Much like President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says her views on gay marriage are "evolving." Well, at least that's what we think she was saying during a tense, sometimes awkward interview with NPR's "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross on Thursday.
The former First Lady, who is out promoting the chronicle of her days in the State Department, "Hard Choices," essentially told Gross that, also like Obama, she was for gay marriage before she was against it and then for it again. Actually, that's what Gross said, and Clinton set her straight. Cue the awkwardness.
"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?" Gross said at the beginning of the interview. "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 with a smile in her voice. "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," Clinton said. "You gather information, you think through positions, you're not one hundred percent set, thank goodness, you're constantly re-evaluating where you stand." In her case, it's the belief that marriage should always be a matter left to the states, and she fully endorses work by activists to make marriage equality a reality on a state-by-state basis.
"In fact, that is working," she said, noting that once out of office she could announce she was "fully in support" of gay marriage. "I think it's good if people continue to change."
Seemingly confused, Gross pressed Clinton one more time to make her stance crystal, saying, "Just to clarify... would you say your view evolved since the '90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?" And then the awkward laughing started. "I think I'm an American, I think that we have all evolved," Clinton said. "And it's been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I'm aware of."
Well, "a lot of people" already believed in marriage equality back in the '90s Gross countered. "To be fair, Terry, not that many," Clinton said. "But the vast majority of Americans were just waking up to this issue, and beginning to think about it, and grasp it for the first time, and think about their neighbor down the street who deserved to have the same rights as they did, or their son, or their daughter."
Nope. "I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question about whether you evolved or it was the American public that changed," Gross pressed. "I said I'm an American, so of course we all evolved," Clinton said.
"So you're saying your opinion on gay marriage changed?" Gross pressed on. You can listen to the link below for the full exchange, but let's just say there hasn't been this much uncomfortable laughter since this.