Last week, President Bill Clinton accepted GLAAD’s ‘Advocate for Change’ Award in Los Angeles last night but not everyone was buying Clinton’s latest change of heart over gay marriage. GLADD notably left out of the award that Clinton not only signed but helped push through the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This was not in 1896 but in 1996. Clinton was heckled by some in the crowd as he accepted the award as a leader on gay rights, yelling “you signed it” when he referred to DOMA as if it was some alien or GOP legislation. What is truly annoying is Clinton’s “some of my best friends are now gay” rationalization.
Clinton called on the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA which he made law without acknowledging his key role. GLADD attempted to help him in this piece of historical revisionism not only with the award but the omission of his inglorious role. At the time of DOMA many people denounced Clinton and the Congress for codifying what was seen as an act of open discrimination.
Clinton quickly adopted the mantra of many Democratic and Republican leaders who suddenly became aware of gay rights or had a personal change of heart just as polls showed that they could now support it.
I have become increasingly irritated by politicians who have cloaked themselves in principle in supporting gay marriage after years of opposition . . . after polls showed a majority of voters supporting it. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) waited until after an election when this issue was raised to change her position. She was showered with praise by those who failed to ask why she opposed gay rights for years on the issue.
It is particularly maddening to see leaders who explain that they just didn’t understand the issue until one of their kids revealed that they were gay. That is the case with Sen. Rob Portman (R. Ohio) who changed his position when his son revealed he is gay. Dick Cheney changed his public position on gay rights generally when his daughter came out. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if civil rights were recognized even without having a personal stake or interest in the matter? It is hardly redeeming to say that “I really didn’t think of the denial of basic rights to other people until my son was included in the disenfranchised group.”
As for Clinton, he says that he really did not understand why DOMA was such a big deal or a bad idea until his daughter Chelsea explained it to him:
“She has had a profound impact in many ways on the way I see the world. It’s sort of humbling when you get to be my age when your child knows more than you do about everything….Chelsea and her gay friends and her wonderful husband have modeled to me how we should all treat each other regardless of our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us. Many of them come and join us every Thanksgiving for a meal. I have grown very attached to them. And over the years, I was forced to confront the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concerns for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else.”
This is one of the classic methods of politicians to avoid personal accountability in their prior actions. By citing to a father’s love for a child, the politician raises positive images to counter the image of their prior role of leading the mob against an insular minority. Did Chelsea really have to explain this to Clinton? In 1996, thousands of people were in Washington asking to explain it to him. He did not want to hear it because it was politically popular to be against the gays and lesbians on the issue. You should not have to “have grown very attached to them” to recognize equal rights. That sounds a lot like “some of my best friends are now gay.” The test of true principle … supporting rights that do not directly benefit or personally appeal to you. That is one test Clinton never tried to pass as president.
I have to agree with the naysayers at GLADD. I think the omission of this role by the organization in its award is hypocritical and wrong. I also do not believe Clinton deserves any award or acclaim for finally and belatedly doing the right thing — particularly after leading the effort to deny this right to millions.
What do you think?
Source: Raw Story