Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in March that after a devastating loss in the 2016 presidential election, she was finally ready to "come out of the woods" and start speaking out against President Trump's controversial acts. Sticking to her word, Clinton condemned Trump's anti-LGBTQ policies at a fundraising event in New York on Thursday.
“When this administration rescinded protections for transgender students, my heart broke,” Clinton said after accepting the Center's Trailblazer Award for her work advocating for LGBTQ rights. "When I learned about the proposed cuts in funding for HIV and AIDS research, I thought about all of our efforts to try and achieve an AIDS-free generation."
In February, Trump revoked an Obama-era policy that allowed students across the country to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with, and Trump's budget blueprint, revealed in March, proposed to cut funding for HIV and AIDS relief by at least $292 million.
“Some of the changes that we’re seeing should seem small, but they matter a great deal if you’re the person affected,” Clinton said.
Clinton urged activists to use their voices to actively engage in the political process and advocate for change, adding that the upcoming 2018 midterm elections are an opportunity to "make it clear where our country stands" on LGBTQ rights.
She also spoke about international LGBTQ abuses, like the alleged arrest and persecution of over 100 gay men in Chechnya. (Chechnya's leader denied that gay men are being persecuted in the country.) Although U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has condemned the alleged violence, Clinton called for Trump and other U.S. leaders to do the same.
“The United States government — yes, this government — should demand an end to the persecution of innocent people across the world,” Clinton said.
Clinton has a somewhat controversial history when it comes to advocating for LGBTQ rights. As first lady of the United States, and as a presidential candidate running against Barrack Obama in 2008, she opposed same-sex marriage, then changed her position on the subject in 2013.
But she also launched the Global Equality Fund in 2011, an organization that advances protections for LGBTQ individuals worldwide, worked with the United Nations to pass a resolution that would condemn violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity that same year, and led an initiative for the Human Rights Campaign for LGBTQ equality in 2016.
Clinton's speech proved that she is certainly back, and ready to return to fighting for the rights of Americans across the country. Hopefully, her empowering message will inspire others to do the same.