Former President Bill Clinton has called for an end to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that called for marriage to be defined as between a man and a woman. In an Op-Ed piece in Thursday's Washington Post, the 42nd president of the U.S. called on the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA.
Clinton wrote that many who supported DOMA in the '90s did so in hopes of heading off an even more draconian act by U.S. conservatives, a constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage. Now, with national attitudes towards LGBT people changing in the U.S., Clinton said, "As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution."
Under Section 3 of DOMA, same sex couples who are married in the District of Columbia or any of the 9 states that currently recognize same sex unions are still considered unmarried by the federal government.
"Among other things," wrote Clinton, "these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees. Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws."
The former president described the country as being at a crossroads. He wrote that as Americans, "We understand that, while our laws may at times lag behind our best natures, in the end they catch up to our core values."
He concluded, "In that spirit, I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act."
DOMA is scheduled to come before the Supreme Court on March 27.