Bill Clinton backs marriage equality

BILL CLINTON BACKS MARRIAGE EQUALITY…. Bill Clinton, after years of opposing same-sex marriage, conceded a couple of months ago that his views on marriage equality were “evolving.”

Today, The Nation‘s Michael Tracey reports that the former president, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law 13 years ago, has offered a slightly-qualified endorsement of same-sex marriage.

After speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8, the former president was asked if he supported same-sex marriage. Clinton, in a departure from past statements, replied in the affirmative…. Asked if he would commit his support for same-sex marriage, Clinton responded, “I’m basically in support.”

This spring, same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. In his most recent remarks on the subject, Clinton said, “I think all these states that do it should do it.” The former president, however, added that he does not believe that same-sex marriage is “a federal question.”

Asked if he personally supported same-sex marriage, Clinton replied, “Yeah.” “I personally support people doing what they want to do,” Clinton said. “I think it’s wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage].”

In March, when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York announced his support for marriage equality, Ben Smith noted, “It’s a big deal because it represents support for same-sex marriage moving toward becoming the default, mainstream position of the Democratic Party.” If Schumer reinforced that perception, Bill Clinton’s support for same-sex marriage definitely suggests this is becoming the mainstream Democratic position.

Indeed, The Nation‘s Tracey added that Clinton and Schumer aren’t the only ones who’ve come around on this issue lately — former DNC Chair Howard Dean, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd have all also reached the same conclusion. As I recall, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made a similar policy pronouncement recently, too.

Looking over this list, though, there seems to be a regional commonality, and I don’t think it’s controversial to say the Northeast is more progressive on civil rights and equality than most of the country.

That said, Bill Clinton is still an influential member of the Democratic Party, and his endorsement carries some weight.