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                                       politics + culture

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Clintons, Bob Shrum and the Defense of Marriage Act

John Aravosis at Americablog has a monster analysis of Bob Shrum's claim that Bill Clinton advised John Kerry to support some of the anti-gay ballot initiatives during the 2004 elections:

As Pam Spaulding noted last week, Democratic political consultant Bob Shrum claims in his new book that during the 2004 elections, Bill Clinton advised John Kerry to support the Federal Marriage Amendment, i.e., the anti-gay amendment to the US Constitution that would have banned gay marriage and vitiated scores of other rights that gay couples may have, including health insurance, inheritance, child custody, parenting, and more. Shrum reports that Kerry refused to endorse the amendment.

I decided to check with Bill Clinton's office and the Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign to find out if this is true. Here is what I found. Jay Carson, spokesman for President Clinton told me: "I checked and it's completely untrue. He never advised John Kerry to support the gay marriage ban President Bush was pushing." A senior Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign staffer told me: "It's definitely true. Newsweek had reported that Clinton had said Kerry should support some of the state [anti-gay] ballot initiatives. Clinton believed it would be this grand master stroke to neutralize Bush's base."

I went back to both President Clinton's office and the Kerry-Edwards campaign official, asking them to reconcile the apparent discrepancy. Clinton's spokesman stands by his denial - to the best of his knowledge, it didn't happen. The senior Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign staffer also stands by their statement that it did happen, noting that Clinton's denial was "typical Clintonian revisionism."

This is a key point. We're not talking about ancient history here, we're talking about politics right now. (A focus that I would advise anyone to bring to the 2008 Presidential contest; Presidential politics is about the present and going forward.)

As John rightly argues, if this claim is specious, then let Hillary and Bill both come forward and speak frankly about revisiting the 1996 DOMA act and the equal rights of every citizen including gay Americans. 'All men are created equal' is a pretty clear phrase; as a nation, we should live up to it. Let's have this discussion right now.

If you want to see how the other side frames this debate, take a look at this post from the blog of the Southern Baptist Convention...note the tags: "Family, Marriage, Sexual Purity, Homosexuality, Citizenship, Social Issues." These are the folks Bill Clinton was advocating caving to.




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