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As the Supreme Court decides whether to review the defence of Marriage Act, the New York Times’ first openly gay columnist is assailing Bill Clinton for ever signing the anti-gay law.Frank Bruni wrote an open letter to Clinton in his Sunday op-ed, calling out the popular former president for not fully participating in the gay rights movement or apologizing for signing DOMA.
“Doma … is one of the uglier blemishes on your record, an act of indisputable discrimination that codified unequal treatment of gay men and lesbians,” Bruni wrote, calling the law “a nasty bit of business.”
The 1996 law defines marriage as between a man and a woman and effectively means gay couples often have to pay higher federal taxes than heterosexuals.
Then-Georgia Congressman Bob Barr wrote DOMA following an outcry over a Hawaii Supreme Court decision indicating it was leaning towards legalizing same-sex marriages in the state.
After the bill breezed through the Republican-controlled Congress, Clinton signed it because he was consumed with panic about appearing too liberal before his reelection, Bruni writes.
Thirteen years later, the ex-president finally called for the repeal of DOMA. Even the bill’s sponsor Bob Barr eventually said there was “no defending the defence of Marriage Act.”
But Bruni says Clinton has largely been silent on gay marriage since his call for a repeal of DOMA. This silence is notable since the president has had such a huge media presence recently, he pointed out.
“It’s even more noteworthy,” Bruni added, “because you have a wrong to right here.”