In the highest-profile endorsement of marriage equality to date, former President Bill Clinton has moved beyond his prior statements on same-sex marriage toward voicing support at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8.
While there, he was asked if he would support marriage equality. He responded, "I'm basically in support."
In the past, Clinton opposed same-sex marriage, signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 while in the White House. After his presidency, Clinton rode the fence, stating at Toronto's Convention Centre that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving."
Hopefully it will continue to evolve, for Clinton added, "I think all these states that do it should do it." But he said he believed that same-sex marriage is not "a federal question."
But personally, Clinton is for full equality. "I personally support people doing what they want to do," Clinton said. "I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [same-sex marriage]."
In an interview with Vermont Public Radio, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is the fourth most senior U.S. senator and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, publicly stated his support for marriage equality by reversing his position on DOMA, which he voted for in 1996.
“If I was voting – if this matter was coming the first time, I'd vote differently than I did then,” Leahy added. “Because I think the states are now ahead of the Congress on this. I was concerned at the time I voted for it that we may be facing the possibility of having a national law that would override states and would not give Vermont to do what it want or California the freedom to do just the opposite of Vermont.”
“Well, I think now that you have states that are voting for and having same-sex marriages – Vermont has, Massachusetts has, New Hampshire, others, Connecticut – the Defense of Marriage Act is unnecessary, should be repealed,” Leahy said.
You can listen to the whole interview at Vermont Public Radio.
Leahy becomes the fifth Senator to publicly state his support for marriage equality, and joins Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, New York Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin on the list.