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Hillary Clinton defends her support of same-sex marriage

Thursday, June 12, 2014
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Hillary Clinton participates in a conversation about her career in government and her new book, "Hard Choices.," at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Richard Drew, AP

Hillary Clinton participates in a conversation about her career in government and her new book, “Hard Choices.,” at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Thursday, June 12, 2014.

NEW YORK — Hillary Rodham Clinton tersely defended her initial opposition to gay marriage, denying in a radio interview that political reasons were behind her shift last year to supporting same-sex marriage. She accused the host of the show of “playing with my words.”

“I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either,” Clinton told National Public Radio’s Terry Gross during an interview broadcast Thursday on “Fresh Air.”

“This was an incredibly 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,” she added. “When I was ready to say what I said, I said it.”

The exchange came during Clinton’s media tour supporting her new book, “Hard Choices,” about the former first lady and senator’s time as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Clinton has said she’ll decide later this year whether to make a second run for president.

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In 2008, Clinton, Barack Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, although they endorsed versions of civil unions.

In March 2013, Clinton released a video expressing her support for gay marriage, shortly after she left the State Department. As the nation’s top diplomat, Clinton refrained from weighing in on domestic politics but she won praise from gay rights organizations for bringing attention to LGBT issues around the globe and within the State Department.

But the former first lady’s announcement came after Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and several prominent Democrats — along with Republicans like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman — had stated their support for same-sex marriage.

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