September 8, 2014
To the Editor: I am deeply disappointed at the horrible sexism of Paul Schindler’s editorial “Hillary’s Not Our Mom, And She’s Not Judy Garland” (Sep. 2-17). The article did not mention any of Clinton’s work in office either as New York’s senator or in the State Department regarding LGBT or HIV issues. No mention of her being the first American leader to elevate “gay rights are human rights” to the international stage. No mention that while the president and other areas of the White House dragged their feet on LGBT equality, the State Department under Clinton was the first to institute strong protections for LGBT State Department workers. No mention of Clinton’s leadership on HIV in the Senate or her role in devising the Democratic strategy to thwart Republicans from using same-sex marriage as a homophobic wedge issue. No mention that Hillary was the first sitting first lady to march in an LGBT Pride parade.
I personally know several bi-national same sex couples who received invaluable help from Clinton’s New York staff to help them navigate immigration so they could stay together. Instead, Schindler reduced LGBT support for Hillary Clinton to the same diva worship afforded to Beyonce. As insulting and sexist it is to a female politician to ignore their record of accomplishment and focus on superficial nonsense, it is an even bigger insult to the LGBT rank and file voters, the majority of whom supported Clinton over Obama in 2008. I should be grateful you didn’t claim gays support her because of her fabulous pantsuits.
We should expect professional political consultants who have a strong professional relationship with a candidate will give glowing support and those with a poor relationship will be highly critical. Such is a matter of their business interests, not a fair assessment of the candidate from the view of an average voter. Andrew Sullivan supported George W. Bush and his homophobic gay-baiting presidential campaigns twice. Does he have any credibility to postulate why the majority of LGBT activists supported Hillary in 2008?
As a political non-professional who campaigned for Hillary’s primary bid in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Indiana, and New York, on my own dime, I spoke to hundred if not thousands of LGBT laypersons who supported Hillary. Very few were diva worshipers. The vast majority were informed voters who saw Hillary had the better Senate record on LGBT and HIV-related issues. In fact, most of those ordinary LGBT voters saw Obama’s supporters as being wrapped up in a superficial pop public persona and ignoring his paper-thin record on LGBT and HIV issues in the Illinois Legislature and the US Senate.
However, you only seemed to interview those who had an irrational hate of Hillary back in 2008 without asking any of her rank and file LGBT supporters from that presidential bid if their support had to do with Hillary’s trendsetting hairstyles (what she did for headband sales in the ‘90s changed history) or if their support was actually focused on her tangible record of deed. At best, it is poor journalism; at worst, this is the same old sexist dismissal of a strong female candidate’s record to reduce her candidacy to whether or not we think she’s pretty. That is pretty ugly politics.
Jon Winkleman Brooklyn
Paul Schindler replies: Jon Winkleman’s letter was about a lot of things, but not, I’m afraid, about what I wrote. My editorial was not primarily even about Hillary Clinton at all and it certainly did not suggest that support for her was primarily based in any sort of diva worship. Instead, it was critical of two leading national advocacy groups and a former Clinton White House aide for their decision to frame their comments about the former secretary of state –– in the New York Times Fashion & Style pages –– in terms of her having suffered like us and reminding us of our moms. I was calling on community leaders not to embarrass us all and to make our politics about something substantial and meaningful to our lives. Should Clinton run in 2016, I look forward to a substantive discussion of her record in this newspaper –– on my dime, if we’re keeping receipts. I think it’s probably a good idea, though, for that discussion to focus on the 2016 race, not the 2008 race.
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