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View Diary: Bill Clinton, signer of DOMA, says it's 'incompatible with our Constitution' (127 comments)

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  •  Not impressed. (32+ / 0-)

    5/29/07:

    Bob Shrum's book has already caused its share of trouble for John Edwards, in part from Shrum's recollection that Edwards wasn't comfortable with gay people in 1998.

    But the book is really sort of a pile of unexploded ordnance, and the person who comes off as most indifferent to questions of gay rights isn't Edwards, but Bill Clinton....

    "Clinton, Kerry reported at the time, did suggest blunting Bush's appeal to cultural conservatives with a reprise of Clinton's Sister Souljah moment in 1992 when he'd denounced her call for violence against whites — and done it as conspicuously as possible in front of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.

    "Kerry, Clinton ventured, should consider defying Democratic interest groups by endorsing the Bush proposal for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."

    Shrum reports that "this was a flip-flop too far for Kerry."

    David Mixner, today:
    However, as with DADT, it is important not to rewrite history in order to make him feel better about signing it in the first place. Clinton took the wrong action in 1996 and he did it for purely political reasons. That is the truth of the matter.

    In 1996, DOMA was indeed slowly working its way through the House of Representatives and there was a reasonable chance it would pass. There was not an enormous amount of attention to it in the press and we had a good opportunity to stop it in the Senate. Clinton was running for re-election against Senator Robert Dole - a traditionally conservative Republican. He was not an extreme right-winger.

    Before the LGBT community even had the opportunity to fight back, President Clinton embraced DOMA and urged Congress to pass it. At that moment we lost all chance to defeat it. Over and over again, I was personally told by Senators that after he endorsed the legislation its fate was sealed.

    Clinton today says he signed it to prevent a Constitutional Amendment from passing. The problem with that argument is that such an amendment wasn't really even being considered in a serious way. Not until Karl Rove got a hold of the idea after 2000 did the amendment concept have any legs at all. It just wasn't a serious political factor at all in 1996.

    Like DADT, the President's embracing of DOMA was a political move. While he talked about his pain in signing the legislation, his team campaign team immediately created radio ads and started running them throughout the South. In those ads, they proclaimed and celebrated Clinton signing the legislation.

    •  Me either (23+ / 0-)

      The unconstitutionality of DOMA should have been obvious to anybody at the time it was passed; I suppose that we should be thankful that Clinton finally acknowledges that 17 years later, after helping to perpetuate discrimination at the Federal level all that time.  It doesn't really matter that he thought his veto would have been overridden -- that's not an excuse to participate in the discrimination.

      Wake me up when he apologizes for signing Gramm-Leach-Bliley.  That'd be an announcement worth hearing.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

      Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

      by Dallasdoc on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 06:54:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  no way in Hell (6+ / 0-)
        It doesn't really matter that he thought his veto would have been overridden
        he was that stupid.

        In fact, he's demonstrated that he's not stupid at all.  That leaves only one other interpretation, which is, well, less kind.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 07:03:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Or for so-called welfare quote/unquote (7+ / 0-)

        "reform."

      •  In fact knowing your veto will be overridden (7+ / 0-)

        would create a badge of honor when LATER you are proven correct.

        For the same reasons, he should have vetoed repeal of Glass Steagall and the Commodities Trading Modernization Act.

        The Republicans would've overridden his veto, and would then own ALL THE BLAME for subsequent disasters.

        I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

        by bobdevo on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:27:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "The Republicans would've overridden his veto..." (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CajunBoyLgb, yaque, Adam B

          .....and used that symbolic veto as a wedge to help Bob Dole win the 1996 election.    That was the real reason for DOMA.

          That's the reality of politics - signing crappy and harmful bills in the middle of night to avoid a political issue.   The other reality is that no one was directly impacted by that bill until 8 years after it was signed, when MA achieved marriage equality.

          And there's a larger reality too: bigoted laws like DOMA have actually moved the legal issues further and faster than anyone could have imagined.    Without DOMA & the mini-DOMAs and the naked anti-gay animus they exhibit in their legislative records (and of course Romer and Lawrence), the Baker v Nelson precedent would still be relevant for years to come and the issue of heightened scrutiny wouldn't be before the court today.    The civil rights victory which is about to happen won't be just about marriage equality, but about all laws which discriminate based on sexual orientation.

          •  Yeah, Right, Bob Dole ROTFL. You gotta do (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, txvoodoo

            better than that when it comes to Bogeymen.

            Jesus . . . Bob Dole . . . I'm still laughin' . . .

            I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

            by bobdevo on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:20:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Have you ever looked at the electoral results (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              toddsmitts

              for 1996?    Many bible-belt states which are usually reliable red states went for Clinton - including Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee.    A few of those states were only won by a point or two.  DOMA was very much an issue in those states and Clinton campaigned in the south partly on that issue.

              Arkansas and maybe Tennessee can be excused for going Dem that year, but note that Gore lost Tennessee the next time.

      •  I've made this observation here several times (6+ / 0-)
        Clinton quotes an amicus brief from a group of former senators arguing that the hope at the time was that DOMA "would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more."
        and it's nice to see some corroboration.  That DOMA was "unconstitutional" was not the problem.  DOMA came into being  -- not the proposal itself, but its adoption by people who were not out to suppress gays -- in order to fend off what would have been a catastrophic constitutional amendment that would achieve the same end as this more easily repealed legislation.

        How catastrophic would such an amendment have been?  Though this dealt specifically with marriage, it would have enshrined the principle that the nation could discriminate against GLBTs into the Constitution itself, rendering moot all of the debate we're having now about the constitutionality of Prop 8 and more.  The "penumbra" of such an amendment would have been used to justify "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and countless other horrors, and we'd have never gotten 3/4 of the states to undo it.

        DOMA was like a tourniquet or a tracheotomy.  Normally, we frown on cutting off blood flow to extremities or slicing through people's necks.  Occasionally, in dire circumstances, it's necessary.  The country was crazed with anti-gay sentiment back in the mid-90s; DOMA settled that down in a way that, sooner or later, could be undone.  The progress we've made since then, perversely, is in part thanks to DOMA.  It got it past a situation where the country could easily been enacted -- easily because I think that a "Defense of Marriage Amendment" had a good chance of being passed (the President has no veto power over a proposed amendment) and ratified.

        Clinton made some terrible compromises to win his second term in office, particularly in welfare reform and immigration policy.  But regarding DOMA, he literally saved the cause of GLBT rights from a permanent fatal blow.  By keeping it out of the Constitution, he made today's victories possible.  He doesn't get primary credit -- the GLBT movement itself gets that.  But his action was essential.

        Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

        "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
        -- Saul Alinsky

        by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:58:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Find anyone who was saying this at the time ... (5+ / 0-)

          ... as opposed to this being an ex post justification for political cowardice.  That brief itself is pure ipse dixit, no citation to the historical record:

          The statute enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but the reasons for that support varied widely. Some supported DOMA even while staunchly opposing discrimination against gays in employment, adoption, military service, and other spheres. Some believed that DOMA was necessary to allay fears that a single state’s recognition of same-sex marriage could automatically extend to all other states through the Full Faith and Credit Clause. And they believed that enacting DOMA would eliminate the possibility of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage—an outcome that would have terminated any further debate about same-sex marriage, potentially for generations. At the same time, even for many who generally opposed sexual orientation discrimination, the traditional conception of marriage was so engrained that it was difficult to see the true nature of the discrimination DOMA wrought.
          The 1996 Senate hearing report is online. You won't find this argument there either.
          •  Send me your NEXIS password (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jay C, CajunBoyLgb

            and I'll find you discussions at the time.  It was considered to be a necessary sop to the sensibilities of the majority.  True, at the time, domestic partnership was considered to be an acceptable position as opposed to true marriage equality because at that point the focus was on eliminating material injury as opposed to dignitary injury.  (Of course there still is material injury to GLBTs, but much of the current debate -- which, for example, would rule out federal imposition of domestic partnership legislation as an alternative to real marriage -- is based on dignitary harm.  That is not to downplay it; dignitary harm is important.  It's just generally considered to be less pressing than material harm, such as "you can't inherit and you can't visit your life partner when they are dying in the hospital.")

            "We're trying to stave off the public appetite for discrimination against this hated minority until it cools down by passing a bill that will allow us to kick the can down the road in the hope that public attitudes may change" wasn't in the Senate Report?  Do tell!  Whyever not?

            Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

            "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
            -- Saul Alinsky

            by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:35:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've searched the NYT database and found nothing. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CajunBoyLgb, Jay C, cloudbustingkid

              A federal marriage amendment didn't become a live issue until Massachusetts ruled in Goodridge in 2003.

              This is an easier question to answer: even beyond whether any Senators were trying to head off a FMA in 1996, find evidence that conservatives were trying to advance one that soon.  The 1996 GOP Platform didn't.

              •  The first one was introduced in Congress in 2002 (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CajunBoyLgb, Jay C

                as reported here:

                Groups opposing the measure call it "bigoted," and say it targets gay and lesbian couples for discrimination. Opponents also claim that the amendment is being used as a political weapon during a mid-term election cycle that otherwise has few distinctions to it. They vow to fight it.

                "This amendment is the legal equivalent of the nuclear bomb," said Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It would wipe out every last protection there is for gay and lesbian families and other unmarried couples."

                "The U.S. Constitution is a revered document and it should not be used for cynical election-year posturing," said David Smith, communications director of the Human Rights Campaign.

                Why not 6-7 years earlier?  Because DOMA passed and that took the wind out of the sails of any such efforts, which were thought to be unnecessary.

                Yes, this did arise over the Full Faith & Credit concerns after the initial Hawaii Court decision -- which GLBT groups celebrated at the time for the possibility that it would impose the obligation on all states to accept same-sex marriage outright.  This was so far out ahead of public opinion that it was shut down very quickly by Democrats, because of the concerns about both the 1996 election (remember, this came just after the 1994 slaughter) and the prospect of a constitutional amendment.  (For historical perspective, Ellen DeGeneres did not come out on TV until 1997.)

                I know this because I remember the prospect of such an amendment being discussed in Democratic circles at the time.  (If anyone has free NEXUS access out there, perhaps they can search for stories in the period between the Hawaii decision and the enactment of DOMA.)

                Here's a 1989 NYT story that I think is worth reviewing.  Note FRC's Gary Bauer's declaration therein:

                In the meantime, opponents of homosexual marriage are preparing for a fight. ''We do see this as a major battleground in the 1990's,'' said Gary L. Bauer, who was President Reagan's domestic affairs adviser and who now heads the Family Research Council in Washington. Same-sex marriage ''would undermine deeply held and broadly accepted ideas of normalcy,'' Mr. Bauer said. ''We have customs against such things because it has been the consensus of 2,000 years of Western civilization that such arrangements were to be discouraged.''
                Logically, given this, what do you think are the odds that the next 6-1/2 years (preceding Bob Barr's introducing DOMA in May 1996) no one among the conservative opposition broached the idea of an amendment to preclude same-sex marriage?  That oversight would be uncharacteristically unopportunistic of them, wouldn't you think?

                Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                -- Saul Alinsky

                by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:14:01 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Class of 1994 (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CajunBoyLgb

                  Why didn't any of them introduce an amendment, just for show? And those people were nuts.

                  I'm not going to dispute that DOMA may have deflated the need for an FMA, but that's not the same as arguing that Democrats back in 1996 foresaw that this would take place, and that it motivated them to support DOMA.  (Especially when it would have passed without many of them anyway.)

                  •  They didn't because there was no need to do so (0+ / 0-)

                    As you note, the Hawaii decision went away.  DOMA passed.  Do you think that, had DOMA failed, no one would have had the bright idea of introducing a Constitutional Amendment to get past the recalcitrant Congress?  Even Louie Gohmert would have been smart enough to do that.

                    DOMA was intended to settle the issue with legislation.  I absolutely do remember "... and live to fight another day" discussions at the time -- and it didn't take a genius to know what the potential downside was if it failed.

                    Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                    -- Saul Alinsky

                    by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:31:46 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Only 15 Senators voted no, by the way: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    skrekk

                    Akaka (D-HI), Boxer (D-CA), Feingold (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Kerry (D-MA), Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Moynihan (D-NY), Pell (D-RI), Robb (D-VA), Simon (D-IL), Wyden (D-OR)

                    Still Clinton's shameful fault?

                    In the House only 66 Dems and 1 (out and gay) Republican voted no, overwhelmingly from California, New York, Massachusetts and a few urban districts -- essentially, one where a "yes" vote would have caused political trouble:

                    Abercrombie, Ackerman, Becerra, Beilenson, Berman, Brown (CA), Brown (OH), Collins (MI), Conyers, Coyne, DeFazio, Dellums, Dixon, Engel, Eshoo, Farr, Fattah, Foglietta, Frank (MA), Gejdenson, Gunderson, Gutierrez, Harman, Hastings (FL), Hinchey, Jackson (IL), Kennedy (MA), Kennedy (RI), Lantos, Lewis (GA), Lofgren, Maloney, Markey, Martinez, Matsui, McDermott, McKinney, Meek, Millender-McDonald, Miller (CA), Mink, Moran, Nadler, Olver, Pallone, Payne (NJ), Pelosi, Rangel, Rivers, Roybal-Allard, Sabo, Sanders, Schroeder, Scott, Serrano, Skaggs, Slaughter, Stark, Stokes, Studds, Torres, Towns, Velazquez, Waters, Waxman, Williams, Woolsey
                    Clinton could have vetoed it and let it be overridden, though.  That would have helped a lot.  Bob Dole was no doubt rooting for that to happen.

                    Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                    -- Saul Alinsky

                    by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:42:40 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  We do know what Richard Socarides says about the (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Adam B, CajunBoyLgb, Seneca Doane

            reasons for signing DOMA, and he was there at the time:

            http://www.newyorker.com/...

            .....Inside the White House, there was a genuine belief that if the President vetoed the Defense of Marriage Act, his reelection could be in jeopardy. There was a heated debate about whether this was a realistic assessment, but it became clear that the President’s chief political advisers were not willing to take any chances. Some in the White House pointed out that DOMA, once enacted, would have no immediate practical effect on anyone—there were no state-sanctioned same-sex marriages then for the federal government to ignore. I remember a Presidential adviser saying that he was not about to risk a second term on a veto, however noble, that wouldn’t change a single thing nor make a single person’s life better.

            What we didn’t fully comprehend was that, sooner than anyone imagined, there would be thousands of families who would be harmed by DOMA—denied federal benefits, recognition, and security, or kept apart by immigration laws.

            During the campaign season, Clinton would sometimes complain publicly about how the Republicans were using the marriage issue against him. He said, derisively, that it was “hardly a problem that is sweeping the country” and his press secretary called it “gay baiting, pure and simple.” And that September, when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, President Clinton signed it......

        •  Evan Wolfson disagrees. Strongly. (0+ / 0-)

          Geidner, MetroWeekly, 2011:

          Daschle's argument — that DOMA was stopping something worse — doesn't fit with the recollections of most LGBT advocates engaged in the debate at the time. Evan Wolfson, who was then running the National Freedom to Marry Coalition while a lawyer at Lambda Legal, says, ''That's complete nonsense. There was no conversation about something 'worse' until eight years later. There was no talk of a constitutional amendment, and no one even thought it was possible — and, of course, it turned out it wasn't really possible to happen.

          ''So, the idea that people were swallowing DOMA in order to prevent a constitutional amendment is really just historic revisionism and not true. That was never an argument made in the '90s.''

          •  I *took part in* such conversations in Pittsburgh (0+ / 0-)

            that summer.  It may not have permeated into Lambda Legal, but it sure was a topic of discussion among Democrats, as I recall in the context of how much to pressure our no-portrait-of-liberal-courage Representative Michael Coyne (who did end up voting no -- along with, if a cursory look at the list shows, exactly no one else from Pennsylvania other than Chaka Fattah.  If you want to know why Dems voted for it, you may still have plenty of people nearby whom you could ask.)

            Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

            "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
            -- Saul Alinsky

            by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 12:42:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  OK For Judging the Man, But For Action In Our Time (7+ / 0-)

      he's pulling for the right side.

      BTW I'm not as big a fan of Clinton as most of his critics here are.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:22:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but it's easy to do it now. (9+ / 0-)

        It's like the people who show up to buy Phillies gear when they're up 3-1 in the World Series, and weren't there for the past few decades of heartache.

        •  I suspect that signing the POS bill (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CajunBoyLgb, skrekk

          was heartache enough.  But it fended off a constitutional amendment.

          Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
          -- Saul Alinsky

          by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:00:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  See Mixner, above. (4+ / 0-)

            He insists it wasn't a real threat until the Aughts.

            And Clinton made clear back then that he opposed same-sex marriage, period.

            •  That was far and away the most common position (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CajunBoyLgb, Jay C, JGibson, ffour, skrekk

              at the time, including among Democrats and progressives.  Howard Dean still opposed it eight years later.

              A constitutional Marriage Amendment was a real threat at the time.  All it had to do was get 2/3 of Congress.  After that, it was just a matter of time before it would -- like the 27th Amendment -- be able to sneak through enough state Legislatures over the course of however long it took to be ratified.  It was not going to pass right away, perhaps, but sending an amendment to the states was crossing the Rubicon.  It had to be stopped by whatever legal means.  DOMA did so.

              You would have been, I think, in our perhaps just out of law school at that time, but I have a feeling that many of the people in this discussion simply have no idea whatsoever of what the political climate was then -- a climate that Clinton himself had triggered when he took a progressive stance on allowing gays into the military even before his inauguration and got absolutely stomped by press and politicians alike, which is what led to DADT.  They were different times.

              Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

              "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
              -- Saul Alinsky

              by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:15:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No one was talking amendment in 1996, though. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CajunBoyLgb, Jay C, cloudbustingkid

                All there was was the threat of the Hawaii ruling.

                I agree that these were different times, and marriage equality was not on the positive agenda then.  I'm just unwilling to buy your "short circuit" theory when I can't find contemporary evidence of it.  Politicians, including Dems, were just completely happy then to say that marriage was a heterosexual institution, period.

                •  Holy shit, Adam (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jay C, skrekk, CajunBoyLgb

                  Yes, people were talking about a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman in 1996.  YES, they were.  I remember it.  But don't rely on your memory, rely on your knowledge of politics.  Do you really think that the religious groups and demagogues and bigots would not have proposed such an amendment at the time to make political hay?  This at a time when they were feeling their oats so strongly after the Gingrich Revolution?

                  Why wouldn't they have done so -- if for no other reason than to boost fundraising?  Is your theory that they did not realize that amending the Constitution in this respect was possible?  That they didn't realize that it was more permanent?  That they didn't realize that the public was so strongly behind them that they had a really good chance of making it happen?

                  I'd suggest that you take the time seek out some Senators serving at the time to see if they thought that that was what was going on, but you don't have to expend that energy -- because they just filed a fucking amicus brief!

                  Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                  "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                  -- Saul Alinsky

                  by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:41:35 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The brief covers their asses. (4+ / 0-)

                    To cover the shift in attitudes from 1996 until now.  

                    And here's a simple, verified fact: dozens of constitutional amendments are introduced in Congress, every year, destined to go nowhere.   The first Federal Marriage Amendment was not introduced until 2002.  

                    For all of your "why not do it, to boost fundraising?", well, they didn't. And why not? Because the Hawaii litigation which animated DOMA was short-circuited by a state constitutional amendment, and the issue was no longer a live one. Look at when the other state constitutional bans were implemented -- this just wasn't part of the policy agenda in 1996.

                    •  I'll grant you that no FMA was introduced (0+ / 0-)

                      in Congress until 2002.  "Not part of their policy agenda" does not follow.

                      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                      -- Saul Alinsky

                      by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:27:44 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  They had a presidential primary process in 1995-96 (0+ / 0-)

                        Did any of them -- Dole, Lamar!, Keyes, Forbes, Gramm, etc. -- advocate for a constitutional amendment while trying to excite their base while running for President?

                        •  I don't rightly know (0+ / 0-)

                          Normally, such an amendment would arise after the failure of the legislative process.  My argument is that the Dems knew that such a proposed amendment would be coming if DOMA passed, not that one was then on the table.

                          Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                          -- Saul Alinsky

                          by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:45:34 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The whole 1995-96 primary process... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... concluded before DOMA became law.

                          •  And DOMA itself wasn't filed until May 7, 1996 (0+ / 0-)

                            At that point, the question was posed of what happened if it passed -- and of what happened if it didn't.  Of course, Clinton signed it in to law on Sept. 21, 1996, about seven weeks before the election.  Do you think that maybe he was thinking about whether a last-ditch, ineffectual stand on behalf of a then-despised minority, reminding people of his attempts to integrate gays and lesbians into the military (which had blown up in his face in 1993) may have influenced that?

                            Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                            "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                            -- Saul Alinsky

                            by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 11:58:16 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Of course. (0+ / 0-)

                            It's a much more credible argument than your "short circuit" theory. Socarides today:

                            Inside the White House, there was a genuine belief that if the President vetoed the Defense of Marriage Act, his reëlection could be in jeopardy. There was a heated debate about whether this was a realistic assessment, but it became clear that the President’s chief political advisers were not willing to take any chances. Some in the White House pointed out that DOMA, once enacted, would have no immediate practical effect on anyone—there were no state-sanctioned same-sex marriages then for the federal government to ignore. I remember a Presidential adviser saying that he was not about to risk a second term on a veto, however noble, that wouldn’t change a single thing nor make a single person’s life better....

                            During the campaign season, Clinton would sometimes complain publicly about how the Republicans were using the marriage issue against him. He said, derisively, that it was “hardly a problem that is sweeping the country” and his press secretary called it “gay baiting, pure and simple.” And that September, when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, President Clinton signed it. There are no pictures of this occasion—no pens that were saved. My advice to the people who arranged for these things was to get it done and out of the way as quickly as possible; he signed it late at night one evening after returning from a day-long campaign trip.

                            The Defense of Marriage Act became law, and President Clinton was reëlected, again with overwhelming support from gay Americans. He was enthusiastically endorsed by the nation’s leading gay political group, the Human Rights Campaign, which had urged him to veto the legislation. They had called DOMA “a Bob Dole for President publicity stunt.” (There was a small dustup during the later stages of the campaign when a Clinton-related committee ran a radio ad in the South, heralding the enactment of the legislation. The ad was quickly pulled.)

                            Was it realistic to think that a Presidential veto of DOMA would have put Clinton’s reëlection in jeopardy? At the time I thought not. But in 1996 less than thirty per cent of Americans supported gay marriage, and even eight years after that, in 2004, President George W. Bush used gay marriage extremely effectively as a wedge issue against John Kerry, who at the time only supported civil unions. In fact, many believe that it was the Bush campaign’s very strategic placement of anti-gay-marriage state constitutional ballot initiatives throughout moderate and conservative leaning states (like Ohio) which brought out conservative Bush voters and carried the day for him in that election. Could similar tactics have been used with the same effectiveness in 1996? Obviously, we will never know.

                            Had there been a President Dole, none of the advances President Clinton accomplished in his second term for gay equality would have been possible....

                          •  Clinton's signing vs. vetoing meant nothing (0+ / 0-)

                            regarding the ultimate fate of the bill.  As I noted: only 67 Nay votes (to 342 Yeas) in the House in July and 15 in the Senate (up against 85) just under two months before the election.  An override (which as I recall would have been Clinton's first) would have done nothing good (other than as a symbolic stance) and would have potentially endangered his re-election -- which among other things would have deterred other such symbolic stances.

                            The question in my mind is what made DOMA into a juggernaut before it passed the House on July 12 and the Senate on Sept. 10, 1996.  For one thing, as the rapid pace and the final results showed, it was a juggernaut, a rout.  Popular opinion was strongly behind it.  Proponents would have easily had 2/3 to override a veto.  Would you have really wanted to take the chance that they could also get 2/3 to amend the Constitution -- just before a Presidential election -- possibly resuscitating the moribund Dole campaign by giving him a hot-button issue?  Sure, the Republicans were playing politics -- and sending a Constitutional Amendment to the states if need be was an obvious next move.

                            Your position suggests that either this didn't occur to them, or they wouldn't dare have tried (despite it being a potential lifeline for Dole), or that they wouldn't have succeeded if they had tried.  I suggest that each of these is highly doubtful.  Could the Democrats (and remember, Clinton would have had no veto over a constitutional amendment) have stood on principle that "yes, this may be a good idea for a law, which we just blocked, but we still don't need to send this to the states for a constitutional amendment"?  I think that that question answers itself.

                            The Republicans were in a far superior position politically on this issue and that meant that they would have had every political reason to try to push through a constitutional amendment had DOMA failed.  Dems knew this.  I'm sorry that the Internet was not well-enough developed at the time to facilitate my presenting evidence beyond my own memories of conversations at that time.

                            Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                            "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                            -- Saul Alinsky

                            by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 12:31:44 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Minor point, SD (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CajunBoyLgb

                    The 27th Amendment was indeed, finally ratified in 1992 after being under consideration by the states for 203 years: but A27 had originally been submitted and passed (in 1789), without a specified time-limit for its ratification. Which was normal in times past: but nowadays, (as with the late lamented ERA of the 1970's) , I believe it is has been usual to put a "sunset" date on proposed Amendments.

                     I'm not sure (i.e., don't remember) what may have been proposed for the putative Marriage Amendment in the mid-90s, but I think that you are quite right to point out that the last thing the country needed/needs is a still-"live" discriminatory Constitutional Amendment floating around state legislatures. Would you trust your State Lege to adequately safeguard LGBT citizens' basic rights? On their own?

                    DOMA is a Federal law: it can be modified or repealed as times/opinions change, or knocked down by the courts: a Constitutional Amendment - not so much...

                    •  It's not at all settled that such a time limit (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Jay C

                      would have effect.  (The same is true of whether repeal of a state's former approval would have effect.)  This has come up in the context of the Equal Rights Amendment.  And no, I would not trust any state's legislature to be eternally vigilant against a Federal Marriage Amendment.  Weird wave elections happen.

                      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

                      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
                      -- Saul Alinsky

                      by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:26:53 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think there was much heartache for him (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CajunBoyLgb, txvoodoo, vernonbc

            He sure did milk it for all the political value it was worth. That doesn't sound like heartache to me.

            And call me cynical, but I really doubt he was all that concerned that a constitutional amendment might pass. That's a really easy argument for him to make now--oh, he was just being strategic and minimizing damage to the gay community. I highly doubt it.

            Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

            by Chrislove on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:19:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  This is why I dislike him and always will. nt (0+ / 0-)

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