An article published yesterday discusses Hillary Clinton’s shifting position on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law signed by her husband, which permits states to ignore same sex marriages or civil unions granted in other states.
“Clinton’s change on DOMA came to light when her advisers released the text of her candidate questionnaire for the Human Rights Campaign.
Her new stance may be an attempt to establish a separate identity from that of Bill Clinton, whose presidency was somewhat of a best-of-times, worst-of-times for LGBT Americans….
DOMA contains two provisions — one that gives states autonomy on marriage and one that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
With the precision of a neurosurgeon, Clinton cut herself free of the second plank of the law while continuing to embrace the first plank, essentially saying that she would let states decide their own destiny on marriage but leave the door open for federal recognition of same-sex unions.
‘Sen. Clinton believes that each state should make its own decisions regarding marriage or civil unions, but once a state legalizes such relationships, these relationships should receive full federal recognition and benefits,’ Ethan Geto, Clinton’s senior national adviser on LGBT issues, wrote in an email to The Advocate.
‘As several states have legalized gay marriage or civil unions, Sen. Clinton has come to believe that the restrictions imposed by DOMA on federal government recognition of same-sex relationships are unfair.’
The position represents a marked departure from her comments to a group of about 40 LGBT leaders in New York in October during her Senate reelection campaign, in which she stood firm on the strategic importance of DOMA in helping to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have constitutionally denied the right of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
‘One of the strongest arguments we had against the constitutional amendment, which kept Democrats and even some Republicans from voting for it, was DOMA — that (the Federal Marriage Amendment) was not necessary; marriage has always been the province of states,’ Clinton said during that meeting.
‘I feel very good about the strategy we took on DOMA,’ she added.
While cynics may roll their eyes at ‘strategy,’ and while many LGBT activists criticized Clinton for not being more supportive during the federal marriage debate, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, has credited her as a strategic force in defeating the amendment in 2006.”