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More Activists Dispute Hillary Clinton's DOMA History

More Activists Dispute Hillary Clinton's DOMA History


The way the Clintons talk about the passage of DOMA in 1996 has activists disappointed.

Disappointment with Hillary Clinton's version of how the Defense of Marriage Act became law is bubbling into public conversation among activists.

During an interview with Rachel Maddow on Friday, Clinton described her husband signing DOMA in 1996 as a "defensive action," meant to stave off passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

But that's not how activists on the ground remember the fateful law's passage.

"It's just not true," wrote Michelangelo Signorile in a column today for TheHuffington Post. "There was no talk, among activists, antigay forces or politicians, of a constitution amendment in 1996 when Clinton signed DOMA."

Bernie Sanders amplified the historical disconnect when he used a speech before the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa to highlight his vote at the time against DOMA.

"Now today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying that they voted for one antigay law to stop something worse," he told them. "That's not the case."

Sanders had long shied away from attacks on Clinton, and he never mentioned his opponent by name, a tactic TheWashington Postreferred to glibly as "one long subtweet of Hillary Clinton." Then Sanders reiterated the criticism when asked about it during an appearance on State of the Union on CNN Sunday.

Even some big-name political activists and longtime Clinton supporters, like Hilary Rosen, are siding with Sanders's version of the story.

"Bernie Sanders is right," Rosen wrote on Twitter on Saturday. "Note to my friends Bill and Hillary: Please stop saying DOMA was to prevent something worse. It wasn't, I was there."

"The LGBT community should NEVER allow any politician to revise our noble and courageous history for political purposes," wrote activist David Mixner Sunday.

Their tweets and those from other activists triggered a story from the Washington Blade -- "Gay Activists Unhappy With Clinton Remarks on DOMA" -- that noted the increasingly outspoken dissatisfaction with Clinton's version of events. That story has been picked up by a number of news sites, even conservative ones like Glenn Beck's The Blaze and TheDaily Caller.

And freshly being passed around is an op-ed written in 2013 by the former head of the Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, who responded to President Bill Clinton once trying to offer the same version of history being shared now by Hillary Clinton.

Under a very straightforward headline, "President Clinton Is Wrong About the History of DOMA," Birch wrote definitively for AmericaBlog that, "In 1996, I was President of the Human Rights Campaign, and there was no real threat of a Federal Marriage Amendment."

"President Clinton signed DOMA into law for purely political reasons," wrote Birch. "I get it. As horrible as it was, I got it then. My point is that now I want the older and wiser President Clinton to reflect more deeply -- to challenge himself. I want my friend to say: I was wrong, and you were all served badly by that moment in history."

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