by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
'Yeah.' That was former president Bill Clinton's answer when asked after a speech at the Campus Progress National Conference for progressive students if he supported Gay marriage July 8.
'I personally support people doing what they want to do,' Clinton continued. 'I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage].'
The former president is undoubtedly the highest-profile Democrat to answer in the affirmative thus far. But, other than notoriety, his endorsement is powerful considering that in 1996 he signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned recognition of same-sex marriages at the federal level and gave individual states the right to refuse recognition to such marriages even if performed legally in other states.
In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, Clinton said, "I think what happened in the Congress [concerning DOMA] was that a lot of people who didn't want to be anti-Gay didn't feel that they should be saying that as a matter of law, without regard to what various churches or religions or others thought, that the United States policy was that all unions that call themselves marriages are, as a matter of law, marriages. I don't think we're there yet. But I think that what we ought to do is to get the legal rights straightened out and let time take its course, and we'll see what happens."
Nine years have passed, and with the LGBT community calling for President Obama and Congress to repeal DOMA and the recent decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Prop. 8, the issue of Gay marriage is hotter than ever. Clinton's public endorsement of Gay marriage may have come late to the game, but it will, no doubt, carry a great deal of weight.
Clinton joins a list of high-profile political leaders including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), former NY Senate leader Joe Bruno, Republican operatives Roger Stone and Steve Schmidt, and former Vice President Dick Cheney who have all, within the past few weeks, publicly endorsed the freedom to marry.
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