Chelsea Clinton doesn't grant many interviews, so when you're offered two on the record questions and a photo op with the former first daughter you jump at the chance. Such was the case yesterday afternoon following Clinton's inspirational primary eve speech to scores of volunteers at her mother's St. Louis presidential campaign headquarters.


What to ask? I literally had minutes to prepare. And with a two question limit my head was spinning. After all, Chelsea's a dynamic woman; a perfect hybrid of her political parents, and I didn't want to disappoint. In the end, I decided to have her speak to the undecided LGBT voter wrestling between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Below is our exchange.

Chelsea2
What would you like to say directly to LGBT voters who might feel that they are torn between two allies?

 

Well I would hope that, candidly, for any voter it would matter what someone actually has a record of being able to do and has done, because I think that that's a good indication of what someone will do. So talking about the LGBT community, specifically, I hope that it matters that my mom was an early supporter of the American Equality Act, which we still haven't gotten passed, that she was an early supporter of and is a vocal supporter of [the legislation]. I hope it will also matter that when she was in the State Department she was the first - not only Secretary of State - but any person at that level of our government who said she believes that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights. I hope that it will matter that she created the first office and appointed the first person to monitor what's happening around the world to the LGBT community, and made it clear to countries across the world that how they treat members of the LGBT community will affect how we as the United States government treat them. It's a clear foreign policy priority. And that she set up the first fast track asylum process for LGBT activists and advocates; community members who are being persecuted or even prosecuted in their countries to be able to quickly apply for asylum in the United States and more quickly get to safety and sanctuary.


So I hope all that matters, because you're right. Thankfully, far beyond my mom and Senator Sanders, increasingly the Democratic party is standing up unified against any and all forms of discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I think that's something we should be proud of, and something that we should continue to, in the best sense, push for Republicans and Independents to join us in that stance.


And yet I hope that it matters what people have done, what people have fought for and what people have helped to change. Because I think on that basis my mom has a very distinctive record, whether we're talking about equal rights, whether we're talking about women's health, whether we're talking about education reform.

Chelsea3
Last question: Do you think the way that LGBT rights is being framed; in particular Sen. Sanders likes to say on marriage equality - I was there first - do you think that's fair and could you speak to younger LGBT voters who might not remember the 1990s at all?


I think history matters and I certainly understand the visceral reaction that I think many of us have against anything that makes no sense to us on just an instinctual level, but also an emotional level and intellectual level. But it's really an instinctual level about any form of historic discrimination whether we're thinking about racial discrimination, or gender based discrimination, or sexual orientation based discrimination. And yet, we're partly where we are now because of the fights, kind of incremental and big, that were waged historically to kind of move us more toward a place where people don't base barriers derived from other peoples' perception of us. Because I don't think it's really our gender, or sexual orientation, or race, or religion, or culture, or immigration status that's the barrier. It's other peoples' perception of those barriers.


So certainly, I couldn't imagine today anyone supporting--although I know there are many people who would support the Defense of Marriage Act. And yet when faced with Republicans who controlled not only congress, but controlled a majority of governorships and state legislatures in the 1990s who were threatening to have a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, I understand why my father at the time made a really hard choice. That it would be much easier to undo a piece of legislation than to undo a constitutional amendment. So I get the visceral reaction.


But to your question about history, it is relevant and I think you can see that in why so many organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have supported my mom. Because not only do they know that history, they know that she--and clearly I'm very biased towards my mom--but she knows how to make government work and that we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Particularly not when there are too many barriers that too many of us still confront, that we hope to knock down all of them, but sometimes knock them down one by one. And sometimes being in government means stopping bad things from happening as well as helping good things to happen.


And I would hope that it would also matter, candidly, to anyone who cares about LGBT equality, whether it's someone who is LGBT or someone like me who cares deeply about this, that my mom understands that it's about a lot more than marriage. It's also about equality in healthcare, education, housing, employment. It's about repairing the past wrongs of the more than 100,000 men and women who were dishonorably discharged from the military because of gender identity or sexual orientation. There's a lot that we have to repair as well as a lot that we have to do to really create equal opportunities and a culture of equality. And so whether that is righting the past wrongs of the military, continuing President Obama's work against bullying in the school system, or finally passing the American Equality Act, I hope that it matters that my mom knows marriage is hugely important, but we're all more than just the people we choose to spend our lives with.

 

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