Bil Browning

When Will Clinton Library Release DADT Papers?

Filed By Bil Browning | August 25, 2014 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: administration papers, Bill Clinton, Clinton Presidential Library, Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell

bill-clinton-oval-office.jpgWhile the Clinton Presidential Library has slowly been releasing papers from the popular Democrat's administration, one major missing piece is the White House discussions around topics like Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Thousands of papers have already been released by the National Archives, but others remain conspicuously absent.

Internal National Archives files obtained by POLITICO show that the threat of publicity seems to have been a factor in getting some of that material out this year, nudging forward a painfully slow process involving the Archives, President Barack Obama's lawyers and Clinton's team -- all of whom play roles in dictating the pace and sequence of releases.

For gay rights advocates, the Clinton years were complicated. Far and away, up to that time, he was the president who was friendliest to the gay and lesbian community. But he also put in place policies that took nearly two decades to reverse, such as the Defense of Marriage Act and "don't ask, don't tell."

Set for release soon from the Clinton archives are detailed notes of a key meeting where DADT was born. National Archives records obtained by POLITICO show plans to release: "Thirty-four pages of handwritten notes taken at a Jan. 25, 1993, meeting to discuss the issue of gays in the military between President Clinton, Vice President Gore and the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Clinton, Al Gore and their top advisers are said to have discussed "their personal viewpoints of homosexuality" (choice vs. genetics).

The politics of gay rights have changed so abruptly in recent years that some of the views expressed privately on the subject could sound outdated or even offensive to many Americans. The papers could support or undercut Clinton's claims that he was assured the new policy the military was considering would result in gay soldiers not being investigated unless they explicitly disclosed their sexuality.

Personally, I want to know what the discussions were around the Defense of Marriage Act. That was a calculated decision and Clinton has long claimed that he signed it in an attempt to head off a constitutional amendment. I'd like to see if that's really true. Wouldn't you?

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