Metro Weekly

Sanders hits Clinton over past support for DOMA

Democratic presidential candidate says it was clear that DOMA was "anti-gay" and "homophobic" legislation

Bernie Sanders (Photo: Gage Skidmore).
Bernie Sanders (Photo: Gage Skidmore).

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday knocked his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for comments she made regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Clinton, who sat down for an interview on Friday with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, told the liberal-leaning cable host that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had signed DOMA and the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as defensive actions to protect against policies that would have been much more harmful to the LGBT community.

“On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed — and there was certainly evidence to support it — is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America,” Clinton told Maddow. “And that there had to be some way to stop that.

“In a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further,” Clinton continued. “It was a defensive action. The culture rapidly changed so that now what was totally anathema to political forces, they have ceded. They no longer are fighting, except on a local level and a rear-guard action. And with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, it’s settled.”

In a Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Sanders expounded upon comments he had made on Saturday evening at Iowa’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, where he indirectly accused Clinton of trying to “rewrite history.” Sanders, one of only 67 House members to vote against DOMA in 1996, has previously touted his vote as a way of contrasting himself with Clinton on LGBT rights.

“I think the history of that is pretty clear,” Sanders told Tapper. “The Republicans came into Congress. Many of them, I’m sorry to have to say, were homophobic. They saw it as a good political issue. And what they were trying to do was make it impossible for gay couples to be married, to get benefits from the federal government, to have marriage in one state be recognized in another state.

“I think everybody at the time knew this was simply homophobic legislation,” Sanders continued. “And I have to tell you something, Jake.  The vote that I cast, we were way — the vote on that was just overwhelmingly for DOMA because I think a lot of members of Congress were nervous about going home. And it was not an easy vote. I voted against DOMA because I think — I thought then and I think now that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation. It was not an easy vote. But that was the issue.”

Pressed by Tapper on his reaction to Clinton’s insistence that DOMA was a measure to protect against a constitutional amendment, Sanders rejected the premise, noting that Bill Clinton had not vetoed the measure.

“To my mind, I think the evidence is very, very clear that that legislation was anti-gay legislation,” Sanders replied. “It was playing off fears of a lot of Americans. Now the good news, as Hillary Clinton just indicated, the culture has changed radically. We have become a far less discriminatory society. Gay rights and gay marriage is now legal in 50 states in this country. We should be very, very proud of it. We have come a long, long way since that vote in 1996.”

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