Bill Clinton adds voice to wife’s support of gay rights
Former President Bill Clinton, in a video message to be broadcast this week, says he was "honored and grateful to be among the voices urging" the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act, the measure he signed into law in 1996 that barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Clinton’s remarks will be included in a special program to honor gay rights activists that will be shown Thursday on Logo TV, a cable channel aimed at gay and lesbian viewers. The special, called "Trailblazers," will mark the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the marriage act, and will pay tribute to two figures in the case: Roberta A. Kaplan, a lawyer, and Edith Windsor, the plaintiff.
"As marriage equality spreads across the states, the number of people impacted by these two amazing women will only continue to grow," Clinton said, according to a transcript of his comments.
The remarks come just after Hillary Rodham Clinton pushed back against the implication that she opposed same-sex marriage as first lady because of political calculation.
Last June, the Supreme Court overturned both the marriage act and Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that denied same-sex couples the right to marry in the state. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have expressed their support for same-sex marriage and praised the Supreme Court’s decision.
In one of the tenser exchanges of Hillary Clinton’s tour to promote her new memoir, "Hard Choices," about her time at the State Department, she told Terry Gross of NPR that "for me, marriage has always been a matter left to the states." She added that the marriage act at least allowed "the states to act."
As Gross pressed Hillary Clinton on the issue, she added: "I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that’s just flat wrong."
Before the Supreme Court ruling last year, Bill Clinton wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post saying that "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."
Last March, in one of her first discussions of domestic policy since she stepped down as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton released a six-minute video to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy organization, in which she said gay men and lesbians "are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship."
"That includes marriage," she added, saying that she supported same-sex marriage both "personally and as a matter of policy and law."
The Logo TV special is timed to Gay Pride Month and will also honor the NBA player Jason Collins, the first publicly gay athlete in a major professional sport, and John Abdallah Wamere, a gay rights activist and refugee from Uganda, among others.