CLINTON: On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed – and there was certainly evidence to support it – is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that.And it didn't take very long for another candidate to smell blood in the water.
And there wasn’t any rational argument – because I was in on some of those discussions, on both “don’t ask, don’t tell” and on – on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would – you know, chime in and talk about, “you can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.”
But they were. And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further.
MADDOW: It was a defensive action?
CLINTON: It was a defensive action.
At his Iowa JJ dinner speech the next day, Bernie Sanders pointedly proclaimed that "some are trying to rewrite history" on this issue, and on Monday went even further during his own interview on Maddow's show by directly accusing Hillary of saying something that "wasn't true".
Going deeper into negative territory, Sanders also made a point to read this tweet from a longtime Clinton supporter word for word:
That's fine of course, but if Bernie gets to quote a tweet by 1990s RIAA lobbyist Hilary Rosen then so can I:@BernieSanders is right. Note to my friends Bill and #Hillary: Pls stop saying DOMA was to prevent something worse. It wasnt, I was there.— Hilary Rosen (@hilaryr) October 25, 2015
Anyway, could it really be that Hillary Clinton is suddenly rewriting the history of DOMA to make herself and her husband look better for this campaign?@Berniesanders voted right, did virtually nothing on LGBT. @HillaryClinton not perfect but engaged, & helped alot. https://t.co/vzJnWQk2UP— Hilary Rosen (@hilaryr) October 25, 2015
The answer is no...and there's proof.
Bill Clinton agonized about his decision for years, and in a March 2013 Washington Post op-ed entitled "It's Time to Overturn DOMA" he wrote:
In 1996, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian. As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage “would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.” It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress.Sure enough, there is indeed a March 1st 2013 Supreme Court amicus brief from former Democratic Senators Bill Bradley, Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, as well as former Republican Senator Alan Simpson. There's some good overall background on DOMA from their perspective as 1996 lawmakers if you feel like reading the whole thing, but here is the relevant section:
The statute enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but the reasons for that support varied widely. Some supported DOMA even while staunchly opposing discrimination against gays in employment, adoption, military service, and other spheres. Some believed that DOMA was necessary to allay fears that a single state’s recognition of same-sex marriage could automatically extend to all other states through the Full Faith and Credit Clause. And they believed that enacting DOMA would eliminate the possibility of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage—an outcome that would have terminated any further debate about same-sex marriage, potentially for generations. At the same time, even for many who generally opposed sexual orientation discrimination, the traditional conception of marriage was so engrained that it was difficult to see the true nature of the discrimination DOMA wrought.The way I see it, there are only a couple of possibilities here.
Either the Clintons were able to convince a bipartisan group of former U.S. Senators to lie to the Supreme Court in early 2013 so Hillary could have a better answer two-and-a-half years later about why her husband signed DOMA nearly twenty years earlier...
...or maybe, just maybe...Hillary is telling the truth.