News - August 1996

White House statement on DOMA House passage

Press briefing with Mike McCurry, White House Spokesperson, excerpted from http://library.whitehouse.gov/.

Q: Mike, before you turn it over to Mary Ellen, does the President plan to sign the same-sex marriage bill that's been through the House today, as he understands it?

MR. MCCURRY: Our views on that, I think you know. The President -- and they have not, the President's views have not changed. He's personally felt that way for some time. And as we've said before, if it's presented to him in final fashion the way it was advertised he would sign it, yes.

Q: Do you think that this is being passed primarily by Republicans in the House as a way of either causing the President to be embarrassed or forcing a wedge between him and the gay community, which has supported him in the past?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't think it necessarily is directed at forcing the President to have a dispute with the gay and lesbian community. I think, in fact, it is gay baiting pure and simple. They're raising an issue that, in fact, doesn't arise anywhere. The Hawaii statute -- the Hawaii issue is a legal issue that had been remanded back to a lower court, so this is not a pending matter. And it's a classic use of wedge politics that are designed to provoke anxieties and fears. That being the case, though, the President has very strong views, personal views, and he has to act consistent with those views.

Q: I'm sorry, but it sounds like you want it both ways. You say it's gay-baiting pure and simple, but then you're going to sign it. So in other words --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, as I just said -- I just said the President believes what he believes. The President believes what he believes and he has to stand firm based on what his convictions are. But the point is, the issue is -- is this a debate or a piece of legislation that's necessary? And it's hard to see how it is. And it clearly going to provoke some animosities.

Q: Then why is it necessary to sign it?

MR. MCCURRY: Because Congress passes it -- the way it works under the Constitution, Carl is that if Congress passes an act, they send it down here, we have to do something with it. In this case --

Q: He always can veto --

MR. MCCURRY: He can't veto something that he just -- I mean, he can't veto it because he believe, frankly, that the underlying position in the bill is right. That's consistent with his personal views.


Q: To quickly go back to the same-sex marriage bill, the President doesn't object to the legislation, does he?

MR. MCCURRY: No. He will -- if it's presented to him in the form that it's been stipulated, which is the definition and the applicability to state actions, he would sign it.

Q: I'm intrigued by your depiction of it as gay baiting and gay bashing and --

MR. MCCURRY: Not the legislation itself. It's the use of this issue in a way that clearly provokes hostilities towards gay and lesbian groups in some quarters.

Q: By drawing up the legislation, which the President will sign?

MR. MCCURRY: By drawing up the issue, raising an issue in which there's not substantive grounds to believe that there is a concern that should be addressed through federal legislation.

Q: Then why is he going to sign it if you don't think it needs to be addressed through federal legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: That's the exact question from Carl.


Q: Mike, back on same-sex marriage. If you're criticizing the Republicans for bringing it up now, but yet you're attacking them for trying to separate out the gays and provoke hostilities, aren't you really trying to do it both ways because you say you're going to sign the bill --

MR. MCCURRY: It's hard to understand why the issue arises, unless it's being done to somehow or other cast dispersions on gays and lesbians. That's the point.

Q: Yes, but you want it both ways.

MR. MCCURRY: But the point is it is -- in a sense, I acknowledge that, we do have to have it both ways because the President has a personal belief related to marriage and what it is and he has to act consistent with a personal belief. So that's what he's doing.

Q: You're alienating all these gay voters that voted for you in '92.

MR. MCCURRY: And we know that this has caused pain in the gay and lesbian community and we've tried to be as accommodating as we can in reaching out to them to discuss the issue. And more importantly, we tried to tell them that our focus will remain on what we think are policy implications, and that we will continue to work as hard as this President has worked to prevent discrimination against gay and lesbians, and more importantly, connected with this issue, because this is the firm belief in the gay and lesbian community that this issue arises because of an effort to cast aspersions on gays and lesbians -- that we speak out when we see examples where people are using legislative proposals or ideas like this to attempt to divide Americans.

Q: How do you accommodate them?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we work closely. We have a liaison operation here that talks to them. We meet with them. We try to have a good dialogue with them in which we find areas in which we agree upon and work together and try to move forward.

©1996 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.