Monica Lewinsky Isn’t the Only Thing Bill Clinton Regrets About His Presidency

Bill Clinton Gay Marriage

As the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against marriage equality over a two-day gay marriage marathon, Bill Clinton is left regretting his decision to sign the Defense of Marriage Act.

Today gay-marriage activists will argue that the Constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage and states don’t have the authority to reject this. California’s notorious Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, will be at the forefront of these discussions.

On the second day the court will hear arguments for the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton in September, 1996. What’s interesting is that Bill Clinton is now urging the Supreme Court to overturn the legislation he signed during his presidency.

While it is extremely rare for former Presidents to admit mistakes made in office, much less to disavow a major piece of legislation, Bill Clinton expressed his regret in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month. In anticipation of the Supreme Court hearings, Clinton wrote:

“On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court, and the justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional. As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.”

His explanation for signing the act back in 1996?

“Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time.”

At the time Clinton felt he couldn’t risk it politically. Despite having a heavy LGBT support base, public opinion was largely anti-gay marriage and after the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” fiasco, the administration kind of backed away from any substantive gay rights issues. When the Defense of Marriage Act came around, the administration felt their reelection would be in jeopardy if Clinton vetoed it.

After Clinton’s reelection, he eased up a bit , supporting legislation banning discrimination against gays and appointing openly gay Americans to important positions.  It took him a while, but he finally endorsed same-sex marriage in 2009.

Clinton’s turnaround mirrors larger changes in America where gay marriage has gone from being a radical idea to a mainstream one. Now it seems everyone is doing it. Coming out in support of gay marriage is the new coming out of the closet. Hillary did it, Obama did it (via Biden) and even Republicans are coming out (albeit at a slower pace).

I guess the lesson learned is… conform to public opinion in your first term then do whatever you want in your second term?

Via: The New York Times

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply