WASHINGTON — Last summer, Hillary Clinton gave a tense interview to NPR where she was pressed on same-sex marriage. Her position then? Leave it up to the states.
“For me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states. And in many of the conversations that I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists who work state-by-state and in fact that is what is working,” Clinton told Terry Gross on June 12, 2014.
She added that soon after stepping down as secretary of state she announced in 2013 that she “was fully in support of gay marriage and that it is now continuing to proceed state-by-state.” The interview didn’t sit well with gay rights activists who strongly oppose the idea of letting states ban same-sex marriage.
Ten months later, Clinton is officially running for president, and appears to have shifted her view toward a full embrace of marriage equality. Her new position? Marriage should be a constitutional right for same-sex couples.
“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,” Adrienne Elrod, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, said in a statement Wednesday.
The Clinton campaign’s new position came after Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed wrote about the apparent daylight between the Democratic presidential frontrunner and President Barack Obama, whose Justice Department is arguing that the Supreme Court should find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
“After Clinton announced this week that she would run for president, BuzzFeed News asked her campaign whether she believe states can ban same-sex couples from marrying or she believes such bans are unconstitutional,” Geidner reported in a story published late Tuesday night. “The campaign hasn’t yet provided an answer.” He wrote that he had been trying to get an answer to his question from Clinton’s campaign since Sunday. After Geidner’s story was published, the Clinton campaign provided today’s statement.
It is a notable shift for Clinton and it comes as the Supreme Court is being asked to rule this year that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry regardless of what voters in their state want.
Elrod didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up question about the change.
One of Clinton’s potential Democratic opponents, Martin O’Malley, is touting his efforts as governor to make Maryland one of the first states to legalize gay marriage. Clinton is trouncing O’Malley in primary polls.
Several Republican presidential candidates, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have said they support letting states decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage.