- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2015

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton made a call to reverse a policy and allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in an effort to shore up support from an influential gay-rights group.

Having the world’s strongest military “doesn’t just mean having the best-trained forces or the biggest arsenal,” Mrs. Clinton said on Saturday in a speech before members of the Human Rights Campaign. “It means, being a leader on issues like this.”

Mrs. Clinton went on to say the policy put in place by her husband and former President Bill Clinton’s administration dubbed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military is “over.”

“But that doesn’t change the fact that more than 14,000 men and women were forced out of the military for being gay,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Mrs. Clinton stressed transgender rights in her speech, which will be a critical constituency in her race for the presidency. It’s also a core group that current Vice President Joseph R. Biden will need to court if he decides to enter the 2016 democratic presidential race.

Mrs. Clinton made her speech to the Human Rights Campaign Saturday morning, while Mr. Biden addressed the group in a keynote speech Saturday evening.

Mr. Biden backed Mrs. Clinton’s stance saying: “No longer is there any question transgender people are able to serve in the United States military,” calling transgender rights “the “civil rights issue of our time.”

Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Biden attacked their Republican rivals for being behind on the issue.

• Kelly Riddell can be reached at kriddell@washingtontimes.com.

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