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Bill Clinton, Who Signed DOMA into Law in 1996, Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn It

Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law in 1996, calls on the Supreme Court to overturn it in a Washington Post editorial. He writes, in part:

ClintonIn 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian. As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage “would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.” It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.

...

When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that “enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.” Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.

Arguments will be made before SCOTUS to do so on March 27.

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Comments

  1. thanks, mr president; but why not submit a brief to the scotus in the windsor/doma case?

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Mar 7, 2013 8:18:07 PM


  2. 17 years too late to cover your ass, mr president.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Mar 7, 2013 8:19:17 PM


  3. One of the great ironies of our time

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 7, 2013 8:25:03 PM


  4. I think Clinton did the best he could do in 1996 ans the situation at the time. I think he prevented that worse law was passed against LGBT people, it was a compromise at the time. I think it is time people stop judge him. You go Clinton and thank you.

    Posted by: nn | Mar 7, 2013 8:28:02 PM


  5. too little , too late. stop trying to bolster your wife's presidential prospects. she'll be fine.

    Posted by: sister Bertrille | Mar 7, 2013 8:36:44 PM


  6. Clinton is lying and trying to falsely portray himself as some kind of gay hero for signing the most anti-gay piece of legislation in American history.

    The federal marriage amendment did not emerge until the early 2000s--a half decade after DOMA. DOMA was not about "defusing" a constitutional amendment. That is a blatant lie that he has been repeating for years.

    The Republican Congress sent Clinton the DOMA bill in the summer of 1996 because it was the middle of his re-election campaign. They wanted him to have to sign an anti-gay bill (and alienate gay voters) or veto it (and let them attack him for supporting gay marriage). A constitutional amendment would not even have served their political purposes, because a constitutional amendment goes from Congress to the states. The President has no role in signing or vetoing constitutional amendments.

    His revisionist history is demonstrably false, and it is extremely insulting that he keeps repeating the lie.

    Posted by: Skeptical Cicada | Mar 7, 2013 8:46:26 PM


  7. It's hard not to have conflicted feeling about President Clinton. There was so much that was good. And, as NN here said and Clinton himself, passage of DOMA, while abjectly abysmal, likely prevented much worse from happening. Still and forevermore though a blot that may be remembered throughout human history along with other hideously unjust laws from times past. I know I wouldn't want my family's name associated with DOMA in any way whatsoever, much less enshrining it into law. It is good to hear him speak against it in the present day, would have been nice to attach to one of the briefs.

    Posted by: Kevin Foster | Mar 7, 2013 8:53:05 PM


  8. I guess its better late than never.

    Posted by: andrew | Mar 7, 2013 8:56:46 PM


  9. What he should do is apologize to gay people for signing both DOMA and DADT.
    A sincere apology is better than this tortured combination of advocacy and self-defense.
    An apology would have more of an effect on anyone who reads it, including the court.

    Posted by: matt | Mar 7, 2013 9:03:27 PM


  10. To those of us living in LA back in '92 who melted over his innumerable "I feel your pain" exhortations I don't know that President Clinton can ever undo what he did in signing DADT and DOMA. On purely Federalism grounds DOMA author Bob Barr called for DOMA's repeal four years ago http://tinyurl.com/a39xce .

    A relative of mine developed a hotel which received the first LEED platinum rating for a hotel in energy efficiency. Before developing the hotel, he toured the W.J. Clinton Presidential Library in AR with President Clinton, which had been awarded a lesser silver rating when it was built. My relative told me "President Clinton said if he had it to do over again he would have gone for the platinum rating."

    Therein lies one of the keys to understanding the complex Mr. Clinton: "if I had it to do over again..."

    Posted by: @JimNealCHI | Mar 7, 2013 9:04:20 PM


  11. All these reversals we see after folks leave political office, are truly an indictment of modern politics. When politicians play games with laws, they also play games with lives. Would that they remembered that at the onset.

    Posted by: Kevin Foster | Mar 7, 2013 9:11:24 PM


  12. An explosive issue 3 months before an election which would have been counter-vetoed by Congress if he had vetoed it, yeah we all wouldn't have done what he did.

    Posted by: Mitchell | Mar 7, 2013 9:17:28 PM


  13. After he got his schlong sucked by Monica, I lost faith in this pig.

    Posted by: rise | Mar 7, 2013 9:17:39 PM


  14. Too late now you pig.

    Posted by: Diana | Mar 7, 2013 9:35:19 PM


  15. @Skeptical has it right, which deserves repeating, "...The federal marriage amendment did not emerge until the early 2000s--a half decade after DOMA. DOMA was not about "defusing" a constitutional amendment. That is a blatant lie that he has been repeating for years.

    The Republican Congress sent Clinton the DOMA bill in the summer of 1996 because it was the middle of his re-election campaign. They wanted him to have [him] sign an anti-gay bill (and alienate gay voters) or veto it (and let them attack him for supporting gay marriage). A constitutional amendment would not even have served their political purposes, because a constitutional amendment goes from Congress to the states. The President has no role in signing or vetoing constitutional amendments.

    His revisionist history is demonstrably false, and it is extremely insulting that he keeps repeating the lie."

    Like Daschle and others, just admit it was wrong -- plain and simple.


    Posted by: Belthazar | Mar 7, 2013 9:37:26 PM


  16. Shouldn't you be out dipping your cigar into an intern Bill? You're not forgiven no matter how much I despise Republican swill. I'll still vote for your wife. She's shown more balls than you could ever hope to.

    I was there and I don't forget.

    Posted by: Marc C | Mar 7, 2013 9:37:54 PM


  17. Everyone ignore Rise. He is an alias of Rick/Jason, the resident troll here on Towleroad.

    Posted by: MateoM | Mar 7, 2013 9:47:46 PM


  18. While I'm glad for his support now, he is playing with history a bit. It is much easier to argue that DADT was a politically necessary trade-off (between open service and an outright ban). Not so much with DOMA. I get it, he was boxed into a corner, in an election year, and a veto would have been overrode anyway. But he should just admit that.

    Posted by: Lars | Mar 7, 2013 10:03:54 PM


  19. The stake is lower when you are not the sitting president. This is one of your few error while in power Mr. President.

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Mar 7, 2013 10:07:55 PM


  20. He can't rewrite the history that led him to sign DOMA. It was wrong then and it is wrong now whatever the justifications. But he can stand on the right side of history now, and he is. It matters, and it shows where we're headed--towards the end of DOMA, finally.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 7, 2013 10:15:53 PM


  21. LET'S REMEMBER THE FACTS -- although Clinton would have preferred a more liberal law, this was the best compromise he could get from Congress. DOMA passed overwhelmingly, so that if Clinton had vetoed it, the veto would easily have been overridden, giving more fuel to the bad guys.
    A PRESIDENT HAS ALMOST NO CHOICE IN SIGNING BILLS PASSED BY LARGE MAJORITIES.
    However, I am angry at him for messing up, so that GWB had a chance to get in.

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 7, 2013 10:23:23 PM


  22. Bill Clinton is a pig who defecated on our rights by signing DOMA into law. This pig also signed DADT into law despite promising that gays would be allowed to serve openly.

    Posted by: rise | Mar 7, 2013 10:26:54 PM


  23. I wish that I could've been the one who sucked off Bill in the Oval Office. I've never gotten over that.

    Posted by: RISE | Mar 7, 2013 10:33:55 PM


  24. Bill Clinton is the star of all my wet dreams...

    Posted by: RISE | Mar 7, 2013 10:43:16 PM


  25. Let's not try to explain electoral strategy and political reality to the crowd here. They're having to much fun with their self-righteous pose.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Mar 7, 2013 10:48:02 PM


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