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Rights of same-sex partners should equal those of married couples, Clinton says

WASHINGTON (BP)–Same-sex partners with a “genuine commitment” should have rights and benefits equal to those of married couples, President Clinton said in an interview with a magazine for homosexuals.

In addition, Clinton said homosexuals should have adoption rights.

The president made the comments for publication in the Nov. 7 issue of The Advocate. It was his first interview with a homosexual-oriented publication, other than a written one done for the same magazine in 1996. A transcript of the interview, which was conducted Sept. 27 on Air Force One, was released Oct. 23 by the White House.

Clinton, who has promoted civil rights based on homosexuality, told The Advocate’s Chris Bull he did not know if Americans would reach the point where they accept same-sex marriage.

Homosexual “couples who have manifested a genuine commitment should have all the legal options that others do, whether it’s how they leave their estates or cover their partners with health insurance on the job or such simple things as the right to visit hospital beds during family visiting hours,” Clinton said, according to the transcript.

People “will put their own words to whatever the relationship is,” he said.

His view is “people who have a relationship ought to be able to call it whatever they want,” Clinton said. “And insofar as it’s sanctified by a religious ceremony, that’s up to the churches involved.”

The debate about adoption by homosexuals may affect the issue of same-sex unions, the president said.

“Because you see more and more gay couples adopting kids,” Clinton said. “Very often, they’re children who wouldn’t be taken by other people or who haven’t been. And I think that’s going to have an impact on people. I’ve always felt that all those anti-adoption laws were wrong.”

On other topics discussed during the interview, Clinton said:

— The election of Al Gore as president and a gain by Democrats of 10 to 12 seats in the House of Representatives and three or four seats in the Senate “would make a huge difference” on such issues as homosexual acceptance in the military, hate-crimes legislation and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. The hate-crimes bill and ENDA would protect civil rights based on “sexual orientation,” which includes homosexuality.

— He is not inclined to resign his honorary post with the Boy Scouts of America, which won a Supreme Court decision this year protecting its right to exclude homosexual troop leaders, “because I think the Scouts do a world of good and because I think they can be persuaded to change. I think the policy is wrong. … I believe they’ll change, and I think we should keep working on them.”

— Conservatives, including some religious ones, “hated” him for two reasons. Many “of those people have a sense of entitlement to cultural superiority and political power,” he said. “And they don’t think anybody that’s not part of their crowd has a right to cultural legitimacy or political power.” Another reason “they disliked me especially is that they see me as a apostate because I’m a southern, white, male Protestant, and southern, while, male Protestants have been the backbone of their political and social power, because we tend to be more politically and socially conservative,” he said.

During his two terms, Clinton has appointed more open homosexuals to senior administration positions than any previous president and issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the federal civilian workplace based on “sexual orientation.” He also proclaimed June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 1999 and 2000, becoming the first president to issue such a decree.

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