Anderson Cooper | Bill clinton | Gay Marriage | News

Bill Clinton: 'I Was Wrong' About Gay Marriage



Anderson Cooper interviews former President Bill Clinton in a segment airing tonight (10pm ET) on AC360. Anderson asks Clinton about his recent statements about same-sex marriage, and why he changed his mind.

In Toronto in May, while on a speaking tour with George W. Bush, Clinton described his position on same-sex marriage as "evolving". More recently, speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, D.C., Clinton said, "I'm basically in support" of it.

In his most extensive remarks to date, Clinton now says he was "wrong" about same-sex marriage and was "hung up about the word."

Towleroad has obtained an advance transcript of Anderson Cooper's interview with Clinton. You can read it below, and watch a short clip, AFTER THE JUMP...


AC: You said you recently changed your mind on same-sex marriage. I’m wondering what you mean by that. Do you now believe that gay people should have full rights to civil marriage nationwide?

CLINTON: I do. I think that, well let me get back to the last point, the last word. I believe historically, for two hundred and something years, marriage has been a question left to the states and the religious institutions. I still think that’s where it belongs.

CLINTON: That is, I was against the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide, and I still think that the American people should be able to play this side in debates.

CLINTON: But me, Bill Clinton personally, I changed my position. I am no longer opposed to that. I think if people want to make commitments that last a lifetime, they ought to be able to do it.  I have long favored the right of gay couples to adopt children.

 AC: What made you change your mind? Was there one thing?

CLINTON: I think, what made me change my mind, I looked up and said look at all of this stuff you’re for. I’ve always believed that—I’ve never supported all the moves of a few years ago to ban gay couples from adoption. Because they’re all these kids out there looking for a home. And the standard on all adoption cases is, what is the best interest of the child?

CLINTON: And there are plenty of cases where the best interest of the child is to let the gay couple take them and give them a loving home. So I said, you know, I realized that I was over 60 years old, I grew up at a different time, and I was hung up about the word.

CLINTON: I had all these gay friends, I had all these gay couple friends, and I was hung up about it. And I decided I was wrong.

CLINTON: That our society has an interest in coherence and strength and commitment and mutually reinforcing loyalties, then if gay couples want to call their union marriage and a state agrees, and several have now, or a religious body will sanction it, and I don’t think a state should be able to stop a religious body from saying it, I don’t think the rest of us should get in the way of it.

CLINTON: I think it’s a good thing not a bad thing.  And I just realized that, I was, probably for, maybe just because of my age and the way I’ve grown up, I was wrong about that. I just had too many gay friends. I saw their relationships. I just decided I couldn’t, I had an untenable position.

Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Hopefully he will take his message to Maine. I'm glad he is speaking in favor of gay marriage. This is very important - the first president (former or current) to support gay marriage. ever.

    Posted by: KFLO | Sep 25, 2009 7:26:36 PM

  2. Well that's just f%@&ing great. Thanks Billy Boy! That whole "hindsight's 20/20" thing sure does apply here. Don't it?

    Posted by: redbearded | Sep 25, 2009 7:30:43 PM

  3. The Ole Deluder Clinton Act! Every time this man opens his mouth, lies pour out. He opposed gay marriage in 1996 because it was the only thing he could do in an election year and get away with it. The only problem for the Dems is that they don't realize just how popular this law still is in America and opposing it only keeps evangelicals and Christian conservatives with the GOP.

    Posted by: SC Guy | Sep 25, 2009 7:33:47 PM

  4. Bill Clinton did one thing that very few people are want to do. He said he was wrong.

    How many of you can say that when you are?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Sep 25, 2009 7:52:05 PM

  5. Obviously it's easier for him to say this now, when he's not still President. BUT people do evolve, and that's a good thing. His admission that he was wrong allows other people to admit the same thing. And it goes to show that the fact that several states now have marriage equality--and the world hasn't come to an end--also forces people like Clinton to reexamine their thinking on the issue. I hope he will continue to speak out.

    SC GUY--enticing Christian conservatives into the Democratic party would require making the Democratic party as anti-gay as the Republicans. They're never going to be on our side.

    Posted by: Ernie | Sep 25, 2009 8:00:11 PM

  6. Gay is SIN in the Bible how can you Support it ??????/

    Posted by: Burke | Sep 25, 2009 8:11:58 PM

  7. "The Ole Deluder Clinton Act! Every time this man opens his mouth, lies pour out"

    That's right SC Guy, Obama has NEVER lied to us. Clinton was the most up front president we have ever had. Obama is one of the "Dems is that they don't realize just how popular this law still is in America". However I would venture a guess that is because Obama just doesn't give a damn about anything other than our vote. And that we give blindly demanding very little in return.

    Clinton did what he would say he would do plain and simple which is far more than one can say about our current one term wonder!

    Posted by: RB | Sep 25, 2009 8:24:41 PM

  8. I'm not sure why everyone gives Clinton such a hard time about DOMA. Yeah, he signed it. But it's not like vetoing it would have done ANY good. It passed the Senate with approximately 20 more votes than needed to override a veto, and almost 100 more than necessary in the House. So if he vetoed it, not only would it have become law anyway, but the Dems probably would have been stomped in the Congressional election, making even more bad laws likely.

    Posted by: Tyler Rosenbaum | Sep 25, 2009 8:32:05 PM

  9. A day late, a dollar short. Take it to Maine please.

    Posted by: Pender | Sep 25, 2009 8:35:49 PM

  10. Sorry, not a bad president, but I really don't need an adulterer to define for me what a marriage is, nor deny me the rights I should share with my husband (whom I've never cheated on) that he enjoys with his wife. Again, not a bad president, but in terms of my relationship and what rights I should be granted, a guy who didn't live up to what the federal gov't supposes to be a marriage vow has nothing to say about marriage to me. Sorry, I'm still bitter.

    Posted by: MackMike | Sep 25, 2009 9:32:37 PM

  11. So, Clinton was "hung up about the word marriage"? Apparently, the word "marriage" didn't stop him from committing adultery with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton just uses it to rationalize his denial of civil rights to others.

    Posted by: Jeff Atwood | Sep 25, 2009 9:37:31 PM

  12. Time for the Democratic Rhetoric on gay rights/marriage to begin. Must be hurting for money. Elections are coming up next year. Lets dangle a carrot and watch them there homos jump into action.

    Action not words! I will not give one dollar to advocating any agenda for any group that does not ACT on my interest.

    Just how long has the Mathew Sheppard bill been sitting in congress?

    Just how long have we been waiting for action on the DADT?

    Just how long have we been waiting for action on DOMA?

    Billy - STFU! At least Bush looked us in the eye when he fucked us.

    Posted by: David | Sep 25, 2009 9:49:53 PM

  13. I'm so sick of politician who should know better wading into this debate saying that marriage is a religious institution. I'm glad that Bill Clinton goes on to then say he supports our right to marry...but he begins by muddying the waters between civil marriage and religious marriage.

    I wish some politician would stand up and say "I'm for allowing gay people to obtain a civil marriage because there is a difference between a civil marriage, which is nothing more than a legal contract recognized by the state, and a religious marriage, which is a ceremony recognized by a religious body. Any religious body should have the right to decide who they will and will not marry. But to disallow the civil, legal benefits of marriage to one group of people while allowing another group to participate is fundamentally unfair, unconstitutional and un-American."???!!! Simple as that, President Clinton (and the rest of you wankers)!!!

    Posted by: peterparker | Sep 25, 2009 9:52:02 PM

  14. Well, better late then never I guess... It takes a lot of guts to admit it after all this time.

    Posted by: zenpolice | Sep 25, 2009 10:16:03 PM

  15. I am sick of this "Marriage is a state's rights issue" bullshit. Civil rights should NOT depend on which state you live in. When straight couples get married, their marriage is valid in EVERY state. Your freedom of speech doesn't end when you drive from California into Nevada.

    Anderson Cooper should have asked Mr. Clinton why interracial marriages are not done on a state-by-state basis? I'm sure some of those southern hick states would still love to outlaw interracial marriage.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Sep 25, 2009 10:45:51 PM

  16. At least Clinton has developed enough humility in his old age to admit he was wrong.

    When was the last time a Republican dinosaur expressed regret for something that didn't come out as:

    "I'm sorry you feel that way."

    Posted by: John | Sep 25, 2009 10:56:54 PM

  17. i only got the end of the show but have heard him throughout the week on other shows. he is doing so much good in the world
    check out my Bill Clinton blog

    Posted by: adugan | Sep 25, 2009 11:01:32 PM

  18. A day late and a dollar short.

    Are you going to marry Julio, Anderson?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 25, 2009 11:05:11 PM

  19. He's setting up Hillary for her next run at the presidency. Best news I've heard all day.

    Posted by: Dave | Sep 25, 2009 11:27:08 PM

  20. Dave,

    You think?

    I think 2008 was her only real shot at the White House. The Democrats seem to be particularly harsh on primary candidates that don't make it. They haven't nominated a loser since Stevenson in 1956.

    Not to mention the fact that Hillary will be 69 years old in November 2016. That's more than enough aging for McCain style jokes. And given his chronic bad health and heart condition, in all likelihood Bill Clinton won't be in any shape to help her.

    Posted by: John | Sep 25, 2009 11:53:11 PM

  21. BULL with a capital B. Too little too late Mr. President. You passed Don't Ask Don't Tell and the hateful DOMA because you didn't have the courage to do what was right. Too little too late

    Posted by: Zach | Sep 26, 2009 12:32:03 AM


    I'm just so incredibly glad civil marriage will always be an option for people like you and Monica Lewinsky.

    HOW, Bill Clinton, is CIVIL marriage an issue for "states and religious institutions"?!

    WHAT DO RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS HAVE TO WITH CIVIL MARRIAGE??!!! How is CIVIL marriage for ALL Americans an issue for individual "states" to decide??!!!


    Anderson Cooper and Terry Moran, recent examples of how the term "journalist" is an epithet.

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 26, 2009 12:33:26 AM

  23. Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton should make a few public appearances in Maine supporting CIVIL marriage for ALL Americans.

    Will Clinton speak at the National Equality March in favor of Gay marriage?

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 26, 2009 12:42:03 AM

  24. And yet we are still told that civil and human rights are something that can be determined by the will (vote) of the people.


    Posted by: Beefandfur | Sep 26, 2009 1:42:45 AM

  25. bill clintin haters make me vomit. he is easily one of the most effectual ex-presidents ever. were it not for the repug hate groups, he might have been the most effectual sitting pres since FDR. he and hillary introduced universal health care coverage 16 fucking years ago. and we are still debating this!?!? do we have to wait another generation (20 yrs) to do something about helping the poor? i can put off my marriage plans, but sick people cannot wait for years to get medical coverage.

    Posted by: nic | Sep 26, 2009 1:51:44 AM

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