On Tuesday, November 8th I will vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, and I’m asking every other American to do the same.
Lest we forget who Hillary Clinton is, she is the foremost model we have in contemporary U.S. politics of a woman challenging male privilege and the status quo. Hillary is also a visionary who helped lay the groundwork for our progressive movement today. Many of my younger colleagues reject this idea, but they were not around when she was exchanging punches with the Regan Republicans. Hillary Clinton spent decades on the frontlines as a champion of women and communities of color, taking hit after hit of male aggression and political assault. As a senator, she fought to create hate crime legislation and stood up against discrimination in the workplace. This is a fight she will continue in her Presidency with the passage of the Equality Act.
In return for her heroic work, Hillary has been criticized by nearly everyone over more than two decades—even on the left. Most of us can relate to being judged differently, never measuring up, feeling attacked. Hillary has been called weak, and she has been called aggressive. She has been called a puppet, and she has been called a bitch. Panel after panel of powerful men have scorned and sneered at her. Every outfit she wears is scrutinized more than her political positions.
Hillary Clinton has continuously shown us how to step up, despite the backlash she is met with, and fight for justice. This quality is beyond admirable. It has transformed our nation and it will be what makes it possible to elect the first woman President of the United States of America.
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I am still haunted by the image of Hillary in 1993 when she was one of the first to stand up to the insurance lobby and Republicans on the issue of health care reform. She sat alone during a congressional hearing, grilled and belittled in the most excoriating sexist way possible as each congressman took his turn. How dare she? But that’s just it—she continues to dare. She dares to say that the wage gap is unjust, and women deserve to earn the same as men for the same hard work. She dares to say gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are owed the right to be protected from violence, and that queer youth should not be forced into hateful and harmful conversion therapy. She dares to promote a woman’s right to her own body and reproductive choices, paid leave and affordable child care.
Every woman who has stood her ground and taken up space in the face of male entitlement–in politics, business, school, or in their home–knows what a fearless leader Hillary Clinton is. I remember how excited I was to read the speech she gave in Beijing, China in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Congress of Women where she proclaimed, “Women’s rights are human rights.” She would push the envelope again, years later, doing what no world leader had ever done before when she boldly stated, “Gay rights are human rights.” This was the first time the United States had ever made a commitment to the furthering of LGBTQ equality on an international level. It was historic, and it was because of Hillary Clinton’s leadership.
Hillary Clinton has stood up for herself and us all through some of the darkest years for women. She came onto the political stage at the height of Newt Gingrich and the “moral majority”; the Anita Hill years. The fortitude and dignity that Hillary showed through it all have stuck with me for the past quarter century.
Much has been written about what it would mean to future generations of women and girls should a woman become the “leader of the free world.” Hillary Clinton will not only smash that ceiling; she will show by example, on the largest stage in the world, how to fight the sexism and injustice that all of us deal with every day, and how to win. She will move our country—our world—forward on human rights, economic justice, health care and education in a hundred different ways. She will do so precisely because she is a strong person, a strong leader, a strong woman.
I am not just voting against DonaldTrump because of who he is and what he represents; I am voting for Hillary Clinton because of who she is and what she represents. I am voting for Hillary Clinton not just because of what she has done in the past, but where she will lead us in the future. Election Day is in less than two weeks. Please join me and GO Magazine in winning this for all of us.
Yetta Kurland is a renowned New York City-based civil rights attorney and LGBTQ advocate. Kurland has represented members of the community in the fight for legal recognition including servicemembers protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and has been a key figure in building bridges between the LGBTQ community and advocates for a wide range of social justice issues, from fighting for health care to representing low-income tenants facing predatory landlords. Kurland also founded Hello World Language Center, an alternative language and cultural resource center, and is currently the Senior Partner at The Kurland Group, a public interest private practice law firm that offers a wide range of services to both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ clients. The firm’s recent successes include a favorable decision representing the Communication Workers of America, Local 1180 in a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discriminatory pay practices based on race and gender. Kurland continues to serve as GO Magazine’s esteemed legal columnist.