As part of her “Ask Hillary” series of web videos addressing the email questions of America’s youth, Hillary Clinton answered a question from a young gay man concerned about the high rate of depression and suicide among gay teens.

A video her her answer is included in this post, or you can read the transcript below:

Moderator: Ryan says, “Considering the extraordinarily high incidence of depression and suicide among gay teenagers, what action will you as president take to encourage a more accepting and healthy educational experience for LGBT teens?”

Hillary Clinton: Oh, it’s such a serious problem and I’ve done a lot of work on this in New York because I’m well aware of the depression and anxiety and, frankly, the high rate of suicide, comparatively, among gay teens.

Well, First –  Number One –  we’ve got to do everything we can to send a clear message that we value you. We value you are a person; we value you as a total person. And, we want you to feel accepted and respected in your community and you’ll certainly have a president who feels that way.

There needs to be more services. Sometimes it’s difficult in school and there’s not a lot of understanding or sensitivity. We’ve got to do more to help prepare school officials, and, frankly, your peers in school.

Just because somebody doesn’t understand doesn’t mean they should be a bully. They need to really be taught and guided to be more accepting and that is something I feel really strongly about.  You know, there is even a school in New York that I have supported that is just for gay teens because it is very difficult in many areas for people to find any acceptance whatsoever.

We need more health services; we need more mentoring and assistance so that you don’t feel so alone…

[Video continues with young man in crowd talking]: Senator Clinton has an amazing grasp of the policy issues that are important to the LGBT community. But I think even for me, even more fundamental than that is that she is genuinely committed to combating the politics of hate. Really, that is the engine that drives policies that are harmful to the LGBT community and you can’t make any change without talking on the politics of hate.

[Thank yous, video ends after more testimonials]

Yesterday’s Detroit Free Press had an Op-Ed piece that listed the 2008 presidential cadidiate hopefuls in regard to their public statements on gay and lesbian issues. I have pared down the list to just the main or well-known candidates as follows: 

DEMOCRATS 

Hillary Clinton

  • Doesn’t support gay marriage.
  • Would grant partners in civil unions same legal rights, benefits and privileges as married couples.
  • Would ask Congress to repeal military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

John Edwards 

  • Opposes gay marriage.
  • Supports civil unions for gay couples and equal rights, including survivor rights, for them.
  • Would get rid of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Dennis Kucinich

  • Supports gay marriage.
  • Would repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Barack Obama

  • Said decisions about marriage should be left to states.
  • Supports civil unions that would give same-sex couples same benefits as married couples.
  • Said “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy must be examined but didn’t say he would change it.

REPUBLICANS

Rudy Giuliani

  • Opposes gay marriage.
  • Supports domestic partnerships.
  • Supports state civil union laws for gay couples but said New Hampshire went “too far” because it gives legal equivalent of marriage and recognizes same-sex unions from other states.
  • “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy should remain at least while nation is at war.

Mike Huckabee

  • Supports passage of federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy works and would leave it up to the military to decide whether to keep it.

John McCain

  • Favors allowing gay men and lesbians to “enter into contracts” but stopped short of endorsing civil unions.
  • Supports “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Ron Paul

  • Encourages states to ban same-sex marriage.
  • Position unclear on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy; has said homosexual behavior in military that is “disruptive” should be dealt with.

Mitt Romney

  • Wants constitutional amendment to define marriage as relationship between a man and a woman.
  • Opposes civil unions for gays.
  • Says there is no need to change military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Fred Thompson

  • Doesn’t support same-sex marriage, but doesn’t favor a constitutional amendment banning it.
  • Doesn’t like civil unions, but thinks the issue should be left up to states.
  • Favors keeping “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Hillary Clinton addresses the Human Rights Campaign in 2007 shortly after she spearheaded the campaign to kill the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment.

She is one of the few straight politicians who not only court the LGBT vote, but also truly believe in the fights we face every day.

And if elected, she will be the biggest friend the LGBT community has ever had in the White House.

In this video, she shows that she shares more in common with the HRC than just her initials.

——

Let’s have a brief discussion about bigotry and unacceptable behavior in a civilized nation.

At almost every Hillary Clinton rally in recent weeks there have been at least one or two idiots chanting or holding up signs that say, “Iron My Shirt!”

As the New York Times reported Monday:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was about to deliver a line that has become a centerpiece of her campaign since her loss in Iowa.

“Everybody in this race is talking about change. But what does that mean?”

“Iron my shirt!” yelled a man, who stood up in the middle of a jammed and stuffy auditorium at a high school in Salem, N.H., and held up a yellow sign with the same text. He repeated it over and over.

Mrs. Clinton asked for the lights to be turned on, and the shirt man was removed along with another man who had stood up too.

“Oh, the remnants of sexism are alive and well,” Mrs. Clinton said.

When everyone had settled down a bit, she said, “As I think has just been abundantly demonstrated, I am also running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.”

Her words were drowned out by a cheering, now-standing crowd.

How degrading. I admire the composure that Mrs. Clinton showed at the time. But, then again, she has been fighting for real change in women’s lives for decades and, sadly, is probably used to this brand if idiocy.

What amazes me more: the Times treated the story as a funny aside – just a few paragraphs. A humor piece.

It’s more shameful than one idiot’s words that no media outlet is treating this as the scandal it should be.

As Steph Mineart showed rightful outrage in her excellent blog on this topic:

We have people in this country who are actually not afraid to go to a public event and act this way – tell me sexism isn’t alive and well in America. That should be shocking to anyone and everyone who sees it, but I see it getting almost no coverage at all.

Could you imagine the national uproar if just one person at a single Obama rally held up a sign that said “Shine My Shoes!”

No one would dare. This is America and that would be just plain un-American to do.

It’s about time we all stood up to this and said once and for all that bigotry is bigotry and it is unacceptable today no matter if its hateful message is tinted in the shade of black or pink.

As a nation, we need to say very loudly and clearly: There is no reason that it is ever OK to degrade women in public. None!

This is not the Stone Age and that form of mocking hatred is neither funny nor acceptable.

It also is un-American.

—–

I’ve told this story a few times to a few people, but usually in passing and not with as much detail as I’m about to go into now.

I met Hillary Clinton briefly – very briefly – back in 1992 when she was just the wife of then-candidate Bill Clinton. I think it was at a rally in the Detroit area — but it could have been in Illinois. There were so many last-minute events I attended that year that they are starting to blur together into one big happy memory of when things were going right for the United States.

Anyway… back to the point.

Along with being active for LGBT rights in Indiana and at Ball State, I was one of the leaders of the University Democrats at Ball State and as a result spent many weekends (and some week days) traveling to cities all around the Midwest working for and meeting candidates.

When I met the Clintons, at one such event, Bill was dutifully schmoozing with the big shots. Somehow in my hovering at the periphery, I ended up in a group of people that included Hillary.

If I remember correctly, I was wearing some random “practice Safe Sex” shirt that day. She read my shirt, and looked me in the eye like I was an old friend and introduced herself, as she did everyone else in the group. Then she started talking about issues to the group of people I was in – real substantive issues. This was a shock to me. As a semi-veteran of political events, even in my early 20s, I was quite familiar with candidate’s expected “wifey” behavior roles.

The candidate wives were and probably still are a Stepford-type of semi-robot who smile and nod and compliment the city/state/region you are in. That’s it. Nothing else that mattered came out of their faces, like marshmallow fluff – sweet and leaving you with a slight icky feeling once they left.

BHillary Clinton official head shotut not so with Hillary. She listened to us intently and took particular interest in hearing the ideas of even the people who normally didn’t speak up. And when the topic of gay and lesbian rights came up, Hillary didn’t shy away or try to change the subject to AIDS prevention. She dove right in with a message that has stayed consistent to this day.

To her, women’s rights are basic human rights. Gay rights are basic human rights. She said in so many words, we need to fight for what we believe in in a systematic an logical fashion to eventually whittle the bigots down in order to claim victory.

I was surprised by her depth of understanding on the topics people brought up and her realistic approach to how to get incremental, permanent change in an all-too-conservative world.

I left that brief meeting impressed with the Clintons- and more than slightly disappointed that quite possibly the wrong Clinton was running for president in 1992.

I know there is no way Hillary could remember me, I was but one of a group of people. But she still took the time to make each of us feel important enough to have an opinion that deserved to be heard. So, I will never forget her.

Ever since then, I have been a big fan of hers and the glee in my household with her come-from-behind win in New Hampshire Tuesday was palpable.

And that’s why, when I got my absentee primary ballot earlier this week, within 5 minutes, I skipped past Obama, Edwards and the rest and voted for Hillary with a fond smile.

PHOTO CREDITS: HillaryClinton.com