As recently as a year ago, Hillary Clinton was sparring with a public radio host about her position on same-sex marriage, defending her past reticence to discuss the issue and falling well short of full-throated support. Now, in a markedly new position, Clinton is offering just that, calling gay marriage a right afforded by the Constitution.
“Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right,” said Adrienne Elrod, a Clinton spokeswoman, in a statement.
This is an entirely new position for Clinton.
As a candidate in 2008, Clinton opposed same-sex marriage, supporting the idea of civil unions instead. She did not proclaim her personal support for same-sex marriage until 2013, after she left her diplomatic position as secretary of state.
During a 2014 interview with NPR, Clinton and host Terry Gross sparred over the topic in a conversation that, at times, grew testy. Clinton told Gross that she always viewed marriage as “a matter left to the states and in many of the conversations I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists to work state-by-state.”
After a handful of questions on the topic, Gross said she was just trying to “clarify” whether Clinton had changed her opinion on the matter or whether the political winds on the issue had shifted, allowing Democrats’$2 2016 presidential frontrunner to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.
Clinton pushed back on the question, telling Gross, “No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify. I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reason and that is just flat wrong.”
Clinton’s argued that for the four years she served as secretary of state, she was “out of domestic politics” and not in a position to back same-sex marriage. She moved on the issue later than many Democrats, though, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“And then leaving that position,” Clinton said of her time at State, “I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage and that it is now continuing to proceed state-by-state.”
Wednesday’s statement, however, takes Clinton a step further, aligning the presidential candidate with many Democrats who hope that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right after they hear the case later this month.
Her campaign did not respond to questions about how the change came about for Clinton.
Despite announcing her support after other Democrats, Clinton’s support in the gay community is strong. The largest statewide LGBT advocacy group – Equality California - endorsed Clinton in March and the super PAC the was urging Clinton to run for much of 2013 and 2014 held a number of events at gay bars.
Potential Democratic rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to highlight his longstanding support for same-sex marriage in a tweet that included a video with a veiled swipe at Clinton’s change of heart.
“The dignity of every person tells us that the right to marry is not a state right, it is a human right,” O’Malley tweeted.
“History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience,” O’Malley says in the video of him campaigning he tweeted.