With Hillary Rodham Clinton’s announcement this afternoon that she is for sure running for the office of the President of the United States, people are expressing all kinds of feelings. As I have said before, I don’t think she should run on ethical grounds. Also, I don’t think she is everyday enough or in touch with everyday people–but that’s me. (I’d love to see Elizabeth Warren run!) However, she has a pretty awesome announcement video–one that does pretty good at representing We the People.
Anyway, one of the more immediate topics being brought up is that Hillary has only recently supported human rights for LGBT folks.
For a variety of reasons, no one should be surprised that her public rhetoric has changed so quickly. Her public rhetoric almost perfectly mirrors society and its hopes and fears and society sometimes changes very quickly, sometimes very slowly.
Hillary’s evolution also shows the agency and collective power LGBT folks and allies have–we have forced her and others to change.
Just as Black United Statesians and their White allies pressured and forced JFK and LBJ to act (resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and ultimately, the Great Society), the same thing is happening again. Indeed, JFK and LBJ saw protesters as annoying and as embarrassing the United States. But they changed their mind, under force, needed force.
Indeed, no one of Hillary’s age, and all that results from the cultural contexts in which she has lived and worked, could be expected to automatically, vocally and publicly, support human rights for people outside of the (artificially, socially constructed) heteronormative and/or cisnormative binaries. Just as no one of the the 1950s and 1960s–especially those with the nation’s and world’s spotlight on them–could be expected to automatically support equal rights for Blacks.
While not a pleasant thought, people can be “manipulated” easily – for the good or bad. People are part of their times.
That Hillary has changed so much–at least publicly–says so much about her understanding of people, politics, and culture.
In another few years, we’ll have politicians who grew up in a society where people regardless of gender or sexual orientation are just assumed to be equal. Then there will be something else that people have to be given room to evolve on.
And these people criticizing Hillary for supporting equality today, instead of yesterday, have very few Republicans to point to who did better.