Trump’s victory is so shocking that it’s easy to forget just how historical Hillary Clinton‘s campaign really was. And it’s also easy to forget she won the popular vote. So, America is actually on our side. Barely. The Electoral College was not.
In the end, there was no shattering of the glass (at least in politics) ceiling for women in politics as she suffered a humbling defeat to a man who should not be elected dog catcher and who made the humiliation of women, Muslims, immigrants and every other vulnerable group into a sick game.
Instead, there was a shattering of hopes. Chief among there was our own. For all the lack of enthusiasm about Clinton as a candidate, one fact is indisputable: she was the most pro-gay presidential nominee ever. No major party presidential candidate was completely on board with our issues in the way that Hillary Clinton was.
Yes, she’s taken hits for being slow to the party, but there’s no reason to have doubted the sincerity of her commitment–even though lots of voters, including LGBTQ voters, obviously did. And calling Clinton the most pro-gay nominee is not a veiled criticism of Obama, to whom we owe an enormous debt. But Clinton had the potential to do a lot even more than Obama.
Here are seven reminders of just how much lost with Clinton’s defeat. In order to move on, we need to come to terms with the enormity of this loss.
1. Clinton would have been the first president-elect to enter the White House 100 percent behind marriage equality
That’s no knock on Obama. But Obama took office as an opponent of marriage equality. He only changed his (public) stance in 2012 and perhaps a little ahead of schedule because of Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff endorsement. Of course, Clinton has taken heat for the speed of her own evolution. But she’s been very vocal in her support since then. Which leads to the second proof point…
2. Clinton made being pro-gay a qualifying issue for a Supreme Court appointee
In the third presidential debate, Clinton made a point of saying she wanted to appoint a Supreme Court nominee who would protect marriage equality. No other candidate has ever said that protecting our rights is an issue worth vetting a potential justice for.
3. A big gay and lesbian campaign staff would have meant a big gay and lesbian White House staff
The Clinton campaign was rife with gay and lesbian staffers, starting right at the top, with campaign chief Robby Mook. That would have translated into high-level positions in the White House. Mook was in line to be named senior adviser, which would have made him the highest-ranking gay official within the West Wing.
4. She made LGBT rights a centerpiece of the Democratic convention
The Democratic convention has been a showcase for gay and lesbian speakers and issues dating back to Bill Clinton. But with Clinton calling the shots, this year’s convention was a prime-time pride parade.
5. She’s was the first nominee to march in a pride parade
6. She elevated gay rights to an international issue
In many ways, Clinton is extending the progress that Obama made. But on this issue, she really deserves special credit for forging a new path while she was Secretary of State. Her amazing speech at the UN was a landmark for gay rights. As Secretary, she didn’t just raise visibility. She raised the bar by making LGBT rights a human rights issue.
7. She could have pushed our agenda so much further
Even with Republican obstructionism, Clinton had the potential to advance our rights significantly by interpreting federal protections against gender discrimination to include sexual orientation as well. The Obama administration used gender discrimination to extend rights to trans people. Clinton could have used the same reasoning to extend protections in housing and the Affordable Care Act.
Of course, now we’ll never know. But as we contemplate what a Trump administration looks like, don’t forget the might-have-beens of the Clinton presidency.