Story highlights

Bernie Sanders says his criticism of "shouting" on gun control has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton's gender

Sanders hit the Clintons for supporting the "homophobic" Defense of Marriage Act in 1996

Washington CNN  — 

Bernie Sanders says his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s “shouting” on gun control has nothing to do with her gender.

“What can I say – that’s just not the case,” the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential contender said Sunday in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Sanders criticized the “shouting” from both sides on gun issues in the first Democratic presidential debate. Clinton said Saturday in Iowa that Sanders’ remarks came with a gender-related undercurrent.

She said: “I’m not shouting. It’s just that when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.”

Sanders on Sunday laughed at her suggestion that his remarks were about gender.

“All that I can say is I am very proud of my record on women’s issues. I certainly do not have a problem with women speaking out – and I think what the secretary is doing there is taking words and misapplying them,” Sanders told Tapper.

“What I would say is if we are going to make some progress in dealing with these horrific massacres that we’re seeing, is that people have got to start all over this country talking to each other,” he said. “It’s not Hillary Clinton. You have some people who are shouting at other people all across this country. You know that. This nation is divided on this issue.”

Sanders leaves little room to his left on most issues. But he has represented a rural state that largely lacks gun restrictions – allowing both Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another Democratic presidential candidate, to hit him on gun control.

Sanders, meanwhile, criticized Clinton over her previous support for the “Defense of Marriage Act” – a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, which then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996 after it was approved by a Republican-led Congress.

“I think what my husband believed – and there was certainly evidence to support it – is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that,” Clinton said Friday.

But Sanders disputed that characterization of the law, which he opposed at the time.

He said the measure was pushed by GOP lawmakers – and “many of them, I’m sorry to say, were homophobic.”

“I think everybody at the time knew that it was simply homophobic legislation,” Sanders said.

“That legislation was anti-gay legislation. It was playing off the fears of a lot of Americans,” he added. “Now the good news – as Hillary Clinton just indicated – the culture has changed radically. … We have come a long, long way since that vote in 1996.”