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Tilting at Windmills

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July 14, 2009

BILL CLINTON BACKS MARRIAGE EQUALITY.... Bill Clinton, after years of opposing same-sex marriage, conceded a couple of months ago that his views on marriage equality were "evolving."

Today, The Nation's Michael Tracey reports that the former president, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law 13 years ago, has offered a slightly-qualified endorsement of same-sex marriage.

After speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8, the former president was asked if he supported same-sex marriage. Clinton, in a departure from past statements, replied in the affirmative.... Asked if he would commit his support for same-sex marriage, Clinton responded, "I'm basically in support."

This spring, same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. 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]."

In March, when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York announced his support for marriage equality, Ben Smith noted, "It's a big deal because it represents support for same-sex marriage moving toward becoming the default, mainstream position of the Democratic Party." If Schumer reinforced that perception, Bill Clinton's support for same-sex marriage definitely suggests this is becoming the mainstream Democratic position.

Indeed, The Nation's Tracey added that Clinton and Schumer aren't the only ones who've come around on this issue lately -- former DNC Chair Howard Dean, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd have all also reached the same conclusion. As I recall, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made a similar policy pronouncement recently, too.

Looking over this list, though, there seems to be a regional commonality, and I don't think it's controversial to say the Northeast is more progressive on civil rights and equality than most of the country.

That said, Bill Clinton is still an influential member of the Democratic Party, and his endorsement carries some weight.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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when a family-values dude like the Clenis modifies his stance, things are shakin' in the marriage equality universe, yessiree...


Posted by: neill on July 14, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton's opinions may still have some influence, but he really ought to be banished from further discussion as a matter of principle, because of his endless rightward pandering while he was president (e.g the Defense of Marriage Act, among other atrocities).

Posted by: Aaron Baker on July 14, 2009 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

OK. Come on Barack. Admit you were wrong. You can evolve just like Bill Clinton has. And please suspend Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Posted by: Bill Smugs on July 14, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

actually, when he phrases it like that -- "a person should be able to do what they want" -- i'm not sure it really does much to mainstream marriage equality. coming from him it sounds less a statement of solidarity with the rights of the GLBT community and more a self-serving request for permission to fool around.

Posted by: zeitgeist on July 14, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well it's obviously the right thing to do. I guess it could theoretically hurt Hillary's ability to take a non-stand on the issue, but overall, it's not exactly a bold move.

It's like a bully admitting, when he is 60 years old and past the butt-kicking stage, that he now supports the right of people to not get beat up.

Posted by: flubber on July 14, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

On a similar note, risking further division within the worldwide Anglican community and within it's own church, the Episcopal Church made a move today at its convention to end the moratorium on ordaining gay bishops. This is a very courageous move among the both the laypeople and the clergy who passed this resolution since it could lead to some painful consequences within the Anglican Communion (in an effort to hold the Anglican Communion together, the Archbishop of Canterbury opposed this resolution ).

Episcopalian leaders have decided that doing the right thing takes precedence over maintaining the status quo. Good for them.


Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Billy Bob Clinton is and always be a DLC/DINO/Rethug-Lite who reads the polls before making any political statement.

If Billy Bob is changing his mind, it is not from conviction but because it is where the amerikan publik is going.

Clinton is a weasel, was a weasel, and will always be a weasel.

I thank my god every morning that John McCrap is not the president.
I thank my god twice every morning that Billary is not the president.
I wish that I could thank my god that Obama is the president.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on July 14, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Meh. Bill Clinton isn't a bad guy. Good for him.

Posted by: Shade Tail on July 14, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Good on ya, Bill.

A strength of Democrats/liberals is that we are able to evolve based on increased information and education.

A weakness of Republicans/conservatives is that they are unable to evolve no matter how well-presented a counter argument might be.

That's the nut of the operational differences between Us and Them. Stop bitching and celebrate it.

Posted by: castanea on July 14, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

My boyfriend/partner has a mild form of cancer which requires some light surgery and a few radiation treatments. I cannot get Family Medical and Leave Act designation (even though I have 500 odd hours of medical leave) because we are not married and the Federal Government does not recognize gay partnerships as valid.

While I am glad Bill Clinton's views ahve "evolved" it's rather late for us and for many people like us.

Posted by: Kurt on July 14, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

WOW !!
Thanks for being such a defender of marriage, Slick Willie

A little late to the party, aren't you ?

When Adulterers Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich push the 'Defense of Marriage Act' .....

Well, at least you came around (after selling us out for 8 years)

DLC + NAFTA + WTO = No unions + No Jobs

Posted by: MSierra, SF on July 14, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is only evidence that Bill Clinton no longer plans to run for political office.

Posted by: inkadu on July 14, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

If he doesn't think it should be a federal thing, then he's not really supporting it. The federal part of marriage benefits affect health care, social security, taxes, and more. Without the federal part, it's separate and unequal, even if called marriage.

Posted by: wendywriter on July 14, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton expressed his support for gay marriage. That and two bucks can get you a cup of coffee. He's an ex-president. He no longer has a political career to worry about, ergo, he can support positions that he never would've dreamed of backing when he actually, y'know, had power. In other words, this is a non-story.

Posted by: The Caped Composer on July 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

let's not get too excited over this... it was hardly a full-throated statement of support for the cause. I'd call it tepid at best: "I'm basically in support?" "It's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that"? Gimme a break. Not to mention he completely fumbles it on the only question that really matters: "It's not a federal question." Like HELL it isn't! Thanks to Bill and his enthusiastic endorsement of DOMA, that's precisely what it is.

Posted by: donbux on July 14, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

These lists, here and in Tracey's piece somehow have omitted Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). He released a letter Friday saying that he would support repeal of DOMA, which is maybe not exactly the same thing as "supporting same-sex marriage," but still ... he voted for DOMA in 1996.

Check out the story: http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/diary/4648/leahy-backs-repeal-of-doma-dadt

Posted by: Nanuq on July 14, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kurt at 2:36. My partner has to have major surgery post-accident tomorrow. Despite the durable medical POA and the Advanced Directive I carry everywhere, the hospital STILL wouldn't let me in the ER like they would a spouse, because we aren't considered a "real" family, and they won't let me in to see her in recovery unless I can come up with the money for a lawyer to get an order of enforcement. And oh yeah, we don't qualify for FMLA at the federal level, my company doesn't consider same-sex partners as "real" family either, so there is no family leave or flexible vacation sharing for me. No, I get to take a week of unpaid leave to care for her afterward, and hope we can afford it. All thanks to DOMA, signed by Bill Clinton. The worthless fuck.

Posted by: Keori on July 14, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

I wish that I could thank my god that Obama is the president.

Don't worry, you're covered. I am already doing it twice a day. The fact I don't believe in god is hopefully irrelevant.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on July 14, 2009 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Dump the neo-cons reframing slanguage, "gay marriage" or "same-sex marriage" : it's really called "marriage for everyone," period. The DOMAct was a law *denying* equal rights for an arbitrary group. What about a "Sinister Marriage" law protecting marriage from evil left-handers (rings on the wrong hand!)? What about a "Lower-Class Marriage" law protecting marriage from the poor? What about a "Moldering Marriage" law protecting marriage from people older than 70? 60? 40? 30? Get it right: "Marriage for All, or Marriage for None." Equal Rights for All, or Freedom for None.

Posted by: Average Joe on July 15, 2009 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK
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