Why Hillary why? What’s a gay to do when a candidate gaffs so hard
Election 2016 is already a newsworthy shit storm, and the leading democratic candidate, who’s got her own troubled history with the LGBTQ community, is not making it any easier.
The former first lady, turned Senator from New York, turned Secretary of State, turned 2016 Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, is fighting back after dropping a pretty big gaff at the funeral for former first lady Nancy Reagan over the weekend.
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s,” Mrs. Clinton said at the Simi Valley, Calif., funeral in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it.”
Check out the entire interview and comment below:
Sadly, her memory of Nancy Reagan’s work with AIDS is a bit… different then reality.
The New York Times pointed to the disease’s timeline in an article this weekend which pretty efficiently ripped Clinton’s comments apart:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first identified the disease in 1981, but Mr. Reagan, despite desperate calls for action and thousands of deaths, did not mention H.I.V. or AIDS publicly until 1985 and did not give a speech about the disease until 1987, when an estimated 40,000 people had already died of the disease and roughly 36,000 more had been given a diagnosis.
And in 1985, after the C.D.C. said the AIDS virus could not be spread through casual person-to-person contact, Mr. Reagan expressed skepticism about whether children with AIDS should be allowed to attend school.
Then there’s this documentary (below) showing exactly how little interest President Reagan had in the HIV/AIDS crisis. It shows Reagan’s White House Deputy Press Secretary, Larry Speakes, responding to one of the first public questions around the CDC acknowledging the “epidemic known as gay plague.”
“If we come up with any research that sheds some light on whether gays should cruise or not cruise, we’ll make it available to you,” said Speakes in response to to whether or not Reagan is aware of the problem. Check out the video below. It’s short but really nails the issue home:
It’s pretty easy to go after Clinton for any LGBTQ related issues – her history on topics like same-sex marriage is spotty at best as we explained here. Hell, even the President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, called Hillary out after the comment was made:
While I respect her advocacy on issues like stem cell & Parkinson’s research, Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 11, 2016
Griffin has already worked to spin the issue into a pro-Hlilary screw up; he’s since said the gaff helped Hillary use ”this moment to reignite a national conversation about reaching an AIDS-free generation.” After all, HRC has already endorsed Hilary.
And some pro-Hilary LGBTQ activists have come to her defense as well.
In a write up for The People’s View, Spandan Chakrabarti (who identifies as a gay person of color) defended the candidate saying “Hillary Clinton Misspoke While Being Nice to a Dead Woman. Get Over It.”
I know better than to judge the character of someone by single, isolated actions, let alone by a single, isolated sentence. The case, I imagine, is the same for everyone else, even those who are overlooking that because they feel hurt or simply because they have found a new weapon to beat their political opponent with.
But this IS a single sentence in a single interview. This is a single sentence in a single interview that Hillary Clinton has taken back.
Hillary did retract the original comment. “While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS,” Clinton said in a statement on twitter. “For that, I’m sorry.”
Other LGBTQ activists have been less forgiving with Clinton.
Richard Kim wrote for the Nation saying Clinton’s comments show a “social distance” that the LGBTQ community might want to examine a bit closer. He writes that not only was Clinton well into adulthood during the Reagan administration, and there for should have been aware of the ignorance the then-President feigned, but her comment was like comparing George Wallace, the famed racist Alabama governor, to the battle to desegregate schools.
… her statement today revealed a disturbing lack of empathy to and awareness about HIV positive people and the gay community. And her apology, which doesn’t acknowledge the righteous pain caused by her remarks, indicates a social distance that gay men might want to take a closer look at. My hope is that she issues a new statement, one that really understands the gay community’s struggle with HIV/AIDS, the callousness of the Reagan administration, and pledges to do much, much, much better.
Sure enough, the Hillary camp has since released a second statement further distancing the candidate from her original words. This time she credits the “brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies” with starting the national conversation around HIV/AIDS:
The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. Because of discrimination and disregard, it remained that way for far too long. When many in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and others that came forward to shatter the silence — because as they reminded us again and again, Silence = Death. They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the floor of Congress.
It’s unclear whether or not the original statement will impact Clinton’s campaign, but she’s acting like it could and working hard to buck the negative comments floating around the internet right now.
She already won Virginia back on Super Tuesday, and we’ll all see how she does at tomorrow’s Illinois Primary – but no matter her stance (authentic or otherwise) it’s better than all the Republican front runners, so please keep that in mind when all your Bernie-loving friends say they’d rather vote for Trump than Clinton.
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