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Bill Clinton-DOMA: President who signed anti-gay marriage law now says its unconstitutional

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks on February 21, 2013 during the inauguration ceremony for the first phase of the Eko Atlantic real estate project, in Lagos, Nigeria

Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, now says that the law that bars federal recognition of same-sex couples should be overturned by the Supreme Court. Here's the former president in a Washington Post op-ed today:

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. ...

We are still a young country, and many of our landmark civil rights decisions are fresh enough that the voices of their champions still echo, even as the world that preceded them becomes less and less familiar. We have yet to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but a society that denied women the vote would seem to us now not unusual or old-fashioned but alien. I believe that in 2013 DOMA and opposition to marriage equality are vestiges of just such an unfamiliar society.

It should be noted that Clinton doesn't actually use the word "unconstituional" in his editorial, although that's how everyone—including WaPo editors—are reading the op-ed given the "incompatible with our Constitution" line and the fact that Clinton states clearly that he believes "the law is itself discriminatory."

Regardless of the semantics, Clinton now joins a number of high-profile former and current politicians urging the high court to strike down the law. President Obama and a group of more than a 100 Republicans sent separate amicus briefs to the Supreme Court earlier this year. While those so-called "friends of the court" briefs may or may not change any minds on the high court, they nonetheless are the latest signal of how public opinion is shifting on the issue.

What do you think? Personally, I'm glad he spoke up. Backpedaling is better than nothing.


Asked by Ballad at 12:26 AM on Mar. 9, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • Clinton though IMO not the best President was not anywhere near the worst. There was a lot of publicity at the time he signed the defense of marriage act. Some said that he caved to the popular vote (voices). Some will still declaim anything he says.

    And if it were an option I would not vote to have him or his wife as president. Hpwever, IMO, though it could be said that again he is just going with the popular opinion and that of his party, I think in this case at least he is speaking from his heart.
    I have to respect a person who (esppecially) publicly, makes a stand and then finds he was wrong and admits it and tries to do something to rectify the situation. Cudos to former President Clinton.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:04 AM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • he also signed in Dont Ask Dont Tell...but so that gays could serve in the military even if someone was suspicious of their sexuality. honestly, its hard to judge an action that happened 17 years ago by today's society. politicians often do things that they dont personally believe true but rather society deems true. it doesnt surprise me that he's speaking out against it...since gay rights has slowly become a Democrat value.

    Answer by okmanders at 11:01 AM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • People are entitled to change their minds and opinions - even if they are a former president, and even if it is about something that they once made a law about. I see nothing wrong with what he's doing now.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:08 AM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • Good for him!

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 8:17 AM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • All smart and compassionate people eventually come around...good for him!


    Answer by older at 8:27 AM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • You forget he is a politician and all politicians do things that they think the majority of people want. They really don't believe the crap they do.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:08 PM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • I don't think it is fair or right to say that he does not believe in his new stance or opinion. Just because he is a politiondoes not mean that he does not think about different things and have veiws on them all on his own. I can say he is not just doing the poplualr thing.
    I don't know him as a person well enough to make that call. If he were running or office I might have an opinion.

    Answer by Dardenella at 7:20 PM on Mar. 9, 2013

  • Well, people can change. But I still don't like Clinton and I don't trust him or any other former or current president. lol

    Answer by JackieGirl007 at 11:00 PM on Mar. 9, 2013