There's word this morning that a newly released batch of emails sent by Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton reportedly show she opposed a policy change at the State Department that would have accommodated same-sex parents and worried that such a change would become fodder for Sarah Palin and Fox News. The terms "mother" and "father" would have been changed to the gender-neutral term "parent," reports the Washington Blade.
Writing in 2011 in response to a Washington Post story about this proposed bureaucratic change, Clinton expressed her consternation that the modification could be a political hot potato and made her opposition to the change for nonpolitical reasons clear. The next day, the Post reported that the policy change had been nixed.
“Who made the decision that State will not use the terms ‘mother and father’ and instead substitute ‘parent one and two’?” Clinton wrote in an email to her assistant, Cheryl Mills.
“I’m not defending that decision, which I disagree w and knew nothing about, in front of this Congress. I could live w letting people in nontraditional families choose another descriptor so long as we retained the presumption of mother and father. We need to address this today or we will be facing a huge Fox-generated media storm led by Palin et al.”
At the time, Clinton supported civil unions but still opposed marriage equality, and Republicans had just taken control of the House of Representatives after the Tea Party sweep in the midterm election. Clinton's reasons for opposing the change were not made public at that time.
Other emails released this week also touch on LGBT issues. One is from a transgender person praising Clinton for a new policy allowing trans individuals to change the gender marker on their passports. Another reveals Clinton's unease over getting an award from the State Department's LGBT affinity group.
“First, we totally get the Secretary’s discomfort with the image of her employees presenting her with an award, especially one named after her,” Jon Tollefson, then-president of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, wrote. “GLIFAA, however, is comprised of employees of all of the U.S. foreign affairs agencies — not just State — as well as even foreign embassies. We have had a history of independence throughout our nineteen years, often criticizing administrations for their lack of attention and even negative actions with regard to LGBT issues. We are so excited to have an Administration and a Secretary who are such leaders on LGBT equality and on the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT people.”
Previously released emails document Clinton's interest in LGBT issues and the high priority placed on improving LGBT rights worldwide. Clinton will address the Human Rights Campaign's board of directors this weekend at its previously scheduled meeting.