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Chelsea Clinton says gay rights have made progress

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton said Sunday that the gay-rights cause made "incredible progress" on political and legal fronts in 2013, but progress should not be mistaken for success.

Clinton called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues "the unfinished business of the 21st century" in an address at a national conference in Las Vegas where actress Ellen Page came out as gay days earlier in an emotional speech that's stirred a social media outpouring.

Clinton urged a crowd of 600 professionals who work with children to become more sensitive to the needs of LGBT youth, saying the deck is stacked against them because of bullying, rejection and other harassment.

"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."

The Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation's inaugural conference, which was designed to promote the safety and welfare of LGBT youth, honored Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, former 'N Sync singer Lance Bass and writer Robin McHaelen for their support of gay rights.

The Johnsons' son, E.J., who accepted the award on their behalf, praised his parents for giving him unconditional love after he revealed that he was gay.

During the three-day conference that ended Sunday, Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen DeGeneres, stressed the importance of parents in giving support to LGBT children, and Candace Gingrich, half-sister of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, served as a moderator for a panel discussion about LGBT youth issues.

On Friday, Page, 26, whose role as a pregnant teenager in the 2007 film "Juno" won the hearts of moviegoers and earned her an Oscar nomination, came out as gay at the conference, saying, "I feel a personal obligation and social responsibility" and that she was "tired of lying by omission."

Clinton praised both Page and Jason Collins, the NBA player who announced he was gay after last season.

"Now others have followed his (Collins') courageous example, and I hope later on this year, we'll be cheering for the first openly gay player in the NFL," Clinton said, referring to Missouri All-American Michael Sam, who came out this month.

She noted how 17 states and Washington, D.C., recognize same-sex marriage and how the U.S. Justice Department recently instructed all of its employees to give lawful same-sex marriages sweeping equal protection under the law in every program it administers.

"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."

The conference, which was held in partnership with the National Education Association and American Counseling Association, drew teachers, counselors, coaches, social workers, health professionals and others who work with children.

A report issued in conjunction with the conference focused on youth who identify themselves as transgender or express their gender in nonconventional ways. It found that such youth feel even more marginalized and challenged at school and require more attention, said Ellen Kahn of the Human Rights Campaign.

Join the discussion

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Cher February 17 2014 at 7:13 AM

Is she supposed to be telling us something we don't already know!

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grsafe February 17 2014 at 8:51 AM

Sexual preference is a private matter. All people are equal and deserve the same when it comes to human rights. I think the media has got to stop promoting one lifestyle over another as they promote a a gay lifestyle as special. Homosexuals and heterosexuals live under the same laws and rights as everyone else. They are equal, not special.
I am Getting tired of people using their sexual preferences to get media attention. Getting tired of the media giving it. The media needs to focus their attention on those who do great things not base its attention on sexual preference, thats a form of reverse discrimination creating a bias and a negative message to those who are heterosexual. Keep sexual preference out of the media there is no relevance to it other than to promote homosexuals over heterosexuals a misuse of power and position. Sickening !

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1 reply
jdsept grsafe February 17 2014 at 9:35 AM

Saying someone is gay is NOT promoting anything, just reporting. Did media promoted shooting black teens by reporting the loud music guy? Its not like media doesn't report hetro life styles either. Any celebs hetro break-up or new relationship is always reported on. When Huffington carried the story of Derek Jeter with all the pictures of his hetro loves through his career promoting hetro lifestyles? Was it "a form of reverse discrimination creating a bias and a negative message" against Jeter? I think not. Heck give me ( a male) a chance to sit in the stands with Ms Universe, how Jeter was photographed, I won't see it as bias or negative.

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CHERI February 17 2014 at 8:51 PM

Where in the hell do you morons come from? Are you so uninformed that all you can talk about is attitudes from the 50's? Get a grip, read, become informed, open your mind, your eyes, geez you creap me out!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
VegCon February 17 2014 at 7:50 AM

I wish animal rights had the progress that the homosexuals had!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
eturoel February 16 2014 at 9:37 PM

This is the very first time that I heard of and saw Ellen Page, a truly LOVELY GIRL, in every way.
If I ever were to meet her anywhere, all I would see is a truly LOVELY GIRL.
So why, pray tell, do I have to know what she does in her private life ?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
jdu7155024 February 17 2014 at 11:47 AM

Be careful. If you don't agree with gay rights you are labeled a homophobic. For me that's still better than being gay.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
rjrjg February 16 2014 at 9:23 PM

wow she is so smart. everyone knows that. she is cute though

Flag Reply +4 rate up
wheelockdavid February 16 2014 at 11:10 PM

aol sucks

Flag Reply +4 rate up
rexminervastar February 16 2014 at 10:57 PM

Oh my goodness ..sexual preference is an individual issue and nothing else

Flag Reply +3 rate up
donpantanella February 16 2014 at 11:27 PM

How about we just concentrate on human rights.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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