Hillary Gets Angry When Pressed About Her Evolution On Marriage Equality

hillary clintonYesterday we learned that Hillary Clinton gets upset with Russian homophobes. Today we learn she gets upset with journalists who ask about her evolution on marriage equality. In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Clinton got angry when Gross tried to pin down exactly how and why she changed her views on marriage equality.

Gross was asking a good, thoughtful question (as usual): did Clinton feel constrained to express her belief in marriage equality because of politics?

“Would you say your view evolved since the ’90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?” Gross asked.

At first, the former Secretary of State tried to talk around the issue. “I think I’m an American. I think that we have all evolved, and it’s been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I’m aware of,” Clinton replied.

Not content with that evasion, Gross pressed on: “I understand, but a lot of people believed in it already back in the ’90s. They supported gay marriage.”

“To be fair, Terry, not that many.” Clinton said. (True, although Obama was an early supporter. Before he wasn’t.)

Still not satisfied, Gross asked again if Clinton felt she couldn’t speak out earlier because of the political risk. That’s when Clinton erupted.

“I have to say, I think you are being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue,” Clinton said.

“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand…” Gross said.

“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” a clearly irritated Clinton answered. “I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue, and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress we’re making.”

Clinton only formally got around to endorsing marriage equality in March 2013, ten months after the President did and after marriage equality had already been a plank in the Democratic platform.

Clinton defended her late-to-the-party status by noting, “Somebody is always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who join later, in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change, are any less committed.”

Also, not to tie Hillary too closely to her husband, but she was First Lady when Bill signed the Defense of Marriage Act. And in the interview, she basically said Bill supported DOMA because it would have been much worse if he hadn’t. “There was a very concerted effort in the Congress to make it even more difficult and greater discrimination and what DOMA did is at least allow the states to act,” Clinton argued.

Clinton is famously thin-skinned with the press, as today’s interview proves. But if she’s going to run for president, she’ll get a lot tougher questions than these.

Moreover, the fact remains that Clinton was well behind the curve on marriage equality. For someone who holds herself out as an ally and who will be aggressively courting gay voters, “you’re playing with my words” is not an adequate explanation.

Interestingly, the audio tape was circulated by America Rising, a Republican PAC that has made attacking Clinton its reason for existence. While the tape will certainly embarrass Clinton, here’s a question for America Rising: when did you finally endorse marriage equality?

If you answered never, you’re right.

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  • BrianZ

    Ha! I am amused. I don’t see this as being thin-skinned so much as impatient with obtuseness. Asking good questions also requires one to get to the point, and not dance around it. Gross clearly wanted to make a point (valid) but wasn’t very direct. I don’t have patience with that stuff either.

    I wonder if we would call a man thin-skinned if he responded in the same way?

  • Lvng1tor

    Clinton has already faced tougher questions….no story here except what @BrianZ: pointed out. Everyone is going to try and get the usually unflappable Clinton to break…it’s what news people do. They all want to “get her” I guess Queerty is no diff. Also, tying her to everything her husband did is unfair. She has always been her own person. It’s also not fair to judge Bill Clinton by today’s standards. It was a whole diff world. Our economy was great, the world was starting to respect us again and marriage while a dream wasn’t even on a lot of our radars as something that would happen as fast as it has. Hell in the Clinton era I was hoping to hold my boyfriends hand in public.

  • Zekester

    Perfectly legitimate question and perfectly reasonable follow-up questions. I think Hillary needs to answer these questions honestly and stop dodging and weaving and becoming angry and defensive.

  • vive

    I am a Green. The Democrats are too much to the Right for me, but I have to say that Hillary always seemed more of an ally to me than Obama. Obama kind of came on board lately but never really *liked* or socialized with gay people, whereas Hillary was close with gay friends and sympathetic to gay causes years before it became hip. Of course she is also a politician, and that is a cynical world to survive in.

  • drek

    If a man had said the same thing nobody would call him “thin skinned” he’d be viewed as strong. Hillary Clinton is a strong leader and should be viewed as such, not viewed through a misogynistic lens such as the writer of this article.

    Why should she not stand up for herself when being attacked by unethical journalists?

  • Kamuriie

    What kind of childish, moronic reading are you people giving this interview?

    The interviewer was obviously trying to pin her down and get her to admit “Yes, I changed my position because the winds of public opinion made it strategic.”

    News-flash #1: That IS what she did. She’s a politician. Almost without exception, politicians do it. Those that don’t are fringe-elements obsessed with “purity.”

    News-flash #2: She’s a politician. She’s not going to admit she changed her stance for political gain, and the interviewer’s line of questioning is TOTALLY pointless.

  • jwrappaport

    It’s simple: Hils almost certainly supported us all along, but didn’t do so publicly until it became politically expedient. I’m not defending this, but the reporter is being more than a little disingenuous by pressing the point as though he’s genuinely curious. He knows full well what the truth is and so do we all: expressing public support for gay marriage was not a political reality in the 90s for almost anyone who wanted to seek national office.

    With Obama, the issue seems to be that, once he became President, he continued to move at a glacial pace until Biden forced his hand. He did nothing to help ENDA or the demise of DADT – he seems to be along for the ride and to offer lip service when he can. I don’t foresee Hillary having that problem with gay rights, partly because of the political climate, but mostly because I think she actually knows how to lead from the front.

  • jwrappaport

    @Kamuriie: Boom. Beat me to it. Well said.

  • james_in_cambridge

    Oh, whatever. We all know this is all bullshit. Both Hillary and Obama always supported marriage equality; they pretended they didn’t until the couple of in-bred morons in the South in the Democratic Party changed their mind and came on over to our side (strangely enough, the Democrats are growing fastest in the South, where Obama won three States twice where before, Democrats have lost every State in the South since 1980). Everyone knows this and if you want to accuse them of playing politics then do so because they did. But they didn’t “change their mind”.

  • james_in_cambridge

    I should have said “where before, Democrats **generally** lost every State in the South”.

  • toberlin

    Is there an alternative?It is like the grand coalition with Merkel here.And to the people who thought here I am consrvative or religious.No.But I know that you have to learn to live or work together.So I kept a neutral position here.And I knew the Clinton Story before yesterday.My Parents are both political interested. My mother much more.And I grew up with gay people.My parents got divorced .My Dad is very conservative.My mother very liberal.So we just had political magazines at home.And TV time was limited at 1h a day.So a lot of my “knowlege” I just have because I use to read a lot.

  • jonjct

    @Kamuriie: obama changed his mind at the opportune time, but not before. and all the gays think he is a hero. he is not. he blows with the wind on gay issues. and yeah, he blows. and he sucks.

  • northwest

    President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are my heroes. If either Clinton had done anything close to what POTUS and Holder have for the LGBT community so far, they’d be praised all over this site and others, but THIS particular president gets shit for doing right.

  • seaguy

    Hillary 2016! The GOP hate machine is enough the gay and lesbian community should support Hillary as she is an ally. Unlike any of the others who might actually have a real chance as being elected.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    It’s going to be fun to watch how unpleasant the Republicans become. It’s sort of bug-in-a-jar disgusting. They have nothing else to offer. Gerrymandering and cheating will eventually catch up to these ineffectual liars. The world is changing and they are still stuck in the 80’s. If all they have are complete asses, such as Romney, it will be entertaining to watch. Clinton should just stay quiet and watch them spin into a tight ball. If they are the only ones talking, they’ve already lost.

  • Cam

    Of COURSE she was playing politics. But she supports gay rights now and any republican who runs against her will oppose. So the usual suspects trying to come in and support the GOP by screaming “She didn’t endorse it until recently she is a phony!” are wasting their time because the GOP candidates will all be fighting to be the MOST anti-gay candidate possible as they do every election since 2000.

  • BJ McFrisky

    She’s a politician who wants to be president.
    Politicians lie to further their agenda.
    Yes, her evolution was solely for political purposes.
    This is the most dishonest woman ever to open her mouth, not to mention delusional (anyone remember she blamed her husband’s extramarital affairs on a “vast right-wing conspiracy”?). Sure, that’s the kind of paranoia we need in the White House. A conspiracy-minded insecure 70-year-old cuckold.

  • Franco C.

    I don’t find that she got angry, or snapped, as the media has claimed. I think she was simply defending herself.

  • Cam

    @BJ McFrisky:

    And yet she isn’t trying to strip gays of their civil rights, deny marriage, or kick them out of the military which the GOP does.

    As for her being the most dishonest woman to ever open her mouth? Really? You mean Sarah (I am for the Bridge to nowhere….I was never for the Bridge to nowhere Palin apparently is not?

  • BJ McFrisky

    @Cam: Yep, even more dishonest than Nancy “We’ll have to pass this [healthcare] bill before we can discover all the wonderful things it holds” Pelosi, or Debbie Wasserman-Schultz claiming the GOP wants elderly people on Medicare to die.

    Ah yes, the pinnacles of our modern liberal government.

  • Cam

    @BJ McFrisky:

    BJ, one quick thing though. Isn’t it funny that you never seem to talk about the GOP planks that are anti-gay or how GOP politicians continually make anti-gay statements and want to pull away gay rights.

    The issue is, your Hillary comments are over the top and show an outright hatred of the only party not calling for gays not to have rights.

    Why do you have such unwavering support to anybody anti-gay?

  • vive

    @BJ McFrisky, I had to LOL at your characterization of the Dems as “liberal.” The Dems are center-Right by the standards of the rest of the civilized world.

  • Streamciter

    Hillary is a fake, cynical right wing pro-corporate, pro-war political oppurtunist. How many children that she contributed to murdering as senator or secretary of state would have grown up to be gay (not to mention the 1/2 million Iraqi children that her husband murdered)? How many times has she spoken out about funding for gay homeless youth? So really, WHATEVER. Keep charlatans like the bush’s and clinton’s out of office.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Laws come and go, as do Presidents, however, Supreme Court Justices are appointed for lifetime appoints. Never forget who the Republicans lined up for us.

  • dustynlee

    Wow, and here I thought Faux News was the only place where they pulled stories out of their ass… Seriously, why does this matter? If she changed her mind yesterday or 15 years ago, does it really matter? She is now an ally. That’s all that matters. Stop obsessing over technicalities and meaningless bullshit. What is with our community constantly attacking our allies and being so freaking nitpicky?! I haven’t met many people that didn’t have to “evolve” on homosexuality and gay marriage. Including myself and I’m now the biggest flamer I know.

    Also, since when has Hillary ever been thin skinned when it’s come to reporters or anyone else asking her questions? Just because she calls out reporters on their sexist bullshit or when they’re playing games by trying to get her to say something to be used against her, hardly makes her thin skinned.

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