NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a Philadelphia homosexual newspaper she would work to advance “gay rights” as president, including possibly signing into law a bill that would grant same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage.
The senator from New York also called a proposed Pennsylvania constitutional marriage amendment “mean-spirited” and said she hopes it is defeated.
Clinton granted the interview to the Philadelphia Gay News just weeks prior to the April 22 Democratic primary, a must-win for her campaign. Her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, did not grant the newspaper an interview, although he has made his support of homosexual causes clear in recent weeks, including issuing an open letter to the homosexual community pledging to use the “bully pulpit” to pass legislation backed by that constituency.
Because of the interview snub, the newspaper’s headline read, “Clinton talks; Obama balks.”
The newspaper asked Clinton if she would support “federal domestic-partner legislation to give rights to all LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] citizens.” The question was posed in light of the fact Clinton was co-sponsor of a bill, the Domestic-Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act, that would grant federal employees the legal benefits that heterosexual married spouses have.
“Of course,” she answered. “But I think the reason why I have zeroed in on the Obligations Act is because that’s what’s in the province of the federal government and I think we might be able to get that passed. But I would certainly sign anything that was broader too.”
She said she has been “committed for more than nine years” to eliminating the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevents homosexuals from serving openly. On another subject, she promised to work to overhaul federal tax laws so that same-sex couples –- especially those in states with “gay marriage” and civil unions laws — can file jointly on their federal returns.
“That’s one of the laws we have to change,” she said. “I will have a comprehensive review, and I think a lot of that work has already been done, to look at everything that is discriminatory in the tax code or in any other aspect of federal law. And we will try to eliminate all of that discrimination. I think we will have a good argument, ironically, because I think we can say, look, the states are making determinations about extending rights to same-sex couples in various forms and the federal government should recognize that and should extend the same access to federal benefits across the board. I will very much work to achieve that.”
Clinton also urged the Pennsylvania legislature to defeat a marriage amendment that would prohibit both “gay marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions. The proposal has passed the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee and would appear on the ballot no earlier than 2009 or 2010.
“Don’t pass it,” she said. “I really hope that that doesn’t go anywhere. I would be very distressed if Pennsylvania were to adopt that kind of mean-spirited referendum and I hope it won’t happen.”
Pennsylvania is seeking to do what a majority of states already have done: protect the natural, traditional definition of marriage in their state constitution.
Obama’s February letter to the homosexual community made most of the same promises that Clinton did in her interview, including pledging to work to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also said he would pressure states to pass “gay rights” laws.
“As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws,” he wrote. “I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.”
But unlike Clinton, Obama backs the “complete repeal” of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed in 1996 that gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s “gay marriages.” It also prohibits the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage.” Homosexual activists long have viewed it as a significant legal barrier to nationwide legalization of “gay marriage.”
“While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether,” he wrote. “Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does.”
Austin Nimocks, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that supports the Defense of Marriage Act, said overturning DOMA “would lead to the recognition of everything the homosexual agenda stands for, including same-sex marriage.”
Clinton supports repealing the section of DOMA that prohibits the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage.” She would keep in place the section that gives states latitude on the issue.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor for Baptist Press.