Hardball | March 01, 2013
>>> when the supreme court asks do you think that the california law , which doesn't provide any rationale for discriminating against same-sex couples other than just the notion that, well, they're same-sex couples, the supreme court asks me or my attorney general or solicitor general do we think that meets constitutional muster, i fell it was important for us to answer that question honestly, and the answer is no.
>> welcome back to "hardball." this was president obama earlier today on california's gay marriage ban, proposition 8 . last night the obama administration filed a brief asking the supreme court to strike down the controversial law saying, quote, california law provides to same-sex couples registered as domestic partners all the legal incidents of marriage, but it nonetheless denies them the designation of marriage allowed to their opposi opposite-sex counterparts. particularly in those circumstances, the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage does not substantially further any important governmental interest. proposition 8 thus violates equal protection . in plain english this is another sign that americans ' acceptance of gays and lesbians is becoming part of the new normal and those opposed are being left behind in history. later this month the high court is set to begin hearing arguments for proposition 8 and the other landmark case , the defense of marriage act . joining we mao is richard sock re tease with the new yorker.com and ron reagan an msnbc political analyst . ron , what do you make of the timing of all this? is there more to it than this was the appropriate moment the administration sought to file the brief?
>> well, i gets better late than never. the president has take an long time to sort of evolve as he put it on this issue. of course, the supreme court is about to hear the case, and there is a question as to whether this statement by the president and the brief that's been filed will have any influence on the court. i suspect not in this case, but it does lay down a marker for the administration. they are going on the record now. now finally saying this is a fundamental right. that poses a certain dilemma for the administration. the position before it should be left to the states . if this was a fundamental right, then you can't leave it to the states anymore. then we need a national policy that says that gay people are allowed to marry like anybody else, and so far the president hasn't quite, quite come out and said that just so boldly.
>> i'm curious, you use the word evolve. that's, of course, his word. do you think that he's evolved? do you take him at face value or do you think he's been there all along?
>> well, that's a very good question. it has always seemed to me this evolution involved a sort of political calculation. he's just too young and too smart to really believe, it seems to me, that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry like everybody else . i think he may have made the calculation that were he to get out in front on this issue, that the right, the far right, would redouble their efforts to thwart him because, you know, a lot of these people are motivated by nothing more than simply hatred of obama . so if obama is for gay marriage , then they're even more against gay marriage . maybe that's part of his reluctan reluctance. i'm not really sure.
>> richard , until last year president obama said gay marriage should be an issue with the states but filing the brief shows a clear change of heart . here is the president today.
>> you know, i think that the same evolution i have gone through is an evolution that the country as a whole has gone through and i think it is a profoundly positive thing.
>> given the fact that you do hold that position about gay marriage , i wonder if you thought about just once you made the decision to weigh in, why not just argue that marriage is a right that should be available to all people at this point?
>> well, that's an argument that i have made personally.
>> richard , respond to the president from earlier today.
>> listen, i would be considerably more generous than ron about this. i think every american has had their journey on this issue. nobody started out supporting same-sex marriage. everybody has had to come to that position. so i take the president at his word that he has evolved like many other americans . i thought he was right on today when he said, you know, his journey was a long one but a good one and that many people in the country have been on a similar journey, but now we're at a point where a majority of americans led by the president and hopefully led by a supreme court who upholds that right now believe that there's a constitution right to same-sex marriage and i think the president --
>> please don't think i'm belittling the issue when i throw a modern family reference into this. i think you know seeing cam and mitchell, i think that the way in which in movies and in television and in all of our cultural influences, not to mention our own families and our social orbit, that has caused so many of us i think to be on an evolutionary path with rart to this issue.
>> i completely agree with you. i think that is a very important point, that the culture influences have played a large role in this. i mean, when you think about the young characters on "gle" which is on the conservative fox network , i mean, there are two teenage gay kids on "glee" that are welcomed into everybody's home every day. you know, i think that americans know that gay people are everywhere and that it's no longer appropriate in this modern day to discriminate against them, but i think the president really has had a journey and i think his remarks were a clear statement. today he came out and he said i believe that we cannot discriminate against gay americans when it comes to marriage. i don't think he could be any more clear about it even though it's taken him a while to get there.
>> ron reagan --
>> therefore --
>> let's look at the states where same-sex marriage is legal. those are in green, not sure if you can see it on the monitor. maryland is the most recent to join the bunch and then in yellow for folks at home, the states where civil unions or domestic partners are recognized. obviously growing in number. ths hard for me to imagine that that clock ever gets turned back a different way. have we reached the tipping point on this issue?
>> yes. i think we have. certainly in some parts of the country. obviously we have in some parts of the country, and i think nationally speaking we have, and once you reach this point, once you come to the conclusion that marriage is, in fact, a fundamental right, then certain things follow. then it cannot be left up to the states . as recently as may the president's position was that the states , individual states should decide who should be allowed to marry one another. well, if you're going to take -- follow that logic, i guess states should be allowed to decide that people of different races shouldn't be allowed to marry one another either. now, i don't think anybody really believes that and so if you have come to this point then it's either or. it's either a fundamental right or is it not.
>> i think if you listen to the president's words carefully in may, that he said that he thought we were making progress with this state-by-state approach and i think ron is right. he tried to nuance it a little bit in advance of the election and not quite go as far as he's gone now, but i think with this justice department filing yesterday and his remarks in the press conference today, the president is on record, it could not be -- he could not be any more clear about it, that he believes that all americans should be guaranteed the right to marry no matter where you live regardless of sexual orientation.
>> gentlemen, thank you --
>> would you welcome a little more enthusiasm though?
>> thank you, richard --
>> i'm totally fine with his enthusiasm as it stands right now.
>> all right.
>> thank you, rich. thank you ron reagan . we preached you being here.
>>> up next, look is who back, mitt romney who does his first tv interview since losing the election. that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics. digestive balance in