Frank Rich catalogs just a few instances of Democratic betrayals and selective memory syndrome in his New York magazine essay "Whitewashing Gay History." He starts in the late 70s, when current gay marriage hero Andrew Cuomo was nineteen and may have been responsible for the antigay smear campaign against closeted Mayor Ed Koch. Signs for his father read "VOTE FOR CUOMO, NOT THE HOMO." Rich leaps ahead to the 90s to slam Clinton.
We are constantly told Clinton "had" to sign despicable DOMA because it passed with a veto-proof margin. What the apologists ignore is Clinton very early on announced his intention to sign it, giving cover to moderates and liberals who could have gone against it. Rich says:
"Bill Clinton has also worked hard to spin and skate away from his history on gay issues. His presidential record looks good only when contrasted with the literally lethal passivity of Ronald Reagan, who didn’t think AIDS warranted a speech until 1987, six years into the epidemic and his presidency. Reagan is a very low bar, and that lets Clinton off the hook for a legacy that’s had a far more lasting and egregious impact than any failings, youthful or otherwise, of Andrew Cuomo. Clinton knows it, too. In his thousand-page memoir, My Life, he somehow didn’t find the space to so much as mention the Defense of Marriage Act. While “don’t ask, don’t tell” can be rationalized (by some) as a bungled rookie effort at compromise during his early months in office, DOMA is indefensible. Though now deemed unconstitutional by the Obama Justice Department—and, last week, by a Bush-appointed federal judge in California—it is still in full force."