During a radio interview Thursday, Hillary Clinton defended her initial opposition to gay marriage and denied that she changed her mind to support marriage equality for political reasons.
During the sometimes tense conversation with National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross, Clinton said her views on the subject have simply “evolved.”
Gross seemed to take exception to some of Clinton’s less than direct answers. When the host sought clarification, Clinton accused her of “playing” with her words.
It was a rough interview for Clinton who, as The Washington Post pointed out, was already in some hot water for comments she made about how broke the Clintons were when they left the White House in 2001 after Bill Clinton’s second term.
The exchange with Gross started with a rather pointed inquiry into Clinton’s political calculations.
“So what’s it like when you’re in office and you have to do all these political calculations to not be able to support something like gay marriage, that you actually believe in,” the host began. “Obviously you feel very committed to human rights and you obviously put gay rights as part of human rights but in doing the calculus you decided you couldn’t support it. Correct me if I’m reading it wrong.”
“I think you’re reading it very wrong,” Clinton responded. “I think that, as I said – just as the president has said – just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you’re not a thinking human being.”
Her answer continued and addressed everything from the war in Iraq to employment discrimination, but Clinton never admitted to using “calculus” to decide where she stood on gay marriage.
The two stayed on the topic for about seven minutes but Gross was unable to get Clinton to say just how or when she changed her mind on marriage equality.
“So, just to clarify, just one more question on this, would you say your view evolved since the ’90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?” Gross asked at one point.
“I think I’m an American, I think that we have all evolved, and it’s been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I’m aware of,” answered the former first lady.
Gross pointed out during the conversation that Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act that prevented the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and that many people in the ‘90s supported gay marriage when Hillary Clinton, at least publicly, did not.
“To be fair Terry, not that many,” Clinton responded, according to BuzzFeed.
“I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either,” Clinton said in her own defense. “This was an incredible new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others about the rightness of that position. When I was ready to say what I said, I said it.”