Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, has penned an op-ed in today's Washington Post urging the Supreme Court to overturn the law.
DOMA has two main elements, one allows states to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states and the other mandating the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. This second provision is the subject of a Supreme Court challenge to be heard later this month, as is California's anti-gay marriage ban.
Clinton said DOMA is "incompatible with our Constitution."
Under the headline "It's time to overturn DOMA," Clinton writes, "In 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it 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."
He continues, "As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution."
Responding, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, said, "A growing chorus has risen up in opposition to DOMA but the loudest voice is now the man who signed the bill into law calling for it to be overturned. President Clinton has already voiced his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and his emphatic repudiation of this discriminatory law is a reflection of the views of a majority of Americans who don’t understand why loving and committed couples should be ignored by their own government. As President Clinton eloquently articulated, DOMA is a vestige of another time and now we must turn our back on legally sanctioned discrimination."
When Clinton signed the bill, he issued a statement 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."
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