Speaking in an interview with WHO13 in Iowa Monday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implied she supported marriage equality nationally when she left the State Department in 2013:
Clinton said she endorsed marriage equality as "a right, not to be given or taken away by states, as soon as I was free to do so, leaving the State Department."
Hillary Clinton: I do think it took a while for someone of my age and someone with my experience, despite my great group of friends, to really, as we say, evolve. Say, 'you know what? This is not just a state-by-state decision, because I did support what states were doing. I thought that was…
WHO'S Dave Price: Like the civil unions.
Clinton: Yeah, because you know marriage had traditionally been an authority exercised by the states, and so I believed the states were proceeding, we should support that. Iowa being among the very first. But the more I thought about it, and I had a chance when I was Secretary of State to enact some rules that really created much more equal treatment between our LGBT employees at the State Department and others, so I was very much in the forefront of trying to end discrimination. But the more I thought about it, and the more I realized that this should be viewed as a right, not to be given or taken away by states, as soon as I was free to do so, leaving the State Department, and getting back into domestic politics, which as Secretary of State, I was not, I said this should be a right, and I was very pleased when the Supreme Court decided it was.
In June 2014, Clinton talked at length about marriage equality, noting her support for state-by-state efforts and never mentioning whether she saw it as a constitutional right. From here interview with NPR in June of that year:
NPR's TERRY GROSS: "So what's it like when you're in office and you have to do all these political calculations to not be able to support something like gay marriage, that you actually believe in? Obviously you feel very committed to human rights, and you obviously put gay rights as part of human rights, but in doing the calculus you decided you couldn't support it. Correct me if I'm reading it wrong."
HILLARY CLINTON: "I think you're reading it very wrong. I think that, as I said – just as the president has said – just because you're a politician doesn't mean you're not a thinking human being. You gather information, you think through positions, you're not 100 percent set, thank goodness, you're constantly re-evaluating where you stand. That is true for me. We talked earlier about Iraq, for goodness sakes. So for me, marriage has always been a matter left to the states and in many of the conversations I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists to work state-by-state. In fact, that is what is working and I think that being in the position that I was in the Senate, fighting employment discrimination which we still have some ways to go, was appropriate at that time."
Clinton did indeed endorse marriage equality after leaving the State Department, but did not say at that time that she believed it was a constitutional right.
It wasn’t until April of this year — in response to questioning from BuzzFeed News — that Clinton said marriage equality was a constitutional right:
"Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right," said Adrienne Elrod, a Clinton spokeswoman, in a statement to BuzzFeed News in April.
Here's the full interview:
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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