June 12th, 2014
03:58 PM ET
1 month ago

Clinton defends change in same-sex marriage position

Washington (CNN) – During a testy interview with NPR on Thursday, Hillary Clinton stood behind her role as secretary of state and her upbringing as a way to defend the fact that she was not publicly supportive of same-sex marriage until 2013.

NPR's Terry Gross pressed Clinton about her decision to come out in favor of marriage equality, leading the former secretary of state to give some of her fullest comments on the subject since she announced her support just weeks after she left the State Department in 2013.

"I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don't think you probably did either," Clinton told Gross. "This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly but surely convinced others of the rightness of that position. And when I was ready to say what I said, I said it."

Clinton, who said she has "evolved" on the issue, criticized those who "are never open to new information and they like to operate in a evidence free zone."

"One of my big problems right now is too many people think they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything…" Clinton said. "I think it is good if people continue to change."

Clinton made a similar "direct line to the divine" comment as a way to knock people who are unwilling to change at an event on Wednesday in Chicago.

After a handful of questions on the topic, Gross said she was just trying to "clarify" whether Clinton had changed her opinion on the matter or whether the political winds on the issue had shifted, allowing Democrats' 2016 presidential frontrunner to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

The question clearly irked Clinton, who said, "No, I don't think you are trying to clarify."

"I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reason and that is just flat wrong," Clinton said. "So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud what I have done and the progress we are making."

"You are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue," she said.

Gross then apologized, saying instead that maybe Clinton "really believed this all along," but "felt for political reasons, America wasn't ready yet."

At one point during the interview, Clinton stood behind her position as America's top diplomat – one she said was "out of domestic politics" – to defend the fact that she didn't come out earlier.

After leaving the State Department, she said, "I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage and it is now continuing to proceed state by state."

When Clinton came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013, she was one of many Democratic politicians to do so. Clinton's support came after both President and Vice President Biden backed gay marriage during the 2012 presidential race.

While at State, though, Clinton did make changes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who work at in the department, including adding gender identity to the State Department's equal employment opportunity policy.

In her new memoir, "Hard Choices," Clinton writes about her those actions.

"When I look back at my time as Secretary, I'm proud of the work we did to extend the circle of human dignity and human rights to include people historically excluded," she writes. In particular, she notes she decided in 2009 to extend the "full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service staff serving abroad."

Gross also pressed the former first lady on President Bill Clinton's signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law in which a key provision was struck down by the Supreme Court in June 2013.

President Clinton signed the act into law in 1996, but before the case went to the nation's highest court, he urged the nine justices to rule it unconstitutional.

Asked whether she was happy that the key part of a law denying to legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses, Hillary Clinton said "of course," but then went on to defend the reasons her husband signed the law in the first place.

"Again, we are living at a time when this extraordinary change is occurring and I am proud of our country," Clinton said. "I am proud of the people who have been on the front lines of advocacy but in 1993, that was not the case and there was a very concerted effort in the congress to make it even more difficult and greater discrimination."

Related: Hillary Clinton: Cantor's defeat will affect 2016

Clinton blasts opponents of immigration reform

Senator Abraham Lincoln? Clinton misidentifies the former president


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • NPR • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Does she have to defend the fact that her bra and panties might not match? Geez people. Some people change!!!

    FIFY

    June 12, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Bessy

    I didn't know that changing your mind was against the law. As time goes on many of us change our minds about a lot of things.

    June 12, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "One of my big problems right now is too many people think they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything…" Clinton said. "I think it is good if people continue to change."
    --------------------------------

    Exactly, but it runs far deeper than that.

    It goes to the most fundamental reason why the founding fathers wanted a secular state, one which separates church and state. The founders wanted a democratic system that functioned on compromise. When political beliefs are become too deeply rooted in theocratic beliefs, then compromise becomes something that is impossible to achieve. Compromising and finding common ground becomes a sin against ones religious beliefs.

    June 12, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. sonny chapman

    America had a Prez who took great pride in never, ever changing his mind on anything(except fighting Communism; only in TX, not in Vietnam). He considered reevaluation as a sign of weakness. His name was George W.Bush.

    June 12, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Chris-E...al

    Gay men make aids and spread it when they get unhappy or unconfused with the boyfriend and give to strait PPL who's down with that ?

    June 12, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Logan

    I think it is a bad idea but that's where her voters are and that is where to the country seems to heading. There are so many problems to solve that are so much more pressing in the States now who cares.

    June 12, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Chris-E...al

    She supports gay marriage and at the same time spend billions fighting aids and searching for a cure?

    June 12, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Reggie53

    If that was a Republican changing their mind about something like this, you liberals/democrats would call that person a flip-flop. Of course anyone can have a change of mind but you democrats only think that it applies only to you people. Republicans are not allowed to change their minds......hypocrites!!!!!

    June 12, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. What a joke ...

    Style over substance is winning ...

    June 12, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. smith

    Get rid of marriage once and for all. No more fighting, no more divorce( and wasted dollars and court dates), more freedom. Why should anyone be locked into a contract with another person. As far as Hil. Clinton she is a sheep just like the rest on this issue. This is another who cares issue like gun control and abortion.

    June 12, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    @ just asking, how is it that you define a secessionist as a moderate? Economics professors are like any other academics: they have the luxury of espousing ideologically pure positions without having to test them in the real world. I would have thought that as a charter member of the whack-job chorus, you would have understood that, considering how hostile you usually are to anyone in the Ivory Tower,, but it appears that ideology trumps experience when the ideology as extreme as Brat's happens to mirror your own. Does the Echo Chamber not extend into a dimension that can be remotely described as real? Cantor had a 95% approval rating from the Conservative Union, but that's not good enough, apparently. The Right is about as free-thinking as the Soviet Union, and they are using economics of all things to justify the failed Objectivist BS as something that is some how fresh thinking. Nice to see you shill for another failed conservative policy: when can we wait to see it join segregation on the trash heap of history?

    June 12, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Dan J

    Either she "evolved" for political gain, or pretended to be against it all this time, also for political gain. Any way you slice it., Clinton comes first. Not the American people.

    June 12, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Dan J

    There's nothing wrong with changing your mind. WHY you did it is just as important, and Clinton is a sycophant. L

    June 12, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Regarding the previous story in the Ticker:

    I guess Mitt has binders full of donors, but to what end? He's not enough of a whack job to appeal to the members of the Chorus on these pages, much less at an actual grassroots gathering of rubes wearing tri-corn hats and using their SSI checks to come out to the rallies. Patricians don't mix with Plebians very well on the Right.

    June 12, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    "One of my big problems right now is too many people think they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything…" Clinton said. "I think it is good if people continue to change."
    ----------–

    Exactly, but it runs far deeper than that.

    It goes to the most fundamental reason why the founding fathers wanted a secular state, one which separates church and state. The founders wanted a democratic system that functioned on compromise. When political beliefs are become too deeply rooted in theocratic beliefs, then compromise becomes something that is impossible to achieve. Compromising and finding common ground becomes a sin against ones religious beliefs.
    ------------
    Thank you thank you Rudy NYC for highlighting this forward looking intelligent woman's words.
    I cannot augment your great comment.

    June 12, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    @tom l

    "Miserable performance?!? He was handed the worst economy since the Great Depression"

    "Another total fabrication of fact. You can talk about job losses all you want which happened for a few months but the recession ended in July of 2008, 6 months after he took office and clearly nothing he had done had the time to actually affect the economy at that point."

    Man oh man... Did you mean to write... "Another total fabrication of fact would be: you can talk about job losses all you want which happened for a few months but the recession ended in July of 2008, 6 months after he took office and clearly nothing he had done had the time to actually affect the economy at that point."

    The recession ended in 2008? Really? I wish you would have told the rest of America. Maybe we would all have Cayman Island accounts and not have to pay taxes. You truly live in that little right wing bubble where taxes need to be cut on the wealthy so they will create 6 figure jobs for all of us (like they did when we slashed their taxes under reagan- no; then again under bush- no... they cry about having to pay 10.10 an hour, but give themselves 7 figure quarterly bonuses and golden parachutes... are you daft?). You ayn rand worshippers need to check where her books are found in the library. It is under fiction because it is just made up stories (but you folk like made up stories as you do this daily and state it as fact).
    Again, I appreciate the daily chuckles I get from your twisted, dishonest; yet heartfelt, posts on here. But I really do think you should look into a tuition refund because you obvious got shorted in the analytical thinking part of your education.
    That happens with them online courses offered by Liberty University.
    (P.S. I concede the mistake in writing deficit as opposed to debt. Please don't impeach me).

    June 12, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. freedom

    Does she really think we believe anything she says?? She's narcissistic and delusional, and will say – and do anything for power – including lying at a service over caskets of assassinated servicemen.

    June 12, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "She supports gay marriage and at the same time spend billions fighting aids and searching for a cure?"

    Wow. Keep it up, champ, and the GOP/Teatrolls might even lose those idiots who call themselves Log Cabin Republicans. Newsflash: HIV/AIDS is not a disease for being gay, has nothing to do with the gender of who you're shtooping, and your mid-1980's bigoted conceptualization of it shows that you stopped taking in new information 30+ years ago.

    June 12, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Ol' Yeller

    @Chris-E...al
    "Gay men make aids and spread it when they get unhappy or unconfused with the boyfriend and give to strait PPL who's down with that ?"

    Man, did you hit your head or did your mother just nurse you while falling down drunk?
    Gay men make AIDs?!?!
    Are you kidding?

    June 12, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The recession ended in 2008? Really? I wish you would have told the rest of America."

    Speaking as someone who lived through the worst of it ... yeah ... what you said, o' Yeller. It would have saved my husband and myself many sleepless nights agonizing over decision making steps needed to "survive" if only we'd been told ... "Oh, hey. That recession thingy? Yeah ... it's over" (apparently before the full effects had even begun to be felt).

    June 12, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Does the Echo Chamber not extend into a dimension that can be remotely described as real? "

    The BS that's been pouring out of the RWNJs for the past 6 years seems pretty one-dimensional to me hehe....no depth, no breadth, no heft, no weight, no timeliness...just a straight line to the predetermined conclusion they wish to reach, i.e., "Obama bad" or "that's socialism" or whatever the frig applies to the issue at hand.

    June 12, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Regarding the previous story in the Ticker:

    I guess Mitt has binders full of donors"

    AND, given his stiff, robot-like, impersonal, devoid-of-any-empathy delivery and presentation, I'm thinking he also has bowels full of binders

    June 12, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The recession ended in 2008? Really? I wish you would have told the rest of America. Maybe we would all have Cayman Island accounts and not have to pay taxes. You truly live in that little right wing bubble where taxes need to be cut on the wealthy so they will create 6 figure jobs for all of us (like they did when we slashed their taxes under reagan- no; then again under bush- no… they cry about having to pay 10.10 an hour, but give themselves 7 figure quarterly bonuses and golden parachutes… are you daft?). You ayn rand worshippers need to check where her books are found in the library. It is under fiction because it is just made up stories (but you folk like made up stories as you do this daily and state it as fact).
    Again, I appreciate the daily chuckles I get from your twisted, dishonest; yet heartfelt, posts on here. But I really do think you should look into a tuition refund because you obvious got shorted in the analytical thinking part of your education.
    That happens with them online courses offered by Liberty University.
    (P.S. I concede the mistake in writing deficit as opposed to debt. Please don’t impeach me).

    Thank you Ol' Yeller! He loves to yap about the recession ending in 09. Maybe it did for the rich fat cats but for many regular hard working people it had just kicked in. The steel company I worked for held on through most of 08, however Oct.1, 2008, my bosses had to let 80% of our workforce go. Some had as many as 25 to 30 years in. I had just under 10. For 2 entire years I put in application after application and could only get work during 2010 for the US Census. Hundreds of thousands of people were losing jobs left and right. Companies were going under like mad in 09 and 10. I met a nice lady while working at the Census that actually contemplated taking her life because her life was spiraling out of control. She lost her house, was losing her car and she couldn't find a job anywhere. She also had a college education. I felt so bad for her. I tried to encourage her not to give up and I hope I was successful. Our stories mirror many, many more hard working people that were unable to find work due to companies not hiring. In 2009 & 2010, our Job section of the Sunday paper was no more than 4 pages long. Prior to 2008, it was at least 20 pages. It's hard to get someone to understand when they simply have blind hatred toward a person or group of people. And that's the attention seeker in a nutshell.

    June 12, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. Gurgyl

    Bunch of pervert society, entire saga is bull...produce more kids.

    June 12, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Tom l

    My bad, meant July of 2009

    June 12, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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