Pam Spaulding

Netroots Nation: Bill Clinton supports repeal of DADT, DOMA

Filed By Pam Spaulding | August 14, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Bill Clinton, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, lane hudson, Netroots Nation, rex wockner

UPDATE: The full transcript of Lane Hudson's questions to Bill Clinton and the former President's response is below, courtesy of Rex Wockner.

How's that for a juxtaposition, lol. I'm about to hit the sack, but I wanted to give you an update on Netroots Nation tidbits...

Former President Bill Clinton spoke tonight (Autumn, Kate and I skipped it to grab a bite to eat with Joe Sudbay of Americablog and Jed Lewison of Daily Kos) and there was some news made and a bit of chaos. We went to the Warhol Museum; it is a must-see if you come to Pittsburgh. There were a ton of people there. Mike Rogers helped organize the event. I managed to touch base with fellow North Carolinian, friend of the Netroots and recent town hall teabagger "victim" Rep. Brad Miller to see how well he faired the crazies who made it hard for people who really care about health care without being distracted by these concerned plants citizens.

But the real news occurred back at the convention center; Autumn, Kate and I were dog tired after a long day with little sleep, so we were leaving the Warhol just as Mike Signorile, Lane Hudson and Donald Hitchcock were arriving. Apparently Lane caused a scene at the Clinton speech by standing up and asking him whether he supported repeal of DADT and DOMA. Surprisingly he was frank and said he did, only after he mistakenly thought Lane was a rabble rousing teabagger type (WTF -- they aren't on our side, lol). Ah, Lane just sent me the link, so you can take a look (he's still waiting to see if the part about DOMA will turn up on video).

Video and transcript below the fold.


Lane Hudson (screaming from the audience): Mr. President, will you call for a repeal of DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell right now? Please.

Bill Clinton: ... You want to talk about Don't Ask Don't Tell, I'll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn't deliver me any support in the Congress and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempt to let gays serve in the military, and the media supported them. They raised all kinds of devilment. And all most of you did was to attack me instead of getting me some support in the Congress. Now that's the truth.

Secondly -- it's true! You know, you may have noticed that presidents aren't dictators. They voted -- they were about to vote for the old policy by margins exceeding 80 percent in the House and exceeding 70 percent in the Senate. The gave test votes out there to send me a message that they were going to reverse any attempt I made by executive order to force them to accept gays in the military. And let me remind you that the public opinion now is more strongly in our favor than it was 16 years ago, and I have continued supporting it. That John Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under me, was against Don't Ask -- was against letting gays serve -- is now in favor of it. This is a different world. That's the point I'm trying to make.

Let me also say something that never got sufficient publicity at the time: When General Colin Powell came up with this Don't Ask Don't Tell, it was defined while he was chairman much differently than it was implemented. He said: 'If you will accept this, here's what we'll do. We will not pursue anyone. Any military members out of uniform will be free to march in gay rights parades, go to gay bars, go to political meetings. Whatever mailings they get, whatever they do in their private lives, none of this will be a basis for dismissal.' It all turned out to be a fraud because of the enormous reaction against it among the middle-level officers and down after it was promulgated and Colin was gone. So nobody regrets how this was implemented any more than I do. But the Congress also put that into law by a veto-proof majority, and many of your friends voted for that, believing the explanation about how it would be eliminated. So, I hated what happened. I regret it. But I didn't have, I didn't think at the time, any choice if I wanted any progress to be made at all. Look, I think it's ridiculous. Can you believe they spent -- whatever they spent -- $150,000 to get rid of a valued Arabic speaker recently?

And, you know, the thing that changed me forever on Don't Ask Don't Tell was when I learned that 130 gay service people were allowed to serve and risk their lives in the first Gulf War, and all their commanders knew they were gay; they let them go out there and risk their lives because they needed them, and then as soon as the first Gulf War was over, they kicked them out. That's all I needed to know, that's all anybody needs to know, to know that this policy should be changed.

Now, while we're at it, let me just say one thing about DOMA, since you -- the reason I signed DOMA was -- and I said when I signed it -- that I thought the question of whether gays should marry should be left up to states and to religious organizations, and if any church or other religious body wanted to recognize gay marriage, they ought to. We were attempting at the time, in a very reactionary Congress, to head off an attempt to send a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the states. And if you look at the 11 referenda much later -- in 2004, in the election -- which the Republicans put on the ballot to try to get the base vote for President Bush up, I think it's obvious that something had to be done to try to keep the Republican Congress from presenting that. The President doesn't even get to veto that. The Congress can refer constitutional amendments to the states. I didn't like signing DOMA and I certainly didn't like the constraints that were put on benefits, and I've done everything I could -- and I am proud to say that the State Department was the first federal department to restore benefits to gay partners in the Obama administration, and I think we are going forward in the right direction now for federal employees. ...

But, actually, all these things illustrate the point I'm trying to make. America has rapidly moved to a different place on a lot of these issues, and so what we have to decide is what we are going to do about it. Right now, the Republicans are sitting around rooting for the president to fail, as nearly as I can see.

Here's how the NYT saw it:

At times fiery with his familiar finger-pointing repeatedly jabbing the air, former President Bill Clinton implored an audience of bloggers and activists tonight not to lose out on a moment that he said he had worked all his life for.

It was as though this was his time, too, not just that of President Obama. The former president revisited several pieces of his legacy, drawing comparisons between his battle for health care overhaul to the fight occurring now and even angrily defending the compromise that became "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for the military when a protester in the audience shouted at him. He even drew on Americorps and student loans to bridge the time between his administration and that of Mr. Obama.

Recent Entries Filed under The Movement:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Lane was more concerned with the spotlight than actually "debating". Bill Clinton said nothing in his reply that he hasn't already said in the past few month...years, maybe.

Has Lane apologized yet for acting like a right-wing town haller?

Lane has nothing to apologize for. Bill Clinton is a liar and a coward! Instead of taking any responsibility and apologizing he blames the LGBT for not lobbying congress. Now he is sooo sorry about how DADT is being applied, not like he and Colin Powell envisioned. What a revisionist piece of fiction. As for DOMA he signed it, but it was the bad guys in congress who made him do it! Man! What a crock! If he was so concerned about the sanctity of marriage, maybe he should have thought about that before getting blown by a white house intern.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 15, 2009 11:30 AM

Lets not go overboard blaming Bill Clinton. He was just doing his job, the one he, Obama, Hillary Clinton, McCain and that whole motley crew train for their whole lives. Clinton and all of them are gofers for the rich who own the twin parties lock, stock and barell.

Clinton, like Obama and the Bushes got into politics to accumulate money and power. That’s why Clinton championed NAFTA, draconian cuts in welfare and the deregulation of predatory banks and lenders. Now he’s collecting huge fees for speaking at events sponsored by the same predators, sometimes, like in San Diego, crossing union and LGBT picket lines to collect his twenty pieces of silver.

Clinton promoted a humanitarian nightmare. Lying, he claimed that Saadam Hussein was stockpiling WMDs to attack US interests, He imposed a terrifying embargo on food, medical supplies and sanitary supplies for Iraq. Roughly half a million Iraqi children died as a direct result of his murderous embargo. Clintons Secretary of State Madeline Albright defended the murders in this chilling interview with Leslie Stahl on CBSs 60 Minutes on May 12th, 1996:

Lesley Stahl “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

He was just doing his job – making the rich richer from deregulation and gobbling up Iraqi oil. The people who really failed are those who voted for Clinton, Bush or Obama.

I think DOMA and DADT were different. Clinton has always been a right wing Dixiecrat. It’s very likely that his bible toting redneck championed and signed DADT and DOMA because he’s a redneck, religious bigot.

He certainly didn’t do it as a favor, to prevent FMA or a nastier form of military bigotry. There was no fate worse than death looming over us. That’s a thoroughly exposed lie.

His bigoted support for DADT and DOMA was not out of character, not a misstep and not isolated. Even though much of the legislation Clinton championed was written by Republicans he was its most important supporter. Clinton the Dixiecrat was a thoroughgoing right winger, a right centrist to be exact.

DOMA and DADT wouldn’t have passed without his support and the support of most Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The ad he ran boasting about signing DOMA also promotes restrictions on abortions and supports the rights of cults to gouge – tithing. The as was an appeal for the bigot vote and it was withdrawn after it served its purpose.

Voting for Democrats, except when done by rich people and movement hustlers like Salmonese is self destructive for GLBT folks.

So don't blame Clinton or Obama. Blame the people who voted for them and gave us war, bigotry and economic collapse.