In her first public remarks on same-sex marriage in nearly a year, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton's campaign says the candidate hopes the Supreme Court will embrace marriage equality when it considers cases out of four states on April 28.
"Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right,” Adrienne Elrod, spokeswoman for Hillary for America, told the Washington Blade today.
By taking that position, Clinton becomes the only declared candidate for president in 2016 who believes same-sex couples have a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry. Republican candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul have all said they believe marriage should be defined solely as the union of one man and one woman.
As BuzzFeed's legal editor Chris Geidner notes, the statement marks the first time Clinton has addressed the issue of same-sex marriage in almost a year. The last time the presidential hopeful spoke about marriage equality in June 2014, she told NPR's Terry Gross that she "fully [endorsed] the efforts by activists who work state-by-state and in fact that is what is working."
LGBT advocates have been pressing Clinton to clarify her position on the legal right of same-sex couples to marry in the U.S., with some — including The Advocate — arguing that her vague support of a marriage as a "states rights" issue left room for Republican candidates to claim they were just as pro-LGBT as Clinton, without actually supporting the rights of same-sex couples.
The evolution of Clinton's support for marriage equality, in some regards, mirrors that of then-candidate Barack Obama, who said in 2008 that he opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but "personally" believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Then-candidate Clinton's statements on the issue tracked with Obama's, supporting civil unions and the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Notably, Obama's administration eventually stopped defending DOMA, encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn the law's prohibition on federal recognition for legally married same-sex couples — which the high court did in 2013's landmark decision in U.S. v. Windsor.
BuzzFeed's Geidner notes that by September 2009, former President Clinton announced that he now supported full marriage equality, but Hillary Clinton, who was serving as President Obama's Secretary of State, "made no similar comments."
It wasn't until March 2013 that Hillary Clinton formally announced that she supported "marriage for all lesbian and gay couples" in a video for the Human Rights Campaign. Two months later, President Obama announced that he, too, "personally" supported marriage equality.