With Hillary Clinton's entrance into the race for president, the Republican field now has a Democrat to contrast with on LGBT equality.
Clinton officially announced her bid today with a video released online shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern. It features a diverse group of people making changes in their lives, including a male couple about to be married. A female couple is also included in the video (watch below).
The video was released shortly after her campaign chairman, John Podesta, sent an email to donors and Clinton associates confirming her candidacy, The New York Times reports. He said she will soon meet with voters in Iowa and will have a formal kickoff event next month.
On the Republican side, only Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have officially declared their candidacies, and both oppose marriage equality and more. Paul said in March that same-sex couples shouldn't get to use the word "marriage" because it "offends myself and a lot of people," and Cruz used his very first campaign stop to rile up the crowd against "the radical gay marriage agenda," then on Thursday he warned of the gay "jihad" against religious freedom.
Still, every Republican whose name has been mentioned as a potential 2016 contender is unified in opposition to marriage equality. Even the so-called moderate Chris Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill in his state. Whoever is chosen could set up a laundry list of sharply differing views on LGBT equality with Clinton, should she win the Democratic primary.
Some Republicans still consider it a mistake that gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military, support "license to discriminate" laws, and oppose passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Not only does Clinton support marriage equality, she's spoken out on the other side of all those arguments.
She's most beloved among the LGBT community for a December 2011 speech she gave before the United Nations in Geneva while Secretary of State, in which she said to the world that "Being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
And Politico reports on documents released this week by the National Archives at the Clinton Library that show it was Hillary Clinton's staff who pushed during her husband's presidency for greater acceptance of LGBT people. For example, President Obama signed an executive order last year that went into effect last week that bans discrimination in employment by federal contractors — something that Hillary Clinton's staff pushed her husband to do back in August 2000.
So far, Clinton could potentially face three other supporters of LGBT equality in the Democratic primary. And despite her popularity among LGBT voters, her potential rivals could wield a few advantages. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, has long been in favor of equal marriage rights, even voting against the Defense of Marriage Act that Clinton's husband signed into law and which Hillary Clinton once said she'd have voted for if she were in the Senate at the time — though she now welcomes its dismantling.
Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland signed a marriage equality bill in his state before Clinton had even came out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage in March 2013. Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island, also signed a law in his state. Clinton bristled during a tense interview in June with NPR's Terry Gross while promoting her new book after being asked to clarify exactly when she changed her mind on marriage equality.
"You know, somebody is always first, Terry," she said. "Somebody’s always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who joined later in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have."