One Equal World

Making Friends of Opponents

Posted on: October 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton campaigns at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015.

Hillary Clinton campaigns at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015. Photo: Hillary for America | FlickrCC.

Recently, Hillary Clinton made a speech to the Human Rights Campaign articulating her plan to continue her LGBT support moving forward. But her speech comes at a time that might be more than a coincidence: it’s not unlikely that Clinton is trying to regain lost ground in the current presidential election, as she was the last of potential Democratic contenders for the presidency to embrace LGBT issues, after Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

So do we believe that her address was heartfelt? Do we forgive her, pleased by her political turnaround—and do we forgive others in similar positions?

Clinton told the group that she would sign the Equality Act, to make repairs to a 1964 act to outlaw discrimination in housing and employment for LGBT individuals. But years ago, she was also highly supportive of Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act. It’s possible that her address was genuine, but it’s equally possible that her interest is in getting votes rather than making amends.

Clinton isn’t the first politician to switch sides. Ken Mehlman, former manager of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, once held anti-gay sentiments. But when he came out in 2010 as gay himself, Mehlman became one of the very few openly gay members of the Republican Party. He came out to mixed but generally supportive reactions, despite his previously anti-gay beliefs. Subsequently, Mehlman and amici have written a brief in opposition to religious freedom laws’ impingement of gay rights.

Mehlman’s situation is different than Clinton’s because he has a personal stake in LGBT issues, and that makes his former sentiments and behavior easier to forgive. The ethics here are tricky, but as a gay Republican, Mehlman holds remarkable political power that could be used to further LGBT rights.

But what about Clinton? Her stake isn’t personal, it’s political. But at least she finally wants to work to support LGBT legislature. Better late than never.

You’ve helped change a lot of minds, including mine, and I am personally very grateful for that,” Clinton said in her speech.

Clinton can’t be quite as easily forgiven as Mehlman, whose history elicits a bit more empathy. But she can be forgiven, and she does have the power to help the LGBT cause. Calling Clinton on her tardiness to the issues without alienating her is the way to show her how to make amends—if her mind can be changed, so can the minds of many others, particularly with her guidance.

A balance of integrity is needed here. Mindful, open, and deliberate forgiveness will be the best approach, with the hopes of educating and forgiving others who have also been mistaken.

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1 Response to "Making Friends of Opponents"

[…] Monday, weeks ahead of the first 2016 presidential election contest in Iowa, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton officially launched her “LGBT for Hillary” campaign with Boricua singer Ricky Martin as an […]

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