Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s (HRC) inaugural conference in Las Vegas last week, saying that while gay rights have made “incredible progress” they have not reached success yet.
Clinton spoke to a crowd of 600 professionals that work with youth from counselors, coaches, social workers, health professionals and others on the third day of the three-day conference-the same on that Ellen Page came out as gay at just days before. She asked them to be particularly sensitive to the LGBT youth because “the deck is stacked against them because of bullying, rejection and other harassment.”
Though Clinton isn’t gay, she finds equality issues important.
“I’ve often been asked why issues of equality are so important to me. Frankly, I don’t know why they ask that question,” Clinton said. “This is about the premise and promise of our country. [It’s] always marching forward to a more perfect union. I was raised in a family where inertia is not an option.”
Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, former ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass and writer Robin McHaelen were all honored for their support of gay rights. Though the Johnson’s weren’t able to accept the award, their son E.J. did on their behalf, praising them for the unconditional love he received after coming out gay.
Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen DeGeneres, spoke at the conference to talk about the importance of supporting LGBT children. The openly gay half-sister of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Candace Gingrich was the moderator for a panel discussion about LGBT youth issues.
Clinton said that while 17 states and Washington D.C. now recognize same-sex marriage and the Justice Department recently had all its employees give lawful same-sex marriages sweeping equal protection under the law in every program it administers, it’s still not reached success.
“With all the incredible progress we had in 2013, it’s easy to think progress marks success,” she said. “We certainly shouldn’t take anything away from the historic victories in 2013…But we should not mistake progress for success. We need to continue to push for progress in communities, states and the country.”