Gay blogger activist Lane Hudson stood up and interrupted Bill Clinton's keynote speech Thursday at the Netroots Nation Conference in Pittsburgh, demanding to know what Clinton was going to do to rectify the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), failed discriminatory policies that were enacted under Clinton’s watch as President.
For the first time ever, President Clinton, much maligned by the LGBT media for it, explained why he signed those edicts into law. The following is an abridged version of his answer. Watch the video at the bottom of this post for the whole explanation.
On DADT, President Clinton said:
“But anyway, so, here we are in a different world. Now, it’s not like the 1990’s. You wanna talk about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn’t deliver me any support in the Congress and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempt to let gays serve in the military and the media supported them. They raised all kinds of devilment. And all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting some support in the congress. Now, that’s the truth. (Congress) voted—they were about to vote for the old policy—by margins exceeding 80% in the House and exceeding 70% in the Senate. The gave test votes out there to send me a message that they were going to reverse any attempt I made by executive order to force them to accept gays into the military. And let me remind you that the public opinion is now more strongly in our favor than it was sixteen years ago and I have continued supporting it.”
On DOMA, Clinton explained as follows:
“The reason I signed DOMA was, and I said when I signed it, that I thought the question of whether gays should marry should be left out to states and the religious organizations, and if any church or other religious body wanted to recognize gay marriage they ought to. We were attempting at the time, in a very reactionary congress, to head off an attempt to send a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the states. I didn’t like signing DOMA, and I certainly didn’t like the constraints it would put on benefits, and I’ve done everything I’ve could, and I am proud to say that the State Department was the first federal department to restore benefits to gay partners in the Obama administration, and I think we are going forward in the right direction now for federal employees, and I don’t like that either . . . I don’t like the DOMA. But actually all these things illustrate the point I was trying to make. America has rapidly moved to a different place to a lot of these issues and so what we have to decide is what we are going to do about it.”
Watch President Bill Clinton defend his actions on DOMA and DADT at Netroots Nation Conference in Pittsburg 8-13-09 in this video: