Former president Bill Clinton said in a conference for progressive students that he supports gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry.
“Yeah,” Clinton said when asked after a speech at the Campus Progress National Conference, according to The Nation . “I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it’s wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage].”
In 1996, Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, 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. He also approved the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which barred openly gay personnel from serving in the military.
In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, Clinton said that “people who have a relationship ought to be able to call it whatever they want. And insofar as it’s sanctified by a religious ceremony, that’s up to the churches involved.”
He added about the fight in Congress over DOMA, “I think what happened in the Congress was that a lot of people who didn’t want to be antigay 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.”
I have no comment on this, because I feel that Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry said it best:
“President Clinton’s support for the freedom to marry has evolved over time, and shows the power we each have when we talk about why marriage matters to the people we know and help them rise to fairness. President Clinton has grappled with this question for a long time, and clearly he, like the country, has come a long way since fear and politics brought about such discriminatory measures as the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ that he signed and now has moved past.”