Alex Blaze

David Mixner calls out Hillary's DOMA answer

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 13, 2007 11:42 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: David Mixner, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, FMA, Hillary Rodham Clinton, marriage

Remember how Hillary Clinton said that she'd only support repealing Section 3 of the DOMA at the HRC/Logo Presidential Forum last week and we got into a big discussion of whether Section 2 was necessary or not to satisfy those who want the Federal Marriage Amendment? Well, gay former Clinton adviser David Mixner is calling her out on her convenient retelling of history to support the idea that DOMA was needed to prevent FMA:

I understand any candidate’s desire to spin the past to cover up mistakes, but our community cannot create a better future by forgetting its past.

First, Clinton’s claim that DOMA was passed so it could help defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) eight years later is absolutely false. As we all know, the FMA wasn’t really a threat until 2002, and the two pieces of legislation had distinctly separate origins. While having DOMA on the books might have been a factor in the FMA’s defeat, it was passed for political reasons in an election year. In fact, after proclaiming to the community how painful it was for him to sign it, President Clinton’s reelection campaign had ads up in the South touting the legislation within two weeks!

Just think about this for a moment – Clinton essentially said that it was good to pass and sign an oppressive and discriminatory law in order to avoid something worse eight years later. I simply cannot accept this version of history or policymaking strategy.

Then, while spinning its genesis, Clinton failed to advocate the overturning of DOMA, as both Edwards and Obama did earlier in the program. She stated that she supports only a partial repeal of the law, a glaring difference which the panel should have honed in on. Additionally, I think the panel could have questioned her position on published reports that her husband advised John Kerry and other candidates to support state and federal amendments banning marriage in 2004.

He also calls her out for trying to spin DADT as a "transitional step":

I have written before about Clinton’s spinning of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a beneficial “transitional step” towards full integration of gays and lesbians in the military. But I hardly think that the 11,000 men and women who have had their military careers ended and their personal lives damaged since 1993 view Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as sympathetically. As I recall, the policy was never discussed as a transitional step. It was hastily produced and passed, by a Democratic President and Congress, to extract the new administration from of a political mess of its own making.

Let’s also remember what this destructive policy requires of LGBT service members today, 14 years later. They must lie about their personal lives to their co-workers and friends and cannot even mention a partner or lover back home. They must hide pictures of shared intimate moments that every couple, straight or gay, cherish so much. They can’t take leave to care for an ill partner. Most troubling, they must live in constant fear of being exposed. And if they slip up and disclose any of these things, they risk expulsion and a dishonorable discharge that may affect their future employment as a private citizen.

This was simply a dreadful policy from the very beginning, and I personally feel that any claim otherwise is just as hurtful as the policy itself.

Too bad for Hillary: people have memories.


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I think I just fell in love with David Mixner.

beergoggles | August 13, 2007 1:40 PM

He makes valid points. DOMA did work out well for us when the FMA came around despite it not being the intention when it was passed.

DADT on the other hand was inexcusable and it was also passed by a Democratic congress unlike DOMA and both the President and the Democratic Party advertised it while pandering down south.

beergoggles | August 13, 2007 1:56 PM

Actually I meant to ask in the previous post whether anyone knew off the top of their head if DADT passed by a veto-proof majority?

Leland Frances | August 13, 2007 5:57 PM

Sadly, the bitterness of David Mixner [who IS a movement icon whom I first followed—before he came out publicly—as a leader in the anti-Vietnam War struggle] toward his former heroes, Les Clintons, should be taken into consideration here.

If Mixner is referencing only what Hillary said in the HRC forum, his assertion that, "Clinton’s claim that DOMA was passed so it could help defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) eight years later is absolutely false" is absolutely false—at least by my reading of the Bilerico transcript.

And, as I detailed in another thread, Mixner's own part in Bill Clinton's failed attempt to open the military to out gays by Executive Order must also be considered.

Again, Michelangelo Signorile describes in "Queer in America" how inexecusable naivete and an absurd turf battle over the issue between HRC[F], NGLTF, and Mixner's then-newly created Campaign for Military Service left the battlefield mostly open for verbally gay-bashing Colin Powell, Sen. Sam Nunn, and the highly organized, well-funded, and singularly focused Right Wing machine to wipe the floor with Clinton. [Yes, Congress would have overridden his veto, and overturned his originally planned Executive Order.]

And, few remember that gay Congressman Barney Frank's pragmatism led him to suggest his own "policy that says 'Don't ask, don't tell, and don't listen, and don't investigate'." Of DADT he said at the time he was disappointed "at the political reality, and not at the president." Even seven years later, Frank told "The Advocate," Democratic congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who is gay, says strategy is less important than politics. "There is no way to make sure that what happened in '93 won't happen again," he says. "One thing the gay community can do better is show its support for a new policy. We have to create the political cover for a new policy. ... I probably wouldn't try to change the policy wholesale in the first year of a new administration."

I still respect David Mixner a great deal, but I would respect him more if he didn't totally ignore his own culpability along the road to DADT and his own hand in the 1993 "political mess" he disingenuously blames solely on Clinton; didn't erroneously make DADT sound worse than the policy that preceded it; and weren't throwing retroactive rhetorical bombs at Bill simply to hit Hillary while he is an advisor to John Edwards. And is it not just a bit sexist to repeatedly indict Mrs. Clinton for her husband's actions?

PS: 14 years later, do we have another needless turf battle when DADT has never been more vulnerable? SLDN, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, was created soley to fight DADT and assist its victims and has a huge resource of DADT experts and veterans. Yet HRC recently announced its own high-profile anti-DADT initiative. Might we ask why the duplication of effort rather than working together?

I wish I had time to research the specifics on this in depth, but the Wikipedia info rings true to my recollection: That, in 1996, there was concern bordering on hysteria on the part of the religious and political right that something had to be done to preserve the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

I didn't understand Hillary to be saying that passage of DOMA was necessary because of the Federal Marriage Amendments which were proposed later. She was describing the context: It seemed certain that some as-yet-undefined constitutional amendment was likely to be proposed and gather steam quickly unless DOMA passed.