During an appearance Friday on MSNBC,
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked
how her views on civil rights differ from those of her husband,
former President Bill Clinton.
Rachel Maddow noted that much of the
progress on civil rights that came out of the Obama administration
dealt with undoing legislation signed by President Clinton. Maddow
used “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” which prohibited openly gay troops
from serving in the military, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),
which prohibited federal agencies from recognizing the legal
marriages of gay and lesbian couples, and mandatory prison sentences
Clinton responded by saying that DOMA
and “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” were “defensive actions” taken by
“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, and that there had to be some way
to stop that,” Clinton
told Maddow, a reference to efforts to insert a heterosexual
definition of marriage in the U.S. Constitution.
“And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a
line that was drawn that was to prevent going further. It was a
On “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” Clinton
said that President Clinton's 1992 promise to let gays serve openly
in the military was met with “the most astonishing overreaction”
by Congress and the military.
“And so, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
again became a defensive line.”
“I'm not in any way excusing them.
I'm explaining them,” she said.
“Sometimes as a leader in a
democracy, you are confronted with two bad choices. And it is not an
easy position to be in,” she added.