Bernie Sanders doesn’t have as much of that history to overcome. Sanders has had a better and more consistent position on LGBT issues since long before it was politically necessary on the left, and well ahead of his age peers like Clinton and Trump (6 and 7 years younger, respectively.)
Sanders has voted against measures that would further limit the rights of gay people, using then states rights rather than human rights arguments while doing so. He voted against DADT and DOMA and supported a 2000 civil unions bill in Vermont.
His first recorded public declaration in support of same-sex marriage as a human right deserving federal protection, rather than a matter for states to decide, was not until 2009, just four years ahead of Hillary, and after several other Vermont politicians.
He opposed anti-gay measures (or compromises) long before promoting pro-gay ones. In a 1970s letter to the editor, penned while he was running for governor, Sanders called for the repeal of “all laws dealing with abortion, drugs, sexual behavior (adultery, homosexuality, etc.).”
Where Sanders has been consistent is with treating queer people with respect. During the House debate of DADT in 1995, Sanders objected when a fellow congressman used the slur “homos”.
“Was the Gentleman referring to the thousands and thousands of gay people who put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? … You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line. I think you owe them an apology.”
In Burlington, Vermont where he started his political career as mayor, he supported as mayor the efforts of local LGBT activists to hold a pride march, publicly defending it as a matter of free speech. Two years later he signed equal housing protections that included sexual orientation. Long-time gay and trans residents say he treats everyone with fairness.
Talking to Daily Beast, drag performer and Burlington resident Amber LeMay said, “From what I understand, [Sanders] didn’t do anything specific for the gay community.He just treated them like he treated everyone else. He gave opportunities and the gay community took him up on them.”
All this is to say that neither candidate is as good as they might be; that both would be better than the viable alternatives; and that of the two, Sanders has been the consistently better choice. I find HRC’s decision to endorse Clinton premature and unfounded.