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Hillary Clinton backs gay marriage: Proof she's running for president?
Support for gay rights has become a litmus test for possible contenders in a Democratic primary

Hillary Clinton on Monday released a six-minute video in which she announced her support for gay marriage, becoming the latest politician to formally switch positions on the issue. The move has only fueled speculation that the former secretary of state is considering a presidential run in 2016.

"LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones," Clinton says in the video. "And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage. That's why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law, embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and for all Americans."

The move was expected, especially since Bill Clinton has publicly endorsed gay marriage. Earlier this month, Bill Clinton went so far as to call on the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law in 1996.

Supporting gay marriage has become a litmus test for any Democrat who is considering competing in a presidential primary. The top potential 2016 contenders — including Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — all back same-sex marriage.

The issue could even filter down to lawmakers in Congress. "Given the prevailing winds in the party, I think it's safe to say that Democrats seeking national office from this point forward will be expected to support marriage equality as a matter of course," says Steven Benen at The Maddow Blog.

However, Democrats remain divided on whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, a nuance that could separate the hard-core supporters from those who would prefer to give individual states some leeway on the issue. President Obama initially said it was up to the states to decide, but in a recent brief with the Supreme Court went a bit further, arguing that California's ban on gay marriage is irreconcilable with the equal rights afforded by the Constitution. 

Some liberals think Clinton has gone all the way in her latest announcement. "Clinton is effectively arguing that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. "Clinton took that final step."

However, she did not explicitly say any such thing — and interpretations like Sargent's require some reading between the lines. Expect Clinton to be questioned about this in the coming months — and in 2016, if she decides to run.

Ryu Spaeth is deputy editor at TheWeek.com.

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