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Hillary Clinton Defends Gay Rights in Strongest Speech yet on Issue

Hillary Clinton came out strongly in support of gay rights during a speech on Saturday and pledged to make it a focal issue for her campaign.

“We’re going to face some ridiculousness, especially from our friends in the GOP,” Clinton said, delivering her strongest comments to date on the issue in the 2016 presidential race.

“Believe what they say,” she told a few hundred gay and lesbian political activists in Washington.

Clinton expects strong opposition from the right, but vowed to fight for gay rights.

“I’ve been fighting alongside you and others for equal rights and I’m just getting warmed up,” said Clinton. “That’s a promise, from one HRC to another.”

“I want you to know that I get it, I see the injustices and the dangers that you and your family still face, and I’m running for president to end them once and for all,” she said to an extended applause.

USA Today reports:

Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the keynote address at the gala later Saturday. That sets up a subtle contrast between the two as speculation swirls around a potential Biden candidacy amid controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Biden was openly supportive of the right for gay couples to marry before Clinton. He unexpectedly declared his support for marriage equality in 2012, paving the way for President Obama to do the same a matter of days later. Clinton didn’t declare her support until March 2013, after leaving the State Department.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist from Vermont challenging Clinton for the nomination, was one of only a few dozen congressmen and women to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which her husband, President Bill Clinton, signed into law in 1996.

In an appearance last weekend on NBC’s Meet the Press, Clinton said her previous position reflected generational divides. “Like a lot of people, including our president, I did evolve,” Clinton said. “I was not raised to even imagine this,” she said. “I am thrilled now that it is the law of the land.’”

Saturday, she echoed that sentiment at the top of her speech: “You’ve helped change a lot of minds, including mine, and I am personally very grateful for that,” she said.

Even for some attendees who’ve waited a long time for stronger advocates in the White House, that history was not problematic. “It doesn’t matter to me,” said Jody Gates, a 76-year-old who came with her spouse, Marilyn, from New Orleans to see the former first lady’s address. “Her history and efforts for the longest time have been for the public well being,” said Gates.

In addition to protecting the Supreme Court ruling, Clinton said work remains to be done in preventing discrimination in housing, credit and other industries.

Photo credit: CBS News.

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