Bill clinton | DOMA | Gay Marriage | News

Bill Clinton: 'I'm Basically in Support' of Same-Sex Marriage

Bill Clinton, who described his position on same-sex marriage as "evolving" during a stop on his speaking tour in May with former President George W. Bush, told a crowd at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8 that he is "basically in support" of it.

The Nation reports: Clinton "In his most recent remarks on the subject, Clinton said, 'I think all these states that do it should do it.' The former president, however, added that he does not believe that same-sex marriage is 'a federal question.' Asked if he personally supported same-sex marriage, Clinton replied, 'Yeah.' 'I personally support people doing what they want to do,' Clinton said. 'I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage].' The former president joins a string of prominent Democrats who have recently switched their position on the issue, including former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd."

While Clinton says he does not believe same-sex marriage is a federal question, the Defense of Marriage Act he signed into law as President in 1996 makes full marriage equality in the United States an impossibility by prohibiting federal recognition of said marriages. President Obama has promised to repeal DOMA.

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  1. Wow, thanks for the incredibly tepid show of support! "I think all these states that do it should do it"? Have his speaking abilities waned because he's spending too much time with George W.?

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 14, 2009 12:21:21 PM

  2. Bill Clinton, for all his strong qualities, is not our friend. He's just another person we have to wait to finally get it as we struggle, as people are fired, as our marriages are less equal while he enjoys his privileges and then some. You can't DOMA and DADT me and then expect any excitement when your very slow train pulls into the station. How many people suffered and still suffer while we wait for your evolution?

    Posted by: Multiissue | Jul 14, 2009 12:40:33 PM

  3. @Multiissue: I agree with you 100%, and then some!

    Posted by: Avi | Jul 14, 2009 12:46:14 PM

  4. Irrelevant. Who's President now? His opinions matter none and frankly this detracts from the real problem. Barack Obama.

    Posted by: Jason Moreland | Jul 14, 2009 12:46:21 PM

  5. Just another clueless straight guy. Thanks for nothing, Bill. I wonder if he sends Monica birthday greetings?

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 12:55:13 PM

  6. I assume all of you commenting are too young to remember that Bill Clinton spent most of his first 100 days trying to get gays ACCEPTED in the military?

    Frankly, at least Clinton TRIED. He spent more political capital than he should have on our issues, now you brand him 'just another clueless straight guy'?

    You might do well to remember, DADT was a compromise that was more gay friendly than it predecessor. It may not have been full equality, but he really went to bat for us.

    Sad you can't remember that.

    Posted by: rich | Jul 14, 2009 1:05:27 PM

  7. This tire meme "he signed into law" is an oversimplification that doesn't stand to the facts.

    The bill, introduced not by a Clinton agent but Republican Clinton Hater Bob Barr, was passed by Congress by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate and a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives.

    His veto would not have changed a the ability of those who luv to hate him to have another excuse.

    Of course, he's wrong about the "states rights" issue...just as Obama is...but Clinton recorded a message against Prop H8TE that was used in NO on 8 robo calls to voters. But, of course, the YES on 8 robo calls using a recording of Obama preaching that "God is in the mix" drowned them out.

    And, yes, the Dick Slimeball Morris radio ads touting DOMA should never have run, even if they were quickly stopped.

    Further, someone from another planet reading the histrionics that usually accompany the discussion would assume that before DOMA gay couples DID have federal benefits.

    On what planet was that?

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 14, 2009 1:06:13 PM

  8. Nope, Rich, I remember that very well. I remember his colossal FAILURE to get gays accepted into the military, and the way he brutally washed his hands of the entire community. And then his ridiculous and bigoted support of the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most vulgar examples of sheer flaming hypocrisy in American politics. The man who put his cigars into the vaginas of women other than his wife setting himself up as a "Defender of Marriage." Revolting.

    Branding Clinton a "clueless straight guy" seems more generous than anything else. Gutless promise-breaking fucking bigot is closer to the mark.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 1:31:34 PM

  9. I agree with you, Rich, and I believe both Clintons are extremely gay-friendly (more so in private than in public, as with most politicians, but you're right---he took a lot of heat for us). But this is still a fairly useless (and poorly worded) show of support.

    He'll never run for office again in his life, so he certainly could have been more definitive.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 14, 2009 1:31:46 PM

  10. Perhaps if more had resisted the demonization through oversimplification, not to mention the outright lies, of the Clinton during the primaries we would not be in the position we're in now...virtually no more equal than we were on January 19th the day before the Messiah for the Gays was sworn in.

    Those of us who remembered the imperfection of the last Messiah for the Gays [WJC] challenged such untested canonization but were demonized in turn.

    But back to the lighter side of truth. People keep referencing that Clinton signed DOMA as if that's all anyone needs to understand. It's a little more complicated by that.

    The bill, introduced not by a Clinton agent but Republican Clinton Hater Bob Barr, was passed by Congress by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate and a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives.

    His veto would not have changed a the ability of those who luv to hate him to have one less excuse.

    Yes, the Dick Slimeball Morris radio ads touting DOMA should never have run, even if they were quickly stopped.

    Further, someone from another planet reading the usual histrionics would assume that before DOMA gay couples DID have federal benefits. Not on THIS planet.

    Yes, Clinton remains wrong about "states rights"...just as the CURRENT President does.

    But while Clinton recorded a message AGAINST Prop H8TE for robocalls to voters, they were drowned out Yes on H8TE robocalls using a recording of Obama preaching that "God is in the mix" at Rick "gay = pedophia" Warren's megachurch.

    It is not Clinton filing an amicus brief defending DOMA to the Supreme Court using the homohating language Barr used to pass it in the first place...PLUS some new homophobic angles like poor straight people should not have to pay for federal benefits to gay couples...but the Department of Justice of Barack Obama and its Civil Division run by his pal Tony West.

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 14, 2009 1:38:56 PM

  11. Paul R -- how nice of Bill and Hillary to be so extremely gay-friendly in private. Why are they so afraid to be gay-friendly in public?

    Rich -- in re: signing the DOMA. Bill Clinton has made it clear that DOMA is a clear reflection of his beliefs at the time. His allegedly "evolving" postion on gay marriage into a carefully worded ever-so-tentative endorsement makes that clear. Clueless straight guy indeed, who doesn't see the bigotry in his own positions on gays.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 1:39:47 PM

  12. I'm unconvinced. True enough that Clinton's veto wouldn't have changed a thing, and would have only exposed him to even more criticism from the Right. Of course, the Right would criticize his penmanship, so that's not really much of an excuse.

    Isn't its clear that Clinton signed DOMA because he completely believed in it? His stance on marriage equality is "evolving" into a carefully worded ever-so-tentative sort of vague support. What do you think it is evolving from? If he'd ever ever been even remotely in favor of marriage equality he would have said so in no uncertain terms.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 1:47:51 PM

  13. @Rich: If you're going to challenge someone's criticism of Pres. Clinton, please don't stoop to ageism, especially when that is based on an assumption. It undermines your argument and is just condescending.

    I am old enough to remember Clinton's attempts to expand, if even just marginally, gay rights in the U.S. But DADT ultimately codified in law what was until then just a policy. As a result, Pres. Obama can say that he requires congressional action before there can be any change to the discriminatory policy. And I object to your characterization of DADT as a compromise. Asking LGBT soldiers to remain in the closet (both on and off-base) is no compromise at all.

    And let us not forget that he signed DOMA (during an election year after the Republican Congress forced him to address the issue). Even if one buys his argument that allowing states to not recognize other states' same-sex marriages precluded the need for a federal ban on same-sex marriages, it still resulted in legally married same-sex couples being denied 1100+ federal rights currently made available to opposite-sex couples.

    So when we're discussing Clinton's achievements in this area, remarking that "at least he tried" is cold comfort when you look at the consequences of his actions: the continued institutionalization of anti-LGBT discrimination.

    Posted by: BrooklynD | Jul 14, 2009 1:48:19 PM

  14. DOH, sorry for the double post.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 1:49:23 PM

  15. Roscoe, Hillary’s actions at State have been far more gay friendly than Obama’s. I’m not sure you can fault her on that front. Note that I definitely fault Bill, especially since he’s not in office and never will be again.

    As for the signing of DOMA, yes it was a crappy move, and him signing it at midnight was not an especially helpful gesture---though it did suggest that it wasn't something he wholeheartedly supported. But as I've said before, politics is ugly, and he had a campaign to win and had already been burned by supporting even a remote "gay agenda." Eight years later the GOP used gay issues very effectively as a wedge issue, and I'd rather Clinton have won in 1996 than Bob Dole.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 14, 2009 2:30:36 PM

  16. @ brooklynd

    You misuse the verb "resulted" as in

    "it still resulted in legally married same-sex couples being denied 1100+ federal rights currently made available to opposite-sex couples"

    NO, it simply more explicitly codified what they were ALREADY denied. The denial was already there; the "result"...of events HE had no power to stop...was the further codification. Gay couples have not a SINGLE less federal right than they had before DOMA. And it changed nothing in relation to state recognition...if it had all those states who have post DOMA passed their own prohibitions would not have felt the need to.

    Does that make it okay? Of course not! But we are not served by misrepresentations of history.

    And the noun "consequences" and the pronoun "his" as in

    "the consequences of his actions: the continued institutionalization of anti-LGBT discrimination"

    As discussed, his signing of both the DADT and DOMA bills were functionally irrelevant. Sam Nunn re DADT and Bob Barr re DOMA had already shoved them down his throat. They would have loved nothing more than do shove them up his ass by overriding his vetoes.

    Here are ACTUAL LGBT "consequences" that "resulted" directly from Clinton:

    An executive order banning discrimination against gays in federal civilian hiring.

    An executive order banning discrimination against gays in security clearances [including, as strange as it would seem, in the military].

    An executive order adding hate crimes sentencing enhancement to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    The first large set of out gay administration employees. In fact, most of those hired for the better positions in Obama's administration are Clinton admin recyles.

    The first gay federal judge.

    The first gay US Ambassador and US Consul.

    The first meeting between gays and the President in the White House.

    The first declaration of June as Gay Pride Month.

    Again, has he fucked up in myriad other ways? Absolutely. But broadbrushing is something only seals with a paintbrush in their mouths do.

    Clinton's biggest failure ... for which he is solely responsible...was not immediately issuing an executive order gay integrating the military and letting the generals sort it out.

    And, that, by executive order under 10 USC 12305, is exactly what Obama should be doing now.

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 14, 2009 2:49:26 PM

  17. Thanks for the list of Clinton's pro-gay accomplishments, which was enlightening. On the other hand, he still signed DOMA into law, an act which cannot be forgiven under any circumstances whatsoever. The alleged fact of Clinton's veto being overturned by Congress is irrelevant. He did not support same sex marriage, and thus endorsed full out discrimination against gay men and women. This cannot be ignored, and to do so is to be painting with as broad a brush as others use, myself included.

    And his current wimpout on his supposedly "evolving" stance on same sex marriage, especially now that he is out of office and basically irrelevant himself, is pathetic. If he is really as gay-friendly as some would say, he'd be far more up front about approval of the issue.

    I stand by my words: a guy who fucks around on his wife but thinks that marriage is too important for the gays to have is a clueless straight guy.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 3:12:41 PM

  18. DADT was a betrayal, not a compromise. Ditto with DoMA.

    I'm "basically" in support of defeating every incumbent Democrat working to defeat or slow down gay rights, starting at the top.

    Posted by: adamblast | Jul 14, 2009 3:36:28 PM

  19. "President Obama has promised to repeal DOMA."

    President cannot repeal DOMA. DOMA is a LAW that was passed by Congress. Congress has to repeal DOMA.

    Pres. Obama CANNOT repeal DOMA, whether he wants to or not.

    Posted by: elg | Jul 14, 2009 3:37:31 PM

  20. Obama CANNOT repeal DOMA. Why should he, when he is opposed to same sex marriage himself?

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 14, 2009 3:39:25 PM

  21. @Michael - you are right. I didn't express myself as precisely as I should have. Rights weren't being taken away under DOMA and DADT, since they did not exist in the first place. But DOMA and DADT did take those existing policies and conventions and then codify them into law, thus making it much harder for affected communities to seek those rights later on down the road. So I do believe it is fair to say that there were "consequences" from DOMA and DADT.

    Yes, Clinton is one of the most LGBT-friendly presidents we've had. And yes, he did a lot of good for the LGBT community. I honestly like Pres. Clinton. But I also think it is fair to be critical of the way in which he handled DADT and DOMA.

    Posted by: BrooklynD | Jul 14, 2009 3:40:48 PM

  22. If Obama cannot repeal DOMA or DADT and it takes all the steps he says now, why did he just make that clear when he was running? He talked about changing it when he took office and may have said repeal. Now, of course, we hear about all the reasons he can do nothing for now. So when will he?
    Why did Anderson Cooper not press him further on these questions?

    Posted by: Rann | Jul 14, 2009 3:52:01 PM

  23. Clintons remarks are worthless. And typically those of an unreconstructed Dixiecrat. He injected states rights into the discussion. So did Geroge Wallace and Strom Thurmond.

    Promoting homohating is a crime. The fury of anti-GLBT sentiment whipped up by the opposition of the Clintons, Obama and the Bushes to same sex marriage and Clinton’s total and direct responsibility for the evils of DADT aren't going away. He not only championed DOMA he boasted about signing it on rightwing christer radio stations like those owned by Pat Robertson.

    To make up for all the union votes he lost promoting pro-big business, anti-unions laws like NAFTA Clinton put out the following campaign ad in 1996 to get reelected:

    “Protecting Religious Freedom. It's the foundation of our nation.

    President Clinton wants a complete ban on late term abortions… The President signed the Defense of Marriage Act… President Clinton has fought for our values and America is better for it. “

    Bill Clintons rampant bigotry isn’t excused in the least because just because he’s trying to out-maneuver another hustler, Obama, to promote some delusional 2012 comeback dreams of a third right wing christer bigot, Hillary Clinton.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Jul 14, 2009 4:03:22 PM

  24. @RANN - Obama did so when running (at least in the primaries) in part because he had to run to the left of Hillary on as many issues as he could.

    And as we all know - HRC during her campaign took a much more incrementalist (i.e. centrist) approach towards LGBT rights issues - which cost her alot of support in the community. This despite the fact she had a long record of being very much pro-gay rights (in both her speeches and her actions).

    Now that Obama is essentially adopting the same incrementalist approach HRC very candidly said would very likely have to be settled for in the short term - people are in a fury. Though I for one am not surprised one bit.

    What so many saw as a vocal advocate (despite his having a short and sparse track record of action on the subject) - was really nothing more than a politician saying what he needed to in order to secure as many liberal votes as he could in a tight primary against an opponent who had for years enjoyed broad support among the LGBT community.

    The LGBT community abandoned a candidate who was frank and honest about how she saw the issue moving forward, for a candidate with little experience in the matter and who was willing to say what people wanted to hear - but in no way ever really considered doing what he said he would as aggressively as he promised.

    I dont mean to sound like I'm grinding an old ax - but the fact people are so astounded by Obama's lack of action - is to me - naively ridiculous.

    Posted by: AERES | Jul 14, 2009 4:41:01 PM

  25. @Michael,

    If a president disagrees with an inevitable bill, he can simply not sign it. It'll still pass, but at least he won't have given it his endorsement.

    Clinton chose to sign DOMA. It's fair to argue that there's no obvious, direct consequence of that, since it would've passed either way. But it's also fair to argue that a president's endorsement makes an unfair law that much harder to repeal in the future.

    I've heard people against gay marriage use as an arguing point that it was a Democrat who signed DOMA far more than I'd care to.

    That said, there's kind of a limit to how much we can vilify someone who's changed his mind for the better. Yeah, he used to be against it, and yeah, it sucked, but I'll welcome anyone who's open-minded enough to allow themselves to be recruited by equality. There are enough people out there who will be against it until they die.

    Posted by: raf | Jul 14, 2009 5:07:35 PM

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