President Clinton is wrong about the history of DOMA

Last week, following President Bill Clinton’s op ed in which he shared his perspective that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post piece expressing disappointment that he had not been more reflective about his decision to support and sign DOMA into law in 1996.

I simply wanted President Clinton to say that he was wrong and that he was sorry.

My thoughts apparently stuck a chord, and I have heard from a number of people echoing the same sentiment.

It is not easy challenging the reasoning of a former President, especially one that is so —- well, verbally gifted — and especially when he is now trying to do our community a favor. But I think it is essential for LGBT people, especially the young, to know the true details of our history, even if to many of us 1996 seems like yesterday.

John Aravosis asked me to respond to one particular aspect of President Clinton’s op ed, where the former President suggests that DOMA was necessary in order to preclude passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). Here is what the President wrote last week:

In 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian. As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage “would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.” It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.

In 1996, I was President of the Human Rights Campaign, and there was no real threat of a Federal Marriage Amendment. That battle would explode about eight years later, in 2004, when President Bush announced it was a central policy goal of his administration to pass such an amendment. (President Bush made such an announcement even while his right hand man, Vice President Cheney, had a lesbian daughter).

Then-President Bill Clinton appearing at the HRC annual dinner with then- HRC President Elizabeth Birch.

Then-President Bill Clinton appearing at the HRC annual dinner with then- HRC President Elizabeth Birch.

The only threat in 1996 — the year DOMA became law —- was a marriage case making its way through the courts in Hawai’i, and that case was only construed under the Hawai’i Constitution. (In 1998, even after DOMA was signed into law, HRC would continue the battle in Hawai’i, alongside local community leaders, spending some $1.7M unsuccessfully fighting a state constitutional amendment that barred gays from obtaining marriage licenses).

The fact is that the true threat of a Federal Marriage Amendment did not arise until 2004. I do understand why President Clinton wanted to take DOMA out of play in 1996. We should recall that even congressional representatives like Chuck Schumer and Paul Wellstone (you could not get more left than Senator Wellstone) voted for DOMA. We all get the politics of the time. But it does not make the decision retroactively noble. It was wrong. And, I want to be sure that President Clinton understands the effect of his political decision.

As I wrote in my earlier piece:

DOMA made us feel like our guts had been kicked out. And just because it was a cheap, mean pre-election trick cooked up at a conservative think tank does not excuse the historic record. If it was wrong then, it is wrong for all time. I don’t think you can say “it was a different time,” as President Clinton did in explaining why he signed DOMA into law. True leadership is timeless.

I had my biggest fight with Paul Wellstone over his DOMA vote. Truth is, he broke my heart. But, before he died, he came to regret that vote deeply.

As for then-Representative Schumer, his decision to support DOMA forced HRC (under our very clear Political Action Committee rules) to endorse his opponent in the 1998 New York US Senate race, incumbent Republican Senator Al D’Amato. Just before the DOMA vote, I explained to Representative Schumer exactly what would happen if he voted for DOMA: His record would be rendered less favorable than the incumbent, Senator D’Amato. Schumer looked me right in the eye and said: “Elizabeth, I gotta do what I gotta do,” turned on his heel, and went straight onto the floor and voted for DOMA.

Our rules at HRC were clear: All things being equal, the incumbent got the endorsement. And, unlike many, Senator D’Amato had actually fought to have gays be able to serve openly in the military during the original battle in 1993. He also had worked hard to get Jim Hormel confirmed as ambassador under President Clinton (when many of D’Amato’s GOP colleagues balked at the notion of America having its first openly-gay ambassador). But we were caught in a huge bear trap, and the incredible lobby team, that had won every other defensive battle during my time at HRC, was rendered helpless, as we all were, as DOMA rolled over us like a tank.

elizabeth-birch-bill-clinton-2We all paid a huge price for DOMA, its electoral fallout, and just as important, the domino effect in the states. Thankfully, we had built a deep bench, and had overhauled the programming to invest in the everyday lives of LGBT people — in issues that affected them directly at work and in their lives — and the organization quickly rebounded.

As for Senator Schumer, he was forgiven far more quickly than HRC or me. (I still get sideway stares from time to time in NYC from gays who think of me as that heartless, mean Maggie Thatcher-type lesbian — pre- Meryl Streep version).

The bottom line is that the politics of DOMA in 1996 were admittedly tough and painful for all of us, but the FMA was simply not a threat at that time.

President Clinton signed DOMA into law for purely political reasons. I get it. As horrible as it was, I got it then. My point is that now I want the older and wiser President Clinton to reflect more deeply — to challenge himself. I want my friend to say: I was wrong, and you were all served badly by that moment in history.

Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell’s example is instructive. He lived to deeply regret that he was the swing vote in Bowers vs. Hardwick, a case that famously concluded gay people were not worthy of any constitutional protection. Powell lamented that decision before he died, and said so publicly. That is the brand of reflection I would welcome now from President Clinton.

When I moved to Washington, because we had shared similar childhoods, I secretly believed I could convince President Clinton of this one thing: that he must rise to the LGBT-civil-right-moment that history had placed in front of him. I talked to him about it every chance I got, and part of me really believed he would rise to that challenge. And I will never deny that he created a whole new emotional context in which LGBT lives could be discussed around the kitchen tables of America.

But, I do believe the President could have survived a veto. He simply chose not to test history. So, my point is this: While President Clinton could not fully rise to that moment in history, he could at least now report it accurately.


Elizabeth Birch was the President of the Human Rights Campaign during the time President Clinton signed DOMA. She is now the President of the Elizabeth Birch Company/Global Out.

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  • Sean

    Clinton didn’t need to sign DOMA. He was beating Dole by around 20-points in the polls and it’s hard to imagine his lead evaporating in the final two months of the campaign over vetoing the legislation. Maybe, MAYBE there would have been bigger blowback had Clinton used a pocket veto – but taking a stand for equality, the symbolism of it, would have been monumental and really proven Clinton had conviction. As is, I don’t think either Hillary or Bill have much conviction and DOMA & the Iraq War are two major reasons why I believe this.

  • Sandman619

    DOMA passage could have happened without President Clinton’s support. With 454 members of congress supporting the legislation, it seems likely that they could have overridden a veto if he opposed it So his support as a defensive move to avoid a constitutional amendment does not really make much sense

    Cheers !

  • dcinsider

    We’ll never know.

  • Houndentenor

    I voted for Tsongas in the primary that year, but I’m not all that convinced the Tsongas would have beaten Bush Sr to become president.

  • lynchie

    All President’s re-write history. Look at the work going on to make W seem not responsible for two bad wars and destroying the economy. I never liked Clinton, I think perhaps because he seemed oily to me. He lied about his affairs when trying to run and i still remember Bill and Hillary being interviewed in New Hampshire when they stood there, stone cold liars that they are, and said nothing had ever happened. I still remember Bill after signing DOMA acting like the cock of the walk crowing about signing the bill. We should never forget NAFTA and the Welfare bill and deregulation of Wall Street and the Banks. The oil oozing from his skin is rancid and the whole family should have a restraining order to keep them out of the White House. I see the same oily facade on Obama.

  • ronbo

    John, the problem with being “in the process” is that Mehlman, Clinton, Obama, etc… have a track record ranging from truly awful to being in line with the public.. These politicians have no core convictions and are willing to change with the wind. Once you see someone shed their skin, you know that same snake will shed it over and over and over – it’s their nature.

    Reduce Medicare or Social Security? It’s fully funded for nearly 30 years!
    DOMA to prevent something that doesn’t exist? (A fictional amendment)
    Mehlman’s finances could force him into take a contract as a lobbyist for Heritage

    A political nature that is the worst opportunist behavior – one never knows when or what they are chasing: money/power/influence.

  • Robin Tyler

    Bill Clinton should have apologized. I’m sorry goes a lot farther then the weak excuses that he is making.

  • bbock

    Yes. President Bill Clinton was a coward on DOMA and now he’s a liar about his role in DOMA. And we must not let him forget it. Or history. He even has his daughter fooled.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Two of them, really. Until DADT was passed and signed into law, it remained within the legal authority of the Executive branch to order that gays and lesbians be allowed to serve. Then the ConservaDem bigots, led by Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, decided it was necessary to preempt any such thing from happening.

    But yeah — what really gets my goat is Clinton having the nerve to try to whitewash the intended effects of these laws and to claim he didn’t crow about the ‘achievement’ in getting DOMA and DADT passed in the first place.

    In case folks would like some proof that Bill Clinton was against the extension of marriage rights in 1996, we have this quote:

    Months earlier, May 23, 1996, Clinton made his first comments on DOMA, jumbling the specific effect of the bill but echoing comments from his press secretary that he would sign it. On July 11, 1996, the administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy: ”The President … has long opposed same sex marriage. Therefore, if H.R. 3396 were presented to the President as ordered reported from the House Judiciary Committee, the President would sign the legislation.”

    Source: http://www.metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=6613

  • ldfrmc

    38 states would have to pass a Federal Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. That could not happen. It never could have happened. It has not even come close now. Two-thirds of states, or two-thirds of each house of Congress is required to just propose an amendment. Three-quarters of the states (38) would have to ratify the change.

    Hawaii did not ban same-sex marriage. They put in their Constitution: The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.

    10 states have Constitutional amendments: One man and one woman (or similar wording).

    18 states have Constitutional amendments: One man and one woman; no civil unions. Only two amendments specifically mention and prohibit “same-sex couples” from being considered. All the rest say: “unmarried persons or individuals.”

    2 states have Constitutional amendments: One man and one woman; no civil unions, no domestic partnerships, no other types of similar contracts.

    Of the 30 state Constitutional bans, 21 were brought from legislatures to a ballot measure to be voted on. 14 others were voter initiated and not from their legislatures.

    No where in this history of discrimination are there 38 states added together.

    Do you know why Hawaii could not put the words: “one man and one woman” directly in their Constitution? Go back and look at the first decision by a Supreme Court in Hawaii in Baehr.

    Stay tuned for a June decision that stops just short of an apology for over two decade’s of discrimination since the Baehr case, and over 40 years since the Baker case in Minnesota, of discrimination that has ALWAYS been unconstitutional.

    DOMA is worse than Plessy. And it will not take anywhere near as long to right the injustice.

  • nicho

    Well, aren’t you the bitchy little troll?

  • nicho

    Well, Mehlman wasn’t an elected official who solicited our money, our votes, and out support for his adultery — all while stabbing us in the back. I never felt Mehlman owed me anything. He was clearly playing for the other team. Clinton was a backstabber who claimed — and still claims — to be on out side.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Correction, my sorry ass, the sorry ass of Michelangelo Signorile, the sorry ass of Evan Wolfson, the sorry ass of John Aravosis, the sorry ass of Elizabeth Birch, and so on and so on.

    If you think Bill Clinton is some big gay savior, you’re the fucking stupid one.

    And anyone who spent a penny trying to stop that amendment in Jesusland North Carolina, was wasting their money. It lost by more than 20 points.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    How many user id’s are you posting under? BobSF too?

  • gaylib

    and you’re a raving lunatic. Party hack? I live a real life out in the boonies. I don’t have time or money to be a “hack” if I wanted to. How about crawling out of your basement long enough to regain some footing in the real world? How can you be so fucking stupid? I live in NC and if I recall correctly it was Bill Clinton working the phones and on TV railing against the marriage amendment here. Meanwhile Mehlman was closing on a posh Chelsea penthouse and Barack Obama was still “evolving”. I am over it. The only one who can’t get past the derangement is your sorry ass.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    When Bill Clinton lied and said he signed DOMA as an act of gay liberation to stop a nonexistent federal marriage amendment, you ran like a shill to the gay blogs to defend the lie.

    Guess that makes Barney Frank and the others who voted against DOMA anti-gay, since we’re now revising history to make DOMA a big gay achievement, huh?

  • FLL

    If Hillary really has no intention of running for president, she’s not obliged to change her anti-equality position, although I think people will remember her public service more fondly if she does. On the other hand, if she intends to run for president and, as you put it so well, pump gay and progressive bundlers for cash, then her silence now is outrageous. When Obama endorsed marriage equality in May of 2012, Hillary boosters demanded a gold-plated pass for her based on the fact that she was Secretary of State and presumably above mere politics. Well, that gold-plated pass expired on February 1 of this year, and the Supreme Court is preparing to rule on what will possibly be the civil rights case of our generation.

  • gaylib

    ???

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Cut the smugness, fucking Clinton shill.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Yes, you’re completely clueless. You’re a party hack who can’t stand to hear anyone criticize Saint Bill I. Well, get the fuck over it!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I’d settle for Bill Clinton not BALDFACE LYING to try to turn signing the most anti-gay federal law ever into some great gay-rights achievement.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    So Glenn = Gaylib?

    Oh, I know that you’ve rolled in here and started barking smug orders at everyone to fall in line behind your Clinton shilling.

    Fuck YOU!

  • gaylib

    me clueless? LOL. And what have you done? bleat and bitch on Americablog all day? Yeah, that’ll help. Dipshit.

  • BobSF_94117

    You want an apology — preferably one written by you so it hits all your own points — from Clinton, but you’re warming up to Mehlman? Based on what? When did he apologize?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I know exactly what you are, you fucking shill, and I’ll criticize your shilling any time I damn well please.

  • BobSF_94117

    What does “feasible” mean?

  • gaylib

    you don’t know me from Adam dickwad. Fuck YOU.

  • gaylib

    yeah, being nasty and childish will help. grow up already.

  • BobSF_94117

    Would you stop talking about me? Granted, it’s refreshing that you’re not just cussing at me like usual, but you really don’t know what I am and am not.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    BobSF isn’t interested in an actual discussion of the marriage amendment. He has one and only one goal: To shill for whatever Bill Clinton says. He’s a Clintonbot.

  • ldfrmc

    There was not then and is not now a constitutionally feasible amendment that could bar, recognize or change marriages that occur, are allowed, or permitted by states.

    A Federal Constitutional Amendment for marriage is an empty threat – now and at any time in the past.

    Grow up!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Delete more, shill!

  • BobSF_94117

    deleted

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Oh, look, BobSF has brought his Clinton shilling from Joe.My.God to AmericaBlog.

    THERE WAS NO FUCKING FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT IN 1996! NOT EVEN ONE RIGHT-WING BIGOT THOUGHT TO INTRODUCE SUCH A BILL UNTIL 2002!

    Fuck you, you goddamn shill!

  • Glenn I

    When Senator Wellstone died and the outpouring of grief from the lefties filled the blogosphere I remember thinking, “Wasn’t that the guy that shat on marriage?”

  • BobSF_94117

    What would have been accomplished by a veto? Clinton would have been weakened.

    And the claim that the GOP didn’t pursue a marriage amendment for several years ignores WHY they didn’t. They thought DOMA would be enough to stop the spread of relationship rights. It wasn’t. Courts were already finding ways to at least partially recognize SSM and CUs in states, so they turned to constitutional amendments. A federal one would have had more support and earlier support were it not for DOMA.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    As FLL notes below, it’s now time to turn our attention to Hillary Clinton and her closed mouth.

    When she soon finds herself pumping gay and progressive bundlers for cash, how will she explain having said NOTHING as marriage equality went before the Supreme Court? I don’t regard that as presidential leadership. Governor Cuomo seems the superior choice for all that gay money.

    Hillary Clinton’s official positions remain as follows:

    1. Supports separate-but-equal regime of civil unions
    2. Opposes marriage equality
    3. Supports legislative repeal ONLY of Section 3 of DOMA.
    4. Does not support repeal of Section 2 of DOMA, allowing states to ignore out-of-state same-sex marriages.

    Does the anti-gay cat have her tongue, or does she honestly think she can run in 2016 on an insulting “civil unions” platform?

  • dcinsider

    Gay Dems like Mixner (and Birch and her HRC ilk) fought to get Clinton the nomination over Paul Tsongas, who was a real champion of gay rights many years before he ran for President. Then, when Clinton fucked us, as us Tsongas people said he would, they defended him (Birch, Mixner) and fought for his re-election. Had Tsongas won, DOMA would have been vetoed.

    My point? Ignore your real friends at your peril, and bleive liars at your peril. Tsongas was a real friend and many gays and lesbinas dumped him for Clinton, got fucked, got 20 years of DOMA for their betrayal, and the rest of us suffered because they are stupid gullible idiots.

    However, if we are so gullible as to buy Clinton’s re-writing of history, we deserve another 20 years of pain.

  • dcinsider

    Exactly, that’s why i said Bill Clinton is not the only one re-writing history.

  • ldfrmc

    When someone spits in your face, don’t call it “rain.” When you then offer them your umbrella, YOU cannot ask for a “personal apology,” can YOU.

    I can. They are all wet. I’m not.

  • ldfrmc

    “In 1998, even after DOMA was signed into law, HRC would continue the battle in Hawai’i,”

    Drop the “continue the” and your history is corrected, Ms Birch. HRC did next to nothing during the 1990-1996 legal battle in Hawai’i. It went out of its way to discourage and distance itself from supporting the Hawai’i marriage case.

    Do not overlook the basic wrong by President Clinton in 1996. He signed DOMA into law in the middle of the night without any announcements. An Act of Congress can become law without a Presidential signature. Clinton chose to sign the bill. He did not have to do that.

    Then there was the support of HRC in his re-election campaign. Please comment on that.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Amen! Hell yes, we remember, and we’re never going to forget.

    The question is whether Clinton thinks we’re so stupid that he can baldface lie about a mythical FMA in 1996–or thinks we’re so insignificant that he doesn’t care that we know he’s lying.

    An answer, I think, is that–as has ALWAYS been true of Clinton on gays–we are never the audience. Gay-sympathetic heterosexuals are the audience. They are less likely to recall the details, so he’ll feed them this bullshit lie and call us “angry,” “militant,” “bitter,” etc. when we point out that he’s blatantly lying. That’s how he has always operated.

  • cole3244

    this is americas answer to democracy dem style, a pres who never made a decision without weighing the political consequences, just as when he went back to ark to oversee the execution of a mentally challenged man on death row, he showed the right he was a man of strength and principle and garnered more votes by doing so, now he wants to change history as much for himself but also for hillary in 2016, can’t have baggage on another wh run don’t you know.
    i am so tired of having to hold my nose when voting against the gop rw thugs in america, when will i and others on the left get a hero we can vote for and respect at the same time, i have a dream.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Put simply, in 1993 with DADT and in ’96 with DOMA, Bill Clinton and the DNC leadership decided it was politically expedient to throw gays and lesbians under the bus. Both times, Clinton and the Dems did not say, “We’re really sorry, but we can’t stop this, but here’s a veto so you can know — even though it will be overridden — that we did everything in our power to stop this travesty of anti-gay discrimination.”

    No. At the time, in both cases, they crowed as if their “compromise” was a huge triumph. “Hey, gay people can serve! They just can’t be public about their sexual orientation!” Or, “Individual states can still enact marriage rights for gay couples. It’s just that they can also ban them, and in no case will the federal gov’t recognize the marriages, which is no big deal, right?”

    DADT and DOMA were and still are odious pieces of intentionally discriminatory legislation, and if any more proof is needed as to their origins in animus and bigotry, one need only read the Congressional record.

    Now Bill Clinton feels he needs to up the ante on why he didn’t oppose those laws, and clearly he hopes we’ve all forgotten how at the time he took credit and was proud of them.

    I haven’t forgotten. Nor have I forgotten how both Clinton’s and Obama’s administrations fought for years to uphold the constitutionality of both those laws, the latter administration stopping only recently, basing their arguments on the same anti-gay bigotry that got them passed in the first place. I haven’t forgotten about the thousands of worthy, loyal servicemen and -women who were discharged during those administrations, and how many tens of thousands more had to give up having relationships and families just to serve. I haven’t forgotten about all the gay and lesbian families being denied basic civil rights, being cheated by an intentionally unfair tax code and discriminatory benefits restrictions, and for some, forced to choose between country or a loved one and family.

    Nice try, Bill, but some of us have not forgotten. And thanks, Elizabeth Birch, for setting the record straight on the fact the FMA wasn’t on the radar at all back then. In reality, it was nothing but a bunch of cowardly Democratic politicians who felt it was politically expedient to bash gays.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    The absolute worst possible thing is to smugly tell us that signing the most anti-gay federal law ever was doing us a favor. It is just a perfect encapsulation of Blue Dog/DLC contempt for gays–do anything they want to us and just say anything they want to us. We dont matter, and we supposedly have nowhere to go. No, that domestic battery is over! And the batterer in chief, Bill Clinton, is under a lifetime protective order when it comes to the gays–one we’re perfectly prepared to enforce ourselves.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Well, Im “in the process” of accepting Ken Mehlman. He’s not accepted yet :) But, I do believe in welcoming good deeds, even from bad people. You have to begin to change somewhere. It doesn’t mean we should forgive or forget the past, but if they’re trying to make amends, good for them. My problem with Clinton’s statement was, as Elizabeth notes, and I noted last week, he’s rewriting history in order excuse DOMA. There was no excuse. He should just say “I screwed up” and be done with it. But don’t tell us he was doing us a favor.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Right. It should be obvious that she’s sticking her neck out a bit here.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Fuck you. Clinton did not say he was wrong. Clinton LIED and portrayed himself as the savior of the gays by signing DOMA to supposedly block a constitutional amendment THAT DIDN’T EVEN EXIST.

    You come off as a pathetic party shill. Dear, it was Bill Clinton who dredged up the past by LYING about it.

    P.S. I’m delighted that Ken Mehlman is raising lots of money for marriage equality and working hard to change minds in the GOP. But then, I’m not a raving party hack like you.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Amen!!!

  • Butch1

    He’s embarrassed for what he did to us and he wants to change history in the worst way. It was more important to advance his career and throw us under the bus than do the right thing.

    These are the same times, President Clinton; because of your selfishness by putting up two equal rights hurtles for us to have to fight, it has taken us seventeen years to try and become par with our straight friends, and family members. Some of the states are on par but on the national level we still are NOT recognized thanks to YOU Mr. President. So don’t try and white wash what you did to us now.

    I do appreciate that he is trying to amend what he did by signing into law two disastrous bills , DADT and DOMA. We still have a republican party who in a minute, would legislate that we go back and put DADT back in place if they could. We have a President who needs to be forced to do anything for us and even then he only goes 3/4 ths of the way and is never fully behind us. Our “fierce advocate” has always paid us lip service but has been AWOL when we’ve needed him the most. Now the SCOTUS is looking at two cases. I wish it could be an easy win for us but second-class citizenship is not something that is a fixable foregone conclusion with this present court when you have a Scalia, Thomas and a few others who do not see us as equal. Clinton should not have been so myopia in his haste when he signed these bills into law.

  • Houndentenor

    Who accepted Kenny Mehlman? No one I know.

  • Houndentenor

    The problem with ALL our gay rights organizations is that they try to operate top down and from inside the beltway. They don’t represent the interests of the vast majority of gay Americans. They just want to protect their own insider status and throw lavish parties to pat themselves on the back. Meanwhile the Human Rights Campaign has accomplished NOTHING. Not one damn thing in all those years and for all that money spent. We deserve better.

  • Houndentenor

    How hard would it be for him to say, “I did what was politically useful for me at the time and now, 17 years later, I deeply regret it and I apologize to the gay community.” That’s a real apology. Continuing to offer the same tired rationalizations for treating your friends like crap is just going to make them more angry at you. DOMA and DADT are the reasons I didn’t support HRC in the 2008 primaries. The Clintons had already shown that they were perfectly happy to throw gay people under the bus. I was willing to take a chance on Obama (fully aware that when push came to shove he might not be any better). All Bill has done is remind me why I didn’t want another Clinton in the White House back in 2008. Nothing seems to have changed in the Clinton world. Thanks, but no thanks. As for being grateful that he finally came around, that’s just pathetic. Several Republicans beat him to the punch. That’s not leadership. it’s just more typical Clinton games. I’ve had enough.

  • nicho

    You come off as clueless. The Clintons have destroyed thousands of lives of LBGT people. Screw ‘em.

  • FLL

    The Clintons, as expected, are working as a team in their current project of making it look like DOMA was necessary, even though it wasn’t. There’s only one thing that strikes me as odd. How could anything make Hillary look good to equality-minded voters when she won’t endorse marriage equality to this very day? She left office as Secretary of State at the beginning of February, so what exactly is her excuse for remaining silent on marriage equality now, especially with two high-profile cases before the Supreme Court?

  • FLL

    By inventing a non-existent threat of a constitutional anti-gay amendment, the Clintons are indulging in cynical strategy for Hillary’s 2016 run. The Clintons are trying to make Hillary’s nomination in 2016 seem inevitable when it’s not inevitable at all. Hillary’s nomination for president inevitable? Now where have I heard that before? It didn’t turn out to be true the first time, so why should it turn out to be true the second time?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I agree. I think she’s been rather brave in discussing this topic. The easy thing to do, the typical thing to do, even for former heads of gay groups (hell, especially for former heads), would be to defend Clinton in the hopes of lobbying him for favors. She’s not doing that.

  • dcinsider

    Agreed. She was a total failure at HRC. Accomplished zero during her tenure. And if you met here, she was the very definition of lightweight.

  • dcinsider

    You are clueless, and those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Forget DOMA? What are you a total nitwit? Petty and selfish, yes, that’s what us gays are who hold people accountable for shitting on us. If Bill Clinton signing into law the only piece of anti-gay legislation in US History doesn’t make him at least “suspect” as a friend, then we might as well give up right now. Clinton killed us in 1996 and we still have to live with his cowardice today. An apology is the LEAST he can do.

  • dcinsider

    Amen.

  • dcinsider

    I so rarely agree with Elizabeth Birch as I found her abysmal at her job and assisted in rendering HRC the absolute joke that it is today, but she is right here. Now, when she was chief apologist for Clinton at the time, and make no bones she WAS chief apologist, she never EVER said any of this out loud. So sometimes we all try to rewrite history, and Liz is involved in a little bit of that herself here.

    Nonetheless, the woman speaks the truth today, and Clinton needs to set up. I have NEVER forgiven him for this law, and never will until he apologizes for what he did. All his recent talk tot he contrary, the ONLY president to ever sign into law discrimination against gays and lesbians was Bill Clinton.

  • ronbo

    The entire era of un-success was engineered by individuals playing the “insider”/”go along to get along” game. It’s a stall tactic and their set of rules designed to kill change. It’s how E. Birch played the game (instead of playing to win the issue, she played it like a professional lobbyist – to win the money)

    Only when individuals refused to “shut up or go to the back of the bus” do we make real achievements. We know this works.

    I’m just wondering when E Birch is going to give Joe Lieberman the “Elizabeth Birch Equality Award” and start raking in the dollars from the conservative American Enterprise Institute. With her track record, she’ll make millions and consult her way into another lost decade for us.

  • ronbo

    Thank you Elizabeth? Sweeping unsightly bigotry under the rug so that you could later say “they forced me to do it” is as heartwaring as your long, long, unsuccessful tenure at HRC. So much time, so litte solved. Your continue the anti-populist, insider mentality that kept HRC from achievig a single goal (goals which actually help GLBT inividuals. Because yes, you achieved the conservative goals by playing by their rules and curtsying to their demands on cue).

    I’m so glad you are gone – wish we could forget your “lost” years when advancement was stalled, delayed and defeated. Your “go slow” and “get along” policy enabled the enemy of fairness.

    Don’t you understand that if you refuse to demand, or even ask for equality, you’ll never get it. You can’t reinvent your history with false tales, misinformation and smears. Take the loss and work for progress…now. Just because you were an epic failure for our cause doesn’t mean you will always be an epic failure. But please don’t think you can do the history spin and come out clean. Start fresh and admit your failure. Without clean hands, we can’t start anew.

  • Gaylib

    Oh for christs sake get over it already. If we are supposed to accept Ken Mehlman back into the fold, we can get past what Clinton did 17 years ago. And HRC seems more than happy to embrace Mehlman. Clinton said he was wrong and that the supremes should overturn DOMA. Instead of attacking our allies because you personally feel you deserve an apology, why not go after our real enemies? You just come off as selfish and petty otherwise. Lets move on and focus on the future.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Thanks to Elizabeth Birch for trying to squelch this emerging Democratic line about those who turned their backs on us in 1996 and now want to portray themselves as some kind of gay heroes for supporting the most anti-gay federal law in U.S. history. Disavow and apologize, yes. Dissemble and distort, no way!

  • nicho

    What? The Clintons lying? Why I never heard of such a thing! Quick, get my fan and my smelling salts! I think I’m going to faint!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    What the Clintons apparently don’t understand is that this blatant lying to try to make themselves look better on DOMA is more likely to close my wallet and lose my vote than just disavowing DOMA and otherwise shutting their traps. We know from her Iraq vote, of course, that they NEVER admit a mistake or apologize, so it’s best for them just to shut the fuck up and stop rehashing history I guess. The lying reminds me why, in 2008, I decided I didn’t want to do anything to put Bill Clinton back anywhere near the White House.

    To the extent there is a silver lining, however, it is that having to deal with that backstabbing bastard for eight years put us all instantly on guard when Obama and his warmed-over Clinton advisers started trying to pull the same bullshit in 2009 and 2010.

    Perhaps Bill and Hillary need a reminder that one in five Obama bundlers were gay, and we aren’t the ’90s gays who swooned over crumbs and patronizing pats on the head.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrats are Republicans in drag.

    That continues to be the case today.

    They refuse, because their party is infested with bigots and panderers, to pass ENDA or better, an inclusive Civil Rights Amendment with a package accompanying robust penalties for discrimination, violence and hate speech that fulfills what the tepid Civil Rights laws of the 60’s will never do. They refuse to repeal DOMA and their challenges to it are incomplete and lukewarm for the same reason.

    Obama’s statement that ‘gawd’s in the mix’ on MTV and at the bigotfest organized by his bigot BBF Rick Warren torpedoed our chances for marriage equality in California in 2008 by galvanizing and enabling the bigot vote that came out in droves and unexpectedly passed Prop 8. We had been ahead in the polls.

    Obama and the Clinton’s started out as pig-headed bigots and all their contrived, election related ‘evolving’s won’t erase their long history of pandering and rabid bigotry.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielReasor Daniel Reasor

    You write, “it is not easy challenging the reasoning of a former President, especially one that is so —- well, verbally gifted — and especially when he is now trying to do our community a favor.”

    Maybe I can help with this. President Clinton ** wants to be seen doing us a favor ** because his wife is going to run for President again, and because this time around they’d like to avoid having to answer for DOMA in the party primaries. The opportunism and the self-service wafting off the man are as obvious now as they ever were.

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