Despite being known for having signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) back in 1996 — a law that limits federal recognition of marriage to that of one man and one woman — President Bill Clinton has spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage since 2009. This morning, Clinton offered his endorsement of marriage equality in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and a coalition of advocates, business leaders, and clergy are working toward that change by summer:
Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ – deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community. That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.
Chelsea Clinton also spoke out for gay marriage yesterday at a benefit for Friendfactor, a new social media site and non-profit to help the LGBT community share their stories with friends:
I certainly believe that all of my friends, as Marc and I did, should have the right to marry their best friends. I certainly believe that those of us who are straight cannot expect our gay friends to do this on our own. And I certainly expect our straight friends to help us achieve that for all New Yorkers, for all Americans, and for all the children that at least Marc and I hope to have someday.
The support of the Clintons echoes a national trend toward support for marriage equality. Recent polls by Washington Post/ABC News and CNN/Opinion Research confirm that a majority of Americans support marriage equality for same-sex couples. Even a majority of Republicans now support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Richard Socarides, former Clinton adviser and now president of Equality Matters, applauded Clinton’s support, saying, “President Clinton opened the doors of politics to gay and lesbian Americans and today he continues that crusade by asking all New Yorkers to include us as full citizens.”
At this point, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not yet spoken out for same-sex marriage, though it is widely believed she privately supports it. Perhaps the trend toward equality will soon pull her along enough to stand beside her husband and daughter voicing her support.