TIME States

Colorado Attorney General Urges Clerks to Stop Issuing Gay-Marriage Licenses

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers talked about the Hayman Fire and the plea agreement deal with Terry Barton. Suthers was in his office on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
Colorado attorney general John Suthers in his office on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Cyrus McCrimmon—The Denver Post/Getty Images

Attorney general says clerks are violating the law, since the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is still in effect

County clerks in Colorado who have been issuing marriage licenses to gay couples might soon be ordered to stop, if an appeal to the state’s supreme court by its attorney general is carried out.

Calling the current situation “legal chaos,” where clerks are issuing licenses even though Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage has not been struck down, attorney general John Suthers said the state is being forced to violate its own laws, reports the Denver Post.

Suthers asked the supreme court to intervene after judges from some of the state’s lower courts refused to entertain a similar request, and allowed county clerks to continue giving gay couples marriage licenses.

C. Scott Crabtree, a judge in Adams County District Court, ruled last week that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and denied a request to stop Denver clerks from issuing licenses to gay couples. A Boulder County judge also followed suit, and clerks in Denver and Pueblo began issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

However, Suthers said the ban still stands, since Crabtree’s ruling has not yet taken effect.

Most clerks in the state are continuing to issue these licenses because they are against the ban, and Suthers said he understands the issue is an emotional one. “But we simply cannot, as a matter of respect for the rule of law, ignore the processes by which laws are changed,” he said.

[The Denver Post]

TIME Comics

Here’s How Archie Will Die

From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series.
From left: Veronica, Archie, and Betty, characters from the Archie's comic book series. Archie Comics/AP

A heroic demise for iconic comic book character

We all knew Archie Andrews would die one day, but now we know he’ll die a hero, taking a bullet for his gay best friend.

The beloved comic book icon will meet his glorious end in Wednesday’s installment of Life with Archie when he tries to stop an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics. Archie’s impending doom was first announced in April.

“He dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater told The Associated Press. “It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Keller’s character was introduced to the series in 2010 in the Archie spin-off Veronica. He’s now a married military veteran and senator who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale. Goldwater won’t say much about the assassin, but hints that he’s a stalker-type figure.

Goldwater also said the decision to have Archie die saving Keller—as opposed to longstanding pals Betty or Veronica—was a strategic way to make sure Archie’s death was about the future of Riverdale, not the past. “Metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born,” he said.

“Archie is not a superhero like all the rest of the comic book characters,” Goldwater added. “He’s human. He’s a person. When you wound him, he bleeds. He knows that. If anything, I think his death is more impactful because of that.”

[AP]

TIME HIV

This National Blood Drive Is Fighting the FDA Ban on Gay Donors

The National Gay Blood Drive is happening in 63 cities nationwide
The National Gay Blood Drive is happening in 63 cities nationwide Courtesy of Alexandra Sifferlin

A nationwide blood drive is protesting an FDA ban on gay men donating blood

Outside of the New York Blood Center near Grand Central Station, Sam Gavzy, 26, is wearing a name tag that reads: “Hello, my name is Sam. Ask me why I can’t donate.”

Gavzy, who is a research biologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, believes in the benefits of donating blood since his father had two kidney transplants. But gay and bisexual men cannot donate blood in the U.S. due to a ban imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1983, when there was no effective and simple test to detect HIV in blood. Men who have sex with men (MSN) at any time since 1977 cannot donate. So Gavzy joined the National Gay Blood Drive, a nationwide donation and protest effort occurring in 61 cities July 11 to raise awareness about the ban they feel is outdated. “I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for donation,” says Gavzy referring to his fathers’ reliance on donors. “The simplest way I could contribute and pay it forward is to donate blood, and I can’t.”

This is the second year of the National Gay Blood Drive, which drew about 1,000 participants last year. Gay men come to the blood drive locations with an ally or proxy — a straight friend or family member — who donates blood in their place. Gavzy has two friends donating for him. “There’s a such a need for blood, to have restrictions like this is a shame,” says Kian Bichoupan, 25, one of Gavzy’s proxies. Some of the gay men can fill out the paperwork only to be denied, so that the organizers can send the paperwork, along with postcards written by the men on why they want to donate blood, to the FDA to show the number of gay men willing to donate if they could.

Sam Gavsky cannot donate blood due to an FDA ban that prohibits gay and bisexual men from donating. Courtesy of Alexandra Sifferlin

The group also launched a White House Petition on July 1 calling on the FDA to change its policy. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures by July 30, the Obama administration will issue a response.

The National Gay Blood Drive began when gay rights activist Ryan James Yezak felt humiliated at work when he was one of the only people who could not donate blood to tornado victims three years ago. “It completely alienated me from the rest of my coworkers, and I felt like a different species,” says Yeznak, who has created a documentary on the topic. “We have enough [gay and bisexual men] to contribute to the offset of blood shortages.”

Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to end the ban, recognizing the new techniques available to detect HIV in donated blood. “The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” said Dr. William Kobler, AMA board member in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

When asked why the ban is still in place, and whether the FDA is in the process of considering a change, an FDA spokesperson told TIME that the agency is willing to consider changing its policy, but only if available data showed that lifting the ban provided no additional risk to people receiving donated blood.

“Although scientific evidence has not yet demonstrated that blood donated by MSM or a subgroup of these potential donors does not have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to currently accepted blood donors, the FDA remains willing to consider new approaches to donor screening and testing,” the FDA responded in an email.

One issue involves when potential donors would get tested for HIV; although testing has now become relatively simple (there are even at-home tests), HIV-positive people may still test negative if their blood is drawn in the first 11 days after infection.

The FDA is the keeper of the deferral policy, but other health groups have also voted to keep it, or at least not change it for now. In 2010, the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) discussed the FDA policy and concluded that while the current policy isn’t ideal, it was necessary to protect the blood supply while they identified necessary areas for research. In 2013, they met again to hear updates on the research they requested; when there are enough results, the HHS plans to bring the issue into a public forum. Last year, members of senate–spearheaded by Senator Elizabeth Warren–wrote an open later to HHS holding them accountable to take action, based on the data.

“We have a lot of support from blood donation centers. They want our blood,” says Yeznak. “”We want to show the FDA that the gay community, can and wants to contribute.”

TIME Gay Rights

Utah Will Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling in Supreme Court

Appeals Court Overturns Same Sex Marriage Ban In Utah
Laurie Wood, (L) and her partner Kody Partridge hold hands at a press conference after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver rejected a same-sex marriage ban in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. George Frey—Getty Images

Utah has decided to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue against gay marriage

(SALT LAKE CITY) —€” Utah has decided to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue against gay marriage, meaning the nation’s highest court will have at least one same-sex marriage case on its plate when it returns in October.

The office of the Utah attorney general announced Wednesday that it would bypass a full appeals court and take the gay marriage case to the Supreme Court instead.

If the U.S. Supreme court decides to take the case, it will be the first time the top court considers gay marriage since justices last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The high court is under no obligation to the take the case, and it could wait for rulings from one or more of the five other appellate courts with gay marriage cases pending, legal scholars say.

Utah’s appeal is of a June 25 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which found states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they choose partners of the same sex. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.

The Utah case is certain to pique the Supreme Court’s interest, but the justices usually look for cases that involve split rulings from federal appeals courts, said Douglas NeJaime, a University of California-Irvine law professor.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia’s ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for August and September in two different courts for cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada and Idaho.

“My best guess it that the court will hang onto this for a while and see what happens,” NeJaime said. “There are so many cases now, it will have a pick.”

William Eskridge, a Yale University law professor, also doesn’t expect a quick decision from the high court. The Supreme Court is under no deadline to make a decision and knows other appellate decisions are coming, he said.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement the appeal will be filed in the coming weeks, to get “clarity and resolution” on the matter. The decision to go directly to the Supreme Court means a review from the entire 10th Circuit Court is off the table, no matter what the high court decides.

Gov. Gary Herbert has said the state already budgeted for a need to defend the law before the Supreme Court. It is expected to cost another $300,000 to have three outside attorneys handle the case — the same amount it cost to take the case to the federal appeals court.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last summer allowed married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as other married people, but did not specifically address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.

Since then, lower courts have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down gay marriage bans. The latest such ruling was Wednesday, when a state judge struck down Colorado’s gay marriage ban. That ruling is on hold pending an appeal.

In the Utah case, the 10th Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that overturned a 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban. More than 1,000 same-sex couples wed in Utah after the ban was struck down and before the Supreme Court issued a stay.

The same thing happened in Indiana, where several hundred same-sex couples married during a two-day window in June. On Wednesday, Indiana state officials said they won’t recognize those marriages — the same decision Utah made.

The conservative Sutherland Institute of Utah applauded the state for appealing to the highest court, saying in a statement that it gives states the chance to “defend marriage as society’s way to encourage a married mother and father for every child.”

Plaintiff Moudi Sbeity called the decision to take the case to the Supreme Court “wonderful news.” He and his partner, Derek Kitchen, are one of three couples who sued over Utah’s gay marriage ban.

“We are one step closer toward having our families recognized in our home state,” Sbeity said. “It’s definitely a case our Supreme Court needs to hear. The faster we can move on this, the better for all of us.”

TIME White House

Hobby Lobby Puts Obama Between God and Gays

US-POLITICS-OBAMA
US President Barack Obama listens to a group of people, who wrote letters to him, as he sits to dine with them at a restaurant in Denver on July 8, 2014. Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

How the Supreme Court’s contraction decision brought down the President’s signature gay rights legislation

President Barack Obama’s seminal gay rights legislation has become the latest casualty of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny their employees contraception on religious grounds.

The Employee Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, was passed by the Senate last year, but it has stalled in the House in part because Republicans wanted greater religious exemptions. But the exemptions already contained within the bill, gay rights activists fear, provide a blue print for employers to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples in the context of the Hobby Lobby decision.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision,” the American Civil Liberties Union and four LGBT groups wrote in withdrawing their support for ENDA. “Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination.”

The decision also puts Obama in a bind over a promised executive order banning companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT employees. Religious groups and leaders, including Rick Warren, who delivered the invocation at Obama’s first inaugural, and Michael Wear, who worked in Obama’s faith-based initiatives office in his first term and on faith outreach in his reelection campaign, wrote the President on the day of the Hobby Lobby decision to ask for increased religious exemptions from the federal rule. The idea is that in order to do business with the federal government, many religious groups would have to go against their core beliefs that only heterosexual married sex is condoned in the eyes of God. Religious charities work closely with the government in development and education at home and abroad.

So the rule, whenever it is issued, will likely either offend religious or gay groups.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers from both chambers of Congress on Wednesday introduced legislation to address the Hobby Lobby decision. The bill would reinforce the language in the original Affordable Care Act that guarantees health insurance coverage of contraception.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and one of bills’ cosponsors. “This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies.”

Thus far no Republicans have signed on, and although a handful of Republicans voted for ENDA, it is unlikely given their universal opposition to Obamacare that any will sign on to Murray’s bill, entitled the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act. The Democratic push is sure to anger religious groups, which objected to and sued the governmentto change the original Obamacare language — all of which means the bill will likely have a tough time passing the Senate and is a non-starter in the House.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat and the only openly gay senator, was the lead co-sponsor of ENDA. She said on Tuesday that she is looking at revising her bill to reflect the Hobby Lobby decision. She will surely be watching closely whatever language the White House lawyers come up with for Obama’s executive order. Finding a way to appease women, gays and religious groups is looking increasingly hard. A cynic’s answer to how this plays out is: Ahead of the midterm elections, is which group is the least important at the polls?

TIME

Feel Good Friday: 11 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From giant pandas to rain god rituals, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Education

It’s Time to Write LGBT History into the Textbooks

Appeals Court Overturns Same Sex Marriage Ban In Utah
Dayne Law (R) and several others wave flags and cheer outside the Utah Pride Center after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver ruled and upheld same sex marriage in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. George Frey—Getty Images

More than four decades after the historical Stonewall riots, the history of gay rights is still elided from textbooks and school curricula.

On the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots—an event that transformed a minuscule pre-Stonewall gay rights movement into a mass movement—LGBT history is still being left out of the public school curriculum. California is the sole exception to this rule, having passed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act in 2011. It mandated the inclusion of the political, economic and social contributions of LGBT persons in textbooks and the social studies curricula in California public schools. While the control of curriculum and the choice of textbooks rests with local school boards, it’s time for state legislatures to take up the issue so that such curricula are adopted nationwide.

The 1960s homophile movement, which preceded the gay and LGBT rights movements, determined that the oppression of homosexuals rested on three things: that psychiatry declared gay men and lesbians to be mentally ill, that the law criminalized homosexual sex acts and that religions condemned homosexuals as sinners. The notion by society at large that homosexuality was a mental illness was seen as the most insidious, and LGBT civil rights pioneer Frank Kameny said in 1964 that “the entire homophile movement . . . is going to stand or fall upon the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sickness, and upon our taking a firm stand on it.” In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. Thirty years later, the Supreme Court ended the criminalization of homosexual acts with Lawrence v. Texas. Over the decades, both Judaism and Christianity have become more accepting of homosexuality.

The omission of LGBT history from the nation’s classrooms is a serious problem for a number of reasons, first and foremost of which is that a democracy requires tolerance, fairness and an informed citizenry. This gap in history textbooks sends the message that our story is one of inferiority. Today’s youth are growing up in a world where LGBT issues are constantly in the news and discussed around the dinner table. Moreover, LGBT rights are a worldwide struggle now, and students need to understand that to be prepared for global citizenship.

LGBT children especially need to know this history, for they can be born into families that might not recognize or accept them. All children need dignity, and LGBT children also need a valid identity. Identity is usually formed from a shared narrative—in other words, a common history. Keeping this subject matter out of textbooks offends the dignity of LGBT children and may contribute to the significantly higher rates of suicide, drug use and depression among LGBT youth.

For the most part, our history textbooks have either distorted information or censored LGBT issues. It’s common for school children to study the classic age of Greece as the fountainhead of democracy. But are they told that the Greek philosophers upheld male homosexual love one as of their highest social values? Hitler exploited fear of homosexuals as an integral part of his climb to power leading up to World War II. He made good on his word too, sending homosexuals to their death in the concentration camps. When the Allies liberated the camps, homosexuals were the only groups they did not free, and for decades Germany refused to pay reparations to them. With regard to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness, students should know that Sigmund Freud didn’t consider homosexuality a pathology. It was Freud’s American adherents who distorted his conclusions, resulting in gay men being incarcerated in mental hospitals and deemed unfit for employment, especially for government employment.

These few topics suggest just how complex LGBT history is. I was taught about Brown v. Board of Education in my high school in Jesup, Georgia, in 1969. Our school had only recently been integrated and issues about race, such as busing and affirmative action, were still in the news and contentious. If I could learn about Brown v. Board of Education in Jesup only four years after the Civil Rights Act passed, it is high time—41 years after the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness and 11 years after the decriminalization of homosexual acts—that U.S. public schools see to it that today’s students are adequately informed about the debates they see in today’s headlines over LGBT issues. For America to keep its promises of fairness and equality, LGBT history must not be kept in the closet.

David Carter, the author of Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, is currently writing a biography of pioneer LGBT activist Frank Kameny.

TIME LGBT

Federal Appeals Court: Gays Have Right to Marry

Gay Marriage
Jolene Mewing, left, and her spouse Collen Mewing gather with about 300 people gathered in a downtown park to celebrate the gay marriage ruling Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer—AP

The ruling brings the issue a big step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court

(DENVER) — A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Wednesday that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, extending the movement’s legal winning streak and bringing the issue a big step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they choose a partner of the same sex.

The court dismissed as “wholly illogical” the notion that allowing gays to wed could somehow undermine traditional marriage.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower-court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But the panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.

The Utah attorney general’s office planned to appeal, but it was assessing whether to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the entire 10th Circuit to review the ruling, spokeswoman Missy Larsen said.

Wednesday’s decision “takes us one step closer to reaching certainty and finality,” the office said in a statement.

After the ruling, the couples named in the appeal hugged, cried and exchanged kisses at a news conference outside their attorney’s offices in downtown Salt Lake City.

“This decision is an absolute victory for fairness and equality for all families in Utah, in every state in the 10th Circuit and every state in this great nation of the United States,” said their attorney, Peggy Tomsic.

Plaintiff Derek Kitchen said he and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, are “so proud to be a part of history.”

Later, about 300 people rallied in support of the ruling at a Salt Lake City park where rainbow flags and colorful signs were displayed proudly.

“It’s an incredible day,” said Chris Johnson, who married his partner, David Tuma, in December while gay marriage was briefly legal in Utah. “We met 19 years ago. We are former Air Force officers. It’s wonderful after 19 years to have this relationship.”

The decision gives increased momentum to a legal cause that already has compiled an impressive record in the lower courts after the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal and state judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates.

The latest of those rulings was in Indiana, where a federal judge threw out that state’s same-sex marriage ban Wednesday in a decision that immediately allows gay couples to wed. The Indiana and Utah rulings came just one day ahead of the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision striking down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law.

The Utah ruling was especially significant because it was the first appellate court to conclude that last year’s Supreme Court decision means states cannot deny gays the ability to marry.

In 2012, an appellate court struck down California’s gay marriage ban but said it was only ruling on that law, not the broader constitutional questions. There were no such caveats in Wednesday’s 65-page decision.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said Utah’s legal victory was sweeter because of where it originated — a conservative, deeply religious state in the heart of the mountain West.

“What is so powerful here is that we have the first federal appellate court and … it’s a case coming out of Utah affirming in the strongest, clearest, boldest terms that the Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry and equal protection for all Americans and all means all, including gay couples,” he said.

Within hours of the Utah decision, the Boulder County, Colorado, clerk announced that she would issue marriage licenses to gay couples because Colorado’s gay marriage ban would be voided if the decision stands.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, said on its website that it maintains marriage should be between a man and a woman, but believes “all people should be treated with respect.”

In his dissent, Justice Paul J. Kelly Jr. said the 10th Circuit overstepped its authority and that states should be able to decide who can marry.

“We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of the 14th Amendment,” Kelly wrote.

More than 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah wed in December after the initial ruling in the case, before the Supreme Court issued a stay. Along with the Utah case, the 10th Circuit panel considered a challenge to Oklahoma’s ban. It did not immediately rule in that case Wednesday.

“While judges can, by judicial fiat, declare same-sex ‘marriage’ legal, they will never be able to make it right,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “The courts, for all their power, can’t overturn natural law.”

Though the Utah and Oklahoma cases have been closely watched, it’s unclear if one of them will be the first to reach the Supreme Court. The high court could choose from cases moving through five other federal appellate courts and wouldn’t consider a case until next year at the earliest.

___

McCombs reported from Salt Lake City. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michelle Price in Salt Lake City, Lisa Leff in San Francisco and Kristi Eaton in Oklahoma City; and AP photographer Rick Bowmer in Salt Lake City.

TIME

Utah to Appeal Gay Marriage Case to Supreme Court

DENVER (AP) — Utah’s attorney general plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling Wednesday that found states must allow gay couples to marry.

Republican Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement Wednesday it will file a petition to have the country’s highest court review the decision by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The office also left open the possibility of requesting a review from the full panel of judges at the 10th Circuit.

The attorney general’s office says even though the 10th Circuit ruling went against Utah, the state is pleased that it moves the important issue one step closer to the Supreme Court.

TIME politics

No, Hillary Clinton Didn’t Lose Her Cool on NPR

Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Copies Of Her Memoir "Hard Choices"
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes "Hard Choices" at Barnes & Noble Union Square on June 10, 2014 in New York City. John Lamparski—WireImage/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton refused to be pigeonholed in an conversation about gay marriage, and that's okay

NPR’s Terry Gross tried to get Hillary Clinton to make some hard choices in an interview on Fresh Air Thursday, asking her if her opinions on gay marriage had changed from against to for, or if she had always supported gay marriage but had kept her views concealed until 2013 for political reasons. Neither answer is particularly flattering, and the Hard Choices author and possible presidential hopeful knew that. So she evaded, and then towards the end of the interview, she pushed back.

The media reaction was instantaneous: “Hillary Clinton gets testy over gay marriage,” the Politico headline reads. Similar accounts of Clinton “snapping at” or “sparring with” interviewer Terry Gross over her position abound.

It’s bad enough that she has to answer for her husband’s decisions as president. Hillary Clinton did not sign the Defense of Marriage Act; Bill Clinton did. And, as Hillary Clinton points out at the end of her NPR discussion, 1996 was a different time: “I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either. This was an incredible new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay right 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.”

And yet Clinton was asked to defend DOMA when Gross asked, “And DOMA was actually signed by your husband when he was president. In spite of the fact that he signed it, were you glad at this point that the Supreme Court struck some of it down?”

Clinton of course began by evading the question—as many politicians do. And then Gross asked her to clarify—as many reporters do. That’s when things got tense.

But before we become too critical of Clinton, let’s remember that she used the same rhetoric that President Obama used as well, when defending the “evolution” of his stance on gay marriage. Clinton said, “I think that we have all evolved, and it’s been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I’m aware of.”

Obama said something similar in 2010: “My feelings about this are constantly evolving.” In 2004, the president said he believed marriage was “something sanctified between a man and a woman” and that the difference between civil unions and marriages were an issue of “semantics.”

I understand the desire to nail down when Clinton’s views on gay marriage changed and whether they changed for purely political reasons. Though the movement has moved quickly, in a historical perspective, to LGBT activists and allies, and to those who have suffered under discriminatory policies for many years, it’s not moving quickly enough. However, Clinton, as an interviewee, had every right to push back against being boxed into a simple narrative, one in which she is either a reformed homophobe or a political animal.

Some are taking the Gross interview as a sign that Clinton has gotten rusty—that she’s not quite ready for the campaign trail again. But in another light, the fact that she was bold enough to push back suggests that she’s more ready than she was in 2008.

Here’s the entire interview:

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