Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersVolatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite MORE (I-Vt.) is not buying Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAre Democrats turning Trump-like? The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE’s excuse that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by her husband in 1996, was a defensive measure aimed at protecting gay people.

ADVERTISEMENT

“To my mind, I think the evidence is very, very clear that that legislation was anti-gay legislation, it was playing off the fears of a lot of Americans,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

DOMA made the federal definition of marriage the union between one man and one woman and allowed traditional-marriage states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Clinton has defended her husband’s legislation, calling it a “defensive act” to prevent congressional Republicans from drafting a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage.

“On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband and I believed – and there was certainly evidence to support it – is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States, and that there had to be some way to stop that,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday.

Sanders, who voted against the 1996 bill, said he “would not agree with that assertion.”

“What they were trying to do is make it impossible for gay couples to be married, to get benefits from the federal government, to have marriage in one state be accepted and recognized in another state,” he said. “I think everybody at the time knew that this was homophobic legislation.”

“We have come a long way since that vote in 1996,” he added.