WATCH: Hillary Clinton Outlines Lengthy Agenda for LGBT Equality
Hillary Clinton went to the largest LGBT activist group on Saturday and issued a thank you for helping change her mind on full equality, while pledging to finish the job.
"I'm really here to say 'thank you' for your hard work and your courage and for insisting that what's right is right," she said. "You've helped change a lot of minds, including mine, and I am personally very grateful for that."
In her speech, Clinton promised that as president she will sign the Equality Act, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other parts of federal law to outlaw discrimination in housing, employment and everywhere in everyday life where LGBT people are still vulnerable.
She aggressively went after Republicans with outmoded views on LGBT people, mocking Ben Carson for blaming the fall of the Roman Empire on marriage equality and Ted Cruz for complaining about pride parades. On the more serious side, Clinton attacked supporters of "religious freedom" and the likes of Kim Davis, even calling out Mike Huckabee for "celebrating a county clerk who is breaking the law." She condemned the failed "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" in Indiana for trying to let businesses deny service to LGBT customers.
"Think about how that must sound if you're a young gay or transgender kid," she said. "The message is unmistakable: There's something wrong with you."
Most tellingly, Clinton assured those in the room that "I get it."
"You know the obstacles that remain better than I do, but I want you to know that I get it," she said. "I see the injustices and the dangers that you and and your family still face, and I'm running for president to end them once and for all."
Her shoring up of support among LGBT voters comes after a string of newly discovered information about how uncomfortable she once was in her political career to align with LGBT equality. Among the emails released from her time leading the State Department is Clinton castigating employees for wanting to accommodate same-sex parents on forms by changing semantics to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" instead of "Mother" and "Father." And a Bill Clinton biographer said the former president had worried the she is "a little put off" by gays "acting out" and that it might hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign for the U.S. Senate in New York.
That's a description of Hillary Clinton that would be hard to imagine compared to her appearance on Saturday.
Joined in the room by past presidents of the group, plus famed Supreme Court plaintiffs Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell, Clinton drew enthusiastic applause. "There's no one I'd rather share my initials with than all of you," joked Clinton, of speaking to the HRC, with its logo splashed all over the backdrop and podium.
Still, Clinton was famously supportive as her husband passed the Defense of Marriage Act and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during his presidency. And she is the last of the top three possible Democratic potential contenders — Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden — to support marriage equality. Sanders is technically the frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to polls, and he isn't shy about noting his decades-long support for LGBT people and marriage equality.
Instead on Saturday, Clinton touted her pushing for equal benefits for same-sex couples who worked at the State Department, and even made her kind words for a young, gay boy featured on the blog, Humans of New York, a centerpiece of the speech. She was introduced to the crowd with a reminder of her very well-received speech as Secretary of State when she said "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
While Clinton was missing from the marriage equality fight, she outlined a robust agenda of work that remains, including fighting for equality worldwide, and ending discrimination in the U.S. foster care and adoption system against same-sex parents. She even called for an upgrade of service members for those dishonorably discharged from the military under DADT, and she called for transgender people to be able to serve openly. She highlighted violence against transgender women, especially women of color, saying "they are loved, they are us, they deserve to be treated fairly and decently."
"We still have work to do," she said, "because our work isn't finished until every single person is treated with equal rights or dignity that they deserve."
Watch the complete speech below: