The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Hillary Clinton has a new rainbow-flag avatar. Last year, she called gay marriage a state issue.

Sean Varsho, 28, of Chicago, left, and Brandon Dawson, 26, of Warrantor, Va., have been waiting in line for the past three days for a seat in the Supreme Court hearing on gay marriage, Monday, April 27, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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"I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples," Hillary Clinton said in a taped statement for the Human Rights Campaign in 2013. "I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law." She noted that her "personal views have been shaped over time" -- a shaping that is well-documented here -- but that denying marriage "to any of our daughters and sons solely on the basis of who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given potential."

With arguments beginning in the Supreme Court on Tuesday aimed at finally resolving two key remaining questions over gay marriage -- Can states ban the practice? and Must states recognize gay marriages from other states? -- Clinton's campaign changed its Facebook and Twitter avatars to a gay-friendly rainbow-flag version of the H-arrow logo.

But we have to point out that, as recently as last summer, Clinton's stated position was that gay marriage was an issue for the states -- the very same question the Supreme Court could decide after Tuesday's oral arguments.

In a rocky interview that aired on NPR, Clinton described her position on gay marriage to Terry Gross. "For me," she said, "marriage has always been a matter left to the states" -- indicating that her answer to the second question, at least, was "no." During the interview, Clinton suggested that her mind had changed on the subject (as she did in the HRC video) and also defended her husband's signing the Defense of Marriage Act.

That was last summer. Recently, Clinton's campaign launched with a video which featured two gay couples, one of which asked Clinton to attend their wedding. Her campaign Web site doesn't outline positions on issues, and she's only answered seven questions from the press since she began running.

It's quite possible, then, that Clinton has come to embrace the idea that the answer to the questions the Supreme Court will ponder are now in-line with her progressive base -- that gay marriage is a universal right that trumps votes in the states. It is also possible that Clinton recognizes the likelihood that the court will overturn all state bans, making the issue of her opinion in this moment unimportant and allowing her to embrace a constituency that strongly supports her without having to clarify what might have changed over the last nine months.

It would be a great eighth question for her to answer.

Update: It has been answered. Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Clinton said that Clinton "hopes the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex couples being guaranteed that constitutional right."

And at about the same time as this article was posted, Clinton herself tweeted:

Evolution complete.


The nation's highest court is hearing Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that examines if same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Here's what you need to know about the case that could make gay marriage legal across the nation. (Video: Julie Percha/The Washington Post)