A while back, I posted a video to YouTube about how Donald Trump is no friend to the gays. Then a bunch of unexpected comments started rolling in: comment after comment from queer people who insisted they’d be voting for Trump. What could possibly motivate someone to do that? Let’s dive into some of their strange reasoning, and figure out how to respond.
The biggest complaint that I hear is that Hillary should have supported marriage sooner. And yes, that’s a good point — she should have. As late as 2004, she was giving speeches in Congress about how marriage is between a man and a woman. But it’s worth noting that she gave that speech right before casting a vote that actually protected marriage equality in states that passed it, like Massachusetts. Even though she stated her personal opposition, her vote still protected states’ ability to legalize the freedom to marry.
And what about the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act? Well, Hillary didn’t sign that — her husband did. But just like the 2004 bill, DOMA at least allowed states to legalize marriage through the courts or through the legislature. It could have been far, far worse, especially if the Supreme Court weighed in on marriage in the ’90s. Obviously, DOMA was a bad law — but there’s no reason to pin it on Hillary.
Another complaint about Hillary: Saudi Arabia, a country that executes gays, is funding her campaign. Nope — not even a little bit true. For one thing, foreign countries and people aren’t allowed to donate to American campaigns. (Although that hasn’t stopped the Trump campaign from soliciting foreign funds.) And although Saudi Arabia did donate money, it wasn’t to the campaign — it was to the Clinton Foundation, a completely separate organization that does charity work around the world. Included in that charity work is HIV/AIDS relief, so the money was actually used to improve the lives of queer people.
Other commenters complained that Hillary’s emails reveal that she still secretly opposes marriage equality. Also not true — this is a rumor based on a misinterpretation of an email that was hacked, likely by Russia. The rumor got picked up by a bunch of untrustworthy right-wing websites and repeated, but it’s no more true than a Nigerian email scam.
Still other commenters repeated the racist talking point that Hillary would allow dangerous radicals into the country to attack queer people.
And it’s true that LGBTQ hate crimes are a serious problem — but they’re not being committed by immigrants, many of whom are queer themselves. Some of the worst hate crimes in recent years, including the Pulse shooting in Orlando, were committed by American citizens raised in this country. For that matter, the GOP’s platform calls for attacks on LGBTQ families — a much more immediate threat than refugees.
But far and away, the most frequent negative comment I saw is that Hillary changes her position and you can’t trust her. Yes indeed, over the last 40 years, she has changed her position a few times, as have all people. But just about every time, it’s been to improve her position for the better.
Yes, the Clintons could have been better allies at times. But there are only two possible victors in this election, and one has been an ally who has steadily improved over the years and the other is a clear threat. If you want to know what it looks like when a politician refuses to change his position, look no further than VP nominee Mike Pence, who has been attacking queer people for his entire career. He’s tried to defund AIDS programs and prop up ex-gay torture camps; to defend the international criminalization of homosexuality; and to let businesses in Indiana refuse service to queer people. This is supposed to be a preferred alternative to Hillary Clinton?
All things considered, I’d much rather have a candidate whose positions change from bad to good. The Hillary who opposed marriage equality in 2004 isn’t running for president, at least not anymore. The Hillary who’s running for president is the one who said “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”