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Hillary Clinton on Civil Rights

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


1998: Hillary predicted female President in near future

In 1998, Hillary was generating headllines of her own in Africa. Tanzanian activist Gertrude Mongella described her as “the co-pilot” of the US, and at the University of Cape Town Hillary predicted that a woman would be elected President of the United States withing two decades.
Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith, p.274 , Oct 23, 2007

1962: met MLK Jr. preaching a sermon in Chicago

In 1962, Don Jones, the youth minister at Hillary’s church took Hillary and her class to hear a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights pioneer preached a sermon titled “Sleeping Through the Revolution,” and the experience gave Jones the opportunity to leave another indelible mark on his pupils. “I wanted them to become aware of the social revolution that was taking place. It was an opportunity for them to meet a great person. Park Ridge was sleeping through the greatest social revolutio this country has ever had.“

In his speech, Dr. King said too many Americans were like Rip Van Winkle, snoozing through the changes happening around them.

That night was one Hillary would never forget, particularly because of the moment after the speech, when Jones shocked the teen and her comrades by arranging to have them briefly meet with King. Later in life, Hillary would remark that these experiences opened her eyes ”as a teenager to other people and the way they live which affected me.“

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 17 , Jul 18, 2007

We’ve come a long way on race, but we have a long way to go

Q: Is race still the most intractable issue in America?

A: It is abundantly clear that race and racism are defining challenges not only in the United States but around the world. We have made progress. You can look at this stage and see an African American, a Latino, a woman contesting for the presidency of the United States. But there is so much left to be done. And for anyone to assert that race is not a problem in America is to deny the reality in front of our very eyes. You can look at the thousands of African-Americans left behind by their government with Katrina. You can look at the opportunity gap. So, yes, we have come a long way, but, yes, we have a long way to go. The march is not finished, and I hope that all of us, the Democratic candidates, will demonstrate clearly that the work is yet to be done. And we call on everyone to be foot soldiers in that revolution to finish the job.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

1995: Politely criticized China’s human rights

In 1995, Hillary traveled to China to attend the UN World Conference on Women. She hoped “to push the envelope as far as I can on behalf of women and girls,” and her speech was a loud call for women’s rights to be equated with human rights.

Hillary’s idealistic aims were tempered by her pragmatic politics. She did not name the host country or any other country in her speech, though she was aware of China’s efforts to muzzle opponents. Even after the Chinese government blacked out her speech on the closed-circuit TV in the hall, she said nothing.

Hillary told CNN that she had been referring to violations by China. But Bill, eager to improve ties with Beijing, insisted “there was no attempt to single any country out.”

The Beijing speech became, Hillary wrote, “a manifesto for women all over the world.” Indeed, her message was beamed all over the world. Her speech lifted her “from being a really first-rate First Lady,” observed Donna Shalala, “to being an extraordinary one.”

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.151-152 , Jun 8, 2007

Developmental thread: tragedy of race must be made right

Betsy, [Hillary’s high-school friend], and her grandfather took Hillary to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak at the Chicago Sunday Evening Club. King talked about racial segregation in the North and the South. It was the first time Hillary, then 14, grasped the notion of Negro children being the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.

If there is a single developmental thread of Hillary’s political, religious, and social development, it is her belief and determination that the tragedy of race in America must be made right. What in part first attracted her to Bill Clinton was her perception that he was an unusual, enlightened Southerner who wanted to go into politics and help right the country’s greatest wrong. Hillary formed many of her closest friendships with blacks; her mentor was Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Later, in the White House, Hillary chose several African Americans as senior aides.

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p. 31 , Jun 5, 2007

Pushing for privacy bill of rights

Hillary Clinton urged creation of a “privacy bill of rights” to protect people’s personal data. Clinton’s speech on protecting consumers from identity theft and citizens from government snooping was the latest in a series of talks billed as “major addresses” by aides. Previous speeches were on energy and the economy. A potential presidential candidate in 2008, Clinton noted her work on a House committee investigating the Nixon administration’s illegal snooping and other abuses.

Clinton said any president should have the latest technology to track terrorists, but within laws that provide for oversight by judges. “The administration’s refrain has been, ‘Trust us,’” Clinton said. “That’s unacceptable. Their track record doesn’t warrant our trust. Unchecked mass surveillance without judicial review may sometimes be legal but it is dangerous. Every president should save those powers for limited critical situations.”

Source: 2008 speculation in Associated Press , Jun 16, 2006

1972: Worked with Edelman on school desegregation in South

In 1972, I returned to D.C. to work for Marian Wright Edelman. My assignment was to gather information about the Nixon Administration’s failure to enforce the legal ban on granting tax-exempt status to the private segregated academies that had sprung up in the South to avoid integrated public schools. The academies claimed they were created in response to parents deciding to form private schools; it had nothing to do with court-ordered integration. I went to Atlanta to meet with the lawyers and civil rights workers who were compiling evidence that proved the academies were created solely for the purpose of avoiding the constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court’s decisions.

As part of my investigation, I drove to Alabama. At a local private school, I had an appointment to meet an administrator to discuss enrolling my imaginary child. I went through my role-playing, asking questions about the curriculum and makeup of the student body. I was assured that no black students would be enrolled.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Clinton, p. 57 , Nov 1, 2003

Professional woman AND hostess; feminist AND traditionalist

If I was serious about substantive policy issues, why was I talking to a reporter about entertainment? Conversely, if I was really worrying about floral centerpieces, how could I be substantive enough to head a major policy effort? What kind of message was I sending, anyway?

It seemed that people could perceive me only as one thing or the other--EITHER a professional woman OR a conscientious hostess. Gender stereotypes trap women by categorizing them in ways that don't reflect the true complexities o their lives. It was becoming clear to me that people who wanted me to fit into a certain box, traditionalist or feminist, would never be entirely satisfied with me as me--which is to say, with my many different, and sometimes paradoxical roles.

In my own mind, I was traditional in some ways and not in others. I cared about the food I served our guests, and I also wanted to improve the delivery of health care for all Americans. To me, there was nothing incongruous about my interests and activities.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.140-141 , Nov 1, 2003

Apologize for slavery, but concentrate on civil rights now

Q: Will you support reparations for African-Americans?

CLINTON: We have mental, emotional and psychological reparations to pay first. We have to admit that we haven’t always treated people in our own country fairly. We have some issues that we have to address when it comes to racial justice right now. I’m willing to work hard to be a strong advocate for Civil Rights and human rights here at home and around the world. I want to do everything I can to make sure that the programs and policies that have helped generations of African-Americans have a better life in this country continue. I think we should be focused on the present and on the future. We owe an apology to African-Americans for hundreds of years of slavery.

LAZIO: I believe it is time for us to move past the issue of reparations among African-Americans and work for ways in which we can bring more opportunity and better educational opportunities to African-American children.

Source: Senate debate in Manhattan , Oct 8, 2000

Crack down on sex trafficking of women and girls

Leaders of a coalition of women’s groups and politically conservative groups sent a letter of protest to the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The letter accused the administration of taking a position that was “extremely detrimental to women” in negotiations over a new UN treaty on sex trafficking. They were referring to the administration’s support for wording in the treaty that would define “forced prostitution” - but not other types of prostitution - as a form of “sexual exploitation.” The letter said [that] wording would make it more difficult to prosecute prostitution rings because the definition “would not cover some of the most common methods of sex trafficking, which prey on and profit from the economic desperation of women, girls and their families by securing their ‘consent.’” Clinton has focused on the issue in her foreign travels and has repeatedly called for a crackdown on all types of trafficking of women and children across international borders.
Source: International Herald-Tribune, p. 3 , Jan 14, 2000

Human rights are women’s rights

Traveling abroad on behalf of our country, Hillary has been an eloquent voice for human rights & democracy, highlighting the need for education for girls & boys, and access to health care for women and men. At the 1995 UN World Conference on Women, Hillary said, “We must respect the choices that each women makes for herself and her family. If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”
Source: www.hillary2000.org “About Hillary” , Jan 1, 2000

Women’s rights are human rights

At the 1995 UN World Conference on Women, held in China:“Women comprise more than half the world’s population. Women are 70% of the world’s poor and illiterate. Much of the work we do is not valued--not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders. We need to understand that there is not one formula for how women should lead their lives. We must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.“

The First Lady lambasted China’s Communist government for suppressing free speech and the right to assemble at the grassroots women’s forum [of the UN Conference]. She inspired the women there to make their voices heard against selling girls into prostitution, against rape as a tactic of war, against forced abortion or sterilization. ”Human rights are women’s rights. And women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.“

Source: Hillary’s Choice by Gail Sheehy, p.277 , Dec 9, 1999

Support National Endowment for the Arts

Regarding cutbacks on art funding]: We will continue to promote the arts. I’ve tried to do that with a sculpture garden at the White House and the crafts collection for the White House, which is on exhibit here in N.Y. We will also support the National Endowment of the Arts. The arts speak to us; they tell us who we are. I think that as a nation we need that today because we’re going through such a changing time.
Source: Unique Voice, p.169 , Feb 3, 1997

Sex selection, prostitution & war rape: human rights issues

Source: Unique Voice, p.203: UN Fourth World Conference on Women , Sep 5, 1995

Women's suffrage was 72-year struggle, but not a shot fired

In my country, we recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage. In took 150 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote. It took 72 years of organized struggle on the part of many courageous women and men. It was one of America's most divisive philosophical wars. But it as also a bloodless war. Suffrage was achieved without a shot fired.
Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p.339 , Sep 5, 1993


Hillary Clinton on Affirmative Action

OpEd: "18 million cracks" meant "lingering sexism"

Her official exit on June 7 had the word "endorse" removed from the speech and then quickly reinserted, one last sign of the divisions in her campaign. Clinton urged her supporters to turn their energies to electing Obama president. "When you hear people saying, or think to yourself, 'if only' or 'what if,' I say--please don't go there," Clinton said, pledging to "work my heart out to make sure that Sen. Obama is our next president, and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort."

In the most memorable line of the speech, she spoke of what her campaign had achieved: "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope & the knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time."

Many of her supporters believed the opposite: that she had been hampered in her campaign because of lingering sexism in society.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.218-219 , Aug 4, 2009

Heads movement of women looking to America's true promise

A December 2007 memo entitled "Launch Strategy Thoughts" said, "Hillary occupies a completely different ground than past nominees. People see in Hillary Clinton someone who works hard to get results, someone who is tough enough to make decisions, someone who is smart enough and experienced enough to understand the complexities of the modern world and yet passionate enough to fight for causes she believes in. She also heads a movement of women looking to achieve the true promise of America--that a qualified woman could be president of this country."

He went on, "And we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of reliving the past--this election can't be about the old Clinton years, but about the future. Bush did not run on the record of his father, though he benefitted from the name and association. New Times, New Ideas, a New Clinton."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 50 , Aug 4, 2009

Equal pay is not yet equal

Equal pay is not yet equal. A woman makes $0.77 on a dollar & women of color make $0.67. We feel so passionately about this because we not only are running for office, but we each, in our own way, have lived it. We have seen it. We have understood the pain and the injustice that has come because of race, because of gender. It’s imperative that we make it very clear that each of us will address these issues. You don’t hear the Republicans talking about any of this. You don’t hear them talking about the disgrace of a criminal justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites, and any kind of effort to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities, something that I’m committed to doing to make it clear that these are important institutions that have led the way for so many great leaders to be where they are today. So we have a specific set of policies and priorities that are really part of who we are, as well as part of what the Democratic Party stands for.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

MLK recognized that working within the system was necessary

Q: You said recently, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when Pres. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. It took a president to get it done.” Critics claim you’re saying Martin Luther King’s speeches were a nice sentiment, but it took a white president to get blacks to the mountaintop.

A: I can’t let you get away with that mischaracterization. I was responding to a speech that Senator Obama gave, where he compared himself to Pres. Kennedy & to Dr. King. Dr. King had been leading a movement. But Dr. King understood that there has to be a coming to terms of our country politically in order to make the changes that would last for generations beyond the iconic, extraordinary speeches that he gave. That’s why he campaigned for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. That’s why he was there when the Civil Rights Act was passed. Does he deserve the lion’s share of the credit for moving our country and moving our political process? Yes, he does. But he also had partners who were in the political system.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 13, 2008

Compiled “Handbook on Legal Rights for Arkansas Women”

Hillary Clinton has taken hits for her early writings on children’s legal rights’ for her activism in women’s issues (she compiled three editions of a Handbook on Legal Rights for Arkansas Women), and most spectacularly for the failure of her healthcare effort. Media misogynists hold nothing back: the attacks on the First Lady have always been personal and vicious, and for years they wouldn’t let up. Her looks, her parenting skills, her sexuality, even her daughters’ teeth were deemed acceptable targets for right-wing talk radio and the press. To this date there are scores of Hillary Clinton websites, mostly negative.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 37 , Nov 11, 2007

Hillary wanted Bill’s cabinet to “Look Like America”

Hillary assigned herself the task of ensuring that Bill kept his pledge to appoint more women and minorities than any previous president, to make his Administration “look like America.” She pressed him to fill half of the senior positions with women. And she urged her husband to make history by appointing the first woman to one of the big four cabinet posts.
Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith, p. 27 , Oct 23, 2007

Founded Vital Voices Initiative with Madeleine Albright

In 1997, following up on her assertion two years earlier, at the fourth U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing, that 'women's rights are human rights," Hillary and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright established the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative to promote the advancement of women's rights as an explicit goal of US foreign policy. Over the next three years, at conferences throughout the world, Vital Voices brought together thousands of women leaders from 80 countries. In 2000, American women who were involved in the government initiative and who wanted the project to continue formed a new non-governmental organization, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and aligned with other women around the world who began their own chapters.

Vital Voices invests in emerging women leaders to give them the tools they need to advance peace and reconciliation, run successful businesses, participate fully in their nation's political life, and combat trafficking in women and girls and other abusive practices.

Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. 93-94 , Sep 4, 2007

1965: brought black classmates to all-white church

In 1965, Hillary invited a black classmate to attend church services with her at the Methodist church, a move that raised eyebrows. Don Jones later recalled that the Park Ridge Methodist folks were bothered because Hillary seemed to make the move “not out of goodwill” but simply to shock a “lily-white church.” She told Jones she was genuinely interested in her minority classmates, and today, schoolmates like Karen Williamson speak warmly of Hillary: “She was a friend. As a black woman going to Wellesley at the time friends were very welcome. All the black students felt we had a close friendship in Hillary.“ They also sensed something more: ”A lot of us thought Hillary would be the first woman president,“ said Williamson later.

It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination that produced one of the greatest shifts. The trauma seemed to catalyze Hillary’s politics. Nevertheless, her classmates insist she was never a radical. Hillary was more willing to work within the system to change things.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 28-29 , Jul 18, 2007

1988: Instituted gender diversity Report Card within ABA

In 1987, a commission in the American Bar Association to study women lawyers was created, and Hillary accepted the position to chair it.

The commission held hearings and found widespread discrimination and after one year issued a report urging the bar association to publicly recognize that gender bias exists in the profession and to begin to eliminate it.

The ABA responded to the work of Hillary’s commission by adopting a resolution that committed the association and its members to “refuse to participate in, acquiesce in, or condone barriers to the full integration and equal participation of women in the legal profession.“ The voice vote of approval was unanimous. Hillary told the delegates, ”Despite the progress that has been made, there still exist instances of subtle discrimination against women.“ In 1991, the group created the Goal IX Report Card, an annual accounting designed to measure the progress of women in the association.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p. 82-84 , Jun 8, 2007

Create a pipeline for more women in leadership

(Senator Hillary Clinton, Wellesley College, June 5, 2004)
Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p. 49-51 , Oct 17, 2005

Argued with Bill Clinton about diluting affirmative action

Only a few months after the 1994 election, Bill and Hillary spoke to me about how they should handle this new hot-button issue. Should they side with those who wanted to end affirmative action, or remain loyal to the core constituencies of the Democratic Party?

At first, the president wanted to explore alternatives to affirmative action. He and I discussed modifying affirmative action to grant preferences to those in poverty, regardless of gender and color.

But Hillary soon ended this flirtation with moderation. She saw great danger in disappointing the black and feminist groups that supported the Democratic Party.

Hillary pointed out that many middle-class blacks and professional women felt they needed affirmative action to get ahead in their workplace or win government contracts. Diluting the program to give preference to poor people, regardless of race or gender, might strip of their privileges, and they are the core of the Democratic Party.

Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p.120-121 , Oct 11, 2005

First chair of ABA Commission on Women and the Profession

Robert MacCrate, then president of the American Bar Association, appointed Hillary Clinton as the first chairperson of the newly created twelve member ABA Commission on Women and the Profession. Up until that time, the participation of women in the ABA had been very limited. This was a chance to place women’s issues into the mainstream of ABA activity.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p.150 , Aug 1, 1999

Raised issues of gender compensation gap at 1970s Rose Law

[At Rose Law, Vince Foster] and I became Hillary’s sounding boards, her confidants. We couldn’t do much for her relationship with her public, but we could be her emissaries to the firm just as we were the firm’s emissaries to her.

The office secretaries often came to Hillary with horror stories about the behavior of partners, and Hillary passed those stories on to us. [For example, Hillary came to us with one secretary’s story]: “He told her that if she’d wear the tight jeans more often, she’d get a raise. Webb, you need to talk to him.“

Hillary had been the first lawyer in the firm to post a ”THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING“ sign in her office. And she talked to us about the gap in compensation between men and women, treatment of the office staff, the ethics of various partners. She knew she couldn’t raise those issues, so she encouraged us to.

Source: Friends in High Places, by Webb Hubbell, p. 67 , Nov 1, 1997

Affirmative living: involve entire village against racism

There is probably no more important task parents--and the rest of the village--face than raising children not only to tolerate but to respect the differences among people and to recognize the rewards that come from serving others. I call this affirmative living--the positive energy we derive from taking pride in who we are and from having the confidence and moral grounding to reach out to those who are different.

Some of the most effective approaches to promoting affirmative living are those that involve the entire village. An annual event in Boston called Team Harmony brings middle and high school students together with local sports figures and business leaders to take a stand against prejudice and bigotry. After the Team Harmony event in 1994, many students wrote about the positive messages they received. “Since the event, I want to do all that I can to stop racism,” one of them wrote. “I want everyone to live in peace & harmony, where there is no hatred & no violence.”

Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.172-179 , Sep 25, 1996


Hillary Clinton on Gay Rights

DOMA discrimination holds us back from a more perfect union

Bill and Hillary Clinton said in a joint statement: "By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union. We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California."

But, of course, Bill Clinton was the president who allowed DOMA to become law in the first place. But as the politics of same-sex marriage have shifted in the 17 years since, Clinton--along with scores of other Democrats--has completed his "evolution" on the issue. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in their 2008 campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, expressed their opposition to same-sex marriage. Now, both have reversed themselves, and have endorsed gay and lesbian couples' right to marry.

Source: Michael O'Brien, NBC News, "Clintons Hail DOMA Ruling" , Jun 26, 2013

I support gay marriage personally and as law

Hillary Clinton endorsed gay marriage in a new video saying "that her views on the issue have evolved as a result of her experiences personally and as secretary of state," Politico reports.

Said Clinton: "I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law. Marriage is a fundamental building block of our society--a great joy and, yes, a great responsibility. To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons solely on the basis of who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given abilities."

Source: PoliticalWire.com, "Clinton backs same-sex marriage" , Mar 18, 2013

Telling kids about gay couples is parental discretion

Q: Last year some parents of second graders in Lexington, Massachusetts, were outraged to learn their children’s teacher had read a story about same-sex marriage, about a prince who marries another prince. Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?

A: With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion. I think that obviously it is better to try to work with your children, to help your children the many differences that are in the world and to really respect other people and the choices that other people make, and that goes far beyond sexual orientation. So I think that this issue of gays and lesbians and their rights will remain an important one in our country. Tomorrow we’re going to vote on the hate crimes bill. We haven’t been able to get it passed, and it is an important measure to send a message that we stand against hatred and divisiveness.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Positive about civil unions, with full equality of benefits

Q: What is at the heart of your opposition to same-sex marriage?

A: Well, I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions. You know, it’s a personal position. How we get to full equality is the debate we’re having, & I am absolutely in favor of civil unions with full equality of benefits, rights, and privileges. I want to proceed with equalizing federal benefits.

And I’ve also been a very strong supporter of letting the states maintain their jurisdiction over marriage. I want to repeal Section 3 of DOMA, which stands in the way of the extension of benefits to people in committed, same-sex relationships. I will be very strongly in favor of doing that as president.

I don’t know that we could have defeated the Federal Marriage Amendment if we had not had DOMA. I mean, that is something that, you know, has provided a great protection against what was clearly the Republican strategy, to just cynically use marriage as a political tool.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Let states decide gay marriage; they’re ahead of feds

Q: Why let the states maintain their jurisdiction to ban gay marriage?

A: It’s easy to forget that just 2 years ago we were facing all of these referenda that were enshrining discrimination in state constitutions. Unfortunately, they passed. Now, we’re beginning to see other states take different approaches, because stopping the Federal Marriage Amendment gave the states the breathing room to make different decisions.

Q: In the civil rights struggle, the same argument of states’ rights issue was used as a red herring. Doesn’t marriage as a states’ rights issue resonate the same way?

A: Absolutely. But this has not been a long-term struggle yet, and I think the states are moving much more rapidly to deal with the inequalities than you would find at the federal level. The reason we were plotting strategy to beat the Federal Marriage Amendment is that we were worried it was going to pass. But I don’t know that we could have defeated the Federal Marriage Amendment if we had not had DOMA.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

GLBT progress since 2000, when I marched in gay pride parade

Q: When your husband was elected president, it was a very hopeful time for the gay community. But in the years that followed, our hearts were broken. A year from now, are we going to be left behind like we were before?

A: Well, obviously, I don’t see it quite the way that you describe, but I respect your feeling about it. You know, we certainly didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but I believe that there was a lot of honest effort going on by the president, the vice president and the rest of us who were trying to keep the momentum going. You know, I remember when I was running for the Senate as first lady marching in the gay pride parade in New York City, and to a lot of people that was just an unbelievable act.

Q: Why not be the leader now?

A: I think I am a leader now. But as president, I think I have an opportunity to reverse the concerted assault on people. It wasn’t just on people’s rights; it was on people. It was demeaning; it was mean-spirited. And that will end.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Supports DOMA, which Bill Clinton signed

Hillary stated categorically that she opposed legalizing same-sex marriage. She provided a clear explanation that to this day is the most quoted statement enunciating her position. “Marriage has historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman. But I also believe that people in committed gay marriages, as they believe them to be, should be given rights under the law that recognize and respect their relationship.“

Hillary said she backed her husband’s signing of the Defense of Marriage Act. She said what everyone wanted to know: Yes, if she had been in the Senate in 1996, she would have supported the law.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p.189-190 , Jul 18, 2007

Don’t ask don’t tell was an important transition step

Don’t ask don’t tell was an important first step, But talking about this as though there is a reality out there that a president or a Congress can change with the snap with a finger does a grave disservice to the American people. We have a political process. There’s checks and balances, the Congress was adamantly opposed at the time to letting gays and lesbians serve openly. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was the compromised policy.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

2004:defended traditional marriage; 2006:voted for same-sex

Hillary’s argument against the Marriage Amendment in her Senate floor speech was a stinging diatribe against divorce & bearing children out of wed-lock:
I believe marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man & a women. I have had occasion in my life to defend marriage, to stand up for marriage, to believe in the hard work & challenge of marriage. So I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man & a woman, going back into the midst of history as one of the foundational institutions of history & humanity & civilization, and that its primary role during those millennia has been raising & socializing children.“
It was her rhetoric that was on the minds of gay leaders in 2006. Hillary claimed she had evolved. Hillary indicated she would not oppose efforts to enact a same-sex marriage law in NY.
Source: The Extreme Makeover, by Bay Buchanan, p.148-150 , May 14, 2007

Federal Marriage Amendment would be terrible step backwards

Senator Clinton voted against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but she has avoided making statements on the issue. When a reporter pressed her, she instead assailed the amendment as part of the “political machine of the White House & then GOP majority.”

Hillary has remained so tight-lipped about her feelings on gay marriage that homosexual groups have threatened to stop funding her.

Hillary’s awkward stance on this issue reflects a need to please her liberal base while not turning off conservative voters. When she does address the issue, she said she opposed gay marriage, supported some form of civil unions, but was against the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution.

“I think it would be a terrible step backwards. It would be the first time we’ve amended the Constitution to deny rights to people.”

When she talks to conservatives, Hillary says she personally opposed gay marriage, pointing to her support for the Defense of Marriage act.

Source: Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, by Amanda Carpenter, p. 84-87 , Oct 11, 2006

Gay soldiers need to shoot straight, not be straight

One of Bill’s first challenges as commander in chief became the promise he made during the campaign to let gays and lesbians serve in the military as long as their sexual orientation did not in any way compromise their performance or unit cohesion. I agreed with the commonsense proposition that the code of military conduct should be enforced strictly against behavior, not sexual orientation.

Bill knew the issue was a political loser, but it galled him that he couldn’t persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to align the reality-that gays and lesbians have served, are serving, and will always serve-with an appropriate change in policy that enforced common behavior standards for all. Bill agreed to a compromise: the “Don’t Ask, Don’t’ Tell” policy. It has not worked well.

I just wish the opposition would listen to Barry Goldwater, an icon of the American Right, who said, “You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.241-2 , Nov 1, 2003

End hate crimes and other intolerance

I am deeply saddened and outraged by the recent incidents of hate crimes, and I hope our outrage will strengthen our resolve to address these scourges of gun violence and hate crimes in America today. There is no place for violence or intolerance in this country, and it is urgent that we address these issues now.
Source: www.hillary2000.org, “Hate Crimes” , Sep 9, 2000

Gays deserve domestic partnership benefits

We ought to be providing domestic partnership benefits for people who are in homosexual and lesbian relationships.
Source: CNN.com , Feb 11, 2000

Military service based on conduct, not sexual orientation

Fitness to serve in the military should be based on one’s conduct, not one’s sexual orientation.
Source: “Inside Politics” , Dec 9, 1999


Hillary Clinton on Voting Record

Co-sponsored bill to criminalize flag-burning

At the Take Back America conference in 2006, Clinton said, "I do not think it is a smart strategy to set a date certain." The crowd erupted. "Why not?" people yelled amid a cacophony of boos & hisses.

The antiwar base was sending a fundamental message: Clinton's front-runner status was rooted in shaky ground. As wary as she was of being stereotyped as a conventional liberal, Hillary didn't fully apprehend that her split-the-difference stance was reviving an equally damaging narrative. With it, and with a handful of other moves that smacked of cynicism--her cosponsorship of a bill to criminalize flag-burning was frequently cited--Clinton was breathing new life into perceptions that she had done so much to slay: that she was a calculating, expedient schemer wedded to no great principle other than her own advancement.

For many Democrats, trimming, triangulating, and poll-tested centrism were among the least appetizing features of the Clinton years.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 46 , Jan 11, 2010

Op-ed: Sposnored flag-burning bill for centrist credential

Q: Is Hillary Clinton somebody who can reach the moderates, bring the Party together?

A: She’s a paradox. No one has been more diligent in trying to re-create her image as a centrist, even to the point of sponsoring legislation to make flag- burning illegal, which is a rather naked play for a kind of voter who is not attracted to her. The serious question is whether this can work. Missouri Democrats told me, over and over, that yes, they like Hillary Clinton, they think she’s a good senator, they admire her personal qualities, but the last thing they want right now is for her to come to Missouri and campaign on behalf of their candidates. Missouri is a state that could go for a Democrat in a national election, but they were saying, We hope that the Party understands that nominating Hillary Clinton means that you take Missouri out of play, and when Missouri is out of play, thirty other states are out of play.

Source: 2008 speculation, by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker , May 29, 2006

Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Shift from group preferences to economic empowerment of all.

Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Strengthen America’s Common Civic Culture
The more ethnically and culturally diverse America becomes, the harder we must all work to affirm our common civic culture -- the values and democratic institutions we share and that define our national identity as Americans. This means we should resist an “identity politics” that confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm our common rights and responsibilities as citizens. Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in common as Americans is more important than how we differ. One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If expanded to become available to everyone who wants to participate, national service can help turn the strong impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a major resource in addressing our social problems. It will also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity at a time when military service is no longer the common experience of young Americans.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC6 on Aug 1, 2000

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Clinton scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Rated 89% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Clinton scores 89% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 96% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Clinton scores 96% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.

Clinton co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery

A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.

Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:

  1. history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
  2. the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008

Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.

Clinton co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees

Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.

Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.

I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.

SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007

Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007

Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Clinton co-sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment

Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.

"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.

"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."

Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007

Reinforce anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements.

Clinton co-sponsored reinforcing anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements

A bill to restore, reaffirm, and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for:

  1. establishing discrimination based on disparate impact; and
  2. rights of action and recovery for unlawful discrimination.
Source: Civil Rights Act of 2008 (S.2554&H.R.5129) 2008-S2554 on Jan 24, 2008

  • Click here for 3 older quotations from Hillary Clinton on Civil Rights.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Civil Rights.
  • Click here for policy papers on Civil Rights.
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Other candidates on Civil Rights: Hillary Clinton on other issues:
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