That Video of then-Sen. Clinton Supporting a Ban on Same-sex Marriage? Out of Context

The Democratic presidential nomination race has heated up considerably in the last several months. January saw a particular eruption happen when both Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the presidency. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has the better lifetime grade on his voting record from the HRC (Sanders: 100%, Clinton 89%) and ties with Clinton for a full 100% rating from PP, controversially derided the endorsements, saying “some of these groups are part of the Democratic establishment”, which elicited critical reactions from PP, HRC and the Clinton campaign via social media:

On social media, many pro-LGBT supporters of Sanders (example), and even some anti-LGBT and anti-Clinton partisans, have frequently trafficked the following clip from then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) speaking in defense of keeping marriage to a “sacred bond between a man and a woman” in July 2004:

Now enter the Log Cabin Republicans, the organization of LGBT-identifying GOP members, using the clip in a new ad to slam Clinton’s record on LGBT issues:

However as she spoke in the earlier part of the 2000s against legalizing same-sex marriage while senator, the clip of the Senate floor speech as shown in the first YouTube video is out of context, as noted today by The Advocate. The longer 17-minute video, from C-SPAN, shows Clinton speaking against a proposed constitutional amendment, the Federal Marriage Amendment.

In the full video (which can’t be embedded here due to WordPress.com’s restrictions), Clinton defends the so-called 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a statutory preservation of the “sacred bond”, but criticizes the focus of the GOP on same-sex marriage as a greater malady to the institution of marriage than the growing divorce rate.

From the transcript, via The Advocate:

“Is it really marriage that we’re protecting here? I believe that marriage should be protected. I believe that marriage is essential, but I don’t for the life of me understand how amending the Constitution of the United States with respect to same-gender marriages really gets to the root of the problem of marriage in America,” said Clinton, after calling out the growing divorce rate.

Clinton’s point was that opposing a ban doesn’t mean she’s less committed to the “traditional” role of marriage, but she called on Republicans to take more care in considering any amendment to the Constitution, which she called “one of the greatest documents in the history of humanity.”

She implored them to spend more time finding ways to combat al Qaeda, especially since everyone knew the marriage amendment lacked enough votes to pass.

As noted in the linked Wikipedia article, after being filibustered by Clinton and others, the legislation went on to be denied a hearing in the Senate and was withdrawn. It was then refiled in the House (in which Sanders was a member), going on to fall short of the required 290 votes for passage in the GOP-majority House (227 yea, 180 nay). The following session (2005-2006), the bill faced a similar fate, failing the Senate cloture vote, being refiled in the House, and falling short of the 290 votes (two-thirds) required for passage (237 yea-187 nay). The FMA has never seen another floor vote in either chamber of Congress since 2006.

Finally, it must be noted that the Log Cabin Republicans’ critique of Clinton comes from a very problematic place, as plainly noted by Joe Jervis:

In 2012 the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney after he signed NOM’s hate pledge to support placing a ban on same-sex marriage into to the US Constitution. Today they have a problem with Hillary Clinton on the same issue.

It is understandable as the Log Cabin Republicans are what they say they are (Republicans), but why didn’t the LCR exercise to FMA-supporter Romney in 2012 the sort of discretion that they exercised to FMA-supporter George W. Bush in 2004?

The national board of directors of Log Cabin Republicans voted 22 to 2 not to endorse the reelection of President George W. Bush at a meeting on Sept. 7.

[…]”Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments,” Patrick Guerriero, executive director of LCR said in a conference call with reporters. The decision not to endorse “empowers Log Cabin to maintain its integrity while furthering our goal of building a more inclusive Republican Party.”

“There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and that fight is bigger than one platform, one convention, or even one President,” he said. “We have made it clear that we can either be the party of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani or we can be the party of Alan Keyes and Rick Santorum.”

“Some will accuse us of being disloyal,” Guerriero continued. “However, it was actually the White House who was disloyal to the 1,000,000 gay and lesbian Americans who supported him four years ago.” He castigated the President’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. “Using gays and lesbians as wedge issue in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin.”

“It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the President’s support for an anti-family Constitutional Amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships,” said Chris Barron, political director of LCR.

And how can one expect the Log Cabins to endorse a candidate this election cycle given that even the least anti-LGBT and most-currently-gaining GOP candidate, Donald Trump, opposes marriage equality AND civil unions?

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