In an email exchange with San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis, playwright Larry Kramer, and New York activists Andy Humm and Allen Roskoff, Bill Clinton’s former LGBT adviser Richard Socarides claims he protested against the president’s signing of 1996’s Defense of Marriage Act both privately and publicly: “I urged Clinton not to sign DOMA at the time, both publicly and privately. I did everything I could to stop it. This is all part of the public record.” It is?
Funny, because even experienced, talented, and respected veteran journalists like Gay City News‘ Duncan Osborn could not find even one media report of Socarides criticizing his boss about DOMA. Or even one public soundbite of him saying Clinton shouldn’t sign it.
Which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; sometimes Lexis is a fickle thing!
But surely Socarides can provide us with some evidence of his claim? Oh, right, he’s remained silent on a request to do so. Maybe this is why so many folks have a problem with him going after Obama on LGBT rights when Socaridies, given the opportunity to at least have a voice at Clinton’s DOMA table, appears to have done nothing.
These two paragraphs from a July 1996 Advocate article disagree with Socarides assertion:
“But if we’re talking about principles, what about Clinton’s readiness to sign the Constitutionally questionable and politically expedient Defense of Marriage Act? ‘I think that for him it is a very principled decision,’ Socarides says, noting Clinton’s 1992 campaign statement opposing same-sex marriage.
“As for his own views, only when prodded does Socarides concede that his personal position on the legislation is different from Clinton’s. ‘I don’t think my giving you a yes or no answer to that question does anything,’ he explains. ‘I’m not sure that it matters what my personal views are.'”
That doesn’t sound like public opposition to me.
But I’m not sure why it’s important for a person to act consistently in 1996 and 2010. The world is a different place. Socarides should gracefully acknowledge that he didn’t publicly protest Clinton signing DOMA, and then he should continue to protest Obama.
Gay activists in Washington tend to get too close to democratic pols, and it compromises them. So desperate to find shelter from the storm, they do not take the necessary adversarial steps to test the government when democrats do get elected and take charge. it is a genuine conflict of interest: no one likes to challenge your friend. It was true with Clinton, and it is true with Obama. All governments have to be held fully accountable, democratic administrations as well as republicans.
The performance of HRC has been so poor, it can truly be said that gay insiders cannot be trusted with the gay rights movement. Only outsiders can have the objectivity and force to do the job.
Guys, the word “publicly” can mean “in the presence of others” as opposed to a purely private conversation. It does not imply that the press was there. And after nearly a decade, it is certainly possible for him to remember telling Clinton something without remembering who else was present or whether notes were taken.
Great article, continue to expose this hypocrite-its because of people like him that we have the legislation that Obama has to work to get rid of, Obama has to clean both Bush and Clinton’s mess up.
Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"
@ No. 1 Jim Stoic
Thanks for posting the Advocate interview; I suspected Socarides was more than bending the truth. Too bad Queerty didn’t do any research about Socaride previous interviews, this information would have been much stronger in the article itself than posted separately.
@ No. 3 B
You are letting Socarides off way way way too easy. It was his job in the Clinton White House to be in the PUBLIC supporting administration policy. When others face the dilemma between personal opinion that is contrary to public policy, they resign their position. That is not the case here. When one’s job is to be PUBLIC, “in the presence of others” does not quality as a definition of “public.”
He got on his knees and said, “pweety pwease, mr. pwesident, don’t sign that nasty ol’ bill!”
Paid To Protest
Richard Socarides is doing one thing good – he’s behind the GetEqual “paid activist” revolution. Activists are now looking forward to getting more than just free t-shirts and drinks. We should be paid WE ARE DOING ALL THE WORK.
Thank you Richard for making activism a wise career choice.
christopher di spirito
Too bad Bill Clinton was such a fucking coward that he took the advice of his advisers and signed DOMA (DADT too) just to prove to wingers from Tennessee to Florida and to Arizona that he had the cajones to stand up to the queers.
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