Hillary Clinton sure wants to ride the lavender wave. After a lot of foot-dragging on marriage equality, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination seems determined to make up for lost time. The video launching her presidential campaign included two gay couples, and subsequently sent one of the couples a touching letter of support for their work in helping empower LGBT youth. Add to that her personal note of encouragement to a boy struggling with his orientation, and you get the picture of someone who is happy to be vocal in support of the LGBT community
Such friendliness didn’t always seem inevitable. Clinton has made some missteps along the way, and her inability to explain her evolution hasn’t helped any. But as a new set of emails make clear, Clinton’s stint at Secretary of State may have been the pilot program for her presidential run, at least when it comes to LGBT rights.
The emails, revealed by the Washington Blade, are part of a trove of emails covering March to Decmeber 2009 that were released under the Freedom of Information Act. In them, Clinton deals with a number of issues, foremost among them the appaling treatment of gay men in Iraq. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein actuallly made life worse for gay men, who faced murder and torture under the new regime.
“So sad and terrible,” Clinton said in an email. “We should ask [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Chris Hill to raise this w govt. If we ever get [Michael] Posner confirmed [as assistant secretary of state] we should emphasize LGBT human rights.”
The emails show that Clinton was thinking of LGBT issues early in her tenure. What followed was her landmark speech on LGBT rights as human rights in 2011 and her shouting matches with Russian officials over their homophobia.
Clinton is famously cautious (and if you underwent her experiences, you’d be too). But her time in the State Department must have convinced her that there is only upside to expressing her full support for the LGBT community. After acting globally, it was a short step to acting domestically. The added benefit for her campaign is that she feels like the candidate of the present and future and not the past. Good luck to the GOP nominee for matching those qualities.