How Has Grindr Award Winner Hillary Clinton Changed on Gay Rights?

hillary clinton Brad Barket/Getty Images

Brad Barket/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has come a long way in a short time on LGBT rights, and the latest evidence of that has been a social media award of all things. Grindr, a social network app for gay, bisexual, and curious men in your area, sometimes conducts polls of its users, some relating to politics. A number of polls elected individuals for 2014 awards like “Gay Icon of the Year” and “Enemy of the LGBT Community” which went to Neil Patrick Harris and Vladimir Putin, respectively.

Hillary Clinton was voted Grindr’s “Straight Ally of the Year,” and the Grindr website discussed its users’ votes in 2016 on its site blog. “If Hillary runs for President in 2016 (now that’s something we’d like to see), 53% of Grindr users said they would vote for her.” Even as a measure of Democrat’s enthusiasm, Grindr is hardly the most statistically sound source for electoral prediction. Given the information on JFK and Barack Obama’s comparative level of attractiveness, it likely has no illusions about. But the site and users do reiterate a propensity for the LGBT community to lean Democratic — possibly only in preference to the usually less equal-rights friendly Republican side. It also draws attention to Clinton’s journey to where she is today on LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. Like much of the nation, and many politicians in it, her view of same-sex marriage has changed and developed over time, and her past rhetoric reflects that. Let’s take a look at Clinton’s history and growth on the issue and where she stands now on LGBT rights.

Conservative beginnings & DOMA

If you go back to 1996, for example, and the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) eventually overturned, Clinton has admitted that she would likely have voted in favor of the act at that time. Being of a religious mind, with a background influenced by her faith, she had previously supported the idea that only civil unions would be appropriate. “Marriage has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been between a man and a woman,” she said in a speech given January 2000, according to the New York Post. She followed up with a more positive, if noncommittal comment on those in favor of gay marriage, saying, “I also believe that people in committed gay marriages, as they believe them to be, should be given rights under the law that recognize and respect their relationships. And I think that’s a perfectly appropriate way to work it out.”

Parades then and now

In that same year, she marched in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade to the disappointment of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, which had been barred from participation.

Four years after that, she spoke as a Democratic senator for New York in a Congressional debate. “I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. I have had occasion in my life to defend marriage, to stand up for marriage, to believe in the hard work and challenge of marriage,” she said. Many have taken this, understandably, as evidence that she was anti-gay. And indeed, she was clearly more conservative on LGBT rights at the time than she is today, but placing that comment in context is important as well. Her words were in the context of a critique on the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have made a constitutional amendment stating that marriage could only be between a man and woman.

She later added to what admittedly comes across as insurance against coming across as “too pro-gay marriage” saying more admirably, “Is it really marriage we are protecting? … I do not, for the life of me, understand how amending the Constitution of the United States with respect to same-gender marriages really gets at the root of the problem of marriage in America,” referencing divorce and custody battles in her argument. She may not have been in favor of same-sex marriage, but she wasn’t in favor of a constitutional prohibition of it either. And while her argument was disappointing at the time, it has been rephrased and transformed over the years — much like Hillary’s own viewpoints — by equal rights proponents to what it is today, asking: Are 5-minute celebrity weddings worth protecting in preference to long-term and deeply loving relationships between same-sex couples?

Three years later, in 2007, Clinton marched in a gay pride parade in New York City.

Human rights and LGBT rights

In 2011 she spoke on human rights and on gay rights, calling them one in the same in a Geneva speech. A year later she spoke out during LGBT Pride Month, as seen in the video below.

Interview with Terry Gross

This year, during an interview with NPR, her discussion of LGBT rights support got a bit heated. Terry Gross was somewhat aggressive in asking why Clinton waited so long to vocalize her support of same-sex marriage and equal rights, suggesting her reasons may have been political in nature — a fair argument, but we have no way of knowing the truth. Given we can’t read her mind, we can at least take her explanation under consideration. “I did not grow up ever imagining gay marriage, and I don’t think you probably did either. This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others of the rightness of that position. And when I was ready to say what I said, I said it,” said Clinton.

Her explanation for the change in her viewpoint may not satisfy everyone who delves into her historical stances on LGBT rights issues, and that’s understandable; it was a hard felt disappointment. However, the fact of the matter is, politicians are human too, and sexual preference and identity have undergone very clear and obvious generational changes in understanding an opinion. The stereotype of racist elderly men in a nursing home is what it is for a reason, and the same holds true for acceptance of LGBT rights, and ignorance around these issues. Millennials are far more likely to be supportive than older generations. Many born in her time may still disapprove of same-sex marriage, and her ability to change and grow toward a more inclusive and equal stance is certainly better than the alternative.

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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