Former President Bill Clinton has finally come out publicly against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law in 1996. As he puts it in a Washington Post editorial today, "it was a very different time" back then, and he only did it to defuse the growing movement at the time to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."
Clinton didn't file his own amicus brief in the case of United States vs. Windsor, perhaps because that would have been legally weird, but today he comes out strongly on the side of the bipartisan group of former senators who did file a brief on March 1, and who mentioned the movement for the amendment, which "would have ended the debate for a generation or more.”
Arguments regarding DOMA and the case challenging Prop 8 go before the Supreme Court on March 26 and 27.
Ever the eloquent writer and speaker, Clinton states very simply that DOMA is a vestige of an "alien" society, not unlike the one that denied women the right to vote a hundred years ago. And, he even brings Lincoln into it.
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. 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?’ ”
Jonathan Capehart, a Washington Post columnist, has already blasted Clinton for not saying the words "I'm sorry," and being sorry for "crowing about [DOMA] in radio ads on Christian radio stations during his ’96 reelection campaign."
Anyway, Clinton reminds us we "are still a young country," and these things happen. Let's hope SCOTUS listens.