In an op-ed piece published yesterday in the Washington Post, former president Bill Clinton expressed his regret for signing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law, and explained why he believes it should now be overturned.
The article, entitled “It’s Time to Overturn DOMA,” contended that much has changed in America since the bill became law in 1996.
“Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time,” he began. “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.”
Clinton stated that he signed the bill because some feared that a constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage” would instead be presented if the Act was not implemented, and that some legislators still are apprehensive that an amendment could be proposed.
He also asserted that with DOMA currently being challenged in the United States Supreme Court, he has concluded that the Act does not provide “freedom, equality and justice for all.”
“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,” Clinton wrote.
He then proceeded to explain.
“Because Section 3 of the act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, same-sex couples who are legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the benefits of more than a thousand federal statutes and programs available to other married couples,” Clinton outlined. “Among other things, these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees. Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws.”
The former president also compared homosexual “marriage” to the women’s suffrage movement nearly a century ago, insinuating that the nation’s belief system is evolving.
“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,” he contended. “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.”
Clinton concluded by stating that some of the nation’s laws are outdated, but that the people know how to “catch up to [their] core values.”
“Americans have been at this sort of a crossroads often enough to recognize the right path. We understand that, while our laws may at times lag behind our best natures, in the end they catch up to our core values,” he stated. “One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln concluded a message to Congress by posing the very question we face today: ‘It is not ‘Can any of us imagine better?’ but ‘Can we all do better?’ ”
“The answer is of course and always yes,” he wrote. “In that spirit, I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Clinton’s support for homosexual “marriage” does not represent a “coming out” for the former president on the issue. Many note that in recent years, Clinton has been backing the efforts of Barack Obama and other Democrats who have voiced their advocacy of homosexual relationships.
The Supreme Court is set to rule on DOMA in June.