One of the most egregious mistakes of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President—a politically-motivated blunder that almost rivaled his unconscionable rejection of a needle exchange program, which medical evidence clearly demonstrated would save millions of lives—was his signing into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), less than two months before his re-election of 1996.
Caving into rampant fundamentalist Christian homophobia—and a National GOP Platform which endorsed DOMA and didn’t want States to be forced to recognize same sex marriages—Clinton signed the law which defended all marriages except those between two individuals of the same sex, because he feared he’d lose the election to Senator Bob Dole if he didn’t, despite polls which showed he was never in serious trouble of being beaten by the duller-than-dull Dole. Clinton clobbered Dole by a 220 electoral vote margin.
Years later, after state and federal court cases began to accumulate against DOMA’s clear 14th Amendment equal protection clause violations, Clinton, on his “Mea Culpa” tour to apologize for all the slippery, cowardly actions he took as President (Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell, DOMA, Needle Exchange, Welfare Repeal), invented the excuse that he feared if he rejected DOMA, the GOP—in control of both houses of Congress—would pass a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages.
Evan Wolfson, who headed the National Freedom to Marry Coalition, at the time—one of the foremost “Marriage For All” advocacy organizations in the nation–called out Clinton’s lame excuse for what it was: “Complete nonsense. The idea that people were swallowing DOMA in order to prevent a constitutional amendment is really just historic revisionism and not true. That was never an argument made in the ‘90’s”.
Having been there at the time, and following the debate very closely, I can affirm that Wolfson was precisely correct, and Clinton was lying. On December 12, 1996—three months after Clinton signed DOMA into law–and exactly 26 years to the day before it was finally repealed by the President Joe Biden’s signing into law “The Respect for Marriage Act,” I wrote a column entitled “Marriage For All,” which appeared in newspapers across Long Island, New York.
I have reprinted my column “American Tune” from the North Shore Newspaper Group, entitled “Marriage For All,” from December 12, 1996. The fact that after decades of struggle, organizing and leadership from many LGBTQ organizations and politicians as diverse as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden, “marriage for all” was finally achieved 26 years later, from the day my article added its voice of advocacy for it, completes a circle that has been a long-time coming. The text of my 1996 column is below:
“In her powerful book, “The War Against the Jews, 1933-45,” Lucy Dawidowicz recounts the chilling history of the Nuremberg Laws, which legalized discrimination against Germany’s Jews.
“As once before in 1933, and now in 1935, “ Dawidowitz writes, “the violence of anti-Semitism was channeled into law…the so-called Nuremberg Laws, were adopted unanimously by the Reichstag on September 15, 1935.
“These laws,” she continues, “legitimated racist anti-Semitism and turned the ‘purity of German Blood,’ into a legal category. They forbade marriage and extra-marital relations between Germans and Jews.”
The basic provisions of the “Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor,” were uncomplicated: ”Marriage between Jews and nationals of German kindred blood was forbidden; extramarital relations between the two groups were forbidden.”
Adolf Hitler himself provided the rationale for the Nazi’s racist legislation in his book “Mein Kampf: “Blood sin and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world and the end of a humanity which surrenders to it.”
Dawidowicz noted that Hitler had already conceived of the State’s regulating marriage for racial purposes when he wrote in Mein Kampf: “A Folkish state must therefore begin by raising marriage from the level of continuous defilement of the race, and give it to the consecration of an institution which is called upon to produce images of the Lord and not monstrosities half-way between man and ape.”
And, in what is probably his most famous statement on marriage, Hitler wrote: “Marriage cannot be an end in itself, but must serve the higher goal, the increase and preservation of the species and race. This alone is its’ meaning and task.”
Yet, Hitler and the Nazis were not the only government officials who enacted and enforced “laws” restricting marriage by race or religion. Up until 1967, when the Loving vs. Virginia US Supreme Court decision struck down laws banning interracial marriages, many American states throughout the South had laws against miscegenation, or mixed-race marriages, in existence since the founding of the United States. Those states had prohibited marriage or cohabitation between Blacks and Whites.
Now, there are new targets of marriage restrictions in 20 states and by the United States of America. These targets, not selected by religious beliefs or skin color, have also been accused of “defilement of the race,” or of not serving the “higher goal” of marriage, “the increase and preservation of the species and the race.” These new targets just happen to be of the same sex, and to have committed the crime of being in love, and wanting to spend their lives together—with all of the legal protections accorded all married couples.
Even before a judge in Hawaii ruled last week (November, 1996) that it was unconstitutional to continue to ban same sex marriages, opponents on the Far Right had already pressured lawmakers in 20 states and in Congress to declare that they wouldn’t recognize such marriages as legitimate, even if another state did.
Such action to deny the validity of the future action of a sister state is unprecedented in American history, and in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution which requires that “full faith and credit shall be given each state to the public acts, records and proceedings of every other state.”
The targets of this new brand of legalized hate may be different this time; they not be Jews, or Blacks, though some are. They are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters and friends, and all of us—entitled to the same fundamental human rights protected by the Constitution, by a commitment to equality, and by conscience.”
(Thirty months ago, back in July 2020, I urged Dr. Tony Fauci to resign from the Trump Administration in protest, and spill the beans about Trump’s terrible handling of the COVID Pandemic, which has killed 1.2 million Americans as of November 2022. Fortunately, Dr. Fauci paid no attention to my advice. He opted to tenaciously stick it out among the troglodytes of the Trump Administration, and continued to speak truth to power, from within. For his toughness and his fealty to public service, Fauci—and his family—received many death threats from the anti-science, Fascist fanatics hypnotized by Donald Trump.
Thanks for reading Radical Correspondence! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.✓
This week, scientific charlatan, and South African-born Elon Musk—who has turned Twitter into a cesspool of lies and misinformation since taking it over—called for Fauci to be prosecuted for his medical science leadership in public health. It was an odd attack coming from an odd man, whose family profited under Apartheid, especially since Musk—who acknowledges he is on the Autism Spectrum—ignored the decades of Anti-Vaxxer fraud and damage directed at autistic individuals, from many of the same Know-Nothings who opposed the COVID vaccines. Instead, Dr. Fauci, who at 82 years old, will end his 54 year long stellar public health career at the end of this year, wrote a courageous and compelling op-ed in the New York Timesurging young people to continue seeking to save lives by working in public health.
Fauci’s unfailing tenacity, toughness and devotion to medical science, public health and vaccine research & distribution, have all been proven by circumstances to be correct, and may be responsible for saving and enhancing hundreds of thousands of lives. Trump, meanwhile is facing criminal prosecution on many fronts, and Musk’s businesses, and his bizarre theories, are collapsing. In tribute to Dr. Fauci, I am reposting my vote of confidence in his devotion to medical science, public service, and the truth.)
I tried to warn you, Tony.
Three months ago — almost to the day — I wrote an article urging you to speak the unfettered truth about how Donald Trump was incompetently mishandling the federal response to the COVID 19 Pandemic, resulting in record-breaking infection and death in the United States.
Instead, you made the General Mattis mistake; you figured that, based upon the strength of your own character, you could change things from within, ignoring the wise counsel of the writer Rick Wilson, that “Everything Trump Touches, Dies.” Now, it’s your turn to be dirtied and discredited by the Garbage Pail-in-Chief, a pernicious pathogen of a President.
I tried to warn you to step out and bring the Science-denying sociopath down. You didn’t listen. Now, he’s coming for you.
You’ve been Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases since the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, and the only believable spokesperson in the Trump Administration on the COVID 19 pandemic.
Your fashion-consumed colleague Dr. Deborah Birx, the Administration’s Corona Virus Response Coordinator — a job she has flamboyantly failed at — crushed her own credibility by telling the Christian Broadcasting Network the preposterous lie that “The President is so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data.”
Unlike “Ambassador” Birx, who comes across like a wealthy dilettante, bemoaning being unable to host “dinner parties for 20 yet,” because of social distancing, you are a down-to-earth, likeable 79-year old, highly educated Italian public health professional from Brooklyn — still bearing scraps of your Brooklyn accent.
Who couldn’t like a regular guy who played basketball in High School, rooted for the Yankees despite growing up on Brooklyn Dodger turf, had a Zoom talk with the Warriors’ Steph Curry, and wears a Washington National’s mask to Congressional Hearings?
That training in street toughness, highlighted in a New Yorker article by Michael Specter, and entitled, “How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor,” should have made you fight more furiously, against the anti-science prejudice and profit-over-patients Darwinism infecting the Trump White House. Unfortunately, like the good point guard you were on your high school team, you chose to stay in your lane and be a team player, when it was the team itself that was utterly corrupt, immoral and incompetent to the marrow of its bones.
I urged you to use your enormous credibility and popularity: last month’s Sienna College Poll had you clobbering Trump 67%-26% on the question of trust with the American public. Your approval rating is even higher today, as Trumps sinks into the sewer from where he was spawned.
I begged you to forcefully expose the lies and intentional falsehoods by Trump and the always bizarre Alex Azar, an oleaginous former Big Pharma executive, which resulted in thousands of unnecessary COVID deaths — including a beloved member of my family, and a younger, former colleague.
It’s still not too late, Tony, to use the force of the facts, of your character and your moral and popular standing, to save lives before the number of COVID deaths in this country tops 200,000. (NOTE: As of July, 2020).
It’s time for you to resign in protest and expose all of the lies, stupidities and criminal negligence of the Bleach Belching Imbecile in the Oval Office. I’m sure the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, funded by Mike Bloomberg, would continue to fund your important work, and Joe Biden’s campaign would give you a big enough megaphone to get your public health messages out to millions of Americans. You could do a COVID Zoom conference call with Biden each day, and the whole world will be watching. And, unlike Trump, Biden will listen and understand the urgency to act.
You have far more power today — with nearly 50 years of solid scientific, public health work in your corner. And you have far, far more, widespread public support now during this COVID pandemic than you have had at any time in your distinguished career.
As far back as Easter Sunday — a date Trump pulled out of one of his orifices to have all churches “beautifully open,” — you told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union:
“Obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. But, there was a lot of pushback about shutting things early in the outbreak.”
At that point, three months ago, the United States had just surpassed 20,000 COVID-related deaths. Today, we’re approaching seven times that number, and you still haven’t told us about the pushback against shutting things down. It’s time to blow the whistle, Tony.
No one else has the enormous capacity, knowledge, record of accomplishment, depth of expertise, passion for public health, and track record in getting a huge bureaucracy to move into action as you do, Tony. But now, the deadly virus of Trump’s venality, ignorance and vituperation, have been turned on you. And even a surgical mask & gobs of hand sanitizer won’t keep those grotesque germs away.
It is no longer possible for you to stay where you are, to do, as you told the New Yorker, “everything possible to stop the worst fromhappening.” The worst of the COVID pandemic is happening despite your best efforts, because Trump and his evil enablers have taken the ball out of your hands, and put you on the bench.
They are coming for you, Tony, but we have your back, if you’ll let us. You once asked the key question about the Reagan Administration’s glacial response to AIDS, “Why wasn’t the Administration moving faster?” as Michael Spector wrote in the New Yorker.
You’ve struggled mightily to raise this question everyday from inside the Trump Administration, but they don’t want to hear your truth anymore. Instead, they’ve chosen to trash you. Get out now. Your team is US, not them.