THE largest LGBT organisation in the US has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president over her major competitor in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders.
The 32-member board of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) voted unanimously last weekend to support Clinton.
[showads ad=MREC] The endorsement received immediate rebuke from the Sanders campaign team, who reiterated the senator’s long history as an ally of LGBT people while drawing attention to Clinton’s inconsistent support of LGBT causes.
Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told the Washington Blade: “It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organisations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record.”
Sanders officiated a 1983 Gay Pride Day as Mayor of Burlington, voted against the infamous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy when it was introduced in 1993, opposed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and supported civil unions when his home state of Vermont became the first state to enact them in 2000.
He has also consistently been awarded a perfect score on the HRC’s own Congressional Equality Index.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton supported DOMA when she ran for the US Senate in 2000, but was in favour of repealing Section 3 of the law — which outlined the definition of marriage as one between a man and woman — in her previous presidential campaign against Barack Obama.
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, signed both the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during his presidency. However, today the Clintons are both in favour of marriage equality.
While both Sanders and Clinton have made LGBT issues a core component of their campaigns, Clinton has released a highly developed policy framework on matters concerning gender and sexuality diverse Americans.
In a statement delivered Tuesday, the HRC stated this framework was a major factor in their endorsement of Clinton: “Secretary Clinton has made LGBT equality a pillar of her campaign and recently unveiled the most robust and ambitious LGBT plan any candidate for president has ever laid out.”
HRC spokesman Brandon Lorenz told The Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday that Clinton was the “best equipped to fight for us and our issues and do so during the general election.”
The HRC board uses three pillars of endorsement criteria, according to Lorenz.
“Support for issues of concern to the community, demonstrated leadership on LGBT issues, and viability,” he said.
However, this reason did not convince Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs.
“Who knows what prompted the Human Rights Campaign to do what it does – I have trouble myself figuring why they do some of the things they do over the years – but I think the gay men and lesbians all over the country will know who has been their champion for a long, long time and will consider that as they make up their mind on support for his campaign,” he told the Washington Blade.[showads ad=FOOT]