Hillary Clinton vowed to make LGBT rights a top priority as president during a speech at a Human Rights Campaign breakfast on Saturday. But the former secretary of state also tacitly recognized she hasn’t always been on the side of equality. “You have helped change a lot of minds, including mine,” Clinton said, clearly referencing how she wasn’t always a proponent of marriage equality. “And I am personally grateful for that.” Still, she did portray herself as someone who has fought for gay rights in the past and will continue to do so if elected president. Overall, her words amounted to “the strongest statement of support for gay rights in the 2016 presidential race,” notes the New York Times.
Specifically, Clinton called for military records to be amended so that dishonorable discharges imposed on gay, lesbian and transgender military veterans can become honorable discharges, reports the Washington Post. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is over, but that doesn’t change the fact that more than 14,000 men and women were forced out of the military for being gay, some long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell even existed,” Clinton said.
The Democratic presidential frontrunner also repeatedly emphasized the discrimination that transgender individuals suffer and the “growing crisis of violence” they face, reports the Guardian. She also called on the military to allow transgender individuals to serve openly. “I see the injustices and the dangers that you and your families still face and I’m running for president to end them once and for all,” Clinton said.
Clinton also took the time to mock a few Republican presidential candidates for their views on LGBT rights. “Ben Carson says that marriage equality is what caused the fall of the Roman empire,” she said as the audience laughed, according to ABC News. She went after Sen. Ted Cruz next. “Ted Cruz slammed a political opponent for marching in a pride parade,” Clinton said. “He clearly has no idea what he’s missing. Pride parades are so much fun. I was marching in them back when I was first lady. You should join sometime senator, come on.”
Clinton spoke hours before Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to give the main speech at the group’s annual dinner. The former secretary of state will be appearing on Saturday Night Live.