Jessica Hoffmann

Clinton: Live from the HRC Candidates' Forum

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | August 09, 2007 10:38 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

[Editor's note] Full transcript of Sen. Clinton's section, after the jump.

(Hillary walks on, and there's a comment about her clothes...Can this become an old story? When? Start talking to Gov. Richardson about his suits or something.)

Her stances on militarism are such a big part of why I can't see Clinton as a feminist candidate, and here she is starting off with Don't Ask, Don't Tell. ... Oops -- I just got de-railed for too much of her section; will have to read the transcript later. And hey -- I have no intention of being the only Bilerico blogger weighing in right now. If others of you are watching and online, I'd love to see what you're thinking as this broadcast goes on.


MS. CARLSON: Last and not least, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She was the first lady of Arkansas and later first lady of the United

States. She was elected to her first term as a senator from New York

in 2000 and re-elected last year.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Cheers, applause.)

Senator Clinton, welcome.

SEN. CLINTON: Thank you.

MS. CARLSON: I don't know if Senator Edwards is still here, but

from the last debate, let me go on the record. I like the coral

jacket. (Laughter.)

SEN. CLINTON: Thank you. (Laughs.)

MS. CARLSON: Joe is our first questioner for you, Senator.


MR. SOLMONESE: Senator, thank you for being here tonight.

You've said in past settings like this and all across the country

that you would like to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." Now, since

2003, you've sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the committee

that would decide this issue. Why haven't you introduced legislation

to repeal this policy?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Joe, first, thanks for doing this and thanks

for everybody being here and having this forum.

I think the very simple answer is we didn't have a chance with

the Republican Congress and George Bush as president. And I want to

get it done when I'm president. I want to do it and have it be

successful. I don't want to try, in a Republican Congress, with a

very negative president, and have it defeated.

We're talking, now that we have a Democratic Congress, about what

steps we can take to sort of lay the groundwork so that when we do

have a change in the White House, which can't happen too soon, to suit

me -- (cheers, applause) -- we will -- we will be able to move on


But I just want to sort of put it into a broader context, because

it's one of my highest priorities. I came out against don't ask/don't

tell in 1999. It was a transitional action that was taken back at the

beginning of my husband's administration because at the time, there

was such a witch hunt going on.

And we've got some veterans over here. I saw Staff Sergeant Eric

Alva, who I have met before at HRC -- (cheers, applause) -- and I was

so glad to see him when I walked in. And you know, for people who

don't know Staff Sergeant Alva's history, he was the first Marine

wounded in
Iraq , recipient of a purple heart.

And 15 years ago, he could have both been refused the opportunity

to serve, but if he had gotten into the military, under the rules that

existed at the time and the attitudes that were prevalent, he could

have been court-martialed or even accused and threatened with criminal

action if he didn't reveal names of those with whom he might have had

relationships who were serving in the military.

I think -- you know, we have moved a long way on this and other

issues, but I think it's important to recall how much of an advance

don't ask/don't tell was at the time. However, it was not implemented

appropriately. It was still used to discharge a lot of patriotic men

and women who were serving our country, often at great cost, in the

middle of a war where people were being told, "We don't need your

services anymore," including, you know, linguists and translators and

other specialty services.

But in 1999, you know, it just struck me that it wasn't working

and that what we need to do was to try to move us toward using the

Code of Military Justice and judge people on conduct, not status. No

matter whether you're, you know, gay or straight, that's the way it

should be, it should be even-handed across the entire services.

We're beginning to see some changes.

I remember very well the intense debates about this back in '93, and

honestly, it was so emotional in the military and in the Congress that

-- the Congress did pass a law, so we have to get the law repealed.

But now it's beginning to change. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chairman General Shalikashvili has just come out in favor of a change.

I've noticed General Powell, who was adamantly against my husband's

efforts back in '93, has begun to say, you know, maybe we should

rethink this. So I think we will lay the groundwork, but then when

I'm president, we'll get it done, and I'm looking forward to doing

that. (Applause.)

MS. CARLSON: Thank you --

MR. SOLMONESE: Changing tracks, talk to us about what is at the

heart of your opposition to same-sex marriage?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Joe, I prefer to think of it as being very

positive about civil unions. (Laughter.) You know, it's a personal

position, and you and I have talked about it. I've talked about it

with a number of my friends here and across the country. And, you

know, for me, we have made it very clear in our country that we

believe in equality. How we get to full equality is the debate we're

having, and I am absolutely in favor of civil unions with full

equality -- full equality of -- of benefits, rights, and privileges.

And I've also been a very strong supporter of letting the states

maintain their jurisdiction over marriage, and I believe that was the

right decision, for a lot of reasons. Because it's easy, again, to

forget that just two and a half years ago we were facing all of these

referenda that were enshrining discrimination in state constitutions.

And a lot of people tried very hard to fight against them and prevent

them from being passed, but unfortunately, they were.

Now, two and a half years later, we're beginning to see other

states take different approaches. And what we were able to do -- and

I really give HRC a lot of credit for your leadership on this -- in

stopping the federal marriage amendment gave the states the breathing

room to make different decisions. So I want to proceed with

equalizing federal benefits. I want to repeal Section 3 of DOMA,

which stands in the way of the extension of benefits to people in

committed, same-sex relationships, and, you know, I will be very

strongly in favor of doing that as president.

MR. SOLMONESE: I wonder, Senator, if you can sympathize with the

frustration of this argument that it's a states' rights issue; it's a

-- in the civil rights struggle, this argument that it was a states'

rights issue was something that was typically used against people

working against us, as sort of a red herring. And so can you see

where this argument as --marriage as a states' rights issue would

resonate the same way in our community?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. And you know, Joe, not only that; I

really respect the advocacy that the community is waging on behalf of

marriage. I think you're doing exactly what you need to do and should

do. And I really am very much impressed by the -- you know, the

intensity and the persistence of that advocacy.

But this has not been a long-term struggle yet, and I think it's

really clear that, you know, people in the states are moving much more

rapidly to deal with the inequalities than you would find at the

federal level. When you and I were plotting strategy to beat the

Federal Marriage Amendment, the reason we were plotting strategy is,

we were worried it was going to pass.

And you know, again, I mean, this was a terrifying prospect, that

we would have enshrined in the Constitution, for the first time ever,

discrimination. And we were, you know, very clear about what we

needed to do to get the votes in order to prevent this mean-spirited,

divisive effort, led by Karl Rove, to politicize the hopes and dreams

of, you know, so many of our fellow Americans. And we were able to

defeat it.

But I don't know that we could have defeated it if we had not had


I mean, that is something that, you know, has provided a great

protection against what was clearly the Republican strategy, lest by

George Bush, led by the congressional Republicans, to just cynically

use marriage as a political tool.

MS. CARLSON: Do you think that's going to come up this time --


MS. CARLSON: -- when the Republicans are running? Is it dead as

an issue?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Margaret, that's what I am -- you know,

I'm very -- I'm very optimistic because I think that --

MS. CARLSON: I haven't heard it yet.

SEN. CLINTON: I -- I don't hear it either, and I'm as -- don't

tell anybody, but I'm running for president -- (laughter) -- and so

I'm traveling around the country a lot --

MS. CARLSON: "Don't ask, don't tell." (Light laughter.)

SEN. CLINTON: Yeah, that's right. And I -- you know, I don't

hear it, I don't feel it, I don't see it; even with the Republicans

with their various forms, you don't get the sense. Why? Because a

lot of people who were in favor of that constitutional amendment knew

better. That was a strictly cynical political ploy on their part, and

they were successful, unfortunately, in a lot of states. But I think

that now people are starting to say, well, you know, maybe we don't

want to do that, and because the Democratic Congress won't bring up

the amendment, there's really nothing for them to be rallying around.

MS. CARLSON: Thank you, Senator.


MS. ETHERIDGE: Senator, I have a personal issue here. I

remember when your husband was elected president. I actually came out

public -- publicly during his inaugural week. It was a very hopeful

time for the gay community. For the first time, we were being

recognized as American citizens. It was wonderful. We were very,

very hopeful, and in the years that followed, our hearts were broken.

We were thrown under the bus. We were pushed aside. All those great

promises that were made to us were broken.

And I understand politics. I understand how hard things are, to bring

about change. But it is many years later now, and what are you going

to do to be different than that? I know you're sitting here now; it's

a year out -- more than a year. A year from now, are we going to be

left behind like we were before?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, obviously, Melissa, I don't see it

quite the way that you describe, but I respect your feeling about it.

You know, from the moment that Bob Hattoy spoke at the Democratic

Convention, through the appointments that were made both to positions

in Cabinet agencies as well as in the White House, to the ongoing

struggle against Gingrich and the Republican majority, I think that we

certainly didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I believe

that there was a lot of honest effort going on by the president, the

vice president and the rest of us who were trying to keep the momentum


You know, I remember when I was running for the Senate as first

lady marching in the gay pride parade in
New York City , and to a lot

of people that was just, you know, an unbelievable act, you know, and


MS. ETHERIDGE: Why not be the leader now?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think -- I think I am a -- I think I am a

leader now. And I think that we are doing a lot to not only talk

about laws, as important as they are, but to really try to change

attitudes and persuade people that they should be more open, more

respectful, more accepting.

If I were sitting where you're sitting, with all you have gone

through in the last 14 years, I'm sure I would feel exactly the same

way because, you know, not only did you bravely come out, but you've

had health challenges and so much else.

And so time can't go by slowly. You want things to move as quickly as

possible, which I, you know, understand and wish could happen as well.

But as president, I think I have an opportunity both to reverse

the concerted assault on people. It wasn't just on people's rights;

it was on people. It was pointing fingers; it was demeaning; it was

degrading; it was mean-spirited. And that will end. That is going to

be -- that is over. And when we began to -- (applause).

MS. CARLSON: Senator, we're almost out of time, believe it or


SEN. CLINTON: Oh, I can't believe it.


MS. CARLSON: Time flies when you're having a good time, but

Jonathan -- (cross talk, laughter). To be continued, Melissa.


MR. CAPEHART: Real fast, Senator, Joint Chiefs Chairman --

former Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace called homosexuality immoral.

And when you were first asked about it, you said, quote, "I'm going to

leave that to others to conclude." The next day, after much

criticism, you finally said you did not think that homosexuality was

immoral. Why didn't you say that the first time?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, it was a mistake, Jonathan. Because what I

went on to say after what you quoted was to launch an attack on "don't

ask, don't tell." You know, because my view was that as a chairman of

the Joint Chiefs, he had absolutely no right to say what he said. I

disagreed with him profoundly.

But what was really offensive is that he was in a position of

responsibility that had a direct impact on the lives of, you know,

hundreds of thousands of these young people in the military. So I

went right at him on "don't ask, don't tell." And I, you know -- you

know, you say these things. You know, somebody sticks a microphone in

front of you. And I thought, well, that's -- you know, that was

pretty good. And my friends started calling me and saying, well, you

know, that wasn't very good. (Laughter.)

So I said, you know, "Oh, you're probably right." So I immediately

got the first opportunity I could to, you know, say the whole thing.

So I just was -- I was focused on one aspect of what I thought

was really over the line. You know, Joe Blow, Joe Schmo walking down

the street can say, "Here's what I believe." You say, "Oh, well, who

cares?" The chairman of the Joint Chiefs says it, that has a direct

impact on policy. And that's what I went after. But I -- I should

have put it in a broader context.

MR. CAPEHART: Senator, would you put someone --

MS. CARLSON: Senator, we -- well, we are just about out of time,

Jonathan. I'm really sorry.

MR. CAPEHART (?): Who's anti-gay?

MS. CARLSON: I'm sorry; what, Jonathan?

MR. CAPEHART: Would you put someone on the bench who is known to

be anti-gay?

SEN. CLINTON: No. And that's why we shouldn't. (Cheers,


MS. CARLSON: Senator --

SEN. CLINTON: It's one of the reasons why I'm against Southwick

for -- (inaudible word) -- judge.

MS. CARLSON: Senator, you told the AFL-CIO on Tuesday night,

"I'm your girl." Do you want to express those same sentiments here?

SEN. CLINTON: I AM your girl! Absolutely! (Laughter, cheers,


MS. CARLSON: And you do get a closing statement, short though it

may be.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, I want to be a president who

really does move forward the agenda of progress and equality in our

country. That's what I have tried to do my entire life, you know, for

35 years. You know, this country, with all of its flaws, which we can

see manifest -- it doesn't move fast enough, it doesn't do what we

want it to do -- has demonstrated extraordinary resilience and a lot

of movement forward. And I think that we will see that as the years

unfold. And I want to be a part of that.

But I come to these issues, you know, not as a senator or as a

lawyer or as a presidential candidate, but as a friend of a lot of

members of the LGBT community who have, as my -- who are my age, who

have suffered through a long period of, you know, coming out, of

having to face families, of having to deal with all of the issues that

we know occur.

And I want to be a president who can clearly say to the American

people, you know, these are our friends, our children, our parents;

these are people who we want to support as they live the best lives

they can.

So it's very personal for me. And we are not going to agree on

everything, but I will be a president who will fight for you, will

work to end discrimination in the employment area, end "don't ask,

don't tell," finally get hate crimes through, do a lot of what we need

to do on HIV/AIDS and so much more. And I really hope that we can be

partners in trying to make our country a little bit better and a

little more progressive for all of us.

Thank you. (Applause.)

MS. CARLSON: Senator, I wish we had more time. Thank you.

SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.) Me too! Yeah, me too!

MS. CARLSON: That concludes our forum, but the campaign is only

heating up from now to Election Day 2008. Stay informed, follow the

campaign and join with LGBG Americans across the nation to debate the

issues at and at

On behalf of Logo and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, thank

you to our panelists: Jonathan Capehart, Melissa Etheridge and Joe

Solomonese. And thank you, Senator Clinton and here in
Los Angeles

and at home, for joining us.

Right now, CBS News on Logo reports live from right here in this

studio with a post-forum wrap-up. Stick around for the interviews and


Thank you and good night. (Applause.)

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We were trying to watch anyways... There were so many folks watching that all of the video was jerky and kept stopping. I got to see maybe 1/3 of Hillary's section and less of Richardson.

Yeah, I'd love to comment on what happened, but I missed most of it due to the sucky streaming LOGO provided. They didn't buy enough bandwidth to handle the traffic.

You can see it's being streamed in a loop. Hillary probably will get the nod, but wow, she really is unlikable. She danced around her own husband's HORRID record, continuing to spin her record as positive. She said acted like DOMA was a GOOD THING.

Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 11:58 PM

Of the three leads, she came the closest to saying what people generally, and particularly the kind of "All or Nothings" who helped put Bush fils in the White House in the first place, need to accept: you can only move the voters and the Congress so far so fast. And leading up to tonight, and with its incredible addition by Edwards's explicit support for teaching gay-friendly lessons in public schools, we are far further along, at least in terms of the Democratic campaigns than we were even four years ago [whereas the Repugs are basically in the same place they were 15 years ago or more].

Full state and federal benefits for legally recognized same gender relationships. DADT gone. Protection against job discrimination. Hate crimes enhancements. HIV/AIDS funding. Funding for homeless LGBT youth. Inclusion of LGBT couples in universal health care.

As for her comments about DOMA's evolution, I'd respectfully submit she knows more about it than some here. Why should she have to apologize for anything her husband did? She can only be held accountable to what she does in office. Or do you think she should buy Monica a new blue dress, too?

Whether we like the personalities of any of these people is irrelevant. One has a right to their opinions about same, to express them, but they're irrelevant to the issues per se.

Remember, mes amis, only 537 votes in Florida changed history. Let's get our act together and see that that never happens again.

Thanks to the Project for the transcripts!!!!!

Leland, where I hold Clinton accountable is where she stated she only purported to repeal section 3 of DOMA. That statement was a slap in the face, no excuses. Her diction also established a motif of separation She always put herself in the group of people trying to understand us; we don't need people to try to understand us, as it is a very simple matter of whether you feel comfortable with discriminating people through a convenient and vague set of beliefs that has often been manipulated for political purposes.

It is her strategy, though. It shows her as "tolerant" enough to befriend liberals, yet firm enough in her discriminatory policies (I don't care what anybody says; the state and the church need to remain separated and religious beliefs should never in any way be imposed on others; that includes justification of positions on legislation by religious beliefs) so as not completely turn off the more conservative centralists. She is a people's pleasers and needs all the votes she can get considering she's at a disadvantage for being a woman (American society is still largely retrograde culture in terms of women's issues; compared to Spain, Argentina, and Chile, where women in congress compose ~33-37% of the total population, US only has a pitiful 16%).

Ack, missed a period in there and meant to say "people pleaser."