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Hillary Clinton’s Bizarre Gay Marriage Revisionism Doesn’t Fool Those Who Remember

No, DOMA did not protect same-sex couples from a possible constitutional amendment.

In favor of being on the right side, whichever one it might be at any given moment.Credit: marcn / photo on flickrAs President, Bill Clinton infuriated many in the gay community by signing into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which required gay members of the military to remain in the closet about their sexual orientation or be ejected from service.

Arguably, Clinton didn't exactly have a lot of room to maneuver. DOMA passed by an overwhelming, veto-proof majority. While it was introduced by Republicans in 1996 (by Bob Barr, who would eventually run for president as a Libertarian Party candidate in 2008 and apologize for sponsoring the legislation), it got 118 Democratic votes in the House and 32 Democratic votes in the Senate.

It was a different time back then, and opinions and political positions on gay and lesbian issues have changed a lot since. It's hard (but not impossible) to find a Democrat who isn't on board same-sex marriage recognition these days and looking to expand civil rights laws to protect gays against workplace and public accommodations discrimination.

To the extent that gay issues come up in the 2016 presidential election—and it's not even clear that they will—the Democratic Party can expect its candidate to pretty much be able to run the field on the issue on the basis of where they stand now. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are strong supporters of gay issues.

At least, they are now. Hillary Clinton, though, has the same background as President Barack Obama—despite being gay-friendly, she nevertheless once supported that marriage should be defined to mean heterosexual couples and that states should decide for themselves whether and how to recognize same-sex couples.

Clinton's insistence that she is not a politician who holds positions that are shrewdly calculated on political expedience rather than ideology or philosophy has put her in a place where she has to justify the passage and her previous support for DOMA. And, of course, Clinton has done so in a way that is shrewdly calculated, but is also remarkably obvious to people who remember the 1990s. She is insisting, in defiance of all evidence, that the passage of DOMA was to protect gay people from something even worse. In a recent interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Clinton insisted that DOMA was an effort to protect gay people from a possible federal constitutional amendment that would have banned recognition of same-sex marriage permanently and would have been immune to Supreme Court intervention. She tells Maddow:

"On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed – and there was certainly evidence to support it – is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that. And there wasn't any rational argument – because I was in on some of those discussions, on both 'don't ask, don't tell' and on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would – you know, chime in and talk about, 'you can't be serious. You can't be serious.' But they were.  And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further."

But it's just not true, and over the weekend, several prominent gay activists who were around at the time have been tweeting about what nonsense this attempt to revise history is. To show how cynical this effort is, this position by the Clintons that DOMA was about protecting gay people from something even worse goes all the way back to 2013, all of two years ago, which was the same year that the Supreme Court struck down the part of DOMA that prohibited the federal government from recognizing state-approved same-sex marriages. Looks like the Clintons jumped on the last train to be on the "right side of history."

But back when DOMA actually happened, President Clinton didn't just sign the law; his campaign actually ran radio ads targeting religious conservatives that touted it. And there was no evidence that a constitutional amendment was coming. It's not even a logical argument. If the Republicans were the ones pushing DOMA, this would seem to indicate that there actually was no amendment potentially in the works. Indeed, former Human Rights Campaign President Elizabeth Birch wrote that there was no interest in an amendment when Clinton was president. It was raised during George W. Bush's term in a politically calculated effort to get out religious right votes.

What's actually happening here is Clinton (and remarkably some other people are supporting her historical revisionism) is now looking at the state-to-state gay marriage recognition battles that followed DOMA and attempting to argue that a constitutional amendment could have actually happened without DOMA around to soothe anti-gay rage. They're hoping people don't look at the actual timeline of events. But that still doesn't make any sense, because the Federal Marriage Amendment was proposed when gay marriage supporters were losing state after state, and yet it still didn't go anywhere. Most people were content with the federalist position of state-level control (which would have happened regardless of DOMA), and that's exactly the position the Clintons and Obama had taken until recent years.

In fact, just last year Hillary Clinton was given the opportunity by Terry Gross on NPR to say her own "evolution" to support gay marriage was really just her saying what she had believed all along. She declined. She insisted that her evolution was recent and that her positions aren't being held out of political expediency.

If that's true, that means obviously she played an advisory role in a bad piece of legislation being passed that harmed her constituency. That would be admitting a mistake, and we can't have our political betters admitting to bad decisions, especially the Clintons. So instead, the two of them are trying to rewrite history as the protectors that they were not.

And it's such a strange, unnecessary move that speaks to Clinton's unwillingness to even countenance the obvious: that she is a politician whose success is as attributable to her ability to navigate what is necessary for her to remain in a powerful position as it is any policy pursuits. Clinton is probably not going to lose many votes to Bernie Sanders on the basis of Sanders voting against DOMA back then. Or at least, she wasn't, until she tried to act as though the Clintons were doing gay people a favor by helping pass it and Sanders took note

Photo Credit: marcn / photo on flickr

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  • Anomalous||

    It's not like she has a history of telling the truth.

  • Al Sharpton||

    Yes, well...that history can be revised so.....

  • R C Dean||

    It's hard (but not impossible) to find a Democrat who isn't on board same-sex marriage recognition these days and looking to expand civil rights laws to protect gays against workplace and public accommodations discrimination.

    Its a done deal. Just a question of when.

    I'm wondering if it wouldn't be simpler, at this point, to just do away with the endless catalog of privileged groups, and cut to the chase with a federal mandate to discriminate against straight white males under the age of 40, with an "intersectionality" chaser that, whenever the choice is between a white male and anyone else, its Not OK to pick the white male.

  • dantheserene||

    That would certainly simply things.

  • dantheserene||

    *Simplify*, dammit.

  • wareagle||

    its Not OK to pick the white male.

    not much fun to live the reality of that, but I wonder if the calculus changes if the white male is a proggy since they all think the correct thoughts.

  • R C Dean||

    Nope. Proggies have just as much White Privilege as rednecks. Just ask one; they will eagerly abase themselves for you.

  • Caput Lupinum||

    Prog males will get preferential status to non prog males, but will still be below everyone else.

  • R C Dean||

    The fun part will be when white males start identifying as oppressed minorities to game the system. I mean, if you can identify as Indian to get a coveted affirmative action slot at Harvard Law, or identify as black to run an NAACP chapter, why not?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Oh, that's when you'll see ALL SORTS of bright lines defining identity. When flexible identity can be used as a bludgeon, it's all good, but when it threatens the validity of the massive "goodies" state, your identity will be all kinds of "invalidated".

  • retiredfire||

    Nope.
    In my FD, the scrambling to find some "minority" ancestor was rampant but for the powers-that-be to try to assign some kind of hard-and-fast rule for "qualifying" would have done more to point out the absurdity of using such delineation, than to ensure the wrong people didn't get the boost.
    If a few honkies get the benefits, it's OK as long as the squeaky wheels got theirs.

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    No, Vijay Chokal-Ingam, Mindy Kaling's brother, pretended to be black to get into med school even though he is Indian: "Why I faked being black for med school"

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    Why would a bureaucracy want anything simpler?

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    Easier work for them, easier to apply to more cases...

  • satta||

    Already done. 1964 CRA Title VII (workplace discrimination) has been unilaterally reinterpreted by the EEOC to include LGBT in its protected classes. Title II will be likewise expanded soon, I'd bet.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I'm wondering if it wouldn't be simpler, at this point, to just do away with the endless catalog of privileged groups, and cut to the chase with a federal mandate to discriminate against straight white males under the age of 40...

    While it's not just white males, it would, at least, emphasize that public accommodation laws (positive rights) come at the expense of someone else's rights.

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    What's eventually going to happen is there's going to be an Oppression Index where you get points for attribute — race, sex, sexual orientation, age, etc. — and whoever has the highest Oppression Index is going to get university admission preferences, better tax cuts, better job preferences, etc.

    And that's going to result in rent-seeking for Oppression Index points as R C Dean points out.

  • Agammamon||

    Hillary Clinton’s Bizarre Gay Marriage Revisionism Doesn’t Fool Those Who Remember

    Doesn't have to - those people weren't going to vote for here anyway.

  • wareagle||

    and the ones 'fooled' don't give a shit. On a different thread, someone posted a comment that could just as easily apply to this story - when you look at things from the left with a reasoned and rational point of view, you have already lost. If you're accepting any premise offered by Hillary and her fellow travelers, then your argument will die. There is nothing "bizarre" here, no "revisionism" going on. The woman is LYING. Again.

  • R C Dean||

    Indeed. I would have headlined this "Hillary's Lies About Her Previous Opposition to Gay Rights Shouldn't Fool Anyone."

  • Bern-o-Matic 5000||

    And I'm sure Rachel Maddow Christ Hayes Maddow called her out on her blatant lying, right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Those who remember" will be walking back any criticism when she's the only thing standing between them and a GOP White House.

  • Citizen X||

    Why would anyone take marriage policy advice from a woman whose husband is always publicly sticking it to fours?

  • R C Dean||

    And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further."

    Because we all know that giving rabid ideologues a partial victory always prevents them from going after the next salami slice.

  • Almanian's Rusty Woodchipper||

    See also, "Gun Grabbers, Anyone With Anything to Say About Immigration on Any Side of That Argument, etc. etc. etc."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hillary Clinton’s Bizarre Gay Marriage Revisionism Doesn’t Fool Those Who Remember

    Obama didn't fool those who remember either, but it sure fooled Democrats. You know where I'm going with this, right?

  • paranoid android||

    The Democrats are suffering from...

    *Takes off glasses, camera zooms in dramatically*

    ...AMNESIA!

  • Almanian's Rusty Woodchipper||

    Forget it, Paul - it's Gaytown

  • Win Bear||

    Bad as he was, Obama was still a better choice than that senile relic McCain.

    And history may relay itself. Hillary is a lying opportunist, but that kind of sociopathy is still preferable to the kind represented by Carson or Trump.

  • Citizen X||

    Is it?

  • Agammamon||

    No, no he is not. What could McCain have possibly done that Obama didn't?

    Extend our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Keep Guantanamo open?
    Get into a pissing match with Russia over their Ukraine annexation attempts?
    Libya?
    Syria?
    ISIS?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Start WW III?

  • R C Dean||

    If you take a look at the parallels between the Syrian Civil War and the Spanish Civil War, we might be closer than you think.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Syria could use more saucy gypsies.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Obama was still a better choice than that senile relic McCain.
    Hillary is a lying opportunist, but that kind of sociopathy is still preferable to the kind represented by Carson or Trump.

    I'd call both a push.

  • Bubba Jones||

    McCain would not have enacted obamacare.

  • Brandybuck||

    "McCain would not have enacted obamacare."


    Instead he would have given us some form of crony healthcare plan that was a huge giveaway to the insurance industry. Oh wait...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Some good news for those who want it:

    Seattle's empty bike lanes and jammed, narrowed traffic corridor finally produces a positive result:

    SPD: Man's 'explosive' bowel issues lead to machete melee

    Officers were called to Capitol Hill's Cal Anderson Park just before 5 p.m. on Thursday after getting reports that a belligerent man was threatening people with a machete and a throwing knife, according to Seattle police.

    Witnesses told officers the man was using the women's restroom, and when he was confronted he pulled out a 2-foot-long machete, swung it around and threatened to kill a half dozen people.

    [...]

    With police on their way, the man decided to make his getaway. He got into a car parked next to the park and tried to speed away. But he didn't account for rush hour traffic on Capitol Hill and immediately got stuck in a traffic jam on Broadway.

    Police soon caught up with and arrested the man. They searched his car and found the machete and throwing knife. When asked why he had the weapons, the suspect said he had them because he is a "trained (expletive) killer," according to police.

    When officers asked why he was using the women's bathroom at the park, he allegedly said the men's room was full and he had an "explosive" bowel issue.
  • Almanian's Rusty Woodchipper||

    Seems like the cops defused

    *dons Fist's sunglasses*

    an EXPLOSIVE situation

    YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  • Swiss Servator||

    *winces*

  • Citizen X||

    Sounds like this guy

    *dons sunglasses*

    was full of crap.

    YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  • SugarFree||

    and when he was confronted

    Why was he confronted for using the women's restroom?

  • Almanian's Rusty Woodchipper||

    Do I need to vaginasplain this to you again, Nutrsweet?

  • SugarFree||

    No, this is Seattle, one of the primary infection vectors of PS nonsense. Why was any questioning why he was using the women's shitter?

  • SugarFree||

    "PC nonsense" I have to pee!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Because (and I learned this term from Nicole) there may have been TERFs in the bathroom, and they aren't having any of your transgender/fluid identity nonsense.

  • Aloysious||

    Hillary isn't lying to her opponents, they won't believe her anyway. She is lying to her supporters, primarily; and to low-info types secondarily.

  • ||

    She's giving her supporters plausible deniability for when the rednecks start pointing out that she is a flip flopper on gay rights.

    Now they will be able to snort at those knuckle draggers and tell them that she was a fucking hero who thwarted them back in the 90's and they are still mad about it.

    It is all about keeping the cognitive dissonance from exploding her followers heads before they cast a vote for her.

  • Aloysious||

    One must keep up appearances, mustn't one?

    Preach it, your Popeness. On a different note, when you sermonize, do you sound like Derpy's screaming preacher? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8KxXHibv6A

  • ||

    The reason I became Pope was so I didn't have to waste my Sundays standing in front of a bunch of rubes sermonizing. I leave that up to my flunkies.

    I spend my time instructing the wayward women of my flock. I find that a hand's on approach is exactly what is needed for that particular group of sinners.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    She is lying to her supporters, primarily; and to low-info types secondarily.

    But you repeat yourself.

  • lafe.long||


    As President, Bill Clinton infuriated many in the gay community by signing into law
    ...snip...
    and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which required gay members of the military to remain in the closet about their sexual orientation or be ejected from service.

    Hmm. IIRC, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," was a pretty significant victory for the gay community at the time. Were there actually some that were "infuriated" by it?

  • Agammamon||

    Of course there were. It was a stupid policy at the time.

    But, like the 3/5ths compromise, its was a *necessary*, if distasteful, compromise. Some people couldn't accept that.

  • sarcasmic||

    What are her currently stated intentions? Because that's all that really matters.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Be careful. If and when she's finally elected, Hillary may make all the doubters of her LGBT credentials look silly by making the proud and heroic announcement we've all been anticipating for years.

  • Swiss Servator||

    +1 Huma?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Her hero was Eleanor Roosevelt, who had a face only Lorena Hickok could love.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Says you.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I don't think Hillary believes she can fool people who were following politics in the 90s. She wants to fool people who *didn't* follow politics (and maybe still don't) and who are just tuning in to see what's going on.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It was a different time back then, and opinions and political positions on gay and lesbian issues have changed a lot since.

    Granted, she's lying (her lips are moving) about why she voted as she did back then, which is the crux of the article, but discrediting one for their opinion on gays 20 years ago is akin to attempting to discredit the Founders because they were slaveowners.

    It was commonplace and we were wrong. Shouldn't be an issue, now, unless you still believe that way.

    I did (prior to 1989)...I don't. I was wrong. I changed.

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear a politician admit that?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Somebody should note, too, that accusing Hillary of lying probably makes her look better with Millenials. It's like a twist on the old Goebbels quote, "If you tell a [truth] big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe [it's a lie].

  • ||

    I wouldn't discredit her for her opinion on gays 20 years ago (except to note that there were people on the correct side of the debate even way back then in the dark ages of 1995).

    I would discredit her for attempting to shove all that stuff down into the memory hole and pretend that she has always been the Great Defender of Gay Rights.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Like I said, I think she's lied so many times and been accused of lying so many times and for so long, that it actually helps her with swing voters to accuse her of lying.

    It's like the boy who cried wolf except people don't stop believing him because he cried wolf when there was none. People stopped caring about the wolves because the pasture is so full of Hillary's lies that one more lie in the pasture doesn't really make a difference anymore.

  • Bern-o-Matic 5000||

    To me, the problem isn't that she held that opinion 20 years ago. The problem is that she held that opinion THREE years ago, changed her position once the political winds said it was 100% (cowardice), and now claims that people who hold the same opinion she did just years ago are so offensively backwards that they aren't even worth engaging in conversation.

  • brady949||

    Admitting you were wrong on something and changing your mind is a huge plus, but Hillary almost seems intent on being as absolutely unlikable as possible, so we get this horseshit.

  • R C Dean||

    Admitting you were wrong on something and changing your mind is a huge plus,

    And is exactly what she isn't doing.

  • ||

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear a politician admit that?

    Were it true, consistently, such a politician would be immediately slandered and destroyed by the system.

  • Curt||

    I get tired of people pointing at "Don't ask, don't tell" as an example of the backwards military forcing people to remain in the closet. It was a big step and led to the possibility of gay people serving openly.

    Before "Don't ask, don't tell (don't pursue)," commanders could ask if soldiers were gay. Recruiters were required to ask. Soldiers were required to tell their command if they were gay. If leaders suspected a soldier was gay, they were required to investigate. This tied to the official policy where gays could not serve. If they admitted or were found to be gay, they were removed from the service.

    After "don't ask, don't tell," gay service members were still not allowed to serve, but a gay person didn't have to identify themselves and leaders/recruiters didn't have to seek them. This made it easier for gay people to serve with lower risk of being removed. It gradually reached the point where gay service members were still technically required to be in the closet, but the closet door was open and everyone knew what was up.

    Gay service members were eventually able to serve openly, partly, because everyone already knew that they were serving and yet, the military-readiness apocalypse hadn't arrived. The main argument against gay service members had already been completely destroyed. Yeah, it would be great if you could go directly from point A to point B, but sometimes taking a half-step is what eventually gets you there.

  • Citizen X||

    Hillary's still a mendacious twat, though.

  • Curt||

    That's nicer than I would say it... but, yes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It used to be a sure fire way of avoiding military service during the draft, too, didn't it?

  • R C Dean||

    Didn't work too well for Cpl. Klinger.

  • SFC B||

    Klinger wanted to get out for insanity, not for being gay or a transvestite. I don't think they ever explained why he thought he needed to wear women's clothing to demonstrate being insane; I guess shitting himself and yelling at the light posts for following him wouldn't have led to as many telegenic hijinks.

  • Sevo||

    It fools all the lefties who troll here.

  • Homple||

    Hey Reason Did you miss the meeting? Your side won the Great Gay Marriage Clusterfuck. It's finished, done and dusted, over, history. La guerre est finis. You can disband and go home to your farms and families.

    Don't end up like those WWII Japanese soldiers who hid out in jungles years after the war because they didn't want to admit they lost. Hell, you guys won. Relax.

  • retiredfire||

    Too true.
    The libertine-arians won in letting five, out of nine, lawyers decide policy for the entire country, further eviscerating the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, but they will continue to "pile on", completely ignoring how this is, supposedly what they don't want government, especially an unelected arm of it, to be able to do.
    Libertine-arians= proggies who want to save some money.

  • gary47290||

    The only flaw in Obergefell was that the court was too chicken to explain a legally valid basis for a decision. If the justices were honest and followed actual legal analysis, then there was no choice other than 9-0 ruling that sexual orientation is subject to strict scrutiny when evaluating laws which distinguish on that basis. In all likelihood, the criteria defining levels of scrutiny would lead to a 9-0 decision overturning the state bans, because these laws are indefensible on any review level if the applied the rules for suspect class correctly. But either way, the court would have followed their rules and precedent in making a decision instead of mushing through "dignity" to issue a ruling. (I can't say make a decision, because this was just issuing a ruling to make it go away.)

  • jack adams||

    I remember hearing these radio ads on Black religious radio stations ( i''m sure the same were run on White religious stations with a different announcer who sounded white) , while I was living in Tampa and couldn't help but notice the complete lack of coverage of this hypocrisy in the Washington Post or most other liberal media even though the ads were played relentlessly every hour. "President Clinton proudly signed the Defense of Marriage Act" to protect Americans from those who would end the Bible's call for one man one woman"
    Which was laughable in itself since the Bible talks a lot about polygamy and its role in the society the Bible covers.
    Now Hillary comes up with a new fiction about why her husband signed it, but doesn't mention his collecting thousands of votes from those who heard the gay bashing commercials.

  • retiredfire||

    Too bad Scott doesn't mention the real reason DOMA was passed.
    At the time, states were trying to implement their own laws, as was their right under the Tenth Amendment, regarding same-sex couples trying to adopt a false mantle of being "married".
    Article 4, Section 1, states:
    " Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."
    Congress used their power to prescribe, by general Laws, the "Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof" as was their right, by passing DOMA, which set FEDGOV's policy WRT how each state's decision would affect it and states that didn't have laws defining same-sex marriages.
    For it to be struck down was completely improper, based, purely on emotional grounds - and there is nothing more emotionally based than the odious 14th amendment, which should have been struck down, itself, long ago.

  • lelandt||

    DOMA was the historical doorstop that prevented the door from closing on same-sex marriage.

    Hillary Clinton clearly and accurately explained why President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

    If President Bill Clinton had vetoed it his veto would have been overridden. Yet, a presidential veto would have signaled that marriage would not be "safe" without a constitutional amendment. Given these numbers an anti-gay marriage amendment surely would have passed.

    Consideration of anti-marriage constitutional amendments for states constitutions and a federal amendment started in 1993 when the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage exists in the United States today because we do not have a constitutional amendment banning it. And DOMA is the reason we do not have that anti-gay marriage amendment.

    Bernie Sanders is wrong. DOMA passed the House with 79% yes vote (5% did not vote). It passed the Senate with 85%. Some of the most liberal Democratic members of the Senate voted for DOMA like Joe Biden & Paul Wellstone.
    Of course, all the Republicans voted for it.

    I chaired the committee which wrote the world's first Domestic Partnership policy passed into law in 1984 in Berkeley. I have been watching and participating in this issue for over 3 decades. I am a socialist and love Bernie but he is just plain wrong. (And so is Hilary Rosen!)

    Hillary Clinton told what actually happened.

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