Mitchell Reports | December 10, 2012
>>> the supreme court could be issuing rulings by next summer that is groundbreaking for gay marriage rights as roe v. wade was for abortion in the 1970s , potentially at least after they agreed hear arguments on the defense of marriage act and proposition 8 . justice correspondent pete williams joins me. pete, the fact that they took both of these cases, what is the significance from your analysis?
>> well, it's the prop 8 case , andrea, that could be the biggy. it could be very narrow. the doma case has a very straight forward question. is it constitutional for a federal law to say that the government will not recognize marriages even when they're legal in the states, so that if married couples get married in the nine states where it's now legal, the federal government doesn't recognize those marriages. there's a question about whether that's unconstitutional discrimination, but if the supreme court does strike down doma, it doesn't say anything about whether the states must permit same-sex marriage, itdo, the federal government must recognize them. so it's the proposition 8 case from california that potentially raises the bigger question. now, as it comes to the supreme court , it comes in a very narrow way. the court of appeals , which agreed with the trial court , that proposition 8 striking down gay marriage in california was unconstitutional, it ruled in a very narrow way. it said california was wrong to grant the right and then take it away. you can't do that, apeeldz court said. if the supreme court upholds that ruling, it would apply only to california , but it's possible having taken the case that they could get to the bigger issue about whether any state can deny same-sex couples the right to get married.
>> pete williams , thank you so much. joining me now is chad griffin, with the human rights campaign , and the organizer initially of the legal challenge to california 's prop 8, banning same-sex marriage before coming to the human rights campaign to lead that. chad, first of all, there was a division in the community as to whether to take this appeal because you're risking everything now if the court and it is a conservative led court, if they overturned that appeals court ruling, then that ban could be very broadly read.
>> this case is so simple. a fundamental constitutional right was being violated in california . california had granted the right. the state supreme court had granted the right of marriage equality , and so couples across that state, loving and committed couples, began to get married. then a political campaign came along and took away that right. that's not something we allow in this country. we don't allow a popular vote of the people to take away a fundamental constitutional right, and the two couples that brought this case ultimately, chris and sandy, and paul and jeff, simply wanted the right to be able to marry the person that they love, and for their families to have the same recognition as their neighbors, and that's why this case is so simple. i do believe it was the right time, and i am confident, i am optimistic that once the court hears this case and sees the evidence that was preblted at trial, that as they have so many times in our nation's past, will come down on the side of freedom and equality.
>> it's clearly where the american people are in terms of all the polling. the country has moved on. it's accepted. gay marriage is --
>> no question.
>> same-sex marriage is simply an accepted fact of life, and so many families across the country. yet, the risk is that this could become illegal. what happens to all of these couples? what happens to their rights?
>> look. at the end of the day , again, i'm optimistic we'll win this case. as we did in the lower court and by a judge who was first appointed by ronald reagan and then later by george bush . and then won at the appellate level and now it's reached the supreme court . and there's no question where the country's headed on this issue. in fact, the government, political leaders and the courts are catching up where the american public is on this issue.
>> let's talk about what pete williams was reporting over the weekend. there are as many as 1,000 different benefits denied to gay partners where gay marriage is not allowed.
>> that's exactly right. there are rights and benefits and privileges denied to lgbt, gay and lesbian couples, simply because of who they are. edie and her partner together over 40 years and unfortunately when her partner, wife, passed away , she was given a bill by the united states government for over $300,000.
>> estate taxes.
>> estate taxes. a straight couple would not have received that bill. it's simply unfair. if you look at the plaintiffs in this case, chris and sandy have two twin boys and just entering high school when we filed this case and by the supreme court renders the decision, they will be entering college. their moms still can't get marry. paul and jeff, the other plaintiffs in this case, said they want to be married before they have children. think eve been together more than a decade and still don't have the right to marriage equality .
>> it's called family values .
>> that's exactly right.
>> thank you very much.
>> thank you.