Mitchell Reports | March 08, 2013
>> 17 years after signing the defense of marriage act former president bill clinton is now declaring his change of heart and urging the supreme court to do the same importantly. joining me now is jonathan caphart, msnbc contributor and opinion writer for the washington post . let's go back in history now and talk about how bill clinton and why bill clinton signed the defense of marriage act . we looked for a picture of that. couldn't find one.
>> yeah, couldn't find one.
>> and why?
>> why? because it was signed after midnight when it was done. it was done under the cover of darkness. it was something that clearly he wasn't proud to do, but politically speaking it was something he needed -- he felt he needed --
>> it was something -- running for re-election. republicans were trying to get at their conservative base. at the same time you had a lot of -- a lot of people out there saying if the federal government doesn't do something to stop this pernicious march of same-sex marriage that was coming out of hawaii, maybe it's time to do a u.s. constitutional amendment to cut it off completely sxwshgs so the political thinking at the time was it was really between a rock and a hard place . let this constitution -- u.s. constitutional movement happen, or put in a defense of marriage act and forestall it and stop that from happening, and as we've seen, there's been no u.s. constitutional amendment drive. however, you have 38 states -- i'm sorry, 31 states that have state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, and if you had a u.s. constitutional amendment , you only need 38 states to make that the law of the land .
>> at the same time it was a political bonus. this was at the time when he was doing welfare reform , which some in his cabinet did not want him to do. moving to the center and trying to protect his -- i think you were just telling me that while saying he had a signing statement saying he didn't agree with the discrimination as penkts of it, but they used it in certain parts of the country in the south on christian radio stations in advertisements.
>> right. they ran radio ads on christian radio after sign it in the middle of the night and wanting to draw no attention to it and doing the signing statement saying we don't condone discrimination. running these radio ads on christian radio in the south saying, hey, this is what we did on gay marriage , but also on abortion, but also part of those ads, and i think when people here read president clinton saying i want doma to be declared unconstitutional, a lot of the anger that i'm getting back on my facebook page to what i have written about this is that but he still signed it. he still ran radio ads -- radio ads touting that he had done this, so this is something that a lot of people in the gay community aren't exactly going to get over very quickly. tloo this is what he wrote today. you just mentioned in the washington post , among other things, he said we are still a young country, and many of our landmark civil rights decisions are fresh enough that the voices of their champions still echo, even as the world that preceded them becomes less and less familiar. we have yet to celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment , but as a society that denied women the vote, would seem to us now not unusual or old-fashioned, but alien. i believe that 2013 doma and opposition to marriage equality are vest edges of such an unfamiliar society. alan simpson , republican from wyoming, just told me during the break that he voted for it. he said they all voted for it. not i think realizing the implications or they weren't where they are now, and he just yesterday signed on -- he, simpson did, signed on to the brief.
>> on propositional.
>> for the challenge to prop 8.
>> that goes to show how times have changed since 1996 . we now have a sitting president, sitting vice president most of the cabinet. two of the leading contenders for the 2016 nomination on the democratic side, governors andrew cuomo of new york, martin o'malley of maryland who are for marriage equality . you have more than 100 republicans signed on to this brief saying proposition eight should be overturned. the country is changed. president clinton as op ed piece is part of this change.
>> there are two words that aren't there that i wish were there, and those are i'm sorry.
>> tough votes for republicans, some of whom were punished for that, the state senators who were punished for that vote, but they did do marriage equality in new york state. jonathan, great to see you.
>> thanks. great to see you too, in person for once.
>> much better.