(WASHINGTON) — Former President Bill Clinton is adding his name to the list of those who say the Supreme Court should overturn the federal law restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Seventeen years after he signed the law that did just that, Bill Clinton says the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, should be thrown out.
Clinton writes Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed that 1996 was “a very different time.”
“In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian. As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage ‘would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.’ It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.”
Today, gays and lesbians can marry in nine states and Washington, D.C. To deprive them of rights under federal law, Clinton says, is discriminatory and “incompatible with our Constitution.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on DOMA, and California’s Proposition 8, later this month.
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
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Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN