EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — The crowd of supporters stretched around Main Street on a busy Saturday in August, hundreds of Hamptonites curving past the Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co. stores, waiting patiently to greet Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton had taken a break from her beach vacation to sign copies of her latest memoir, “Hard Choices.” Her presence transformed BookHampton, the bookseller the Clintons frequent on their working summer vacations, into a sort of pre-campaign event with Secret Service agents, and well-wishers including Martha Stewart and Howard Dean.
The shores of Long Island are not exactly a proxy for the enthusiasm Mrs. Clinton may find on a nationwide presidential campaign. But among the many gay couples in the crowd, a refrain emerged.
“You literally brought tears to my eyes when you said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” said a stylish man in white jeans who greeted the former first lady with his partner in tow.
It’s a sentiment often expressed as gay voters mull what Mrs. Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential campaign would mean for gay rights. In her four years at the State Department, she prioritized international gay rights, including a 2011 speech in Geneva in which she urged countries to accept gays and lesbians. In the year and a half since she left her post, she has made gay rights a focus. Last fall she accepted an award at the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York; the singer praised Mrs. Clinton’s efforts for human rights.
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