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Bill Clinton and Students in Spirited Exchange on DOMA

Lily Lamboy of the Smith College newspaper The Sophian recently questioned Bill Clinton about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at an MTVu roundtable. Clinton defended his record on gay issues and accused Melissa Etheridge of "rewriting history" when she said, during the Presidential Forum on LGBT Issues, that gays were "thrown under the bus" by his administration.

(Via Visible Vote)

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  1. Landis,
    It's exciting, because this will be the first time in a long time that we will have a Democratic president AND congress. We've already gained ground when Congress nearly passed ENDA and the Hate Crimes bill this past year. Not having a president threatening to veto overshadowing the discussion will go a long ways, and Democrats are projected to gain a few more seats in Congress too.

    Passing gay rights laws will not be easy, but this is best forecast that we've had in years.

    Posted by: oregonstudent | Mar 25, 2008 1:42:21 AM


  2. BRANDON,

    whom do you think you are kidding? you are no much more a lawyer than i am a rocket surgeon. oops ... rocket scientist. yeah i think that's right.... and, if you ARE a lawyer, i would never put you on retainer.

    there are programs that educators can use to ferret out cut-and-paste jobs (commonly known as plagiarism). that is what first caught my attention about obama's "borrowing" from deval patrick.

    can you explain your statement, "These types of constitutional arguments are incredibly nuanced and often are angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin type things. There's pro & con."? no? didn't think so.

    KEITH (and others):

    yeah, you got the goods on the clinton's. they are amoral fornicators, whores, bitches, liars, thieves, and canibals. they will prey on pregnant women and cut the fetuses out of their wombs to sacrifice them to baal.

    meanwhile, in the non-bizzarro world, bill clinton has raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and teamed with ellen degeneres, brad pitt, the "sane" bush, bono and sting to rebuild the katrina-ravaged areas, to bring help to heal malaria and prevent its spread in africa through anti-malarial medication, to bring free or cheap HIV medication to AIDS patients. what a sleaze ball he is.

    bill and hill came to texas in the '70s to register minorities. when bill beacame governor of arkansas, hillary worked on women's rights and children's rights. her work set the basis for the SCHIP program. god, what a miserable bitch she was for that.

    when bill became president, hillary worked for universal health coverage. her task was torpedoed by the repugs and the insurance industry. what a bitch! it was all her fault.

    do you guys ever listen to what you say?

    Posted by: nic | Mar 25, 2008 2:11:22 AM


  3. They are many topics about gay, gay marriage everywhere. And i have seen some on the forum of http://BiMingle.com , which is welcomed by hot and open-minded bisexual, lesbian, gay and also transgender. Of course, we do support the same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: nancyone054 | Mar 25, 2008 3:30:30 AM


  4. Obama is the one who wouldn't take a photo with the SF Mayer who allowed gay marraige to go ahead in his city. This realy illustrates the difference between Action vs. Talk. And for his suporters to even dare to fool people into thinking that this empty-talking Obama will do anything substantive in advancing gay rights is just outrageous. The truth is gay people will not get a lot of help from any national politicians, least of all from the inexperienced novice like Obama.

    Posted by: ken | Mar 25, 2008 4:17:19 AM


  5. Michael, I am not going to personally attack you. I really don't need to do that. It's unfortunate that you constantly feel the need to do that to me and other people. If your goal is to establish that Hillary is a better candidate (or to make any point), a different approach might work better.

    However, if you were more familiar with the law and the arguments and discussions surrounding these issues, you would know that legal arguments aren't always black and white. They are nuanced, technical, and don't lend themselves to sound-bite discussions or blog postings. That's what I was saying. (One example is Lawrence. In Lawrence, the Supreme Court declared a Texas state statute regarding sodomy unconstitutional. GREAT. However, the majority used a doctrine that was dead (substantive due process) to get to the result. So while I like the result, I was a bit bothered by the path they took to get there. Why, because you want your logic to be airtight so that you're winning cases even when are in front of judges that may have a different ideological bent. You want to win even when going in the door you don't appear to have the votes. )

    And, as a lawyer, I rarely trust a reporter to digest a legal issue in an article-- as you did-- because those characterizations are almost always incomplete.

    Reporters often see the law in strictly political terms. It doesn't work that way.

    Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsberg served on the DC Circuit. I don't remember the exact number, but they were in agreement on at least 70% of the cases that they heard. Yet, in an earlier post, you dismissed Scalia's arguments because he's a conservative.

    How could Scalia and Ginsberg agree if he's so terrible? These general characterizations of judges and the law don't hold up when pushed. If I disagree with Scalia and he's hearing a case, I don't have a choice but to deal with him and make the best argument that I can.

    Hopefully, one learns lots of things in law school. One of these is to be able to approach an argument in a detached fashion because you never know for which side of an argument you'll be forced to argue. Another is to be able to understand and appreciate an opposing point of view. It's about having a flexible mind.

    All that's to say, if you want to make the point that there really isn't much of a difference between Hillary's and Obama's position on DOMA, I understand that perspective. I don't agree with you completely. I don't think that there is anything to be gained by leaving a statute on the books.

    But my issue with Bill is that I think it was possible to kill the marriage issue in another way. Like, arguing the federalism card. If you leave marriage up to the states, you don't need federal legislation.

    And so I go back to my original point which was: I believe that it was very justified to call Bill out on DOMA. I think a better way to handle it, given that he actually signed an anti-gay law would have been just to man-up to it; say I understand why people feel that way; I just tried to do the best I could.

    Bill's defensiveness on the matter suggests to me that he knows that it wasn't cool.

    Anyway, to Michael (and the other posters) have a great day.

    Posted by: Brandon | Mar 25, 2008 9:49:34 AM


  6. bill clinton is asking a really important question of this girl and of "ground breaking" action, as someone put it earlier. he's asking will the harassment of homosexuals increase if federal law allows gay marriage or will it decrease?

    i'm from the first state that actually banned the recognition of gay marriage and a great number of people voted to have discrimination put into our state constitution of missouri. so, when bill clinton asks if the harassment of lgbt individuals will either increase or decrease, this is something to consider.

    if, on the federal level, we recognize all gay marriage, will this incite more hatred? and i'm not even looking at it in the current generation, because we have to examine the psychology of normalizing images to children, and if the image is that mom and dad are legally picketing faggots marrying, faggots who are going to hell anyway, how do you avoid the bullying later, which will continue because a belief process is being pressured onto people, and this is a belief system that some people view as morally corrupt.

    what was it – last week? – towleroad posted an article about the most used bullying terms in schools, and, not so surprisingly, the most used terms were either homophobic or sexist. the republican party is using the issue of gay marriage to incite hatred, and immediate action to force tolerance of something some people view completely intolerable only exacerbates this unashamed picketing and hatred. displaying a disrespect of human decency to the point of rallying at our troops’ funerals? this is the disgusting fact of the people we are dealing with as a nation, and you can either believe in forcing others to believe a certain way and have them retaliate negatively, or you can work with them and gradually change opinion.

    so, will the harassment decrease or increase if, on the federal level, we make moves for ground breaking action? or, do we allow the democratic process to work when a state shouldn't be obligated to respect another state's laws voted for by another state's citizens?

    if marriage is about love, then why the need to file taxes together? if the head of our nation has vocally voiced his opposition to allow gays to marry because of a word, why do we need his or a government's support to acknowledge love?

    once we recognize that marriage is truly about defining and providing the best chance of developing a family – and not love – and we tackle gay adoption and foster care, and then establish some kind of civil union recognized on a federal level without using the word marriage, then there is a substantial reason to have gay marriage, that partnerships would be legal and the partnerships would allow for the development of a family, and the creation of a civil union would be truly and issue of separate and unequal, because right now the counter arguments to gay marriage are too much. and we have to work with the democratic process, not against it. and the most effective way to reach our goal is not always the most ground breaking.

    and as much as i support/supported/continue to support hillary clinton, obama is absolutely right that this way of thinking is a complete distraction from the more important issues.

    Posted by: ian | Mar 25, 2008 10:16:27 AM


  7. The Clintons are not friends of the gay community. They will do essentially whatever it takes to win and amass power, and if it means throwing gays under the bus, they will do it. I find Hillary to be even more Machiavellian than her husband.

    Posted by: Javier | Mar 25, 2008 11:09:38 AM


  8. Bill is confused. DOMA was not in reaction to MA legalizing same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was not legalized in MA until well after the Clinton administration. DOMA was in response to a Hawaii court decision that legalized marriage, but was overturned by a ballot initiative.

    Posted by: Malcolm | Mar 25, 2008 11:13:21 AM


  9. Bill Clinton not only threw gays under the bus in the 90's, he advised Kerry to be more anti-gay marriage in the 2004 campaign. To Kerry's credit, he did not take Bill's wretched advice. I think Hillary is even worse. There is no way I will vote for Hillary.

    Posted by: Santiago | Mar 25, 2008 11:47:56 AM


  10. Black people are smart enough to finally realize that the Clintons were not good for them. Will gays wake up and realize the same?

    Posted by: Jamal | Mar 25, 2008 11:49:46 AM


  11. Ah, to be young- and so immaculate of history. "What has Bill Clinton done for gay people?"

    He brought us into the conversation- remember this is coming off 8 years of the Reagan white house where there was never even a mention of AIDS.

    I don't understand why many on this blog are trying to crucify him- name another president who even acknowledged that we exist, much less undertook one of his first initiatives in office to recognize us and allow us to serve in the military.

    I fear, as does Michael Bedwell on this post, that too many of you are being soothed by the words of promise of Senator Obama instead of inspired by the flawed, compromised progress of the Clintons.

    You're in the real world now. Real change takes blood and sweat and guts, not soaring rhetoric.

    Clinton 08

    Posted by: dc8stretch | Mar 25, 2008 12:13:59 PM


  12. Bill Clinton was NEVER a friend of the GLBT communities. Like all politicians he was perfectly willing to make promises, issue this or that executive order and sit down for coffee with self appointed community ‘leaders‘, i.e., democrats who’d hustled for votes for him and were satisfied with the few crumbs he threw our way. Even so he never had the backbone of a Truman, who issued an order forbidding color based discrimination in the armed forces. The only things Clinton ever had the spine to fight for were cuts in welfare, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and NAFTA.

    There is nothing bewildering or complex about the history of DOMA? DOMA was a terrible body blow to our communities, a legal lynching of our rights and standing in society by a frenzied mob of congressional bigots who voted for it by lopsided majorities of 85-14 in the Senate and 342-67 in the House?

    Why would you say that Slick Willie was our friend when he immediately ran to scum like Robertson and Falwell to broadcast ads boasting that he’d signed it? Is it normal for friends pour salt on your wounds right after they stab you in the back? It is for supporters of the Democratic (sic) and they need a better class of friends.

    Now do you understand the phrase “With Democrats like this who needs Republicans”? Does that put the recent trashing of ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bills by Clinton’s campaign manager Barney Frank in perspective? That also too happened just before an election. Do you begin to see a pattern here or do you need a few more stab wounds before you wake up?

    If you all can’t figure all this out, and soon, we’re going to have to ask you to reenroll in kindergarten and start all over again.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRED | Mar 25, 2008 7:27:53 PM


  13. IAN, was it Bill's great concern for gay people and their relationships that drove him to push John Kerry to publicly support the anti-gay marriage amendment in Massachusetts?

    My issue with Clinton's statement in this interview is not the practicality of his strategy but how disingenuous he is being rewriting history IN THE SAME BREATH that he claims Ethridge was rewriting history on DOMA. I happen to think that Ethridge's history is more accurate than Bill's otherwise Bill would NEVER have made a telephone ad to be used in the Bible Belt where he BRAGGED about his support for DOMA.

    I really wish the interviewers would have asked him about the ad AND about his advice to John Kerry. I would have LOVED to see him double talk his way out of answering those two questions honestly.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 25, 2008 8:02:57 PM


  14. ZEKE and santiago:


    "...Clinton STRONGLY encouraged John Kerry to publicly support the marriage amendment in MA in 2004 when he was running for President(?)" ....

    i don't want to misquote you, my friend. i have heard this statement several times, but i can't prove it or disprove it. can you tell me when and where that happened, and who recorded it? all i can find are statements such as, "it was reported..."

    i thought better of you ZEKE. put up, or shut up.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 25, 2008 8:30:19 PM


  15. NIC, I put up in my response to your email.

    I won't rehash it here.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 26, 2008 1:04:31 PM


  16. I used to love Bill. I even had a photo of he and I but I no longer have it in my living room for showing.

    They did throw us under the bus.

    Bill does NOT care about gays if it gets in the way of his political career.

    sHillary does NOT care about gays if it gets in the way of his political career.

    These 2 are so 1992 with their LIES and thinking they can get away with it just because we are all Democrats.

    I DON'T THINK SO!

    And yes, Billy boy did encourage Kerry to add his support for state DOMAs to help him win.

    So anyone still thinking that Bill did not throw us under the bus must be living in a fantasy world.

    Posted by: FunMe | Mar 26, 2008 4:21:16 PM


  17. RIGHT OFF THE BAT LET ME SAY I'M A DELEGATE FOR HRC IN THE SILVER STATE OF NEVADA.

    I DON'T LIKE OBAMA. WHEN WE HAD OUR CAUCUSES I HATED THE WAY THEY WERE SET UP. THERE WAS A LOT OF BROWBEATING OF PEOPLE, ESP OLDER PEOPLE. THE WORST THUGS WERE THE OBAMITES.

    I SAT WITH THE KUCINICH PEOPLE BECAUSE THERE WERE ONLY TWO OF THEM AND , HONESTLY, I FELT BAD FOR THEM AND I THUGHT THE LITTLE GUY HAD THE BEST IDEAS.

    THERE COMES A POINT WHEN IF YOU DO HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE YOU HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR CANDIDATE AND PICK ANOTHER. THAT'S WHEN I MADE UP MY MIND ABOUT OBAMA.

    THE OBAMA THUGS WERE ALL OVER ME BECAUSE I WAS THE LAST PERSON AND THE TIE BREAKER. THE HRC PEOPLE CALMLY TRIED TO TELL ME HER POSITIONS. THE O'S SCREAMED THAT SHE WAS A BITCH AND "EVIL".

    WHEN I ASKED ABOUT O'S POLICIES ON GAYS ONE OF THEM SAID, "WHY WOULD YU WANT TO KNOW THAT? WHY AREN'T YOU JUST VOTING FOR THE BROTHER?" YOU SEE, I'M BLACK AND THEREFORE AM SUPPOSED TO VOTE BLACK I GUESS.

    WHEN I WENT TO HRC SOMEONE MUTTERED, "OREO".

    NOW, THE GOOD PART. I WANTED TO BE A DELEGATE. YOU GIVE A SPEECH AND THERE'S A VOTE. I SAID BECAUSE OF MY EXPERIENCES AS A GAY , HIV POZ MAN WHO HAPPENED TO BE BLACK I MIGHT BE A PRETTY GOOD REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE DEM PARTY AT OUR STATE CONVENTION IN RENO. I WAS ELECTED BY EVERY HRC SUPPORTER.

    AFTERWARDS THE FOLLOWING FROM O PEOPLE. "OH, YOU'RE A FAGGOT, I GET IT", "H, HONEY, WE'LL PRAY FOR YOU", "SORRY YOU'RE GAY".

    ?

    I GUARANTEE YOU SEN OBAMA CANNOT GO TO THESE PEOPLE AND TELL THEM THEY NEED TO SUPPORT ANY MEANINGFUL CHANGE IN GAY RIGHTS LEGISLATION. WHY? BECAUSE HE MUST BE "PRAGMATIC". HIS BASE AINT HAVING IT. CALL ME AN OREO BUT I'VE BEEN TO ENOUGH BLACH CHURCHES TO KNOW THEY ARE NOT HAVING THE GAY AGENDA. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WE HAVE SO MANY "DOWNLOW" BROS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY? I HAVE ONLY BEEN TO CHURCH IN THE PAST FEW YEARS WITH DATES. WE SAT THERE IN THOSE PEWS, EVERY SINGLE TIME, AND LISTENED TO PREACHERS TALK SHIT ABOUT GAYS. AFTER THE BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES ALWAYS WENT OVER TO THE QUEEN CHOIR DIRECTOR (ALWAYS A QUEEN) AND TOLD HIM HOW BEAUTIFUL THE CHOIR SANG. THEY DIDN'T EVEN SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. AFTER THE DATES ALWAYS INTRODUCED THEIR FRIENDS IN THE CHURCH AND MADE JOKES ABOUT THE OTHER QUEENS IN THE CHURCH AND MADE PLANS FOR COCKTAILS. MY POINT? THIS IS OBAMAS BASE, HE CAN'T ALIENATE THEM.

    ONE MORE THING, THIS WHOLE DOMA THING IS REALLY A "WHITE THING". i KNOW THAT SOUNDS RACIST AFTER WHAT I JUST RELATED BUT I WISH WHITE GUYS WOULD REALIZE THAT EVERYTIME BEFORE AN ELECTION YOU BRING THIS STUFF UP AND GIVE THE RIGHT WING SOMETHING TO BITCH ABOUT AND TAKE THE DISCUSSION TRAIN RIGHT OFF THE TRACKS. SOMETIMES IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. WE HAVE A WAR TO WRAP UP. WE NEED MEDICAL CARE REFORM. DO YOU REALIZE THAT A BOTTLE OF HIV MEDS ARE OVER 500$! THAT MAKES NO SENSE. WE NEED HEALTHCARE REFORM. WE NEED OUT TAX DOLLARS PUT IN TO ENERGY RESEARCH TO CREATE A NEW INDUSTRY HERE IN THE US FOR AMERICAN WORKERS. WEE NEED TO FIX THE WALL ST MESS SO ALL THOSE MEGA MILLIONS GO BACK INTO SHAREHOLDERS POCKETS INSTEAD OF YACHT BUILDERS IN HOLLAND. STOP THE GAY MARRIAGE CRAP. IT REALLY ONLY IS OF IMPORTANCE TO A SMALL % OF THE GAY WORLD. AN AFFLUENT, WHITE, MIDDLE AGED, GHETTOIZED PERCENTAGE. WHY NOT TAKE THAT ENERGY AND MNEY YOU SPEND FIGHTING THAT AND SET UP GAY CHARITIES THAT BENEFIT CHILDREN. IN THE LONG AND "PRAGMATIC" RUN THAT WILL GET YOU CLOSER TO YOUR GOALS THAN WHINING ABOUT SOME DEM NOT DOING ENOUGH FOR GAYS.

    WITH OBAMA YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT STUFF ANYWAY. HE WON'T EVEN GO TO BLACKS WITH THAT STUFF. DON'T THINK I'M RIGHT? OTHER THAN THE OCCASIONAL SOP THROWN IN A SPEECH ABOUT HOW ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF BLAH BLAH BLAH SHOULD BE ACCEPTED HAVE YOU EVER HEARD HIM GIVE ANY IDEA OF HIS REAL POLOICIES REGARDING GAYS? NO. AND YOU WON'T. AT LEAST BILLARY TRIED. BILLCLINTON WENT RIGHT INTO THE FIRE WITH GAYS IN THE MILITARY. HE GT BURNED BADLY AND THEN HAD TO ACCEPT THE STUPID POLICY WE HAVE NOW, BUT HE HAD TO BE "PRAGMATIC" IN ORDER TO GET THE REST OF HIS AGENDA PASSED WHICH LED TO GOOD TIMES FOR OUR COUNTRY.

    NO PRESIDENT CAN MAKE THINGS HAPPEN BY WAVING THE MAGIC WAND AND I'M AFRAID ALOT F O SUPPORTERS AREN'T SEEING THAT BECAUSE OF IS UNDENIABLE CHARISMA. I WANT YOU ALL TO LOOK UP THE NEWSPAPERS IN THE WEEKS BEFORE JFK DIED. HE WAS ELECTED ON CHARISMA. HIS PRESIDENCY WAS A DISASTER. MOST OF HIS POLICIES WERE IN THE SHITTER. LUCKILY, HE HAD LBJ WHO KNEW HOW TO PULL A KNIFE. HE GOT NO SIGNIFICANT CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION PASSED BECAUSE HE WAS NOT SURE HE COULD GET IT PASSED. HE WAS BEING "PRAGMATIC" BEFORE THE ELECTION BECAUSE HE KNEW IF HE WENT TOO FAR THE DIXIECRATS WOULD HAVE HIS ASS AND GOLDWATER ( A REPUBLICAN) WOULD WIN THE PRESIDENCY.

    I'M NOT SURE IF I CAN VOTE FOR OBAMA BECAUSE I TRULY DOUBT HIS SINCERITY AND THAT PAINS ME. I HAVE NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF VOTING REPUBLICAN, BUT WITH HIS "PEOPLE" CONSTANTLY WHINING ABOUT EVERY CLINTON COMMENT BEING RACIST AND HIS PASSIVE AGGRESIVE STANCE ON MAKING HILLARY DROP OUT (AND WHY SHOULD SHE? THEY ARE PRACTICALLY TIED.) I'M JUST NOT INTO HIM. I ALSO WORRY IF HE CAN'T HANDLE THIS PRIMARY FIGHT ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR IN DENVER HOW IS HE GOING TO HANDLE THE REPUBLICAN DIRT BALL THAT WILL BE THROWN AT HIM?

    Posted by: dw314 | Mar 30, 2008 1:53:01 PM


  18. Bill and Hillary are gay friendly, but realize that in order to keep the conservative dems they must act in a way that is slightly homophobic. Tony Blair enacted civil unions in England and Clinton could have as well, but the Bubba majority in this country is out to supress our rights, that's why we should vote in Northerners like Obama.

    Posted by: Ty | Mar 30, 2008 2:01:59 PM


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