In the below video, various Democrats rail against marriage equality. Given her recent change of heart, Hillary Clinton’s 2004 speech is particularly jarring – but not surprising – to watch:
The new Democratic advocates for SSM fall into two camps. The first consists of people who always liked the idea of this but worried about losing national elections. In his memoir, Democratic consultant Bob Shrum remembers John Kerry fretting that the Massachusetts Supreme Court had forced Democrats to talk about gay marriage before they were ready to. “Why couldn’t they just wait a year?” he asked Shrum, mournfully. The second camp consists of people who really do oppose the idea of gay people getting married. Republicans argued that this second camp was tiny, and that liberals were hiding behind it. They were right!
I’m not so sure. But Kerry’s position was that of most of the Democratic pols and they were backed up through the 1990s by the Human Rights Campaign, who wanted nothing more than to kill this issue they deemed premature (while their number one goal back then, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, remains unaccomplished). In some ways, I find the opportunism of the Clintons – who did more substantive harm to gay people in eight years than any other administration – more disgusting than the fundamentalist hostility. At least the Christianists were sincere. The Clintons have always been phonies and opportunists and for Bill Clinton to proclaim the sanctity of marriage and sign DOMA while cigar-fucking his intern tells you a lot about him. On no issue were they as shameless as on this one – portraying themselves as civil rights advocates while kicking those of us fighting for equality squarely in the groin.
The former president still refuses to apologize for what he did to us. He cannot own it. But history will.