Too Late for Apologies? Bill Clinton for Now Opposing DOMA

Mar 12, 2013 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: EDGE

Bloggers and pundits are weighing in about former President Bill Clinton's recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post in which he urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Truth

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Mar 12, 2013
 

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We wouldn't even be having the discussion about marriage equality if he hadn't tried to lift the ban on gays in the military, period. We may of had universal health care too, if he didn't try to lift the ban on gays in the military.

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Mar 12, 2013
 

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Truth wrote:
We wouldn't even be having the discussion about marriage equality if he hadn't tried to lift the ban on gays in the military, period. We may of had universal health care too, if he didn't try to lift the ban on gays in the military.
How is that? Please elaborate.

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#3
Mar 12, 2013
 

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Legal challenges to the military ban and to marriage laws were already in play by the early 70's. These areas of discrimination were being challenged before Clinton, and continued without his support.

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Mar 12, 2013
 

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In 1957, Frank Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army's Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin "a Herculean struggle with the American establishment" that would "spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s".

"Kameny protested his firing by the U.S. Civil Service Commission due to his homosexuality, and argued this case to the United States Supreme Court in 1961. Although the court denied his petition, it is notable as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation." (wiki)

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Mar 12, 2013
 

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On September 8, 1975, Leonard Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine in uniform over the headline “I Am a Homosexual; The Gay Drive for Acceptance.”

Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich (July 7, 1943 – June 22, 1988)[1] was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Matlovich's grave at the Congressional Cemetery where other gay vetrans have since chosen to be buried, does not bear his name.

The tombstone reads:
A Gay Vietnam Veteran
When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one

Matlovich's discharge was in October 1975.

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said,“Leonard Matlovich’s extraordinary courage in a time when gays and lesbians faced extreme prejudice is an example for us all. He was a brave pioneer and set off a struggle that we can finally envision winning. The debt that gay veterans—and the entire gay community—owe to Sergeant Matlovich cannot be overstated.”
Angered by the ban, he purposely declared his homosexuality in a 1975 letter to Air Force Secretary John McLucas and fought to remain in the military. Sergeant Matlovich’s case won widespread media attention. On September 8, 1975, Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine in uniform over the headline “I Am a Homosexual; The Gay Drive for Acceptance.”

After losing his bid to remain in the Air Force through their administrative proceedings, a US District Court judge ordered Matlovich reinstated with back pay. After more litigation, Matlovich eventually accepted a financial settlement and an upgrade to honorable discharge. He continued his tireless efforts for gay equality in the civilian sector. Matlovich announced he had AIDS during an interview with Charlie Gibson on “Good Morning America” in 1987. He died on June 22, 1988, just two weeks before his 45th birthday.(Servicemembers Legal Defense Network)

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Mar 12, 2013
 

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The first same sex wedding I attended was in 1974. It was a religious ceremony, but of course did not have the support of the law.

“Headed toward the cliff”

Since: Nov 07

Tawas City, Michigan

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#7
Mar 13, 2013
 

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It's never too late for people to admit they were wrong and now support equality.

“Marriage Equality”

Since: Dec 07

Lakeland, MI

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Mar 13, 2013
 

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I still don't think he was wrong. He stopped a hoard of panicking idiots with one stroke of his pen.

Granted, the solution was not what any of us wanted, including him, but we're one helluva lot better off today than we would have been had the panicking idiots whipped up enough momentum to pass a Federal marriage amendment.

And, looking at the 30-some states that passed constitutional amendments against marriage in the next few years, I would say that passing an FMA would have been a breeze for them.

Stopping that momentum might yet prove to be among the best things to happened for us.

Since: Dec 08

Toronto, ON, Canada

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#9
Mar 13, 2013
 

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I tend to take Clinton at face value. Signorile's comments don't count too much for me - he is a like a mad dog ho wants to bite everything. As e-John posted, Clinton was trying to head off rightist extremists with both DOMA and DADT though he was a bit misguided.

I do not believe Hilary will run in 2016 and if she does, I have a feeling she won't make it through the primaries.

As for vote-gathering ability, I believe a Hispanic candidate could do more than a white female in that area.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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eJohn wrote:
I still don't think he was wrong. He stopped a hoard of panicking idiots with one stroke of his pen.
Granted, the solution was not what any of us wanted, including him, but we're one helluva lot better off today than we would have been had the panicking idiots whipped up enough momentum to pass a Federal marriage amendment.
And, looking at the 30-some states that passed constitutional amendments against marriage in the next few years, I would say that passing an FMA would have been a breeze for them.
Stopping that momentum might yet prove to be among the best things to happened for us.
While I have to agree about DOMA, I think DADT wasn't necessary, and was a mistake. Of course we'll never really know what would have happened if he had just eliminated the gay ban with an executive order right away, but I doubt they could have had enough votes to override a veto of a ban had they tried to pass one. Public opinion was in support of lifting the ban.

At least it is gone now. While DOMA denies equal treatment, which is still harmful, stigmatizing, and dehumanizing, DADT required punishment simply for being gay. It was a terrible law that ruined the careers of 17,000 gay service members as well as telling the world the federal government still required punishment for simply being gay.

“Headed toward the cliff”

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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Not Yet Equal wrote:
<quoted text>
While I have to agree about DOMA, I think DADT wasn't necessary, and was a mistake. Of course we'll never really know what would have happened if he had just eliminated the gay ban with an executive order right away, but I doubt they could have had enough votes to override a veto of a ban had they tried to pass one. Public opinion was in support of lifting the ban.
At least it is gone now. While DOMA denies equal treatment, which is still harmful, stigmatizing, and dehumanizing, DADT required punishment simply for being gay. It was a terrible law that ruined the careers of 17,000 gay service members as well as telling the world the federal government still required punishment for simply being gay.
Public opinion may have been in favor of lifting the ban on gays in the military, but Congressional opinion definitely wasn't. Even IF the democratic led House & Senate of the 103rd Congress hadn't been able to override a Clinton veto of an outright ban, the Republican 103rd Congress led by Gingrich most certainly would have.

I was on active duty before and during DADT; it was definitely an improvement in many ways. I only wish I had still been on active duty to see the repeal.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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WeTheSheeple wrote:
<quoted text>
Public opinion may have been in favor of lifting the ban on gays in the military, but Congressional opinion definitely wasn't. Even IF the democratic led House & Senate of the 103rd Congress hadn't been able to override a Clinton veto of an outright ban, the Republican 103rd Congress led by Gingrich most certainly would have.
I was on active duty before and during DADT; it was definitely an improvement in many ways. I only wish I had still been on active duty to see the repeal.
I'm glad to hear your personal experience was better, but discharges actually increased under DADT.

The problem remains, it wrote into the law, a requirement that gay people be punished simply for being gay, telling the world, new recruits, and everyone else, that the official position of the US government was, gay people must be punished simply for being gay.

“Headed toward the cliff”

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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Not Yet Equal wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm glad to hear your personal experience was better, but discharges actually increased under DADT.
The problem remains, it wrote into the law, a requirement that gay people be punished simply for being gay, telling the world, new recruits, and everyone else, that the official position of the US government was, gay people must be punished simply for being gay.
That was already the law before DADT was implemented; before DADT gays were given a dishonorable discharge.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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WeTheSheeple wrote:
<quoted text>
That was already the law before DADT was implemented; before DADT gays were given a dishonorable discharge.
Clinton's promise was to do away with that code.

While the punishment was more severe, it was behavior that was punished by the military code, not orientation.

Enforcement was more rare, and dadt was the unofficial practice, not the law. It was also a military code, not a federal law. I understand it was potentially worse for service members. But as a code, it was symbolically less significant than being a federal law that not only punished behavior, but said the official position of the US Government is that simply being gay must be punished. The final legal version as well as how it was implemented, was not the transitional policy many had proposed as a compromise.

(And once again, as usual, only the equal rights of gay people were compromised.)

“Headed toward the cliff”

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#15
Mar 14, 2013
 
Not Yet Equal wrote:
<quoted text>
Clinton's promise was to do away with that code.
While the punishment was more severe, it was behavior that was punished by the military code, not orientation.
Enforcement was more rare, and dadt was the unofficial practice, not the law. It was also a military code, not a federal law. I understand it was potentially worse for service members. But as a code, it was symbolically less significant than being a federal law that not only punished behavior, but said the official position of the US Government is that simply being gay must be punished. The final legal version as well as how it was implemented, was not the transitional policy many had proposed as a compromise.
(And once again, as usual, only the equal rights of gay people were compromised.)
Actually simply stating you were gay was sufficient reason for discharge pre-dadt.

Congress approves the UCMJ, so I really think you're splitting hairs on that.

Trust me, it made no difference to those of us in the service, and I doubt it made much difference to how civilians viewed the policies either.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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WeTheSheeple wrote:
<quoted text>
Actually simply stating you were gay was sufficient reason for discharge pre-dadt.
Congress approves the UCMJ, so I really think you're splitting hairs on that.
Trust me, it made no difference to those of us in the service, and I doubt it made much difference to how civilians viewed the policies either.
The ban and DADT may have felt the same, but I believe the difference between a code and a federal law is significant. But the promise was not about a choice between the two, but removing the ban.

Had Clinton followed through on his promise to remove the ban by executive order, he could have avoided congress. He had the power because it was a military code and he was Commander.

Congress could have tried to override it with a law, but probably wouldn't have gotten a veto proof majority. So they might have left it alone. But once it became federal law, no president could do that.

And had he followed through, we would have had all those years of teaching soldiers as well as telling the world it was no longer acceptable to harm people simply for being gay. Instead, we got a federal law telling everyone gay people must be harmed.

While leaving it all alone might have not been any better, the promise was to end the ban. I think he could have pulled it off, and believe that would have moved us further, faster.

But we'll never know, so nothing left but to go forward from here. Advancements in equal rights are often the painful result of efforts to restrict them.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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I further believe the real purpose of continuing a ban, was to enshrine in the law that same old message that gay people must be punished for being gay.

The real goal as well as the effect of DADT and other anti-gay laws, is to preserve and promote the prejudice they accommodate.

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#18
Mar 14, 2013
 

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While this (from Gill) is about marriage, not DADT, it demonstrates anti-gay laws are based on neither reason nor reality, but a desire to punish.

"In sum, this court is soundly convinced, based on the foregoing analysis, that the government's proffered rationales, past and current, are without "footing in the realities of the subject addressed by DOMA." And "when the proffered rationales for a law are clearly and manifestly implausible, a reviewing court may infer that animus is the only explicable basis. Because animus alone cannot constitute a legitimate government interest, " this court finds that DOMA lacks a rational basis to support it.

This court simply "cannot say that DOMA is directed to any identifiable legitimate purpose or discrete objective. It is a status-based enactment divorced from any factual context from which this court could discern a relationship to legitimate government interests. Indeed, Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves. And such a classification, the Constitution clearly will not permit.

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Mar 14, 2013
 

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An example of why Clinton decided he had too much opposition, once again, we see insults, pejorative terminology, and prejudice, remain the refuge of those with no argument on the merits.

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Mar 15, 2013
 

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Not Yet Equal wrote:
I further believe the real purpose of continuing a ban, was to enshrine in the law that same old message that gay people must be punished for being gay.
The real goal as well as the effect of DADT and other anti-gay laws, is to preserve and promote the prejudice they accommodate.
I simply can't agree. I think the intent of DADT was an attempt to make things just a little bit better for those serving in the military.

No matter how it may have turned out when implemented, as someone who actually served under both policies, I will always believe the intent of DADT was to make things just a little better for gay & lesbian servicemembers. Not everything is about civilians.

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