Blog Entries by Andy Eddins

Voice for Equality: Bill Clinton

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Clinton was described as a New Democrat and was largely known for the Third Way centrist philosophy of governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president. Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a reported federal surplus. He left office with the highest approval rating of any president since World War II. Learn more here.

Most relevant to the LGBT community, however, were two pieces of legislation enacted during his tenure as president: the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) military policy and the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” arose from Clinton trying to fulfill a campaign promise to allow openly homosexual men and women to serve in the armed forces. After a heated and acrimonious debate, Congress implemented the contorted DADT military policy, which Clinton himself later described as "out of whack." Then, amid political pressure brought on by set-backs in his legislative agenda and various personal and professional scandal investigations, Mr. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. DOMA contained two primary provisions: 1) no state needed to honor marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states, and 2) the federal government defined marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. While many suspected both these pieces of legislation were enacted under political duress and did not reflect Mr. Clinton’s own personal beliefs, the negative impact on the LGBT community was undeniable.

Following a speech on July 8, 2009, a young journalist informally questioned Clinton about a statement he had made a month earlier in which he said his position on marriage equality was “evolving.” The reporter, Michael Tracey, asked him if he would commit to supporting the freedom to marry, to which Clinton replied:

I'm basically in support. I don't think any state should be suffering, and I think all these states that do it should do it. It's not a federal question. I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it's wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that. That's what I think.

Then on September 15, 2009, Clinton sent the following statement to be read at the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) led by Congressman Jerrold Nadler:

I want to thank Congressman Nadler for his leadership on this issue, and Reps. Baldwin, Polis, Conyers, Lewis, Velazquez and Lee for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act in the House of Representatives. Throughout my life, I have opposed discrimination of any kind. When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed and so should the policy. [Link]

"President Clinton’s support for the freedom to marry has evolved over time, and shows the power we each have when we talk about why marriage matters to the people we know and help them rise to fairness," said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry. "President Clinton has grappled with this question for a long time, and clearly he, like the country, has come a long way since fear and politics brought about such discriminatory measures as the so-called Defense of Marriage Act that he signed and now has moved past."

Freedom to Marry salutes President Bill Clinton, who's thinking evolved, as a Voice for Equality!

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Lori and Cin Diné

Michiganders Lori and Cin Diné have been together for 11 years, and their three children are all covered by Lori's medical insurance.

"One of the reasons we would like the ability to get married is to have access to the same benefits that married couples take for granted," says Lori. "Just the overall legitimacy of our family (in the law's eyes) for our kids' sake would be my main reason."

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John Cho

Korean-born actor John Cho is best known for playing Harold in "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" and for appearing in the movie, "American Pie". In October 2008, Cho partnered with George Takei (whose "Star Trek" role Cho was reprising in a film remake) to denounce California's Proposition 8 and to "create a world were all couples, including gay couples, could marry."

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Delia Meraz and Persephone Gonzalez

Delia Meraz and Persephone Gonzalez, together 10 years, own a house together and spend much of their time doing home improvement and tending to their yard, garden, and avocado tree.

Persephone says, "The common idea is that Latino families reject their gay children, but it is not always that way and doesn't have to be that way." And Delia concurs. "Our moms are always sending salsa recipes over, and they expect the same responsibilities from us as they would from anyone married into the family."

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Jennifer Lin and Jeanne Fong

Jennifer Lin and Jeanne Fong, a real estate appraiser, have been together for 12 1/2 years. For them, fighting for marriage equality is something they do for their family identity. "The more that we are visible, the more we show our community that we are here, we are about love, and we are a committed, loving couple," said Jeanne, who married Jennifer at San Francisco City Hall in 2004.

The couple had to designate a durable power of attorney for health care and death funeral planning. Taken as a whole, marriage law is a social consensus about how to fairly treat two people who voluntarily pledge to care for each other and their children at life's extremes.

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Voice For Equality: Jordan Roth

Jordan Roth is Vice President of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns and operates five Broadway theaters and is the producer of the hit revival of "Hair."

In addition to his work on the Freedom to Marry Steering Committee , Jordan serves on the boards of GMHC and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Charles Blackburn and Glen Dehn

Charles 72, is retired after working for 25 years as a fundraiser for institutions in the Baltimore area, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Glen, 67, is retired after 31 years of legislative planning and analysis for the U.S. Social Security Administration. They live in Baltimore and have been together for more than 26 years.

Charles and Glen are healthy and active, but Charles says, "We are concerned about being separated in a nursing home. We are so grateful to have each other; we'd hate to be alone as gay seniors. But we fear we might end up alone if we can't protect our relationship."

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Mark McKinney and Steve Lepre

Mark McKinney and Steve Lepre of South Carolina have been together over 14 years. They own their home, pay their taxes, and are active participants in moving their community forward and helping their neighbors.

Regardless of the fact that they have taken responsibility for their partner's well-being, both economically and emotionally, legally their status is, at best, that of a roommate. Denied the freedom to marry, same-sex couples and their kids are deprived of literally thousands of legal and economic protections and responsibilities, as well as the emotional, social, and spiritual meaning that marriage has for many.

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Barry Clayton and Michael Garaza

Barry Clayton and Michael Garaza have been together for ten years. They love to travel, host parties, and hang out with their family and friends.

Barry and Michael understand that sharing our stories and showing our faces helps the rest of America identify with our need to hold ourselves accountable to the promise of liberty, fairness and equality for all. "I know that we have changed the opinion of some heterosexuals who had definite skewed ideas of what it means to be gay," Barry said in response to a question from the Story Center.

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Terri Miller and Cindy Simms

Terri Miller, Ed.D., a high school administrator, and Cindy Simms, a ceramic artist, make up one of many longtime gay and lesbian couples who offer a shining example of love and commitment as we fight for marriage equality.

After working for 42 years, Terri worries that she will not be able to leave Cindy her teacher's pension or social security. These are benefits of marriage that are often crucial to the surviving partner's well-being. Although it does not cover the myriad of protections afforded couples by marriage, Freedom to Marry's partner the Human Rights Campaign worked with Congress to secure two important protections that assist gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans in the Pension Protection Act signed into law on August 17, 2006.

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