Hillary, Bill, DOMA and Revising History

This is a really terrific investigation by Chris Geidner on BuzzFeed about Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about DOMA. You should read it. Geidner’s combed through White House documents and has not found any evidence that Clinton (Bill) acted from a defensive position in signing DOMA like Clinton (Hillary) indicated that he did in her Rachel Maddow interview.

In fact, after the interview aired, I tweeted as much:


The reason that I remember this so well is that I had only been all-the-way out for several years, I was living in D.C., young and politically charged, and I was very active in the Democratic party. To my memory, no one ever advanced the idea of a Constitutional amendment on marriage or the argument that DOMA was the lesser of two evils. That’s Bernie Sanders’ recollection, too. Not only has he called Hillary out on this, he also voted against DOMA.

Bill and Hillary Clinton may be pro-marriage equality today — and good for them; they should be — but the record is pretty clear: in the 90s, Bill Clinton did not support same-sex marriage.

I’m not terribly sure, with nearly 20 years of hindsight, that he should be pilloried for that, given the tenor of the times, but let’s not engage in fantasy revisionism. It’s okay to change your mind; that’s kind of the whole underpinning of the United States.

’90s Flashback — Who Opposed DOMA [video]

A few stunning voices speaking out against DOMA in 1996, assembled by Lawrence O’Donnell for MSNBC. Worth a listen, for sure — but especially to Georgia’s John Lewis, the grandfather — the godfather — of agitating for social change in America. From rising literally “bloody but unbowed” to walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge and nearly being killed, to simply and eloquently refusing to sit down, Rep. Lewis, rightly called “the conscious of Congress,” remains one of the true champions of what America should aspire to be.

H/T to Andrew Sullivan, who first embedded this in a great piece on The Dish.

Stuart Milk On LGBT Rights: ‘We Still Have A Long Way To Go’

“There’s a misconception that we have now achieved everything but marriage equality, and that’s just not the case. We still don’t have societal equality,” Milk said. “You can ask any African American, any Latino, if they were not treated equally somewhere along the line. Whenever you have a group that can be marginalized, you have to be vigilant in protecting those rights. Equality requires constant vigilance and it doesn’t end with same-sex marriage.

“We can legalize all day long, but we need to change the conversation,” Milk added. “For so long we’ve taught the message of tolerance. But tolerance is such a low bar. Who really wants to be tolerated? As I always say, we need to celebrate diversity, not just tolerate it.”

via Stuart Milk On LGBT Rights: ‘We Still Have A Long Way To Go’|Huffington Post

I agree. Then again, tolerance is something. By and large, we are edging away from tolerance and into general acceptance, but it’s a progession. It’s immensely frustrating to be sure, but it’s happening. And, actually, it’s happening on an astonishing pace, not only in the U.S. but throughout the developed world.

Unfortunately, it remains important that Stuart Milk must prompt us to remember that the pleas of his uncle, Harvey, for gay people to come out, to stand out, to be proud, and to serve as models are still extremely important to our daily lives. But, thus far, we’ve been so successful in changing minds and opinions, we can have a day where this picture is (rightly) celebrated!


Tenacious LGBT heroine Edith Windsor, 84, took her fight against DOMA to the Supreme Court of the United States and won. Here she is holding a fan bearing her image at the New York City gay pride parade just days after her June 26, 2013 victory. | Craig Ruttle/AP Photo

I Believe

As ever, Sullivan is the eloquent voice on this issue.

The Dish


[Re-posted from earlier today]

Some final thoughts after so many years of so many thoughts. Marriage is not a political act; it’s a human one. It is based on love, before it is rooted in law. Same-sex marriages have always existed because the human heart has always existed in complicated, beautiful and strange ways. But to have them recognized by the wider community, protected from vengeful relatives, preserved in times of illness and death, and elevated as a responsible, adult and equal contribution to our common good is a huge moment in human consciousness. It has happened elsewhere. But here in America, the debate was the most profound, lengthy and impassioned. This country’s democratic institutions made this a tough road but thereby also gave us the chance and time to persuade the country, which we did. I understand and respect those who in good conscience fought this tooth and nail…

View original post 259 more words

Morning in America: Justice and Strange Bedfellows

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

That’s from the President.  I’m not sure if anyone could say it better or more succinctly.

BNsV6NYCAAU_-na.jpg-largeThis is, in fact, a great day for America. It is a day that opens up hope to those of us for too long have had none. It is a day that means that we are on a course to make good a promise more than 200 years old that everyone — no matter their religion, the color of their skin, their sexuality — is equal under the law in the United States of America.

It means that for the first time, bi-national couples will not have to choose to give up their country for the person that they love. It means that for the first time, I can have the same 1,100 Federal benefits of marriage that straight couples have always had and taken for granted. It means that the Federal government — my Federal government — will recognize my partnership in the same way that it has always recognized straight couples in a marriage contract. And it means, for the very first time in my 49 years of life, that my government does not look upon this taxpayer as a second class citizen unworthy of the same benefits and privileges of that citizenship as my fellow straight citizens.

For someone who has always been fascinated by the workings of government, who read our founding documents and studied the writings of our founding fathers and who loved political debates in civics, I’ve often been gobsmacked by the infiltration of the radical right into the political process in recent decades and their righteous indignation when something does not go their way. The continual attempts by the radical right and the “Christian right” to undermine our system with the perverse rewriting of history in which the United States was built on some sketchy moralistic Christian platform is to pervert the very form of government that they claim to uphold.

The decisions in Perry (Prop 8) and  Windsor  (DOMA) come 10 years to the day after the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, perhaps the first significant Libertarian victory of the 21st century, and means that June 26th will be a day celebrated by lovers of equality for many years to come.

The curious thing about history is that good and bad, correct and incorrect, important and inane all come about from such curious places. DOMA and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” were, for gay and lesbian Americans, two of the most unjust and inhumane pieces of legislation created in our lifetime. And they were signed by President Clinton. The Lawrence case was decided by the G.W. Bush-era Rehnquist Court, while today’s two decisions in an Obama-era Roberts Court, showed the conservative Chief Justice writing the opinion in Perry and dissenting in Windsor.


“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others,the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. ” from the opinion in United States v. Windsor

Meanwhile, the Court’s longest-serving justice, that unrepentant lion of the right, 77-year-old Antonin Scalia, who dissented in Lawrence, joined Roberts in affirming the Perry had no standing while delivering a resounding (some may say deranged) 26-page dissent in Windsor.

What does all that mean? It means that in all ways and in all cases, justice served makes for strange bedfellows.

I’ll leave you with Dan Savage’s brilliant — and utterly and completely true — admonition that in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, you can always count on the freedom and the bravery coming last. And while I fervently believe that, I am also unfailingly glad that in America we do usually get there in the end.

Fight on. I have a wedding to plan.

Supreme Court Rulings Loom On Affirmative Action, Gay Marriage, Voting Rights

Supreme Court Rulings Loom On Affirmative Action, Gay Marriage, Voting Rights.


SCOTUS – Image: Wikimedia Commons

The gay media world is all a-twitter over when the DOMA and Prop. 8 rulings are going to be handed down. There’s not a lot of time left, either. One suspects that the Supremes are going to issue these opinions on the very last day of the term — which will be June 27 — and run for the door until the first Monday until October because, I don’t know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a timeshare in the Berkshires?

How The Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling Could Upend The Immigration Debate

This is a decent analysis by Chris Geidner on BuzzFeed. It takes a very complex legal issue (made overly complex by the masters of over-complexity, the U.S. Congress) and makes it easy to digest.

Truth be told, this just infuriates me. I simply do not understand what the Republicans think they have to gain by ruining these peoples families.

Because the Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages, binational gay and lesbian couples — those where one partner is not a U.S. citizen — have been denied the ability to seek a green card that straight couples have been eligible to obtain for their spouse in a similar situation.

The legislation aimed at addressing this issue is the Uniting American Families Act, and it would create a new category, called “permanent partners,” that would make same-sex couples eligible for green cards. The “Gang of Eight” senators did not include the measure in their immigration reform bill, but LGBT advocates have been pressing for Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to add the provision into the bill during the committee markup, which is slated to begin May 9.

via How The Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling Could Upend The Immigration Debate.

Former Senators: We Were Wrong On DOMA

No shit.

Former Senators Bill Bradley, Tom Daschle, Christopher Dodd and Alan Simpson — all of whom voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 — told the Supreme Court Friday that “the original justifications for DOMA can no longer be credited today,” concluding that “our constitutional commitment to equality does not tolerate such discrimination.”

via Former Senators Bradley, Daschle, Dodd And Simpson: We Were Wrong On DOMA.|Buzzfeed

DOMA Hurts Gay Military Couples [VIDEO]

DOMA Hurts Gay Military Couples After DADT Repeal, Says U.S. Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps.

On the heels of the one-year anniversary of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” U.S Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps made history when he became the first gay man to propose marriage to his boyfriend Ben Schock at the White House.

Now the newly engaged couple are featured in a new video that demonstrates how the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, counteracts many of the benefits same-sex military spouses should be receiving in the wake of the DADT repeal.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has urged the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA when it hears arguments next month.

The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act in a brief that calls the law unconstitutional because it violates “the fundamental guarantee of equal protection.”  HuffPo