Hillary Clinton Endorses Gay Marriage

ByABC News
March 18, 2013, 11:24 AM

March 18, 2013 -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has formally announced her support of same-sex marriage in a video released by the Human Rights Campaign on Monday. In the six minute address, a well-rested Mrs. Clinton speaks directly to the camera, outlining the case for the legalization of gay marriage.

"LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones," said Clinton. "They are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage."

The announcement from Clinton comes just after a high profile Republican, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, announced his experience with his gay son had led him to support same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court is set to hear challenges to California's Prop. 8., which banned same-sex marriage in that state, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton and denies to same-sex couples survivor benefits and other federal preferences for married heterosexual couples.

Former President Clinton, Hillary Clinton's husband, and their daughter Chelsea had endorsed gay marriage in recent years, but Hillary Clinton, who was serving as the nation's top diplomat, had not. As a presidential candidate in 2008 Clinton opposed same-sex marriage but endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples.

This is the first formal public appearance Clinton has made in over a month, since attending a Pentagon ceremony shortly after stepping down from her position as Secretary of State. A Spokesperson for Mrs. Clinton told ABC News that this was "a natural time" for her to come out publicly in support of same-sex marriage "given that the she is no longer serving as Secretary of State and the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on the subject next week," the spokesperson said, adding that Clinton has wanted to share her support for the LGBT community on this issue, and is "very happy to be able to do so."

Related: Hillary Clinton's Human Moments at State Department

The former senator and first lady acknowledged that her own opinions on the issue have evolved over the years, shaped by her personal and professional experiences. Clinton recalled the joy that she and her husband felt at their daughter Chelsea's wedding in 2010, and said that she wishes every parent that kind of happiness.

"To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons solely based on who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given potential," said Clinton.

But Clinton said that her support for same-sex marriage was rooted in policy and law as much as personal experiences. In 2009, then Secretary Clinton changed the State Department's benefits policy to include offering equal benefits and protections to the same-sex partners of American diplomats

In December of 2011, Clinton gave a ground breaking speech as the first Secretary of State to declare that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are human rights. The speech, given in Geneva on human rights day, sent rippling affects around the world. Clinton made it clear that the United States would now be actively speaking out against countries, even allies, who criminalize homosexuality.