This nation’s 42nd president Bill Clinton signed the now infamous Defense of Marriage Act 17 years ago. In retrospect President Clinton felt that the world we live in now is much different than when there were no states that add any pro-equality measures for LGBT seeking marriage equality. The former president released a statement detailing why he feels it’s time this archaic bill be overturned to enable equality for all:
Because Section 3 of the act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, same-sex couples who are legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the benefits of more than a thousand federal statutes and programs available to other married couples. Among other things, these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees. Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws.
When I signed the bill, I included astatement with the admonition that “enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.” Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.
The decision to give his stance on the bill is on the heels of the Obama Administration’s decision to submit an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn both Prop 8 and DOMA. which they are slated to review later this year. President Clinton also recognized quite elegantly that at times our laws are on the wrong side of history and that we must make a conscious effort to correct those wrongs imposed on the citizens of this country:
Americans have been at this sort of a crossroads often enough to recognize the right path. We understand that, while our laws may at times lag behind our best natures, in the end they catch up to our core values. One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln concluded a message to Congress by posing the very question we face today: “It is not ‘Can any of us imagine better?’ but ‘Can we all do better?’ ”
The answer is of course and always yes. In that spirit, I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
Now that we have both the sitting president as well as the president that signed the measure wanting the repel, it may have the impact needed to show just how unjust DOMA and Prop 8 are to citizens being denied equal rights.