Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 5 Things Bill Clinton Should Do to Take a Firm Stand on Gay Marriage

By Michael A. Jones

Bill Clinton made a bit of history last night, when on Anderson Cooper 360, he finally admitted he was wrong to not support marriage equality while President of the United States. While not a full on retraction of his support for policies like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the former President now admits that he was wrong to be hung up on the word marriage.

"Me, Bill Clinton personally, I changed my position. I am no longer opposed to that. I think if people want to make commitments that last a lifetime, they ought to be able to do it," Clinton told Cooper. He then cited his support for gay adoption and the fact that he grew up in a different time period and realized he needed to evolve as reasons for his change in position.

This is great news, albeit thirteen years too late to save DOMA from becoming law. Still, history is history, and this frankly is a bit of history. And the best part is that now there's time left for Clinton to take a stand for marriage equality and really help change this country. Here are five ways how he can do this:

1. Go to Maine and campaign for marriage equality. Maine, as well all know, is in the midst of a ballot initiative that could repeal the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. The No on 1 campaign needs all the support it can get to beat down this ballot initiative (vote no on 1!), and Clinton's voice could certainly help lend a hand. Poll numbers show that the race is neck-and-neck. Clinton's voice could make a huge difference.

2. Go to Washington and campaign for Referendum 71. Washington state is also in the thick of a battle to keep very good domestic partnership benefits in place. Anti-gay activists have put a ballot measure forward that could repeal these benefits for same-sex couples. Clinton's voice in Washington -- a state he carried twice with relative ease, and a blue state in almost every part of the word -- could be a huge boon for folks working for the Approve Referendum 71 campaign.

3. Lend his voice in support of the recently introduced Respect for Marriage Act. The bill, introduced in the U.S. House earlier this month by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. It would be the ultimate apology from Clinton to the LGBT world, and signify that he's not only changed his position on marriage equality, but he's also able to admit that sometimes politicians can screw up and put into law really bad pieces of legislation.

4. Endorse candidates who support full marriage equality. Clinton's endorsement powers are huge. Note the huge stink raised when he decided to throw his hat into the California 2010 Governor's race by endorsing pro-marriage equality candidate Gavin Newsom. That move is huge for Newsom, and certainly a welcome sign. It's dicey to place a litmus test on candidates, but on this issue, it's a real test of where a politician stands on equal rights. Endorsing candidates that don't support marriage equality -- if ever justified -- should be the exception, not the rule.

For the 5th, your going to have to go to Michael's blogging page at Change.org.

Photo: DNCC/Jackson Solway


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