Top Men Responsible for the Defense of Marriage Act Cheated on Their Wives

Thrice-married Bob Barr Wrote DOMA, and Both Speaker Gingrich and Pres. Clinton Were Engaged in Extramarital Affairs When Gingrich Passed It and Clinton Signed It

Cheaters: Barr, Gingrich and Clinton
Cheaters: Barr, Gingrich and Clinton

You’d have to go back to the Jim Crow era to find a law as imbued with bigotry and hatred as DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which Pres. Clinton signed into law in 1996. It’s back in the news now because Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the administration would no longer defend it in court.

It’s adulterers — not gays — who are the real threat to traditional marriage

DOJ has made it clear, however, that the Legislative Branch is free to defend DOMA in upcoming hearings, which would put Speaker Boehner and his tea party bosses in the same position as the defenders of Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay constitutional amendment. The Prop 8 defenders lost in federal court last year because their “expert” witnesses’ biblical-based testimony that gay marriage should be illegal because homosexuality is a sin was deemed inadmissible in court and because they were unable to provide any evidence that same-sex marriage harms society.

Newt Gingrich, who, as speaker of the House, was instrumental in pushing the law through in 1996, has criticized the president for abandoning the defense of DOMA, and has even suggested that the president could be impeached because he “swore an oath on the Bible to ensure that laws be faithfully executed, not to decide which laws are and which are not constitutional” — a typical falsehood-within-a-falsehood that only liars as practiced as Gingrich can get away with. In reality, the administration said it will continue to enforce the law, and the courts will ultimately decide whether DOMA is constitutional, with or without a defense by the Executive or, for that matter, the Legislative branch.

Gingrich feels free to weigh in on DOMA because he’s never had to address the fact that while DOMA was sailing through the House under his direction, he was quite openly engaged in an extramarital affair with a congressional staffer. His affair with Callista Bisek, which apparently started in 1995, had been reported in British newspapers, Time magazine and well before DOMA was debated in the House. The affair continued for years, and was still going on while Speaker Gingrich led the impeachment of Pres. Clinton over the president’s own affair with a staffer. In fact, Republicans in Congress became so unnerved by the prospect of the speaker’s affair coming to light while they drummed up outrage over Clinton’s dalliances that, in 1998, a group of GOP House members — including at least briefly current Speaker John Boehner — demanded that Gingrich resign. Gingrich was finally forced to acknowledge the affair the following year when it became public record during his second divorce.

A serial adulterer, Gingrich had multiple extramarital affairs when he was a college teacher. He is also infamous for an incident during his first divorce — he left wife number one after a lengthy affair with soon-to-be wife number two — when he forced his first wife to discuss details of their separation while she was in a hospital bed recuperating from cancer surgery.

DOMA was written at Gingrich’s behest in May 1996 by Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., who has been married three times, and who used to a legal maneuver in his 1985 divorce proceedings to avoid having to admit under oath that he’d had an affair. The bill went through the House Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by Henry Hyde. A supposedly upright Christian gentleman — the Hyde Amendment which forbids using federal dollars for abortions was named after him — Hyde would later admit to having had an extramarital affair that broke up his girlfriend’s marriage. He made matters worse by trying to pass it off as a youthful indiscretion when in fact he was in his forties at the time.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Bob Dole resigned in June 1996, a month after DOMA was written and three months before it was passed, in order to campaign for the presidency full time. It’s unclear whether Dole had a role in the early strategizing, but what is crystal clear is that the law’s real purpose was to create a wedge between Pres. Clinton and his gay and civil libertarian supporters in his contest with Dole that fall.

If Dole had a hand in DOMA, even tacitly, it puts yet another cheater on the DOMA team. Dole once admitted to leaving his first wife for a flight attendant many years ago.

DOMA passed in September –342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate. Clinton signed it into law on Sept. 21, 1996. Six weeks or so later, he won reelection decisively against Dole.

Of course, no one knew it at the time, but like Speaker Gingrich, Pres. Clinton was also engaged in an extramarital affair, with Monica Lewinsky, during the time he signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Real Threat to Marriage

In addition to the political hypocrisy, DOMA is also a case study in the moral hypocrisy of anti-gay Christian extremists. Based on their propaganda, one might assume that the the sin of homosexuality is a central theme in the Bible. But if you actually read the Bible, you’ll find that adultery is mentioned prominently and often and that homosexuality is barely mentioned at all.

Adultery is prohibited twice in the Ten Commandments — once outright, “thou shalt not commit adultery” and again in the warning against coveting one’s neighbor’s ass — whereas homosexuality is not mentioned at all in the Decalogue. Gay sex is relegated instead to a long list of abominations that includes eating ham, shrimp and lobster; reading a horoscope or visiting a psychic; burning incense; cheating at business; and women wearing slacks and men wearing kilts, to name a few.

If Christians insist on restricting the rights of gays based on the 4,000-year-old traditions of desert herdsmen, they should push just as hard for laws that prevent adulterers from remarrying, adopting children, serving in the military, teaching school and the rest. The fact that organizations like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council never call for restricting the civil rights of adulterers, who are, as noted, much bigger sinners than gays, is yet more proof that they are nothing more than hate groups.

But even on a secular level, when it gets down to cases, it’s adulterers like Gingrich, Bob Barr and Bob Dole — men who abandon their wives and children — who are the real threat to traditional marriage. It’s adulterers, not gays, who create single-parent homes, which are contributing factors to poverty, juvenile crime and other social ills.

DOMA is a hateful and divisive law. It will be ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court some day, and future generations will be as puzzled by it as kids today are at the idea that there were “Colored” and “Whites Only” water fountains 50 years ago.

What is telling is that in all the dozens of interviews that Clinton and Gingrich have done since they left office, no journalist has ever asked them to square their push to “defend marriage” by passing DOMA at the same time they cheating on their wives.


  • muffler
    February 27, 2011 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that these MEN only think government should be in the business of trying regulate their restricted interpretation of morality and only when it involves people and not corporations?

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  • Dave in Northridge
    February 28, 2011 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    Even here, false equivalencies. On the Republican side, divorce, divorce, divorce, divorce, remarriage, remarriage, remarriage, remarriage. On the Democratic side, a few blow jobs that don’t rise to the level where you can call it an “affair”. Okay, maybe Clinton had issues concerning fidelity, but nothing that approaches Gingrich.

  • oudiva
    February 28, 2011 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU for this! For years I have wanted SOMEONE to explain to me how gay marriage threatens my (hetero) marriage. Of course nobody has even tried, because – as you so ably point out – it’s not a threat at all.

    With regard to the Old-Testament passage that homophobes like to quote, it’s interesting that the “abomination” involves only men. There’s no mention of women at all. I’m waiting for somebody to point that out to the self-righteous hypocrites who are so afraid of gays that they try to make them outlaws. And they are afraid – scared witless, in fact – although I have no idea why they should be.

  • sa warner
    February 28, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I still have a difficult time understanding how religious conservatives can promote biblical based morality and condemn polygamy at the same time.


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  • LeonardGump
    March 4, 2011 - 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Which was queer when the bill was considered for bill was signed into law?

  • David
    March 16, 2011 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Religious conservatives are Nazis – they are the biggest threat to our civil liberties!

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