Late To The Party

The Man Who Gave Us DOMA Is Happy For Us Now

The man who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law and then campaigned on it would like you to know how happy he is that its gone. In a joint statement with wife Hillary, former president Bill Clinton praised the Supreme Court ruling.

“By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union,” the Clintons said. “We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California.”

Both of the Clintons have been late to the marriage party. Bill only got around to saying DOMA should go last March, saying “it was a very different time” when he signed the law. (Yes, he was running for re-election then.) Hillary actually followed Bill a week and a half later with her formal endorsement of marriage equality, or nine months after Obama had finally evolved and after the Democrats include marriage equality in their platform. Not exactly pioneers, are they?

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  • Harley

    Please give Clinton a little credit. If he had vetoed DOMA then Bushmaster would have had the leverage for a constitutional amendment. At least with DOMA it could be struck down. Try overturning a constitutional amendment. Clinton gave us a chance for this victory. Bushmaster, never. Quit ragging on Clinton.

  • Rad

    ..and DADT. That certainly protected gays.

    I am first struck by the hypocrisy of a Clinton endorsement. All I recall from his era was he and Hillary dancing at the inaugural ball next to Melissa Etheridge and her partner of the time, and the next weeks signing these regulations.

    Harley, I appreciate where you are coming from; perhaps if we can get more of a historical recount from the times when DADT and DOMA were built, it might help better frame our perspective on why they were good then and what they did to protect us during Dark Helmets reign. I know Newt Gingrich and his Christian Coalition were major drivers at that time.

    I am open to that conversation; it would be nice to be enlightened.

  • Rock Star

    Well those were different times. Politics is like football, when you see a hole you go through it. Bill went through that hole and now its 20 years later and not only he and Hillary have evolved but millions of others as well. It’s never too late to join the party, and we welcome those who have finally come to their senses. I don’t think it is healthy to hold a grudge. All is forgiven and thanks for having the courage of your convictions, even if it is a little late in coming.

  • mattsy

    I will always hate him

  • yaoming

    “Marriage equality may soon return to California”? Didn’t it return yesterday?

  • Brunostroud

    DOMA was passed in 1996 by a Republican Congress with (veto-proof) Senate vote of 85 – 14; the House approved by 342 – 67. Yes, he could have made a symbolic veto.

    But I am very appreciative of Clinton for DADT. This was the first step in acknowledging that there are gays in the military and they could remain – closeted. It was Dem. Senator Sam Nunn aligned with many other civilian and military agencies who fought against allowing gay people in the military. But thanks to (gay) Representative Barney Frank and several other courageous service members there was a momentous change. The notorious check-box “do you have homosexual tendencies?” on the self-reporting health form was removed.

  • lazajac

    Let’s review what Clinton really did for gay rights. Clinton never had an adgenda to implement such laws against homosexuals. The country was going crazy at the thought of gay marriage because of what was happening in Hawaii. The right was pressing for a constitutional amendment, and it might have happened if Clinton did not reach across the isle with a compromise of DOMA. Similairly with Dont ask Dont tell. Clinton wanted to abolish the military law saying that homosexuals cannot serve. Clinton was not able to get this passed and compromised with Dont ask dont tell.

  • gjg64

    Bill Clinton was and is a good friend for the LGBT community. May I remind everyone that he spoke positively about us in his campaign (even in his nomination speech!), wanted to repeal the ban but was rolled by the Joint Chiefs (especially Coin Powell who is now a hero for supporting Obama), had a White House office for gay issues (where do you think Richard Socarides and Chad Gfiffin used to work?) spoke out about AIDS (after the previous two administrations would have rather ignored it), signed that awful law so he could get re-elected instead of the Party of Homophobia and took the wind out of the Constitutional Amendment movement. He KNEW it was un-Constitutional when he signed it and that once a single state passed Gay Marriage they could challenged the law (which is exactly what just happened). Clinton was the consummate politician and he did it for us!

  • Charles

    The gay community really has a love hate relationship with Bill…

  • MisterMan

    Like anything with Bill Clinton — it’s complicated. DADT was an unfortunate consequence of Clinton trying to do the right thing but being naive about the political blowback … DOMA was always about hysteria — still think he could have vetoed it as a symbolic gesture.

  • AEH

    Nobody can hold a grudge like the LGBT community!

    People can change, you know? It’s not impossible. Especially when they’ve had nearly 20 years to change. Geez.

  • Fidelio

    I have long been an admirer of Clinton. His Presidency was my defining political philosophy considering it overlapped with my college years. But I was never sure about how I felt about his DOMA and DADT policies, which ran contrary to his progressive agenda. Now, after experiencing the plight of the LGBT community in overturning DOMA and DADT, two wayward policies condoned by Clinton, himself, I know where I stand. And I am angry at Clinton. I find it shocking he would even be visible during this time when our community has broken from the shackles of this atrocious legislation signed by him. It’s all too hard to reconcile, and it’s not for lack of trying. I am often left to ponder how much more progress we could have made without these policies in place. But because of Clinton, we will never know.

  • Joshua

    Wikipedia reminds us of the political atmosphere of the time… “…Clinton also was against passing the Defense of Marriage Act, feeling it was an insult to many of his gay friends. However, after Congress had passed the bill with enough votes to override a presidential veto, Clinton decided to sign the bill into law in order to avoid the type of political damage he encountered earlier in his presidency when he underestimated the public’s opposition to his attempt to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military. Clinton, who was traveling when Congress acted, signed it into law promptly upon returning to Washington, D.C., on September 21, 1996. The White House released a statement in which Clinton said ‘that the enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against any person on the basis of sexual orientation.’ In 2013, Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary at the time, recalled that ‘His (Clinton’s) posture was quite frankly driven by the political realities of an election year in 1996.'”

  • gjg64

    @Fidelio: I remember clearly in an exit interview as he was about to leave office Clinton was asked something like what was his biggest policy mistake or a similar question and without hesitation he cited DADT. At the time it was thought he called it “Dumb Ass Don’t Tell” but it was probably just a bad recording and his accent. But he made it clear he regretted it while in office.

  • Fidelio

    @gjg64: I understand he may be regretting some of his decisions he made while in office. But I think he needs to spend more time talking about his contriteness and less time praising the progress made by the LGBT community in spite of him. I think there is much more healing from him needed.

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