Hillary Clinton is seen as so lockstep with LGBT voters that conservative critics like to mock her for what they call pandering to the community, and liberals worry she isn’t doing enough of it.
And as MSNBC reports, LGBT voters return all that attention with megadollars in donations and huge crowds at rallies all over the nation.
But where are the stump speeches on issues important to the LGBT community? Clinton has addressed criminal justice reform and immigration policy in major policy speeches to large audiences. Her speeches almost always have some reference to LGBT rights, yet a mention is not enough, say advocates.
Clinton’s endorsement of an antidiscrimination law in a tweet was welcome, but what donors want to see is action, in the form of a policy plank.
Several donors and activists who would not give their names for fear of reprisal voiced serious concerns to MSNBC that their candidate has not been sufficiently proactive in her outreach to LGBT Americans, particularly since the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality in June. They fear the campaign is taking LGBT support for granted.
Donors complained to the network privately that Clinton has not yet hired a dedicated LGBT outreach coordinator, as President Obama’s 2012 campaign did. Her campaign wasted no time finding the equivalent contact people for African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women, and organized labor.
Most galling to many is Clinton’s lack of any statement urging a forward mission for the community, addressing so-called religious freedom fights that have put Houston’s groundbreaking anti discrimination ordinance in jeopardy.
“People are frustrated. They want the candidate to succeed. But they also want to feel that there’s forward momentum,” said one source, speaking anonymously. “The idea that after marriage, everything’s solved is a very dangerous idea.”
“I think there’s a sense of taking for granted the LGBT vote. And I think that would be very foolish of them,” Michelangelo Signorile, an LGBT rights activist and Sirius/XM radio host, told MSNBC. “I speak to people every weekday on the radio, so that’s one audience, and I speak to people I know in the community, and I hear it in both places.”
And if Vice President Joe Biden chooses to run, he could draw gay voters away from Clinton, Signorile said, as he was an early supporter of marriage equality.
Clinton campaign officials told MSNBC they are in the process of hiring an LGBT coordinator and noted that some of her closest aides are LGBT, including campaign manager Robby Mook and deputy political director Brynne Craig. Craig is currently responsible for LGBT outreach.
Also defending her was Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund chair Steve Elmendorf. “I spend all day talking to gay people about Hillary Clinton and I have never heard anyone complain about this,” he said. He added that Mook wants to keep the campaign staff small until closer to election time. “It’s a long campaign,” Elmendorf said. “Everything is not going to happen on day one.”