Bill Clinton: Time to Overturn DOMA

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 8 2013 10:09 AM

Bill Clinton, Who Signed DOMA Into Law, Now Says It's "Incompatible" with the Constitution

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Former US President Bill Clinton speaks on February 21, 2013 during the inauguration ceremony for the first phase of the Eko Atlantic real estate project, in Lagos, Nigeria

Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, now says that the law that bars federal recognition of same-sex couples should be overturned by the Supreme Court. Here's the former president in a Washington Post op-ed today:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court, and the justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional. As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution. ...
We are still a young country, and many of our landmark civil rights decisions are fresh enough that the voices of their champions still echo, even as the world that preceded them becomes less and less familiar. We have yet to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but a society that denied women the vote would seem to us now not unusual or old-fashioned but alien. I believe that in 2013 DOMA and opposition to marriage equality are vestiges of just such an unfamiliar society.
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It should be noted that Clinton doesn't actually use the word "unconstituional" in his editorial, although that's how everyone—including WaPo editors—are reading the op-ed given the "incompatible with our Constitution" line and the fact that Clinton states clearly that he believes "the law is itself discriminatory."

Regardless of the semantics, Clinton now joins a number of high-profile former and current politicians urging the high court to strike down the law. President Obama and a group of more than a 100 Republicans sent separate amicus briefs to the Supreme Court earlier this year. While those so-called "friends of the court" briefs may or may not change any minds on the high court, they nonetheless are the latest signal of how public opinion is shifting on the issue.

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This post was updated at 10:30 a.m. with additional information and analysis.

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