Ross Perot once promised to run the federal government like a business. A good idea. Perhaps the business it should be run like is Mozilla.
If so, that would leave fellow 1990s throwback — and current 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner — Hillary Clinton out of the White House. She and Perot can appear together in “Where Are They Now” features instead.
You will recall that Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, gave CEO Brendan Eich the boot over a single $1,000 contribution to Proposition 8. That was a 2008 ballot initiative that said simply, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
In fact, Obama should probably resign as CEO too — CEO of the United States government, that is. He also said at the time he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. His running mate, Joe Biden, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. In a 2004 Senate debate with Alan Keyes, Obama even denied marriage was a civil right.
After Obama officially changed his mind in May 2012, there was a noticeable shift in black support for gay marriage. More than 70 percent of California’s black voters supported Proposition 8 in 2008. If Obama had “evolved” (his word) faster, maybe Prop 8 would never have passed.
But Obama’s opposition to same-sex marriage was always mostly rhetorical, if it was ever sincere. (It contradicted the answer he gave a gay media outlet in 1996, which might have made him the only person in America to support gay marriage in 1996 but oppose it in early 2012.) He opposed the federal Defense of Marriage Act as early as 2008 and never supported any state-level Prop 8-style ballot initiatives.
Not so for Hillary Clinton. Her husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. Most Democrats in both houses of Congress voted in favor. This legislation denied federal recognition of same-sex marriage and allowed states to enact laws like Prop 8: no same-sex marriage in their state or recognition of such unions in other states.
Hillary herself then defended this law for over a decade. Even when the press described her as “repudiating” it in 2007, she only favored repealing one section.
“Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman,” she said in January 2000, eleven months before she was elected senator in New York. She said during that campaign that she would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.
In 2006, Senator Clinton voted against a proposed federal marriage amendment, but asserted marriage is “not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” She added that she believed “the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults.”
Clinton continued to oppose same-sex marriage as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, the same year Prop 8 passed. During that campaign she said, “I believe that DOMA served a very important purpose.”
No position on a major issue can be truly Clintonian without a certain amount of doublespeak, and Hillary’s gay marriage stance was very Clintonian.
Asked about her opposition to gay marriage in 2007, she said,”I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions.” Clinton told the YearlyKos Convention that her continued support for the Defense of Marriage Act was an elaborate ruse to stop the federal marriage amendment, which by then stood no realistic chance of passing.
“I believe marriage should be left to the states,” Clinton said, by way of touting the pro-gay marriage effects of the Defense of Marriage Act. “I support civil unions as I’ve said many times with full equality of benefits and so I think that DOMA appropriately put the responsibility in the states where it has historically belonged and I think you’re beginning to see states take action.”
California had domestic partnerships with “full equality of benefits” at the time Eich donated in support of Prop 8. Gay activist Ethan Leto defended Clinton by saying, “In the 2008 cycle, I don’t think any candidate can come out and say, ‘I am for gay marriage.'”
Hillary Clinton finally announced her support for gay marriage a little less than a year after Obama. You might argue that it is unfair to disqualify her from the presidency based on a position she used to take. She’s evolved, matured, grown.
But nobody bothered to ask if Eich had evolved before he got canned. They just looked at his 2008 contribution on a Los Angeles Times database. As Slate’s William Saletan pointed out, he was far from alone.
Most of the people in that database have less power than Hillary Clinton did circa 2008. Justice delayed is really justice denied.
Do we live in what 2008 Democratic gay marriage opponent John Edwards described as Two Americas? In one America, you can oppose gay marriage and get to be president of the United States. In the other, gay marriage opponents can’t even be president of a company competing with Internet Explorer.
In one America, you don’t have to support gay marriage until 65 percent of the voters in your party do. In the other, you can’t donate to a ballot initiative that had 70 percent support among Obama’s strongest voting bloc.
So let’s give Hillary Clinton the Eich treatment. After all, she’s not going to stand up for you until it involves absolutely no political risk. Why stand up for her in the new America, where people on the losing side of political debates are supposed to lose their jobs?
W. James Antle III is the editor of The Daily Caller News Foundation and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.