WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- NPR's Terry Gross had a conversation with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday about her evolving position on same-sex marriage, an interview some are calling contentious.
When Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination in 2008, neither she nor then candidate Barack Obama were publicly in support of same-sex marriage. Both have since come out in support of marriage equality.
Gross questioned Clinton directly about how her views on same-sex marriage have evolved over time and whether her apparent change in her stance on the matter -- from not publicly supporting gay marriage to coming out in support of marriage equality -- was a calculated political move or rather the public expression of a privately held belief in light of a more favorable political climate.
Attempting to clarify how and why Clinton's position evolved over time, Gross pushed the former first lady and likely 2016 hopeful into a dialogue beyond the issue of same-sex marriage to touch on the importance of being able to re-evaluate political positions in the face of new evidence and information.
"Just because you're a politician doesn't mean you're not a thinking human being. You gather information, you think through positions, you're not one hundred percent set, thank goodness, you're constantly re-evaluating where you stand. That is true for me," Clinton told Gross when asked about her change on the issue from the nineties to today.
"I am very hopeful that we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance. One of my big problems right now is that too many people believe they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything.They're never open about new information and they like to operate in an evidence-free zone. I think it's good if people continue to change," she added.
"So, just to clarify, just one more question on this, would you say your view evolved since the 90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view," Gross insisted.
"I think I'm an American, I think that we have all evolved, and it's been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I'm aware of," Clinton replied.
Gross continued to pressure Clinton into a more specific answer.
"I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question about whether you evolved or it was the American public that change --"
"Because I said I'm an American so of course we all evolved and I think that's a fair conclusion --"
"So you're saying your opinion on gay marriage changed?"
In response to Gross' pushing, Clinton reaffirmed the importance of being able to grow and change one's opinions over time.
"You know, somebody is always first, Terry. Somebody is always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn't mean that those who join later, in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change, are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across the country if nobody changed their mind and thank goodness so many of us have."
At this point, the conversation becomes a little contentious as Gross pressures Clinton to clarify her earlier personal views on the issue.
"So that's one for you changed your mind?"
"You know I really, I have to say, I think you being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue."
"I'm just trying to clarify so I can understand—"
"No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that's just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like I think you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I've done and the progress were making."
"You know I'm just saying, I'm sorry—I just want to clarify what I was saying—no, I was saying that you maybe really believed this all along, but, you know believed in gay marriage all along, but felt for political reasons America wasn't ready yet and you couldn't say it. That's what I was thinking."
"No. That is not true."
"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."
"Okay, thank you for clarifying that."