial and the briefs presented in the Windsor case. Frankly, that case was so well argued that I believe for the first time, the country and the country’s politicians began to see the issue not so much as an act of tolerance on their part ( civil unions) than as a constitutionally required mandate. The Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution is not optional. The state could simply never meet its burden of showing how this did not violate Equal Protection. And in Obergfell, state marriage bans fell for the same reason. I think the case started people thinking anew. As happens in law. I know it was the first time I considered the fact of civil unions as inadequate to the requirements of the constitution. And that is and was hardly an unusual view prior to Windsor. That is why justices write opinions. To lay out for the public their reasoning and why it is sound. That politicians seeking to change views would have some appreciation of the views of their constituents is not surprising and only a crime of ghastly proportions in Bill World.
    The Bill Clinton was the first at the presidential level to take up the issue of gay rights as an issue he cared about. And the GOP and Karl Rove sought to exploit that to the maximum amount. The Clinton’s paid for it, electorally speaking. So, I wouldn’t blame Hilary Clinton for not wanting to get too far out ahead of the public on this one. And you , being you, would.
    Of course.

  56. Badgerite says:

    There was no talk of lifting the ban on gays in the military until Bill Clinton took up the issue on taking office. If there was no “talk” of a constitutional ban on gay marriage,etc, then why all of the state bans that proliferated even after DOMA was passed? Making discrimination against gays in the law a part of the fabric of our fundamental laws was clearly on the radar screen of the right in this country. Whether there was “talk” of it or not. The difficulty and time required for a federal amendment was likely to have been a factor in forestalling that as well as the passage and enactment of DOMA. Whether anyone “talked” of it or not.
    I’m sure you will believe whatever the “voices” tell you to believe. So I won’t bother with that one.

  57. Badgerite says:

    Uh huh. The very first thing on the Clinton agenda after taking the oath was an attempt to reverse the ban on gays in the military. The very first thing.
    And you lie a lot.

  58. Badgerite says:

    LOL. I guess it must be the “all” part.

  59. rmthunter says:

    What cases like Lawrence, Roe v. Wade, etc., going all the way back to Griswold have done is to establish the foundation for kicking the government out of people’s bedrooms. I guess now we’re going to have to do it for bathrooms.

    I keep wanting to ask these bigots who are screaming about “government overreach” if they’ve ever read the 14th Amendment, and if so, what part of “all persons” was it that they didn’t understand?

  60. TheAngryFag says:

    Yes, thank you Sanders supporters for having principals and not whoring your vote out to a liar who hasn’t earned it.

  61. Kelly Dunn says:

    but i don’t see mention of her voting for marriage protection or her speeches about marriage being “a sacred right between man and woman”.

  62. Margaretjbaylis says:

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  63. Bill_Perdue says:

    There was no talk of an FMA until 2002. Bill Clintons actions were those of a bigot.

  64. Bill_Perdue says:

    Sorry or not, you’re dead wrong.

    There was no – zero, nada, zilch – talk of a federal constitutional amendment in 1996 when the bigoted Clintons, after giving us NAFTA and DADT, and before causing the 2007 meltdown by imposing reregulation, decided to impose DOMA. All of those measures (except DADT) were originated by Republicans. The parties are the same.

    Evan Wolfson, of Lambda Legal and the National Freedom to Marry Coalition says, ”That’s complete nonsense. There was no conversation about something ‘worse’ until eight years later. There was no talk of a constitutional amendment, and no one even thought it was possible — and, of course, it turned out it wasn’t really possible to happen. So, the idea that people were swallowing DOMA in order to prevent a constitutional amendment is really just historic revisionism and not true. That was never an argument made in the ’90s.” MetroWeekly

    Who should we – believe, you or Wolfson. Don’t take any bets on the outcome.

  65. Badgerite says:

    You know, to me, it was the state criminalizing basic activities of life like being intimate with a partner. Now its going to the bathroom. The state just doesn’t belong there. Period. If there is a crime committed while going to the bathroom, that is one thing, or while having sex, but to make just a basic activity of life illegal is simply wrong. And governmental over reach in the extreme. And I think a couple of justice in that one later regretted their votes.

  66. Badgerite says:

    I’m sorry. That would be Democrat-Mississippi if I am correct.
    So you just made my point. Although this issue was on the gay rights agenda, the rest of the country was not yet there. So a federal amendment was a real possibility. Therefore Bill Clinton signing the measure was basically bowing to the will of the electorate at that time and doing so in a way that could eventually be undone by the Supreme Court and two of those votes that overturned DOMA were Clinton appointees.

  67. Badgerite says:

    I’m sorry. Did you miss the part about forestalling a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Progress tends to occur in fits and starts. For a “bigot” he certainly took a lot of risks to put gay rights on the national political agenda.

  68. Barbara says:

    Or maybe he’ll drop a nuclear bomb someplace. Who knows?

    Could be he’ll just put the country into another deep recession, while he’s busy murdering women and children (i.e. “taking out the terrorists’ families”).

    Anything’s possible. Thank you, Sanders supporters! Well done.

  69. TheAngryFag says:

    If Trump gets elected, then this country richly deserves him. Let them see just how bad bad can get. Maybe then they’ll finally awaken from their idiotic stupor.

  70. Barbara says:

    Women and African Americans know what “disenfranchisement” means – and this, believe me, ain’t it. That’s part of why Bernie’s losing, I expect.

    Stay home, if you want; that’s on you. The rest of us – even not a few GOP voters – will go vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of office.

  71. TheAngryFag says:

    And yet you, Joe, and Pam were all calling for closing the “GayTM” over Obama not integrating the military via EO.

  72. TheAngryFag says:

    And Bernie voters staying home on election day is the inevitable result of the “winner take all” system. It is designed to disenfranchise voters and completely disengage them because it produces the situation where candidates have to find the least detestable candidate instead of the best candidate.

  73. TheAngryFag says:

    SO he could have vetoed them anyways. By signing them, he states he agreed with them. #sorryboutit

  74. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is not a democracy. Those who think it is or that elections change things are dead wrong. That’s fact, not opinion.

  75. Barbara says:

    In other words, your statement that “The era of the two party lesser evil system is on the way out” is a total non sequitur, and has nothing at all to do with anything.

    That’s a pretty weird argument, Bill.

    Here’s a link to the “anti-oligarchy” studies, BTW:

  76. Randi Wileman says:

    but she lacks in transgender rights, she has refused to answer our questions about our safety, protection and rights, so not much of a LGBT rights Ally just LGB Ally

  77. Bill_Perdue says:

    DOMA was passed by the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans and Clinton signed it because he’s a bigot.

    “The bill moved through Congress on a legislative fast track and met with overwhelming approval in both houses of the Republican-controlled Congress, passing by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. Democrat Senators voted for the bill 32 to 14 and Democrat Representatives voted for it 188 to 65, with 15 not participating. All Republicans in both houses voted for the bill with the sole exception of the one openly gay Republican congressman, Rep. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin. ” (Excerpted from Wiki)

    One of the reasons why so many Democrats voted for it was the fact that Clinton campaigned for it and promised to sign it.

  78. Bill_Perdue says:

    Here, from David Mixner, is the real story of B Clintons betrayal of LGBTQ people in the military.

  79. Bill_Perdue says:

    Again? There is absolutely no historical record of Republican threats or actions to pass the FMA in 1996 and even if there had been it wouldn’t have justified Clintons putrid bigotry.

    The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) (also referred to by proponents as the Marriage Protection Amendment) was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which would have limited marriage in the United States to unions of one man and one woman. … The original Federal Marriage Amendment, written by the Alliance for Marriage, was introduced in the 107th United States Congress in the House of Representatives on May 15, 2002, by Democratic Representative Ronnie Shows (D-MS) with 22 cosponsors. eserpted from wiki

  80. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is not a democracy and elections don’t change things. Your analysis is not relevant to struggles for change which are accomplished by mass actions and massive movements.

  81. Barbara says:

    The two-party system isn’t going anywhere, because we don’t have a parliamentary government; it’s winner-take-all.

    Which means that no matter how many parties you have, 51% will always win. And that means that smaller groups have to create alliances with each other – which is exactly what the two parties are in the first place.

    It doesn’t really matter what you call them, or how “pure” your ideas are. The facts are what they are: if you let another alliance get to 51% – and they will – you’ll lose the election. It’s pretty simple, really.

  82. stupidicus says:

    It was ‘HISTORIC” for a lot of reasons

    As we all know, Hillary Clinton openly supported many of Bill Clinton’s political measures. She used the terrible expression “superpredators,” supported the crime bill and made a hash of health insurance reform. Liza Featherstone talks about Hillary Clinton’s faux feminism,
    and she links her critique to class themes, which is as it should be.
    Feminists cannot be elite feminists or 1% feminists if they want to
    defend the rights of all women.

    Hillary Clinton’s track record on issues of poverty, racial justice
    and justice for women is appalling. As a former member of the board of
    Walmart, she sided with the rich and powerful,
    which she also does when she gives speeches for Wall Street. The really
    important question is how someone who has constantly sided with the
    rich can campaign as a progressive, as a friend of people of color and
    even as a feminist? Michelle Alexander exposed the hypocrisy of the
    situation in arguing that “Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve the black vote.”

    On foreign policy issues, Hillary Clinton is not even an Eisenhower
    Republican, but a war hawk whose philosophy and shortsightedness is
    evidenced by the flippant way in which she advocated for war in Libya
    and the way in which she celebrated. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said
    and laughed loudly. This cruel statement does not take into account the
    mess and mayhem left behind after the intervention, something President
    Obama calls a “shit show” and his worst mistake. But it is the companion piece to her major fellow elite “feminist” Madeleine Albright declaring that killing half a million Iraqis is worth it.

    Hillary Clinton, like true neoliberals in the GOP, supported the
    North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), so as Bill had said she
    supported the bond market and free trade. Now, she claims she did not,
    but, of course, she is lying. Her lies also have to do with Wall Street
    (she has not released the text of her speeches), support for people of
    color and her feminism.

    but whatever percieved or real “good” she’s done for your community pales in comparison to the harm she’s brought and will bring to others, particularly brown foreigners. But hey, as long as it ain’t you or yours, no?

  83. TheAngryFag says:

    Where did Bernie Sanders actually say he was against same-sex marriage in and of itself?

  84. TheAngryFag says:

    It has nothing to do with being “trail blazers”. It’s just one example of Hillary Clinton’s stream of lies. And people know she lied about it and she has a MAJOR honesty issue she refuses to fix and no amount of trotting out PAST accomplishments is going to change that fact. Period.

  85. rmthunter says:

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know when public opinion began to show majorities in favor of same-sex marriage? Hmm — Google is your friend: Gallup shows a stable majority favoring recognition of same-sex marriages starting in 2012; Pew shows it crossing the line to majority in 2011.

    Neither Sanders nor Clinton has been a trail-blazer on this issue.

  86. rmthunter says:

    I’m reminded of Chicago’s mayor Richard M. Daley, who brought gays into respectability, starting in 1989, when he was the first mayor to lead a Gay Pride parade, and later established a liaison between the community and the police, extended worker benefits to same-sex partners of city workers, among other things. Of course, Daley didn’t have a fractious legislature to deal with: Chicago’s City Council is notoriously composed of yes-men.

  87. rmthunter says:

    That was a decision on par with Citizens United and Hobby Lobby for tortured reasoning, and at least one justice — I forget which one — later said he wished he had voted differently.

  88. rmthunter says:

    That was strategic thinking: if Clinton had vetoed either or both, the veto would have been overridden by Congress — and that’s not a maybe or might have been — damaging his prospects of getting anything else done. If you weren’t there at the time, you have no idea how much Republicans, and more than a few Democrats, hated the Clintons — they were “outsiders,” not part of the Washington establishment. I actually remember hearing them characterized as “a couple of hicks from the Ozarks.”

    As for DADT, the way I remember it, a couple of generals approached Nunn, very distressed at allowing gays to serve openly. Clinton was getting strong resistance not only from Congress but from the Pentagon.

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  90. Blogvader says:

    The threat of mutiny didn’t stop Truman, John. That’s why the revisionism here rings a little hollow to me.

    They don’t make Democrats like they used to.

  91. He’d have had a mutiny, with Colin Powell leading it. The battle to repeal the ban spun wildly out of control in those first few days and months of 1993. The entire thing was a debacle. We lost it pretty quickly out of the gate, and then when Nunn, the chair of the Armed Service committee, and a democrat, took us on, we were dead in the water. DADT sucked, I was ticked about it at the time. But Bill Clinton’s life work has been historic on our issues, even if he gets an A- or B+ instead of an A+. IF Clinton gets a B+, he still gets a better grade than anyone else (with real power) got by that time in history.

  92. He was against same-sex marriage like all the rest of them. So you’re saying Bernie only denied our humanity until 2009, and Hillary denied it until 2013, so that makes him great and her lousy? Not really. If you were a raging racist in 2009, no one would say “oh that’s okay” only a scant few years later. You’re picking and choosing in order to support your guy. The fact is both of them are good on LGBT issues. And both of them sucked on marriage, along with every single Democrat, even the good guys. Marriage is the last and dumbest litmus test any of us should have, as it only became a real possibility in the last 8 years or so. Any in any case, everyone was against it, so you can’t use it to p ick and choose who’s a good guy. None of them were.

  93. There you go again writing comments that would make exceptional blog posts :)

  94. That’s the thing. Looking at with 2016 eyes it’s difficult to appreciate how simply publicly embracing pariahs like us, and I used the word intentionally, was such a huge deal for us, and a rather large risk for him.

  95. Phil in FLL says:

    Yes, Bower v Hardwick does seem wrong although it was reversed in 2003 with the Lawrence v Texas decision, which invalidated all the state sodomy laws.

    People must cringe when I make this comparison, but Mexico’s federal government also invalidated all of its state sodomy laws… in 1871. Well, someone’s got to say it. But don’t tell The Donald—he gets all bent out of shape whenever people mention Mexico.

  96. Badgerite says:

    It really is different when you live through something. It is visceral. And indelible. And you remember the political climate of the times.

  97. Phil in FLL says:

    The 1993 poll most cited was one from the Washington Post that showed 55% of the publican against open service, 44% in favor and 2% with no opinion (link here). Not surprisingly, Bill Clinton was one of the very few politicians at the time who proposed open service, and Clinton did that during his presidential campaign (in answer to a “town hall” question),

  98. Badgerite says:

    Yes. and the “easily” part of override tells you that the position the Clinton’s took back then was not a common one. Certainly the Clinton’s were the first at the presidential level to take such a stand.

  99. Phil in FLL says:

    You can add the fact that had Bill Clinton vetoed DADT and DOMA, the Republicans in Congress would have CHOSEN to easily override his veto.

  100. Badgerite says:

    Well, I have been a proponent of LBGT rights since I first heard of such things. My reaction on reading Bowers v Hardwick way back when was, “That’s just wrong”. And I have thought and felt that way ever since. Without apology. And though I am not in the community myself, as it turned out, I have a family member who is. So it is, actually, rather personal to me. Very personal.

  101. 2karmanot says:


  102. TheAngryFag says:

    Your comparisons are off. Sanders felt it was something for the states to decide. He did not go on record and say “I have not supported marriage of lesbian and gay couples. What I support are civil partnerships and contractual relationships”

    And Hillary Clinton’s first, on-the-record support for same-sex marriage was in 2013 when she did a video for the professional homosexuals over at the HRC.

    And the other stuff carries no water really either. Because no one even bothers to look at pre-existing law. Technically it’s already covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and that point was brought up by Roberta Kaplan in US v Windsor.

  103. TheAngryFag says:

    I’m not a fan of Corporatist Obama either.

  104. BeccaM says:

    Me too.

  105. Barbara says:

    And don’t forget Obama, who said and did exactly the same things as Hillary did in re: same-sex marriage! I remember, because I was mad about that for awhile.

    Yet somehow SHE’s the only one who gets called out for it. I guess they’re just better at spinning reality.

    It’s all water under the bridge now – and in any case all three have been firm supporters, even if not on this particular issue because of political realities. But the use and abuse of this issue for political reasons advantage has really gotten on my nerves….

  106. 2karmanot says:

    “if it had been up to the Clintons, there would have been no DADT and no DOMA.
    True political courage, really? And based on principle.” Perhaps if you were GLTB you might have a different opinion. Clinton, after all CHOSE to sign those disgusting bigot bills. Those which you actually have the boldness to call true political courage.

  107. BeccaM says:

    I know. I’m perfectly willing to see that BOTH candidates are flawed on LGBT rights in the past. Both have disingenuously spun their own statements and documented positions to seem more pro-LGBT and less cowardly than they were. Sanders didn’t want to deal with LGBT rights; the Clintons were afraid to.

    But to say Clinton was dishonest without applying the same standard to Sanders — and finding him also lacking — is missing half the truth. I go by where both of them are now. Both are pro-LGBT to roughly the same degree although some of their proposals are slightly different, but not enough to really matter.

  108. Barbara says:

    Sanders didn’t support same-sex marriage until 2009. Again: the double-standard is unbelievable.

  109. BeccaM says:

    And as recently as 2006, Bernie Sanders was on record as saying same sex marriage shouldn’t be a federally guaranteed right, but up to the states to enact or ban if they felt like doing so.

    When Sanders was asked by a reporter whether Vermont should legalize same-sex marriage, he said no. “Not right now, not after what we went through,” he said.

    That same year, Sanders was asked in a debate during his first run for the Senate about a Massachusetts state court decision that legalized gay marriage. The debate moderator wanted to know if Sanders thought the federal government should overturn that decision. He responded by talking about states’ rights, which is an argument often used by politicians who have argued against federal recognition of gay marriage as well.

    “I believe the federal government should not be involved in overturning Massachusetts or any other state because I think the whole issue of marriage is a state issue,” Sanders said in the 2006 debate.

    By this shockingly insular rationale, a state would actually be free to make it a criminal felony for their residents to get married in another state. Sanders ended up not changing his stance on same-sex marriage until 2009, about the same time Clinton did. But just three years before, he flat out said he thought Vermont should enact separate-but-equal(ish) civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, not civil marriage. He was pretty adamant about it, too.

    Earlier in his political career, Sanders was even more indifferent toward gay rights, which W.J. Conroy recounts in his book Challenging the Boundaries of Reform: Socialism in Burlington. When serving as mayor of Burlington, Sanders told an interviewer that LGBT rights were not a “major priority” for him. Asked if he would support a bill to protect gays from job discrimination, Sanders responded, “probably not.”

    Sanders has the same “honesty problem” when he claims to have been a champion for LGBT rights his entire political career. As a young leftist radical, like many, he felt that racial rights, women’s rights, and gay rights were a distraction from the needed economic and political revolution.

    I also can put 2 and 2 together and see two different Democratic politicians who were somewhat cowardly when it came to standing up for LGBT rights over the decades, each motivated for different reasons. Clinton (and her ex-President husband) probably because they were afraid the Dems weren’t ready for something so new (and they likely were right); Sanders because it just didn’t rise to the level of being important to him. And Obama did it, too!

  110. Barbara says:

    Hate to mention it, but Obama did EXACTLY the same thing.

  111. Houndentenor says:

    It wouldn’t have mattered because Congress had the votes to override whatever he did and even override a veto.

    DADT was the compromise that was supposed to reduce the number of servicemembers expelled for being gay. It didn’t really work out that way, but it was sold as such. At the time the right was angry because they wanted a witch hunt and DADT at least allowed people to stay in if they remained reasonbly in the closet. Yes, horrible, but better than what was going on at the end of the first gulf war.

  112. Badgerite says:

    I’ve been having some of the same thoughts lately. To my memory, Bill Clinton was the first president in history to actually stick his neck out and speak on behalf of and take actions in favor of LGBT rights.
    Times change. People take for granted the climate of acceptance that is in the land now. But back then, when Ellen Degeneres came out, it was like defying the Black List of the 50s. The thinking was it would end her career. Can you imagine the political risk a POTUS took in supporting gays?
    And though DOMA was a bad piece of legislation, it did forestall any attempt at a Federal Constitutional Amendment and allowed the activists and lawyers to fight another day. And win.

  113. Houndentenor says:

    Just making positive statements about gay people and openly campaigning for our votes in 1992 was HUGE. In fact I remember worrying that year (it was a real roller-coaster for those not old enough to remember) that if Clinton lost no candidate would so much as acknowledge we existed for 20 years. Fortunately he did win. No president had ever appointed an openly gay person to anything before. It’s was a real step forward, that era. I’m not saying that DADT and DOMA didn’t sting. They did and I still haven’t quite forgiven Bill for either of those (please don’t make the tired old excuses…I’ve heard them all before). But overall it was lightyears ahead of what we’d had 12 years before (and all the administrations before that as well.

  114. Bill_Perdue says:

    Hi Mirth.