Hillary or Bernie? Two gay Democrats on why their candidate is best for LGBT people

2016-02-16
Just months ago, most people assumed Hillary Clinton would easily clinch the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has quickly emerged from the sidelines of the political map and disturbed the mighty Clinton machine. After the two initial, and influential primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, one went to Clinton, and one went to Sanders. Although Clinton retains a majority in the national polls and is expected to hold her ground in South Carolina and Nevada later this month, Sanders now has a momentum, with many Democrats seeing the lifelong socialist as the antidote to the hard-line conservatism coming from the Republican front runner Donald Trump. But what of their commitment to LGBT causes? Writing exclusively for Attitude, two gay US Democrats here lay out their case for Hillary and Bernie, respectively, to argue it out over which potential administration would be better for LGBT people, and who is best for America as the whole. "Hillary Clinton understands how to actually make change happen in Washington and around the world" - Eugene Resnick 12646882_1064803513576177_9048160846928559343_o Last weekend, I was part of a group of volunteers that went up to New Hampshire with the Human Rights Campaign on what was dubbed the “Equality Bus”. I spent my time there going door-to-door, speaking with voters, attending rallies, waving signs, and hearing from inspiring speakers including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards and former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. I went on that journey to support Hillary Clinton and to speak to as many people as possible about why I think she is the best choice to continue President Obama’s legacy and ensure the battle for LGBT equality continues. The results we witnessed on Tuesday night, when Clinton lost to Senator Bernie Sanders by over 22%, were disappointing especially considering the many hours her supporters had put in to help close the gap in that state. Despite the loss, I remain as confident as ever that as the Democratic primary moves on to more diverse states that represent the true heart and soul of the party, (South Carolina, Nevada, and the Super Tuesday states), Hillary Clinton will prevail. An election is not a popularity contest, nor should it be. We’ve witnessed bombastic demagoguery on the Republican side with Donald Trump stoking fears and raising false hopes among a disaffected portion of the electorate. The other Republican candidates have stood idly by, allowing him to take control of the debate. I’d argue the media is to blame for this too, as they have incessantly covered his rallies and given him free airtime throughout this campaign. We can’t let fear, division, and simple-minded solutions be the answer to our most pressing twenty-first century challenges. 1660869_10102515405738546_1748238917915890415_n The President of the United States - arguably the world’s most important and influential leader - must be ready from his or her first day in office to tackle challenges ranging from growing the economy, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, ensuring our health care system works for everyone, and fighting for equality for all Americans. Tackling major foreign policy issues of our time (notably Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Ukraine, and Russia to name a few) will require someone who understands the complexities of diplomacy, the nuances of history, and the art of negotiation. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton demonstrated her policy prowess and a deep understanding of how to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Bernie Sanders has been a refreshing and necessary voice in the debate on campaign finance reform, financial regulation, income inequality, and providing universal health care for all Americans as a right. To give credit where it is due, Hillary also strongly believes we should rein in the big banks, ensure the financial sector cannot run amok again, guarantee health care for all, and make the economy work for all Americans and not just the wealthiest at the top. She also understands the fight for LGBT equality is not over and that we have much more work to do to tackle systemic racism in this country. As Democrats, we all agree with that: that’s what makes us who we are as a party. But the President cannot be a one trick pony. Taking that seat in the Oval Office requires an in-depth understanding of the complexities of our nation, reaching out to all communities, and appreciating the international challenges we face around the world. Hillary Clinton understands how to actually make change happen in Washington and around the world – without that ability, promises are just words on a paper. We need a progressive change-maker to continue the work of the Obama years and to go that much further. Hillary is the one to make it happen. Eugene Resnick is a Senior Associate at Global Health Strategies in New York, a volunteer with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and a former intern for President Barack Obama in the White House. "Bernie Sanders' long record reveals a man with the moral judgment we need in a president" - Noah Baron 12525602_968742913180713_8687992768150502966_o Bernie Sanders is a rare find in American politics: someone who has consistently and unapologetically been on the right side of history, not only when it comes to LGBT equality, but on a wide range of matters, from the Iraq War to financial reform. He is not perfect, but his long record reveals a man with the moral judgment we need in a president. I came of age during the 2008 Democratic primary, as the main contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, sought to portray themselves as liberal, but not too liberal. Like many mainstream politicians, both repeatedly expressed their opposition to marriage equality. Clinton, however, went above and beyond the call to 'moderation', refusing support for moderate steps toward equality such as a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act - an anti-gay law she supported when it was enacted in 1994. At the time, it wasn't hard to feel like the Democratic Party - especially the moderate wing championed by Hillary Clinton - was ashamed of me, or at least unwilling to protect my rights in the face of popular opposition. Perhaps these 'moderate' politicians voted as they did out of cowardice rather than bigotry, but the outcome was all the same. In contrast, Bernie has reliably stood up for queer people throughout his career. As a mayor during the 1980s - in the midst of the AIDS crisis, the growing power of conservative evangelical Christians, and the anti-gay Reagan administration - Bernie officially commemorated gay pride day and pushed through an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect lesbians and gays in his city. In his early days as a congressman, he spoke out against the exclusion of gays and lesbians from military service and voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. In 2009, long before a majority of Americans supported it, he announced his support for marriage equality. 10357534_10205144852288819_8465602697323846922_n Beyond his willingness to stand up for LGBT equality in the face of popular opposition, I respect Bernie’s understanding of the importance of economic justice, especially for marginalized communities. Marriage equality, though welcome, is not enough. For millions of LGBT Americans, our rigged economy is tied up deeply in our oppression. We can marry on Sunday, but be fired for it on Monday. We are forced to hide who we are in our workplaces, pretend our loved ones are strangers when we seek a mortgage, live a lie until we can afford to leave our parents’ homes. This is why Bernie supports not only the Equality Act - legislation which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT Americans in employment and public accommodations - but legislation prohibiting discrimination against us in lending and credit. Bernie’s longtime moral leadership in ensuring the equal treatment of LGBT Americans, and his recognition that economic inequality impacts our community is, for me, a winning combination. His record shows that he will fight on our behalf, not throw us under the bus if an assault on our equality happens to be particularly popular. His economic program will address the needs of our community, ensuring not only our ability to marry, but our equal and equitable membership in the American economy and community life. Noah Baron is a Washington, DC-based attorney, blogger for the Huffington Post, and a dedicated Bernie Sanders supporter.  The Democratic nominee race continues with the Nevada caucus this Saturday, February 20. More stories: ‘Masc 4 masc?’ What gay hook-up slang really means Zachary Quinto’s boyfriend Mile McMillan goes full-frontal Purple magazine