Hillary Clinton has contentious exchange on gay marriage in radio interview


(Andrew Kelly/ Reuters)

Hillary Rodham Clinton emphatically rejected the notion that she played  politics with gay marriage in a contentious interview broadcast on National Public Radio on Thursday, with the former secretary of state accusing her interviewer of "playing with her words."

NPR's Terry Gross asked Clinton repeatedly whether her decision to publicly support gay marriage in 2013 for the first time was due to a personal shift in opinion or whether a move in public opinion toward embracing gay marriage is what prompted it.

"Somebody is always first, Terry," Clinton said. "Somebody is always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn’t mean that those who join later in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change, are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have.”

Gross responded, "So that’s one for you changed your mind?"

To which Clinton replied, "I have to say, I think you being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.”

After Gross said she was trying to clarify Clinton's position, the former secretary of state responded, "No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify. I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that’s just flat wrong."

The exchange was recorded and posted online by America Rising, a GOP opposition research group.

Earlier Clinton explained, "As secretary of state, I was out of domestic politics and I was certainly doing all I could on the international scene to raise the importance of the human rights of the LGBT community. And then, leaving that position, I was able to, you know, very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage and that it is now continuing to proceed, state by state. I am very hopeful that we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance."

Clinton said the move toward accepting gay marriage in America has been swift.

"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," she said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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