A Key LGBT Figure Just Endorsed Hillary

Marriage equality icon Jim Obergefell has just endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, calling her "a proven leader who will not only ensure that states are implementing marriage equality, but will work to end discrimination in our community whether it's by passing the Equality Act or through state measures." Obergefell's endorsement of Clinton is the latest sign that Clinton's delayed support of marriage equality isn't hurting her very much among liberals or the Democratic base.

"We have fought to not only change laws, but to change hearts," Obergefell said in a press statement. Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that ultimately legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. "Now we need a president who will help us fight to eliminate the injustices that occur regularly in our community, and the best person to do that is Hillary Clinton," he said.

Clinton, like many Democratic politicians, was somewhat slow to hop on the gay marriage train. She opposed same-sex marriage during her 2008 campaign and only reversed that position — or "evolved," as she says now — in 2013, after President Obama had done the same. Early on in the 2016 cycle, there was a suspicion among some in Clinton's party that her initial opposition to marriage equality might hurt her chances in the Democratic primary. These worries were exacerbated in the summer of 2014, when Clinton got testy with a radio host who took her to task for the flip-flop.

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It's becoming increasingly apparent, though, that this won't be an issue for Clinton, at least not insofar as winning the Democratic nomination goes. For proof, look no further than her poll numbers. One big reason for this is that while Clinton didn't formally support marriage equality until 2013, she implemented several pro-LGBT policies before that. During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton changed the State Department's protocol so that same-sex partners of diplomats would enjoy the same protections and benefits as opposite-sex spouses and pushed the department to focus on LGBT rights in Iraq. That's not for nothing.

Despite Clinton's slow support of gay marriage rights, she's basically followed the exact same path on the issue as Obama, and Obama is now regarded as a strongly pro-LGBT president. Like Obama, Clinton used to oppose marriage equality. Like Obama, she eventually landed in the right place and is now a champion for LGBT rights. In the end, isn't that what matters?

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It's true that Clinton was slow to come around to marriage equality. But so were most Democrats, including the president who eventually did more to advance gay rights than any of his predecessors. The bottom line is that Clinton is now a strong supporter of LGBT causes, and that matters a lot more to Democratic primary voters than how she felt five years ago.