Gay Rights, Marriage: How New, How Popular?07:59
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With the Capitol in the background, supporters of gay marriage carry signs in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
With the Capitol in the background, supporters of gay marriage carry signs in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Justice Samuel Alito raised more than a few eyebrows in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday when he said gay marriage as a concept is newer than cellphones or the Internet.

As a political force, the gay rights movement in the U.S. dates back less than 50 years, and political opinion has often been slow to catch up with public opinion.

Take the Defense of Marriage Act before the high court on Wednesday.

It was quietly signed into law in the middle of the night 17 years ago by a triangulating President Bill Clinton who didn't want to risk losing the White House over standing up for gay rights if he vetoed it.

Yet earlier this month, Clinton called it unconstitutional. And potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently came out in favor of same sex marriage.

John Harwood, political writer for The New York Times and CNBC's chief Washington correspondent, gave us his analysis of Wednesday's arguments.

Guest:

This segment aired on March 27, 2013.

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