Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996, now says it’s incompatible with the Constitution and should be overturned.
In 2007, Politico reports, Mrs. Clinton, the former Secretary of State, answered a questionnaire about DOMA this way: “I support repealing the provision of DOMA that may prohibit the federal government from providing benefits to people in states that recognize same sex marriage. I strongly support ensuring people in stable, long-term same sex relationships have full equality of benefits, rights and responsibilities.”
That statement, made to Human Rights Campaign in June 2007, Politico says, also represented a personal shift in opinion — same as Mr. Clinton just announced. Then, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman Phil Singer said, “Sen. Clinton backed the Defense of Marriage Act because it enabled us to fend off right-wing attacks like the Federal Marriage Amendment by keeping marriage as the purview of the states. She believes DOMA served an important purpose in that respect. Marriage should be left up to the states.”
Mrs. Clinton has kept a low profile since leaving her top diplomat post earlier this year. She said she’s resting and enjoying her time off, and has yet to make a new career move. But now comes Mr. Clinton, with his own turnaround on DOMA — and embrace of a position that could be seen as a campaign strategy for his wife’s presidential run.
In a newspaper opinion published this week, he wrote that his new view reflects the changing American society. He now acknowledges the law is discriminatory — and says he only signed it to protect gays from other looming legislation that would have hit even harder at their rights, The Associated Press reports.
However, he already addressed those points when he signed the bill, making especially clear that DOMA was not a discriminatory federal imposition but rather a states’ right law.
Mr. Clinton’s Sept. 20, 1996, statement on DOMA, as posted by Carnegie Mellon University: “I am signing into law H.R. 3396, a bill relating to same-gender marriage, but it is important to note what this legislation does and does not do. I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages and this legislation consistent with that position. The Act confirms the right of each state to determine its own policy with respect to same gender marriage and clarifies for purposes of federal law the operative meaning of the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse.’”
Mr. Clinton also emphasized that his DOMA “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,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering California’s gay marriage ban and is expected to consider a challenge to DOMA, also, AP says.
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Cheryl Chumley is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She’s also a 2008-2009 Robert Novak journalism fellow with The Phillips Foundation. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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