UPDATED: The Human Rights Campaign announced that its Board of Directors had unanimously voted to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Secretary Clinton will accept the endorsement at an event in Des Moines, Iowa next Sunday, January 24 with HRC President Chad Griffin and the organization’s members and supporters.
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) January 19, 2016
“All the progress we have made as a nation on LGBT equality — and all the progress we have yet to make — is at stake in November.” Griffin said in a statement announcing his group’s endorsement. “In most states, LGBT people are still at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services simply because of who they are. Today, 63 percent of LGBT Americans report having experienced such discrimination, and we are seeing other troubling trends, from the onslaught of state and local anti-LGBT measures to the national scourge of anti-transgender violence to backsliding on HIV/AIDS prevention and youth homelessness. Against this backdrop, we’ve heard the leading Republican presidential candidates repeatedly threaten to block our progress, and to revoke, repeal, and overturn the gains we’ve made during President Obama’s two terms.
“While they fight to take us backwards, Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world. We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, and believe that she is the champion we can count on in November — and every day she occupies the Oval Office.”
The HRC Board of Directors which votes on which candidates to endorse is comprised of 32 community leaders from across the nation. HRC’s endorsement criteria include support for issues of concern to the community, demonstrated leadership on LGBT issues, and viability. As part of that process, all candidates — on both sides of the aisle — were asked to fill out a candidate questionnaire. Secretary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Governor Martin O’Malley provided answers, while no Republican candidates for president returned HRC’s questionnaire.
The Bernie Sander’s campaign was quick to respond to the endorsement with campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs telling the Washington Blade, “it’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record.” He touted that as a U.S. Senator, Sanders voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993 and against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and cited his support in calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn DOMA.
Brandon Lorenz, a spokesperson for HRC, responded to the criticism from the Sanders campaign in a statement to the Blade. “There are certainly several friends of equality in this race, but the 32 community leaders who comprise HRC’s Board of Directors have unanimously decided that Hillary Clinton is the champion we need to fight for us each day on the campaign trail and every day in the White House,” Lorenz told the Blade. “She has a strong record, a strong agenda, and a strong ability to win against any Republican running on an anti-LGBT platform in November and lead from Day One.”
The nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, with 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide, HRC is planning an unprecedented organizational effort to register and mobilize the nation’s pro-equality majority and elect pro-LGBT candidates up and down the ballot. The organization has begun organizing members and supporters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina ahead of the upcoming caucus and primary elections and will soon make announcements about campaign activities related to Presidential, Senate and other races in additional states.