Hillary Clinton had something "scary" to talk about on Saturday, and it wasn't a Halloween horror story. The former Democratic nominee for president headlined the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner in Washington, D.C., where she spoke bluntly about the Trump administration's handling of gay and trans rights. Clinton called Trump's LGBTQ record "scary" and "insulting," again proving that she won't back down following last year's presidential election.
"The attacks on the LGBT community here at home and around the world are striking and scary," Clinton said during her address. "I can only imagine what it’s like to be in the position that so many people still find themselves in in our country." She also found common ground, saying, "I do know what it feels like to be torn down and attacked, and I want you to know that I’m with you."
Specifically, Clinton called out several of Trump's anti-LGBTQ policies, including his decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. According to Politico, Clinton called the transgender ban "insulting and wrong." She also called for support for the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect LGTBQ Americans from discrimination in the workplace, housing, schools, and elsewhere.
The Equality Act is an important piece of legislation for the Human Rights Campaign, which hosted the event on Saturday. According to Sarah McBride, the organization's national press secretary, the bill is necessary to overcome unfair inconsistencies in state law. "This is legislation that is vitally necessary," McBride tells Bustle. "Fairness should not depend on a person's zip code or the state they live in. Every person deserves the equal protection of the laws."
McBride echoes many of the sentiments shared by Clinton on Saturday, including her criticism of the Trump administration. "In 10 months, this administration has become the ugliest, most explicitly anti-LGBTQ administration in modern history," McBride says, mentioning many of the same policies that Clinton included in her speech.
"Since taking office, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have consistently and persistently attacked and tried to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender folks," she says.
In particular, McBride points to the Department of Justice's recent guidance on religious liberties. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of the Justice Department, issued a series of memos that department employees and contractors that seemed to give those individuals permission to deny services to LGBTQ Americans on the grounds of religous freedom. Although it's unclear how the guidance will be implemented, McBride explained some of the potential impacts of the policy:
"It could allow a federal contractor to deny services to an LGBTQ person, including in an emergency situation, and not risk losing federal funding over it," she says. She described the guidance as "a license to discriminate" not just against LGBTQ Americans, but also against women, religious minorities, and others.
Despite the harsh language, there's an uplifting spirit in both Clinton's and the Human Rights Campaign's messages: It's the call to action for supporters. "I won't be silenced, and I hope you won't be either," Clinton said. "That's a promise from one HRC to another."
For its part, the Human Rights Campaign seems poised to hold up its end of the promise. According to McBride, the organization recently undertook its largest investment in grassroots organizing in its history. Heading into the elections of 2018 and 2020, Human Rights Campaign is focused on electing politicians who are focused on equality.
"We need each other now more than we have in a very long time," McBride says. "We need everyone to call their members of Congress on critical issues as they come up. We need people to march and protest."
While many members of the country's LGBTQ community have felt threatened by the Trump administration's first 10 months in office, Clinton's message to supporters on Saturday was more than an attention-grabbing attack on a political opponent — it was a call to action to keep weary spirits going.