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    Ready for Her



    “[W]e need more elected leaders in Washington who will…fight for the rights and opportunities of everyday Americans, not just those at the top. At the same time, we need to remember that progress is built on common ground, not scorched earth.”

    Hillary Clinton, June 4, 2015

    Now, more than ever, I want to shout out, “It is the Supreme Court (fill in the blank).” The recent decision on marriage equality not only underscores the importance of Presidential appointments to that body, but also that many more of our basic equal rights, and so many other critical issues, still hang in a precarious balance. There is no doubt that had we not had the most recent appointments from President Obama (and, instead, had others like President Bush’s appointees who all voted against equality) we would still be fighting for our basic dignity with respect to marriage. That is just one more reason why the 2016 Presidential Election is crucial not only to our country, but also to our Queer community in particular.

    ready2Of course, there is something we can do to make sure we protect ourselves. We have a champion in Hillary Clinton. She gets it! Not only is she one of the most well prepared candidates to run for that office (Secretary of State, U.S. Senator from NY, First Lady of Arkansas as well as the Country), but she is also on record supporting our rights. How many of us would have ever thought that a viable Presidential Candidate would loudly, and proudly, declare: “Being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” And she said it before the United Nations while still Secretary of State in her December 2011 speech in Geneva. This was a statement she made to the world, and not in a campaign speech, or while speaking privately to members of our community, but in a very public declaration on her part that she stands with us, and she gets it. And the rest of the world needs to get on board.

    Recently, her campaign released a video from her regarding marriage equality that brought me to tears: She showed our community and stated how the barriers to the full benefits of dignity and humanity have fallen away.

    And then, there is her campaign itself. She has made LGBT equality an integral piece of her effort. She has hired Robby Mook, an openly gay man, as her campaign manager—the top position for a campaign. She has lesbians in other key positions, and countless other open members of our community spread throughout the campaign, including our own local leader Emanuel Yekutiel serving on her finance team for Silicon Valley. We definitely have many seats at the table.

    ready3Our community gains a leader who will address all of the issues we care about—our families, our jobs, the economy, international relations, healthcare, and more. We have a champion for ensuring our full inclusion and participation in the fabric of this country. As a young lawyer, I knew of Hillary Clinton long before I knew about Bill. She was considered one of the best lawyers in the country, in large part due to her work on behalf of children, a group sorely in need of a progressive champion. She still carries this commitment to, and core value of, ensuring that every single person has a chance to live up to his or her potential, so it is no wonder that she stands with us in the fight for full equality.

    I am also aware of steps she took as Secretary of State to protect our community. Some of those steps have not even been made public, but she did what she felt was right.

    ready4So, make no mistake, words and actions do matter. We saw what was achieved at the Supreme Court, but there is more to do. Leadership comes in many forms. We as a country, as well as our community, will be sending a message by supporting and electing Hillary Clinton as our next President. We won’t just be electing a woman; we will be electing, by far, the most qualified candidate for the office. (Never mind that the alternatives are beyond horrific for our community and economy, for those less socially minded. I will not even go into the homophobic rhetoric and positions of the Republican candidates.)

    ready6We elected a Black man as our President and shattered so many misperceptions and prejudices, yet all too well, we have seen how much more work needs to be done to change minds (the massacre in South Carolina underscores this point.) Women still have lower pay, reduced opportunities at work, as well as other problems that can be addressed through public policies. Our community understands discrimination. We understand when and where true leadership can make a positive impact, and we know how important a collaborative approach can be towards making progress in hearts and minds. So now, we can and must put our support solidly behind the candidate who stands with us, and knows how to get it done!

    Leslie R. Katz, Esq., is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was the co-author of the City’s Equal Benefits Ordinance, has served on the SF Democratic County Central Committee (as Chair, and as a general member), and serves on the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board. She is an attorney with a government law, policy and strategy practice, with a focus on emerging technologies.