(US News and World Report) - Hillary Clinton completes her own 'evolution,' officially confirming her support for gay marriage in a video for the Human Rights Campaign released Monday.
"A little over a year ago in Geneva I told the nations of the world that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights and that the United States would be a leader in defending those rights," Clinton said in the video. "Now there were some countries that did not want to hear that, but I believe America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being."
Many suspected Clinton, who took steps to make State Department policy more inclusive for gay employees and their families, would join President Barack Obama and other top Democrats who opposed gay marriage in the past in supporting it. She was limited in what political statements she could make while serving as the U.S.'s top diplomat, however. Now that she's stepped down, this is the first public statement she has made.
"Now having left public office, I want to share some of what I've learned and what I've come to believe—for America to continue leading in the world, there is work we must do here at home," Clinton said in the nearly six minute video. "I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law. Like so many others, my personal views have been shaped over time by people I have known and loved, by my experience representing my nation on the world stage, my devotion to law and human rights, and the guiding principles of my faith."
Support for gay marriage is politically important for Clinton, who many speculate will decide to run for president in 2016.
"You can't be a Democratic candidate in 2016 and oppose same-sex marriage," said Ben LaBolt, who served as Obama's top campaign spokesman in 2012, on MSNBC following Clinton's announcement.
Polls show an increasing number of Americans support gay marriage and it is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, but 32 states have passed gay marriage bans. The Supreme Court is set to hear a pair of cases that could impact the issue—one decision expected in June could repeal or uphold the federal law that prevents recognition of same-sex marriage. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, who just last week apologized for his support of it.
Her statement also comes after Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, pledged his support for it after sharing his son, Will, is gay.
The Human Rights Campaign, which pushes for equal rights for the LBGT community, said support for gay marriage is an important part of their work.
"A hallmark of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement is the fight to have our relationships recognized as equal under the law; full marriage equality is an important measure of our success in this area," the group said in a release.