'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, May 12, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, Richard Kim Linda Hirshman, David Sirota, Urvashi Vaid, Jose Antonio Vargas, Tom Duane
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York where it is
absolutely beautiful. I am Chris Hayes.
After Greece`s socialist party failed to form a ruling block there
last night, President Karolos Papoulias, now has one last chance to form an
emergency government or face a new round of elections.
And the Associated Press reports that Miami Heat forward, LeBron
James, today, will be named the NBA`s MVP for the third time in four
But I want to start with the history that was made this week. What
the president said about gay marriage in his interview with ABC Robin
Roberts. It was an epochal moment in the struggle for equality and freedom
for LGBT people and for the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I think about
members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, monogamous
relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when
I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out
there fighting on my behalf, and yet, feel constrained, even now that don`t
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" is gone because they`re not able to commit
themselves in a marriage.
At a certain point, I`ve just concluded that, for me, personally, it
is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples
should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president came out in favor of gay marriage a day after
the folks in North Carolina voted to approve a constitutional amendment
that makes marriage between a man and a woman the only recognized union in
the state, and three days after Vice President Joe Biden said this when
asked about gay marriage on NBC`s "Meet The Press."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am absolutely
comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and
heterosexual men and women are entitled the same exact rights, all the
civil rights, all the civil liberties, and quite frankly, I don`t see much
of a distinction beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, if you take President Obama at his word, his views on gay
marriage have finally finished there evolution, as he calls it. Well,
there`s reasonable belief he`s really just closed a very long loop. In
1996, as an Illinois state Senate candidate, he wrote, "I favor legalizing
same sex marriages and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
That`s pretty straight forward stuff. No separate but equal there.
But in September of 2004, while running for Senate in Illinois, he`d come
to another conclusion. During a radio interview with WBBMAM in Chicago, he
said, "I`m a Christian.
And so, although, I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or
determine my political views on this issues, I do believe that tradition
and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between
a man and a woman." A month later, in the debate with AlanKeith (ph), the
president was asked about those religious beliefs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: -- are absolutely critical.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. But as far as why? What in your
religious faith calls you to be against gay marriage?
OBAMA: What I believe in my faith is that a man and a woman, when
they get married, are performing something before God, and it`s not simply
the two persons who are meeting. But that doesn`t mean that that
necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to
What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that I
think need to be preserved. But I also think that we have to make sure
that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is a grand irony that this awkward, ultimately untenable,
rhetorical middle space is now the one that Mitt Romney seems to be headed
to occupy for the duration of the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: States are able to make
decisions with regards to domestic partnership benefits such as hospital
visitation rights. Benefits and so forth of various kinds could be
determined state-by-state, but my view is that marriage, itself, is a
relationship between a man and a woman, and that`s my own preference.
I know other people have different views. This is a very tender and
sensitive topic as are many social issues. But I have the same view that
I`ve had since, well, since running for office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those official views include favoring a constitutional
amendment that would bar gay men and women from marriage, positions that
will sit well with his audience at Liberty University in Virginia, the
evangelical school founded by Jerry Falwell where Romney will be delivering
a speech today.
Something tells me his language in front of that audience is going to
be a bit less squishy. Right now, I`m joined by Linda Hirshman, the author
of "Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution," how a despise minority
pushback deep debt, found love, and change America for everyone. I`m sure
her publishers are pretty psyched about the timing of all of this.
Syndicated columnist, David Sirota, also the author of "Back to Our
Future: How the 1980s Explain The World We Live In Now, Our Culture, Our
Politics, Our Everything," and host of his own show on KKZN radio in
My colleague and dear friend, Richard Kim, executive editor of the
Nation.com, and Urvashi Vaid, author of the upcoming book, "Irresistible
Revolution," race class in the LGBT imagination, also director of the
engaging tradition project at Columbia Law School Center for Gender and
It`s great to have you here. It`s great to have this stuff to talk
about this week. It was pretty remarkable. I thought Wednesday was
surprising in, so far, as so much of what we do in covering political news,
is covering fake news (ph) like stage event. And so when something
genuinely surprising, genuinely unexpected comes along, it`s really
interesting and exciting.
To me, the most interesting part of this, and I`d like to get your
thoughts, most interesting part of this to me is the reaction to it,
particularly, from the right. It`s always seem to me in talking to gay
rights activists and gay donors and LGBT folks in the president`s circle,
it was going to be hard for him to avoid ending up at this point.
I think a lot of people had suspicions that he actually believed this
all along and that his previous heterodoxy was, basically, you know, a tip
of his cap to political convention. It was always clear to a lot of people
he was going to end up here. But what`s not clear to me and what was
surprising was the reaction and how flat footed Mitt Romney has seemed to
be caught in that bite.
I want to play also Shep Smith on Fox News, because I thought that was
really -- this is Shepard Smith reacting to the news on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President of the United States now in the 21st
century. What I`m most curious about is whether it`s your belief that in
this time of rising debts and medical issues and all the rest, if
Republicans would go out on a limb and try to make this a campaign issue
while sitting very firmly without much question on the wrong side of
history on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, really. Now, Shep Smith, we should say, is a bit of
an anomalous personality there. But, you can imagine a time not very long
ago when this would have been a softball right into the Fox News wheel
I mean, this would have been war on Christmas, New Black Panthers,
Jeremy Wright all rolled up into one, right? Jeremiah Right all rolled up
into one, and yet, what have we gotten? Nothing. What does that say?
RICHARD KIM, THENATION.COM: Well, you know, I think the polling on
this has obviously shifted dramatically. Independents now favor gay
marriage. And so, you know --
HAYES: By quite a margin.
KIM: And young republicans, even, in some polls. So, you know,
there`s obviously an electoral concern that they don`t want to turn off,
you know, the sort of independent voters here. But, I also think there`s
something else happening, right, which is that Obama, himself, is the
subject of the culture war, right?
So, you had these things, these cultural means in the 1980s and 1990s.
Sometimes, gay rights, NEA (ph) funding, you know, and flag burning, school
prayer, whatever. And those issues impacted very few people materially,
right? But they were useful to the Republican Party to sort of stand for
the transformation of America into a more multicultural factory --
KIM: And now, Obama, himself, does that. So, it`s sort of like how
much more can you hate Obama than this Muslim, communist traitor if you
already believed these things because he supports gay marriage? There`s
just not more than really ginned up there.
HAYES: It`s already been priced into the Obama stock is your point on
KIM: It is his -- you know, for them, it is a defining thing that he
HAYES: Yes. Exactly -- Urvashi.
URVASHI VAID, AUTHOR, "IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION: I would agree with
Richard that there is sort of an irresistible evolution in the country on
this issue. But I`m less trusting of the long-term impact of this. I
think the right will mobilize. It already is.
It always does and it always has over the last 40 years used LGBT
issues very effectively to win elections and to drive a wedge between
certain constituencies and progressive outcomes. So, I`m not so -- they
may have been caught flat footed in the short-run, but I worry about the
HAYES: And you were in a sense that you were going to see something
like what we had -- I mean, in 2004, obviously, there were all of these
ballot initiatives, and there`s -- I don`t think the time or -- there`s no
KIM: The map is done on that. There`s only Minnesota, which is the
only state that will have a constitutional state ban on the ballot in
HAYES: But some kind of mobilization using this as --
VAID: Absolutely. There`s two ballot initiatives in Maryland and the
state of Washington that are going to be on the ballot in November. This
issue was not going away, obviously. I think it`s going to cut both ways.
I think it is going to energize the president`s space.
I think it`s going to be a really powerful motivator for young people
and for independent women and for all sorts of independent voters, straight
voters primarily, who don`t care about this issue and who actually do
believe what Shep Smith said, which is that the economy and other issues
are the most important things facing the country.
On the other side of it, the base of the right is mobilized by these
kinds of issues. And, Romney needs that base to get anywhere. So, that`s
where I am less trusting of their politics on this.
LINDA HIRSHMAN, AUTHOR, "VICTORY": It`s exquisitely tricky for them,
because what happened is that they`re now forced to come out affirmatively
against gay rights. And, that is very -- when Black people took themselves
away from the water fountain, you didn`t have to use hoses on them.
It was much easier to enforce than once they started pushing back.
Now, gay people are pushing back, and so, you have to force them out. And
that, the price of that is much higher.
HAYES: I saw a fascinating Joshua Green`s (ph) great report on
"Businessweek," and he just got this very short memo from the George W.
Bush pollster, basically, to Republicans saying here`s how to talk about
this, here`s how to deal with it. And it was very needle thread. It was
not red meat, cultural stuff.
It was, look, people are in favor, majorities of people are in favor
of things like ending workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians.
They don`t think that it`s just viable to say stop hospital visitation
rights and law and behold what you hear Mitt Romney`s (INAUDIBLE) hospital
visitation rights. You`re going to see them, I think, trying to thread the
needle with this kind of civil union, other rights and keep marriage
But I think what we`ve seen from the president`s evolution, and
generally from this fight, is that it doesn`t work. You got it -- like
once you start in on this, we all know where it ends up.
DAVID SIROTA, SALON.COM: But the short term problem for Mitt Romney
is that he`s the guy who says that we should only be talking about the
economy and jobs. In Colorado where I`m from, he actually interrupted and
almost really got angry at a reporter for even asking him a question about
an initiative to legalize marijuana that`s going to be on our ballot.
And he freaked out and said it`s all about jobs. So, he can`t
simultaneously go off and campaign against gay rights and also say focus
(ph) on the jobs.
HAYES: Right. And we`re going to see him try to strudel (ph) out at
Liberty University today. More on this topic right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: The president, you know, recently
weighed in on marriage. And, you know, he said his views were evolving on
marriage. Call me cynical, but I wasn`t sure that his views on marriage
could get any gayer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Rand Paul yesterday making a crack at the president. I
actually -- I was saying, before, when we were talking to the staff, if you
were a gay man, that would be a funny joke, actually. But given that he`s
not and given who the audience he`s talking to, what`s striking to me is
that you don`t see -- you don`t see as of yet a lot of that kind of thing,
The most manifestly bigoted reaction, the most manifestly anti-gay as
opposed to anti-gay marriage or these couch terms, that has not been the
reaction of this week, and I think that`s a sign of the progress, on the
polling. And the public opinion on this is shocking, right, Linda?
I mean, this is something that you wrote a book about this, the broad
moral or care (ph), but there`s very few things I can think of that have
moved this quickly in terms of public opinion.
HIRSHMAN: You know, it depends upon what you mean by quickly.
Activists have been -- in the gay revolution have been working on this
issue since 1950. So, actually, I`m always very interested these days that
people are talking about how quickly, how quickly. I mean, you know, Evan
Wolfson`s (ph) been the marriage thing since 1993.
And you have to give the movement a lot of credit for creating the
environment in which this is possible. They won three crucial liberal
rights in the 1990s and 2002 to be safe against crime by your fellow
citizens so that your sex life would be private and not a criminal act.
And so that you are entitled to be citizens in the Colorado matter.
So, the movement had really teed this up by the time it surfaced again
in 2003. And I think that`s something we forget. It`s really important to
give credit to the long, hard work that the activists did.
HAYES: And we`re going to talk quite a bit today about the history of
the movement because your book, I learned all sorts of fascinating things
VAID: But you know, on your point about -- I couldn`t agree with you
HIRSHMAN: You were there.
VAID: It`s a really amazing moment. And it`s historic in every level
and is personally so satisfying to those of us who`ve worked for 30 plus
years on this set of issues. But back to the whole question about bullying
in a way -- I mean and the violence that exists, I guess I wanted to say
that there still is a great deal of negative feeling towards LGBT people.
There`s still a lot of violence. There`s still a lot of harassment.
There`s still huge parts of the country that has absolutely no civil rights
VAID: And no safety for anybody who`s openly gay, lesbian, bisexual,
or transgendered. So, I think the reaction of this week shouldn`t allow us
to forget that deeper reality.
HAYES: Yes, and we should -- you mentioned bullying. We should
mention the big "Washington Post" article that came out about which was a
reported story about five schoolmates of Mitt Romney at a Cranbrook School
outside Detroit that is a private prep school that Romney attended where
there`s extremely disturbing bullying incident that`s re-counted of a young
man who had bleach blond hair that was long and presented in a femme
manner, I think.
I don`t know if anyone knows what his actual sexual orientation was.
He has since died. He died in 2004 in which Romney led a group of boys
pinning him down, cutting off his hair. And the incident was -- I feel a
little conflicted about -- you know 18 years old is 18 years old, right?
It is 45 years ago.
And it`s hard to know what to make of it in terms of how you`re
evaluating a candidate in the year 2012. That said, the incident was
clearly haunting and upsetting enough for the five people that were
interviewed on the record for the story to say this happened and I still
remember 45 years later. And to me, the most disturbing thing about Mitt
Romney`s reaction to it -- let me quickly play his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I had no idea what that individual`s sexual orientation might
be. Going back to the 1960s, that wasn`t something that we all discussed
or considered. I don`t recall the incident myself, but I`ve seen the
reports, and I`m not going to argue with that.
There`s no question, but I did some stupid things when I was in high
school. And, obviously, if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be
very sorry for it and apologize for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIROTA: Here`s the danger for Mitt Romney in this. There`s two
dangers. One, it`s relevant, because I think it walks into the stereotype
of who he already is. And so, especially in the context of a week where
he`s all over the map on the issue of equality, where he`s basically trying
to say I`m not for equality.
This story comes out which confirms that he`s long been against
equality. So, that`s the first problem. The second problem is, and I said
this in the break, I never wanted to be a voter who voted on a character
issue. Everybody does stupid thing in high school.
The problem with this is, even when you look at Mitt Romney in the
best light you possibly can, you read this story and you recognize that
person from high school, right? He suddenly goes from becoming not the guy
who tried to please everybody in high school who was kind of nice --
HAYES: Which was the former caricature.
SIROTA: Right. Right. Now, it`s like he was the jerk.
SIROTA: He was the bully. He was the guy you really did not like.
HAYES: And I -- to me, the most disconcerting thing, actually, is
less the actual initial incident that happened in 18 (ph). It`s his
reaction now. If you said, look, I`m 63 years old, and I look back of that
story, and I read that article, and I was horrified. I was horrified by my
And I`m not that person anymore. And I`m proud to say I`m not that
person anymore, and we all change and I think everybody listening to this
has done things that they regret and they want to reject from their youth.
And I hope they can give me that forgiveness. Boom. Done. End of story.
To say I did a lot of high (INAUDIBLE) like that, that, to me, was
really, really the worst part of that.
More on bullying and the struggle for gay rights right after a break.
HAYES: Talking, of course, about the president`s announcement this
week in an interview that he supports marriage equality, personally
supports marriage equality. I supposed I should say that modifier is
somewhat important in terms of what the legal landscape is going to look
like, in terms of what statutory action might be taken.
One aspect of this has gotten some attention, I think, is interesting
is the money aspect. Nick Confessore wrote a great piece in the "New York
Times" magazine about Wall Street falling out of love with Barack Obama.
And, they, right now, are getting out fundraised by Mitt Romney in
And, in that article, very presciently, I think, actually, Nick
Confessore said, they`re now turning (ph) towards two big donor
constituencies and leaning on them to make up the difference, gay donors
and Hollywood. And of course, in that same week after the piece ram (ph),
we have the big announcement on Wednesday about gay marriage and we have
the dinner at George Clooney`s house which brought in $15 million.
And I wonder how much -- and I call around to a bunch of big bundlers
for the president yesterday and gay donors, and they basically said this
will make a difference. People were with him, obviously, and supporting,
but this really will make a difference. The campaign announced that they
had gotten lots of money just on the internet, in the immediate aftermath.
I don`t know how to think about this, I think, because every time that
I think about these calculations made about how you raise money, it
depresses the hell out of me because, you know, it`s not going to be the
case that undocumented workers are going to be able to bring that money to
And it`s not going to be the case that poor people are going to be
able to bring that money to bear. And then, I wonder how much that
complicates the picture of progress in this.
HIRSHMAN: It`s also true that it`s not going to be gay people that
are going to be able to bring that much money to bear. I wish it were
true, but it`s not true that the gay community is this giant ATM for the
Democratic Party. It`s not true. There isn`t that much money. So, in
fact, the Republican Party is always going to be able to out fundraise the
Even if every gay rich person in American gave the maximum, it would
not remotely top what Wall Street can do. So, I think it`s really
important to keep your eye on that. I also think it`s extremely clever and
commendable that the gay donors who can do it have used their economic
power to try to get what they need from a society.
So, I actually admire that. It was very strategic and, particularly,
for example, to McGill and the people from the McGill Foundation have done
a brilliant job of using their dollars to get some political consequences.
But at the end of the day, if you`re in an arms race with the Republican
donors, you`re going to lose.
SIROTA: And I also think it`s important to remember that, look, in
New York, you saw a situation where Republican donors got together with a
Democratic donor to push through what was passed here, progress that was
passed here. And I think that, ultimately, one of the defining parts
that`s not talked about in this whole set of issues is the fact that gay
marriage, equality, is not seen as something that threatens corporate
SIROTA: So, it`s something that where both parties can sort of move
around, and to your question about labor or undocumented immigrants, those
are questions, those issues that really deal in corporate America sees it
as potentially an affront to corporate power, and so, those are much
KIM: Well, corporations in like Washington State were absolutely
crucial to getting gay marriage passed there.
HAYES: And there was Bank of America vice president who recorded a
YouTube video against amendment 1 which we played on the show last week
when we talked about amendment 1. And I actually think, to be honest, and
this is just an instinct on my part. Part of the squishiness we`re seeing
and the discomfort we`re seeing from Mitt Romney is that his homies are all
in favor of this.
You know? I mean, like -- yes, the people that he rolls with like the
private equity folks, the finance people, they don`t want people waging
SIROTA: And the thing that I`m concerned about moving forward on the
other set of issues is that people like Lloyd Blankfein, the head of
Goldman Sach`s, will say hey, listen, I`m a good guy. I`m on Wall Street.
Forget about all the stuff that I`ve done the people that worried about.
Look, I`m the spokesperson for gay marriage, so I`m a great liberal.
So, there`s this fear that will be used in another way.
HAYES: And people say this about Andrew Cuomo about the fact that,
you know, his record here has been contested by a lot of folks in
austerity, on pensions, on teacher evaluations, a whole variety of issues,
but he can go out to liberals and with this kind of gay marriage badge.
VAID: What`s fascinating about what Cuomo did was that he kind of
defined this issue as the core part of the new progressivism. The old
progressivism stayed away from cultural issues and from, you know, divisive
social issues like gender, race, sexuality.
The new progressivism is embracing it. And I think they`re doing that
because of young people. And, I think, the other bumps that the president
may see from this announcement is the mobilization of younger voters, the
small-dollar-giver, which really helped the Obama campaign four years ago
and has been missing.
KIM: But you know, there`s a flip side to the highly organized gay
donor model, right, which (INAUDIBLE) writes about this, which is that the
prominent gay and lesbian organizations tend to be very top down, very rich
donor driver, and so, you have a grassroots agenda that isn`t being
reflected in these organization.
I know (ph) the founders of this tiny group called Queers for Economic
Justice, and we look out for homeless gay kids and gay people on welfare.
And it`s like we operate on a shoe string. So, you know, it`s those sorts
of issues and those sorts of gay and lesbian people are going to be left
behind when you have a kind of --
HAYES: It becomes donor driven (ph).
KIM: Well, it (INAUDIBLE) driven. I mean, that`s why marriage grows
in part to the top of that agenda.
HAYES: So, I wanted to take a step back because your book has really,
really -- I`ve learned so much from this book, and I want to talk about the
context of this week in the broad sweep of history, because I think both
the story of the struggle for gay rights which you call a victory is
instructed in and of itself and also instructed for how social change, how
moral revolution happens.
We`re going to talk about that and talk with a gay politicians made
his own history right after this.
HAYES: That song will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the
day, and you are welcome.
All right. One of the first major victories for the LGBT community in
United States happened more than 50 years ago. In 1954, the editors of a
magazine called "One" which seems to be the first U.S. gay (ph) magazine
published an issue called "you Can`t Print It."
In that issue was an article called "Safo Remembered," which was the
story of a lesbian`s influence on a young girl only 20 years of age and her
struggle to choose between life with a lesbian or normal married life with
her childhood sweetheart. That led the U.S. post office to declare the
And about (ph) the trial court and the court of appeals ruled against
the magazine declaring that the story in question was, quote, "nothing more
than cheap pornography calculated to promote lesbianism." The case reached
the United States Supreme Court in 1958 four years after (INAUDIBLE), and
the magazine won, the first-ever gay rights Supreme Court victory with the
court overturning the lower court`s decision that the publication could be
banned for being obscene.
It was one of many victories in the last half century from police
harassment of gay bard to the court -- Supreme Court declaring anti-sodomy
laws unconstitutional to the end of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell," to gay
marriage legalized in eight states.
Joining us now the table is New York State senator, Tom Duane, the
country`s first openly gay and HIV positive person elected to office. Good
morning, Tom. It`s great to have you here.
STATE SEN. TOM DUANE, (D) NEW YORK: Good morning. It`s good to be
HAYES: Tom, you`re someone, I think, who has witnessed part of this
history. I don`t want to overstate your age.
DUANE: That`s OK. I think you already said I spoke in your -- was it
high school or was it the elementary school?
HAYES: High school. No, I said high school. I said high school.
But I stipulated that you were seven years old at the time.
HAYES: When you think about -- I guess, the first question is, your
reaction to what happened this week and how you see this set of victories
in the broad sweep of history. Does it feel like it`s happened very
quickly as I think a lot of us are saying or does it feel like a long, hard
DUANE: Well, this week was amazing. I`m old enough and I was living
in New York, so I remember stonewall happening. I was, maybe, 15 years
old, the progress from what happened at stonewall to the president of the
United States announcing his support for same-sex civil marriage. The
progress can`t be underestimated.
I mean, it`s incredibly powerful what has happened. And his
announcement is going to be, I think, one of the greatest boosts that we
will ever see. It`s not going to end all of the battles that we still have
to fight, but it`s just -- it`s monumental. It`s going to be -- we don`t
even know how huge the history of this is going to be.
And, I feel as if I`ve lived through -- you know, through the best and
the worst of times. So, it certainly isn`t in the blink of an eye, but it
is very rapid progress, and I think we`ll see more of it.
HAYES: How should we understand this last 50 years of the gay rights
movement? Is this -- I think they sort of layout two different stories.
One is the inevitability of moral progress and evolution, right? That all
bigotries fall by the wayside as people are exposed to folks that they
previously consider other. Just to sort of put a stake in the ground of
what we`re coming from, I want to play this public service announcement
that calls boys beware from 1961, so people have a sense of what the sort
of dominant idea of gayness was at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s take the case of Jimmy Barns (ph). Jimmy
played baseball all afternoon. He didn`t feel like walking home, so he
decided to thumb a ride. What Jimmy didn`t know was that Ralph was sick.
A sickness that was not visible like smallpox, but no less dangerous and
contagious, a sickness of the mind.
You see, Ralph was a homosexual. A person who demands an intimate
relationship with members of their own sex. So, no matter where you meet a
stranger, be careful if they are too friendly. If they try to win your
confidence too quickly and if they become overly personal. One never knows
what the homosexual is about. You may appear normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One never knows what the homosexual is about. You may appear
normal. Linda, you talked about -- it`s interesting, the sickness part of
that is key, right, because that is the dominant paradigm that when gayness
as something distinct, when the identity, when the term homosexual became
something that people talk about, its linkage to sickness was the key part
of the structure of conceptual oppression.
HIRSHMAN: It was a medical model from the beginning, right? From the
19th century, when the concept of homosexuality was conceived in Germany
when the phrase was born. It was a medical model. And so, gay people were
called crazy. A burden that neither women nor African-Americans had to
We were not, by definition, crazy because of who we are. And, that
made it a much different flight, and in many ways, a harder fight. But
when I saw that clip, I thought and people ask why I call my book
HIRSHMAN: This is an amazing (INAUDIBLE). We`ve come from that -- it
was only 1961. I was in high school in 1961.
DUANE: But you know what`s so interesting about this also, at the
very moment that New York was passing its historic marriage legislation,
the cardinal from New York chose to go to Seattle to deal with the
conference of bishops conference on the issue of clergy abuse and not state
of New York.
So, even to the Catholic Church, they are more concerned with, it
seems, and appropriately, thankfully, the issue of abuse by persons in
positions of authority than they are with marriage of same-sex couples.
And, so --
HAYES: And those were two other things I should say that were
conflated, right, from the beginning, the medical model and also the
conflation of either pedophilia or predatory sexual behavior.
DUANE: Which has nothing to do with homosexuality at all. It is a
completely different type of which is something which even the Catholic
Church, obviously, knows is their biggest problem, certainly not the
problem of our civil rights. It was nothing compared to that to them.
HAYES: Urvashi, I wanted you to weigh in just after taking another
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, where do you stand on equal rights for
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as I
said, I`m opposed to discrimination against anyone. I have to say that I
think some of what we`re seeing today is not a campaign against
discrimination. It is a demand for recognition and acceptance of a certain
way of life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gay rights groups?
REAGAN: And I have to oppose that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you stand on a homosexual being a
teacher in a grammar school?
REAGAN: Well, I`m sure there are some. And I believe in the privacy
of an individual. What I am opposed to is someone using that forum and
openly acknowledging the homosexual status, and thus, presenting young
children this as an alternative and acceptable lifestyle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Ronald Reagan announcing a kind of "Don`t Ask, Don`t
Tell" policy for teachers back in the 1980s. Urvashi, you want to say
VAID: Well, It`s always hard for me to see Reagan having lived
through his administration in Washington. I was working there, and the
silence and the inaction on HIV-AIDS of that administration resulted
directly in thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people being infected
and losing their lives.
And it was appalling that it took him six or seven years to say the
word AIDS. I remember, you know, protesting that kind of thing 25 years
ago. Reagan was -- and what was so confusing and contradictory about it
was that people in his closest aids were gay, and he knew it, and he
But then publicly, again and again, you have this distancing between
Republican politicians who have family members, close aids, who have helped
them get elected who know they are gay, and then, they take these public
stance, Cheney (ph), you know, there`s legions of them. It`s problematic
HAYES: Yes. Rachel did a great long segment on this. I thought that
was really good to speak about the fact that you can`t divide, you know,
the person`s politicalness (ph) --
VAID: Yes. And we need to go back to what we`re talking about before
the break and when this book and the frame. I mean, there`s basically four
arguments that have been used against homosexuality, thus far, against full
acceptance recognition and the rights for LGBT people. The first is you`re
sick, the second is you`re criminal, the third is you`re sinful, the fourth
is you`re immoral.
And I think we, -- as you point out, we organized around the sickness
and the criminality through the sodomy laws, although globally, there`s
still a movement to decriminalize same-sex relations. The sinfulness
argument is being waged inside the nominations. And I think that`s really
important to reference here.
HIRSHMAN: Right now.
VAID: Right now.
HIRSHMAN: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly what`s something I
called the four horsemen of the gay apocalypse, OK? sinful, criminal,
crazy, and subversive.
HIRSHMAN: And, in fact, Frank Hamny (ph) in the 1950s and 1960s
fought the subversive as well. So, what`s left is the sinful.
HAYES: That`s very interesting, and that that`s the last argument
left. And because that`s essentially a doctrinal argument, that`s an
argument that people have -- you know, a faith relationship to as opposed
to a secular. Yes.
KIM: It`s also hurting the church to be so anti-gay. There was a
study by the Barna Group --
KIM: And that found that for non-Christians, 91 percent of young non-
Christians said the church was anti-homosexual. That was the main word
they used to describe it. Eighty percent of the young churchgoers said
that the church was anti-homosexual.
VAID: But there`s such a disagreement within Christianity, within
Judaism, with every organized religion tradition about how to deal with
sexuality and human variance. And there are very, very strong pro-LGBT
views in most of the main line churches, including Catholicism.
DUANE: Yes, including Catholicism, and if you look at the past two
governors of New York, one African-American, one Italian-American, both
interestingly Catholics, both supportive of same-sex civil marriage. I
think the president`s support for same-sex civil marriage in terms of
mainstream protestant life cannot be underestimated.
There are so many people within each and every segment and part of
Judaism who also are supported. We see it within the Islamic community is
also moving towards not marginalizing discriminating against people who are
lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, for that matter. So, we are seeing
enormous transformation there, as well.
There are terrible problems in many countries, and we all do what we
can to try to help there as well while we`re working here in the United
States. But, the progress is rarely backwards.
And even then, it`s only one step back and then it`s two step forward,
because even the discussion is helpful to us, because it makes -- it helps
people to come out. It forces family to discus the issue. So, even
losses, ultimately, are win.
HAYES: OK. But here`s my question for that. Is that something that
was inevitable or is that -- let`s roam (ph) counterfactual. Could it have
been the case that it would have ended up with this way?
HAYES: I mean, is it -- was it inevitable that we ended up here or
was it a series of decisions that were made, a series of actions that were
taken, a series of pushes at the right place and the right time --
HIRSHMAN: Brilliant people talk all of this and made this happen.
And also events made it happen. Who knows where we`d be if it weren`t for
the terrible AIDS epidemic?
HAYES: I want to talk about that because it`s a key part of your book
and that`s a key part of this story about this moment of intense
devastation and crisis that produced a set of institutions, relationships,
social capital that would then flower (ph) in the years to come. Let`s
talk about that right after we take this break.
HAYES: The history that proceeded the moment that we`ve turned (ph)
this week and how the groundwork was laid, and right before the break, we
played Reagan with also mentioned the AIDS crisis. How did the experience
of AIDS, and I`d like to hear from you guys who were there, how did it
create a foundation for what we`ve seen in the last decade or two?
HIRSHMAN: One thing that`s obvious but needs to be said is that there
was a thought experiment. If all gay people woke up one day and there were
all purple or green, there would be no more problem with discrimination
because everybody would be out.
HIRSHMAN: So, what happened terribly in the AIDS crisis is that it
forced an enormous number of people out who would never have, otherwise,
been out. And so, it really exponentially increased the visibility of gay
HAYES: And coming out, let`s stop there for a second, because I think
coming out has become something that people for my generation is less
loaded and less frayed (ph) for a lot of reasons, and also, it doesn`t have
the sort of -- it doesn`t pack quite the same political punch that it once
But a huge part of the earliest part of the gay rights movement was
simply the declarative act of being publicly out. I want to just show
Harvey Milk (ph) being sworn as to be supervisor in (INAUDIBLE) taking that
exact brave step.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is well known that I`m a gay person. And in
this state, there is a law that says gay people cannot be married, but
there is no law that says two human beings cannot love one another. I have
a loved one. Unfortunately, he is too nervous to be here. He left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So that -- so that`s one aspect of this that helped was if --
well, helped. I mean, it`s a macabre way of describing a devastating,
devastating experience. But people came out of the closet because they had
HIRSHMAN: And money flowed in. Second big change was that enormous
amounts of money plowed in for the first time. if you look at the budget
of the human rights campaign in 1980 before the AIDS epidemic in 1985,
right before the new medicines came in, it was tenfold, a hundred fold
So, people came out and money came in. The third thing that I really
care about the most is that the gay community responded initially to the
Reagan administrations neglecting (ph) so forth by caring for one another
so that they provided a moral model of extremely moral and amazingly
admirable behavior that people observed. When Bill Clinton made his speech
about why he was going to help gay people in 1992, at a fundraiser in
Hollywood, he mentioned that very thing.
He said when you got sick, you took care of each other. Walk the
dogs, mop the vomit. It was a moral example to all of us. And I think it
changed because immorality was the charge (ph). I think it changed the way
people think about it.
VAID: I think you`re absolutely right, but I think that coming out
made us visible and legible to a world that had seen us in very stigmatized
and marginalized images throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. It
really didn`t start to explode until the mid 1990s and late 1990s, the gay
and lesbian, bisexual and transgender visibility.
And I think the other thing that happened was that we consciously had
to get organized in the 1980s. We had to build institutions. We had to
create organizations not just for care giving, but for political advocacy,
for the legal organizations grew stronger. They had been founded in the
Lambda Legal was founded in 1973, but they grew stronger in the 1980s.
And, critically, I think one of the biggest shifts was that we moved to the
states. In late 1980s and early 1990s, the LGBT movement shifted its focus
primarily from Congress more to state legislatures and building political
power in relationships and coalition from states.
DUANE: And in New York State, this really can be exemplified by what
was happened happening. In New York, if a couple was together and they
lived in apartment and one partner died of AIDS and the other partner`s
name was not on the lease, they were thrown out, thrown out of the
DUANE: And that was a battle which we had to fight because people
were losing their homes. And that battle started the early 1980s and by
1989, the state`s highest court ruled that we actually --
HAYES: Won that battle.
DUANE: But the other thing that happened -- so, were we have --
mostly men, crisis continues, of course, still, but that also led to judges
making the decision that there could be co-parent adoption. So, same-
gender families could adopt children, and this was a huge victory, the
recognition of our families.
HAYES: This is New York State senator, Tom Duane. You have been
there and you`re still here. Thank you very much for coming in today.
Really a pleasure. We`ll be right back.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Here with Richard Kim from TheNation.com; Linda Hirshman, the author
of "Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution," which is in bookstores in
about two weeks, I believe; Urvashi Vaid, author of the upcoming book,
"Irresistible Evolution: Race, Class and LBGT Imagination"; and syndicated
columnist David Sirota. Also author of "Back to Our Future." It`s a great
book about `80s pop culture.
We`re talking today about the gay rights revolution, the moral
revolution, the legal revolution that we`ve experienced, and very
significant historical moment that happened this week with the president`s
coming out and saying he favors marriage equality.
And we were -- we were talking about the arc of the battle for gay
rights with State Senator Tom Duane there. And I -- to me, the most
striking thing is to cast one`s memory back eight years -- just eight years
ago. That is what is -- as someone whoa this is written in the span that
I`ve been covering politics reported on elections.
This is -- this is George W. Bush getting on national television to
endorse a constitutional amendment, which we should note is the policy of
the current Republican nominee. This is him giving a radio address
endorsing a constitutional amendment for gay marriage.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The union of a man and woman
in marriage is the most enduring and important institution. And the law
can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. And because families
pass along values and shape character, traditional marriage is also
critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen
families, not undermine them, and changing the definition of traditional
marriage will undermine the family structure.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, what`s -- yes, Richard?
RICHARD KIM, THENATION.COM: Well, you know, we`ve been talking about
Reagan and Bush and this progress and people coming out. And I just want
to throw a little bit of cold water on that, right? The clip you played
earlier, the public service announcement, you know, some version of that
stilling airs in gay reparative therapy circles.
KIM: Something like 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless kids are
gay and kicked out because their parents don`t want them in their house
So, this development we`ve been talking about is very uneven.
KIM: This is where class and mobility matter, because the ability to
escape household relations that are homophobic and to create opportunity
somewhere else is absolutely essential to seeing that these gay rights are
distributed for all Americans.
HAYES: That`s right.
KIM: That`s why I`ve been so, you know, adamant that the LGBT
movement needs to focus on economic issues as well.
LINDA HIRSHMAN, AUTHOR, "VICTORY": I`m skeptical that the progress
so far tees off the economic justice movement. I think that the earlier
discussion threatened the money that`s coming in is not threatening to
corporate America, it`s not threatening to heterosexual familial America
which is why the gay revolution is in many ways having an easier time than
the feminist movement did. So, I`m skeptical that it tees a real class
based social change.
But there are lessons in the gay revolution that could help any
progress movement. And I think that`s probably the most important thing I
would like people to take away from my book. The lessons are not hard to
see. One is pay attention to your issue and don`t make every issue your
And second is --
HAYES: So actually, the narrowness of focus which we`re just talking
HIRSHMAN: Correct. If Richard wants to concentrate on economic
justice, he should concentrate on that and leave the global warming to
HIRSHMAN: The second lesson is to take the moral high ground. This
is one the most important and valuable and unique thing that we can learn
as progressives from the gay revolution, is that from the beginning, they
said gay is good. They had no choice. That makes a huge difference, and
they`ve been able to fight the religious right because they that had the
moral high ground.
And the third lesson is have some variation of weekly meetings. That
was the lesson of that.
HAYES: That`s very interesting.
HIRSHMAN: When I saw Occupy Wall Street, I was like, where`s the
weekly meeting? It may be that the technology will substitute for it. I
have not seen evidence of it.
HAYES: That`s interesting. And the idea of genuine, actual
membership organizations, organizations to get a room together. I mean,
one of the things about, when reading "Parting the Waters," which is the
majestic three-part series on the civil rights movement by Taylor Branch,
there are 45-page rendering of a single meeting.
Those were 14 hours people in a church without air-conditioning in
the South in the summer, voting, talking, voting, talking, deliberating,
deliberating, arguing, discussing --
HIRSHMAN: The Arab spring after the Friday mosque meetings, OK?
Troy Perry`s church, the metropolitan community church, the gay church --
he said to me in an interview, it was a church. We were together every
DAVID SIROTA, SALON.COM: One of the movement points that I think is
important that you see in the polling about equality for LGBT folks is the
more people know somebody who is LGBT, the more there is support among
people who know though folks. And I think if you want an analogous -- use
an analogous example, we have a situation now in this country where we have
poverty. One in seven or one in eight people are impoverished.
It`s harder and harder to say poverty is over here, far away from
you. It`s the other. Now it`s everywhere. And so, I think for movement
building around it, it could be the same situation.
HAYES: I think there`s actually an analog for labor unions at this
moment, which is that the more that labor unions decline, the more labor
unions become something that you just hear caricatures about. You hear
about them as opposed to actually interface with them or are part of them,
right? And that`s -- it`s easy to caricature something that is not part of
your every day daily life, your daily experience. I think there`s an
URVASHI VAID, AUTHOR, "IRRESTIBLE REVOLUTION": I want to take a very
different tact --
HAYES: Yes, please. Yes.
VAID: -- around the focus.
HAYES: Separability, but I think this is a key thing I want --
VAID: Well, I think absolutely, the LGBT movement has advanced
because it focused. It had a clear set of objectives. It went after them.
It organized people in coalition to win.
But focus also cuts a different way. If you look at the women`s
movement, the focus ands narrowing of focus, and the avoidance of race and
economic issues hurt the women`s movement in the long run. I believe it
And I think that the other reality is that there`s a difference
between the lived experience of millions of LGBT people and the official
agenda of the LGBT movement.
VAID: And those have to continuously be in conversation and
converge, which explains why participation is important.
HAYES: Explain what that means.
VAID: It means is you got, you know, studies say that there`s about
8.5 million LGBT people. Within that community, within our community,
there are poor LGBT people, working class LGBT people, middle class --
VAID: -- upper middle class and rich people.
VAID: And there`s a range of issues that each of us face. So if you
are a lesbian, you are affected by a reproductive freedom and all the
restraints on reproductive freedom. So those issues are not other issues.
They`re central issues. They`re my issues.
VAID: So when the movement endorses -- when the gay movement
endorses anti-choice candidates, it`s a problem.
VAID: It`s a problem of millions of lesbians and bisexual.
HIRSHMAN: Right. That`s an easy example. The problematical nature
of that is relatively obvious.
But I think that I do disagree with you that the feminist movement
was harmed by its single focus. I think the feminist movement succeeded
when it was extremely narrowly focused and actually diluted and less and
less effective as it embrace additional causes.
KIM: But you know what? Another thing about the gay rights, we`re a
sort of small set of people and we need allies, right? That`s the other
thing about working in coalition with other groups. You know, when people
came out in the work force, the model that kind of do that was pioneered by
gay groups and the AFL-CIO, that talked about that together, and that
created a basis for an alliance between labor and gay rights organization.
And things like that are absolutely going to finish this arc of
HAYES: One of the things that I`ve seen developing and gets to this
question of the wedge, right, and cultural war politics, is this crazy
inversion from what happened in 2004 in which there`s the Tom Frank thesis,
right, in which matter in Kansas, which is that Republicans use social
issues to hoodwink people into voting against their economic interest.
It`s a distraction and the left is traditionally grounded in a call for
economic justice in a class-based analysis and, you know, disassembling
And we have this strange inversion right now which is that when Mitt
Romney gets asked cultural war questions in Colorado about medical
marijuana, gay marriage, about illegal immigration, which back in the day
would have been red meat. Those are social issues that a conservative
wants to get asked so that he can knock it out of the park, he gets angry
and says let`s talk about economic issues. And here`s Karl Rove accusing
Barack Obama of politicizing gay marriage -- just to show you how far the
conversion has come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE: Remember, how political is this? He
changed his mind but he was waiting until it was close to the convention in
order to bring the maximum amount of benefit out of it. Thirty states have
defended traditional marriage, North Carolina, critical battleground state
voted the day before he made this announcement, 61-39 in favor of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think it`s a net negative for the
ROVE: Net negative. Now, the economy is going to dominate
everything else. But it`s net negative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I don`t think it`s a net negative, and I think he knows it`s
not a net negative because he`s attacking it.
David, I wanted to ask you -- have we experienced a strange, social
economic issue inversion in the last eight years -- right after we take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, Malia and
Sasha, they`ve got friends whose parents were same-sex couples. It
wouldn`t dawn on them that their friends` parents would be treated
differently. And, frankly, that`s the kind of thing that prompts a change
in perspective. You know, not wanting to somehow explain to your child why
somebody should be treated differently when it comes to the eyes of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Barack Obama talking about part of his reasoning behind
coming to the announcement that he made this week about marriage equality.
But, David, we left this question about the sort of strange inversion,
particularly in this election season, on social issues and who wants to
talk about what?
SIROTA: It`s when you hear Mitt Romney say I don`t want to talk
about social issues, you`re like wait a minute, the 2004 election, Karl
Rove was saying, the only thing we wanted to talk about is social issues.
When I heard Mitt Romney say that, I could almost imagine Bill Clinton
during the recession running for president in 1992 saying something like
that on a social issue.
SIROTA: -- social issues.
And I think that what we have to remember is that a lot of the timing
of the most virulently anti-gay, anti-equality measures that have passed
statehouses that have dominated American politic happened at a time when
the economy was doing a lot better and that the economy has sort of become
such a focus that it has -- and with the Republicans now in the challenger
position for the White House, we have the Republican Party saying, no, no,
we don`t want to talk about divisive social issues, we want to talk only
about the economy. It`s as if the rolls have completely reversed because
the economy has so focused our attention on that.
VAID: Which is so ironic because they`re the party that -- whose
policies led us to this economic meltdown.
SIROTA: Of course.
VAID: So they want to talk about it?
HAYES: Right. Well, they want to talk about it because I mean, I
saw a Republican on Twitter the other day who said, yet another day. This
was in the (INAUDIBLE), yet another day we`re not talking about Obama in
the economy. That is how we`re going to lose the election.
I was sort of struck by that because I was watching this and saying,
well, this is great. I`m all in favor of this, but I`m nervous about what
the polling in Ohio on this. I mean, there are going to be -- we shouldn`t
overstate the political support for it, if polls nationally, as a majority
position, but not necessarily in every swing state in some of the polling
And this is the national polling. This is in reaction to the
president`s actual announcement, 51 percent approve.
KIM: Except when you look at the polling. Pew did a poll for
example in April and they asked voters to do a list the issues they cared
KIM: -- and same-sex marriage finished 18 and last on that list,
well behind issues like the economy and jobs. But even things like Iran,
gun control and birth control, which was sort of Republican primary issue
of the day. This is something that people do not determine their vote on,
no matter what side of the issue that they are on. And, you know, the
economy is really going to be the best center piece.
SIROTA: So the strategy will be in not taking a position or in
downplaying or taking a position but downplaying and I saying, I`m against
gay marriage, but not important. But what they`re betting on -- and I
don`t think it`s necessarily a bad political bet, is not to necessarily
rile up their social conservatives, but to reach people who are saying, who
may say, the only thing I care about is the economy. So, in other words,
in not taking -- in making it the focus, they`re speaking to voters and
saying the Democrats are trying to distract you, we`re focused.
HAYES: And this is what`s so fascinating. The notion of distraction
has become a theme amongst Republicans. And I`m so used to that being
something that progressives and liberals say. They say, you`re trying the
God, guns and gays, remember that was the line.
And Howard Dean even said that in 2004. They want to take your eye
off the ball and have you argue on these social issues and not talk about
the, quote, "real" issues, right?
HIRSHMAN: But it`s a horrible r reflection of the way the Democrats
have lost ownership of economic justice. I mean, that I think -- talk
about inversion. I mean, we -- they started it as Urvashi just said. And
after four years of Democratic administration, we`re somehow on the
defensive about economic justice. How did that happen?
KIM: I don`t think President Obama is going to lead with gay
marriage when he`s out on the stump. I mean, the economy is going to be
his issue, too. And there`s a very smart and very compelling framework
that he will give or that I wanted to do more and here`s specific instances
where I tried. And this Republican Congress want to slash and burn the
economy except for the 1 percent.
HAYES: But here`s the strategy that I`ve seen that I think is
interesting. We`ve seen the president is talking about the economy a lot.
And every event, whenever you put on our channel during the day, he`s out
doing jobs training or clean energy or something like that.
But his campaign and surrogates are very happy to wage these battles
on birth control, right? On -- I think on gay -- on marriage equality. I
mean, because they think that they have the polling in their favor, that
they have the political capital in their favor. So I think that`s two
levels in which the campaign is happening.
And economy -- I mean, a part of this is you can`t control the
economy. That is the strategic box that the Obama reelection campaign is
Lord knows what`s going to happen in Greece. Lord knows what`s going
to happen in Europe. Lord knows what`s going to happen in the Dow. Lord
knows what`s going to happen in the unemployment rate.
All of that is essentially beyond their control, at this point, from
here to election. That`s the weather. You can`t change the weather.
So, in terms of making choices about what you can lead with
rhetorically, I think they understand these are the kinds of things where
you can control a new cycle. You can control a narrative. You can control
issues. You can control the reception.
More on that right after this break.
HAYES: We touched on something before, Linda, and you touched on it
in your book. It`s something I want to bring to the floor here, which is
if you -- and I don`t want to say this to pit different Democratic
constituencies against each other because that seems counter-productive.
But if you look at the Democratic coalition and the different
institutional parts of that Democratic coalition, different -- both
activists and groups inside the Beltway and outside the beltway, you look
at labor unions, AFL-CIO, if you look at environmentalist groups, green
groups. You look as folks concerned with immigration rights, civil
libertarians, right? Go down and this is the way they`re built.
I think it`s hard -- I would make the argument that out of all of
those groups, the LGBT groups have had the best three and a half years. I
think that if you were to say standing there on inauguration day to now,
these are the things we want to see happen in the first term of the Obama
administration and you said that to the Sierra Club and you said to the
ACLU, and you said that to the AFL-CIO, and you said that to Human Rights
Campaign, only one of those can really say, you know what, we`ve got it
And if you`re not happy then, then I don`t know what`s going to, you
know -- I mean, it`s hard to imagine what would satisfy you if aren`t.
Where as if you`re working for, you know, immigration -- we`re going to
talk to someone who`s working on immigration in just a bit.
Why do you think -- first of all, do you think the premise is right?
And second of all, why do you think that`s the key question. This to me is
the key question to learn, right? Why is that the case?
HIRSHMAN: Because I say, and change America for everyone. If we
could learn the lessons of the gay revolution, we would all -- progressive
movements would be better off. And the answer is they were clearly focused
laser-like on gay rights.
HAYES: Yes, it says focused on issues.
HIRSHMAN: Right, focus.
The second thing is that they were extremely smart, a handful, I call
it the gay war room. John Aravosis, Rex Wockner, a handful of extremely
smart, relentless bloggers were on the administration every day and they
used the new technology to get to their supporters.
HAYES: This is something that I think is important, which is that
one of the big debates that we`ve had on progressives in dealing with the
Obama administration is how much to pressure, how much to shut up and
support and what is that outside/inside tension look like.
And it seems to me the LGBT groups have gotten this dynamic of
productive outside/inside tension pretty right. And we should not forget,
they were really hard on the administration on "don`t ask, don`t tell". I
mean, they pushed and pushed and pressured and pushed --
HIRSHMAN: Dan Choi chained himself to the White House fence. It
doesn`t get any harder than that.
VAID: One has to be really hard on the government and push and push
and push. But I think there`s a couple of other elements that happen in
the Obama administration that I would add to the mix. One is the presence
of the pro -- of gay supportive -- LGBT supportive appointees.
VAID: I mean, Hillary Clinton is a different secretary of state than
VAID: She came to table with a different set of values.
Kathleen Sebelius came to the table as a pro-LGBT rights governor,
and on and on down the chain of command.
So when you have a president who appoints all of these great people,
who are previously, you know, coming out of their political careers
supportive of LGBT rights, you other going to see some changes in the
SIROTA: Can I be cynical for a second?
HAYES: Yes, please? Yes.
SIROTA: And -- I don`t want to downplay the success. I think it`s
amazing. But the thing that makes me nervous as a progressive is the idea
that the major thing -- if we take the premise at your word that if the
best success among the progressive coalition in the Obama administration,
It`s also the set of issues that at least challenges corporate power so
that you`re pushing up -- you`re not really pushing up against huge,
So the Obama administration may have in its own political
calculations, we don`t want to go up against the oil and gas industry. We
don`t want to go up against the coal industry. We don`t want to go up
employers who hate unions, et cetera, et cetera.
But wait, here`s a set of issues that we`re sympathetic to, in sort
of in principle, that there isn`t that bulwark of corporate money that`s
going to come our face.
HAYES: I should say, I mean -- I don`t think that discussion in
those explicit terms has ever happened.
SIROTA: Of course.
HAYES: And they`ve also supported Waxman-Markey. And one element
here of Waxman-Markey being the cap and trade bill in the House. And they
sort of supported the Employee Free Choice Act.
SIROTA: I would hate the lesson to be --
HAYES: No, I don`t. This is the key point.
SIROTA: -- is to find issues where we don`t have to go up against
VAID: It`s a really good point.
VAID: And the other piece of the picture is that the LGBT movement
has not won all that it wanted.
VAID: And there are huge, huge areas of frustration with the
administration and certainly in the states.
HAYES: To talk about those?
VAID: Well, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
Richard, you want to --
KIM: Which the Obama administration, they could have signed an
executive order last month that would have required federal contractors to
basically use ENDA -- a version of ENDA. They could not discriminate on
the basis of hiring. And they didn`t sign that executive order.
HAYES: And that prompted, just to talk about the kind of movement
in and out thing, that prompted calls for a donor strike, right? There`s a
conversation happening that in response to not signing that executive order
and there was expectation it would be signed that donors were going to get
together and not give any money.
KIM: And even, you know, Obama`s statement on gay marriage the other
day. He said he personally supports it, but, you know, wants to let the
states decide. And, you know, I know he doesn`t believe at the end of the
day that it`s purely a state`s right issue. There`s not way it can be, it
has to go through the Supreme Court, and there has federal recognition of
marriage. But that was a kind of, you know, way of not putting all his
muscle and drawing this bright battle line saying I want to get rid of all
of these 32 state constitutional amendments and make this a big, big
federal case right now.
HAYES: Right. Although that would have been a political map.
KIM: When I wrote that, I`m not saying that he should have done
otherwise. I`m just saying that was the effect of his statement.
HAYES: Linda Hirshman, the author of "Victory: The Triumphant Gay
Revolution" -- I`m sorry that we have to have you part us today.
HIRSHMAN: Thank you so much for having me on.
HAYES: Thank you so much. It`s a great book. I hope folks go pre-
order. It will be in bookstores very soon.
HIRSHMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: More on this after a break.
HAYES: Joining us on the table is Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist, founder of Define American, an organization
helping bring new voices into the immigration conversation and author of a
really interesting new piece in "The Huffington Post" called "Gay Marriage
and a New American Majority".
It`s great to have you here, Jose.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, DEFINE AMERICAN: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: The piece references an amazing speech by James Baldwin that
I have never read and I stayed up way past my bedtime last night.
VARGAS: Isn`t it amazing?
HAYES: It`s a really amazing piece.
VARGAS: It`s like somebody threw a brick on you.
VARGAS: People should search it on Google, "In Search of a Majority"
is the title of the speech.
HAYES: And it`s about, you know, him speaking as a black, gay man in
the midst of tremendous bigotry directed at black people and at gay people
about what the nature of the American majority is.
The reason I want to bring you into this conversation, we`re talking
about the success that the LGBT movement has had in the years under Barack
Obama, and you`re someone who, as you write in the piece, has come out
twice in your life, come as a gay --
VARGAS: I`m done, by the way.
HAYES: Any big announcements for us, by the way? It`s all on the
VAID: You`re going to come out as a Republican.
HAYES: Yes, actually.
VAID: If you gave me a chance, because we can`t vote, you know?
HAYES: You`ve come out twice. You`ve come out as a gay man and as
someone who`s an undocumented immigrant.
HAYES: And you have a foot in each of these worlds, I would say, and
reported on politics in Washington. And I`m really curious to your
perspective when you look at the immigration rights movement and the
difficulties it has faced, and it`s faced a lot of difficulties at every
level of politics.
HAYES: But particularly I think in the White House. I don`t think -
- I think it`s fair to say the broad feeling of immigration right activist
VARGAS: Yes, absolutely.
HAYES: Wouldn`t you say?
VARGAS: And confusion.
HAYES: Why confusion?
VARGAS: Confusion that I really don`t understand how President Obama
-- I think that when the history of this administration is written, if he
gets reelected. The fact that he`s deported, you know, more people than
President Bush did in eight years, right, under the banner of something
Orwellian called "Secure Communities" -- I really don`t think this is
something that he`s going to be able to shake.
And they thought, you know -- look, I understand the politics behind
this which is let`s get tough on the immigrants and deport people so the
Republicans can play ball and we`ll meet halfway.
HAYES: Even explicitly said that in the State of the Union -- in
this amazingly meta moment in the State of the Union, he basically said,
look, to the Republicans, we`ve done what you wanted. We`ve gotten tough.
We`ve deported more people. Now, let`s strike a deal.
That strategy has not worked.
VARGAS: But I mean, look, I mean, let`s be realistic here. The
moment Barack Obama gets elected president, what happens? The Birther
movement, right? So what luck do I have when the own democratically
president of the United States is being questioned of his citizenship?
HAYES: Right, being accused of being a crypto undocumented
HAYES: With respect to Richard point, you weren`t here in the
beginning. Richard made this great point that Barack Obama is the culture
war in himself. He himself symbolically --
VARGAS: That`s why he can`t get angry, right? Because everybody on
the left sometimes thinks oh, he should get angrier, really?
KIM: But there`s freedom there in that`s like they already hate him
so much --
KIM: -- there`s no more hate to go, you know?
VARGAS: But I was just hoping, realizing the moment he was elected,
that that`s the context of the game.
VARGAS: Right? The conscience, the fact that he really should not
be doing what he`s been doing.
And for us, in the immigrant community and somebody, again, who`s
openly gay, also an undocumented immigrant, if he found the evolution in
this issue, when is he going to get in this one?
HAYES: Well, let me ask you this. When you put these two policy
agenda, side by side, and you look at the two movements side by side, and
you look at the results from the first 3 1/2 years of the Obama
administration -- what lessons do you draw?
How do you understand the desperate results of these two elements of
-- that have a lot in common, right? Because it is about coming outed.
It`s about recognition.
VARGAS: It`s about identity.
HAYES: It`s about identity. It`s about seeing people as human
beings and not as some caricature, right?
VARGAS: You cannot separate race from it. You can`t separate race
At the end of the day, we`re dealing with mostly Latinos and mostly
Asian people. And I think that is really -- you know, frankly, and it`s
tough, you know. I was just in Alabama for example last fall for a week.
And I`m one of these people that I just never want to throw the R word
around -- racist. To call anybody a racist -- it just gets really counter
But seeing the people`s reaction in Alabama, which has out-Arizonaed
HAYES: Yes. The most restrictive, draconian --
VARGAS: In Alabama --
VARGAS: -- it`s a felony for an undocumented immigrant to get in any
business transaction with a governmental entity, which means what? It`s a
felony to get water in you house.
VARGAS: Like this is happening right now, right? And so to kind of
unpack that and realize why are they doing this? Now, mind you, Birmingham
is 7 percent Hispanic, right?
VARGAS: You would think J.Lo had encamped in the middle of town --
VARGAS: You know, I`m serious. When you talk to Alabamians, you
think J.Lo live somewhere downtown and they`re all taking over.
KIM: Here`s one difference between gays and immigrants and the issue
of undocumented immigrants and immigration reform, is that there`s a
division within the Latino and Asian community about this.
HAYES: Right, that`s a very good point.
KIM: When you poll them, they don`t say immigration is their number
one issue. They say economy. They say jobs, they say education. It`s not
really on the map of most Asian American, you know, political --
VARGAS: There`s a lot of shame. And there`s a lot of fear,
especially in the Asian-American community, I have to say, as somebody
HAYES: But that sounds very familiar, right? Because shame and fear
is precisely the kind of emotions that we`re talking about.
HAYES: And I want to talk a little bit more about how that plays out
in the actual politics and movement building that`s happening, right after
we take a quick break.
HAYES: You were just saying something about coming out during the
break and I want you to say it on air to all the people watching the
VARGAS: Look, we are living in the golden age of coming out.
VARGAS: That`s what we`re living in. We`re living in this age of
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which people are coming out. I remember
sitting at "The Huffington Post" and I was an editor, watching YouTube
videos of these kids in Chicago. It was national coming out of the shadows
week. And their banner was -- undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.
VARGAS: And I`m sitting there thinking oh, shoot. I mean, that`s
when -- for me, that was part of my, kind of like, Jose, like you`re such a
coward, these kids. And the beauty of it is these are straight and gay,
you know, a lot of the leaders in the youth movement and immigrant
movements are openly gay.
HAYES: And so they have the experience of --
VARGAS: They`ve grown up with Ellen DeGeneres on the cover of "Time"
magazine. They`ve grown up with "Will and Grace," right?
The fact that their straight allies and their -- you know, completely
embraces, unlikely Bayard Rustin, for example, with James Baldwin, right,
back in the `60s, when the gay African Americans got thrown under the bus
for the most part.
So, that`s a really, really interesting change. And I think the gay
rights community, especially the people that have been fighting this for so
long, you guys, deserve a lot of credit for that, to create that kind of
SIROTA: And I think that your point earlier about race and cultural
differences, it`s a really important one in the difference between the
immigrant rights work and the gay rights work in this way.
On my radio show in Colorado, a place of Tom Tancredo, immigration
policy has been a big issue there. You talked to people about immigration,
you would have callers on. And, essentially, they`re like, well, I wanted
to crack down on immigration because of jobs.
And you say, was it really about jobs? And ultimately, when you peel
it all the way back, it`s a cultural, racial argument. I am -- I don`t
like that there are Spanish --
SIROTA: And so that is one of the -- with the gay rights movement,
there`s a lot of the idea that oh, I didn`t know that person was gay.
SIROTA: Now that I know that person is gay, maybe I`m more open to
VAID: It`s great because both of these arguments are about the
redefinition of a national identity.
HAYES: Yes, that`s the key.
VARGAS: When we decided to name it, let`s get immigrant out of the
name, you know? Let`s really ask people, how do you define -- what is at
the heart of the Arizona SB-1070 law? That you can stop anybody whom you
deem to be illegal? Do I like illegal to you? What does that even mean,
VAID: And that`s what the beauty of politics is. The process of
defining a national identity, who we are as Americans continues. It`s not
VARGAS: That`s the meaning of America, right?
VAID: And that`s what the power of young --
SIROTA: That`s why the opposition is so powerful, especially on
issues like migration, because if you see the definition -- if you`re in a
majority that may be a minority soon and you`re used to being -- having the
privilege of being a majority, white America, and you see that the
definition of America is fundamentally changing, to a lot of especially
older white Americans, that`s scary.
So, again, back in Colorado, people say -- I live in this
neighborhood for 20, 30 years. And suddenly, everybody is speaking
Spanish. The people who don`t like that, for bad reasons, for bigoted
reasons, they`re the ones who are most vocal, who have most driven the
politics of it, unfortunately.
HAYES: And it presents interesting challenges to the Republican
Party as they navigate this new constituency, and it`s the -- it`s a phase
two of the cultural war in some ways, or a new chapter of the culture war,
because there are costs on the other side. And I don`t think there were
costs in the other side.
Now, we`re already seeing it with Mitt Romney, the reaction to the
marriage announcement this week being somewhat defensive, he wasn`t really
leaning into it, the way that he`s all of a sudden, trying to walk back all
the very demagogic anti-immigration rhetoric from the campaign trail when
he was beating up on Rick Perry on the DREAM Act in the state of Texas,
because I think Republicans recognize that there are diminishing returns to
those politics because of the way the numbers work, because of what the
future of America is going to look like. They can`t keep going to that
well because the well is ultimately going to run dry and they are going to
die of thirst.
VAID: But in the short run, what they`re doing is placing voter
restrictions on the ability of lots of people to access.
HAYES: And that`s something that we need to look towards as we head
towards, something we`re going to be focusing on on the show. David was
just talking about it during the break.
What do we know now that we didn`t know when the week began? My
answers right after this.
HAYES: In just a moment, what we know now that we didn`t know last
But, first, a quick update on our discussion last week about Dodd-
Frank, the financial reform law.
We learned on Thursday that JPMorgan Chase lost $2 billion, that`s
billion with a "B," from the derivatives trading desk. Jamie Dimon, the
bank`s executive, has been the vocal opponent of the Volcker Rule, a hotly
contested provision of Dodd-Frank, the actual regulatory implementation of
which is still being fought, in which properly implemented would have saved
JPMorgan $2 billion by preventing them from engaging in those trades in the
first place. The Securities Trades Commission says it is, quote, focused
on JPMorgan`s loss.
So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?
Well, we now know the president`s personal evolution, as he
characterized it, has brought him to the point where he publically
proclaimed his personal support for marriage equality. We know it closes
the circle the president first opened in 1996 when he filled out a
candidate questionnaire stating his support for marriage equality, a
position he later discarded.
We know that this administration has undeniably the most pro-gay
administration on policy grounds in the history of the country. And what
we don`t know with any certainty what political benefits this may confer,
we know the polling on this issue is moving with startling speed in the
right direction. We now know that personal, social and political moral
transformation is possible. We now know it`s happening right now.
We know that we`ve lost forever one of the most beautiful, poignant
and inspiring voices in all of children`s literature. Maurice Sendak, the
author and illustrator who gave us such masterpieces as "Where the Wild
Things Are," and "In the Night Kitchen," died this week at the age of 83.
We also know that Sendak lived his life in an era of near complete
social opprobrium and contempt for gay people, and we know he lived much of
his life hiding his true self in the closet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you think being gay affected you as an
MAURICE SENDAK, AUTHOR: In a very negative way. I didn`t want to be
gay. I did not want it.
It was another sign of isolation. And don`t forget, when I was gay,
the world was extremely unwelcoming and it was very different, and
something that you hid.
I think that when I was young, I probably worried that knowledge were
to come out, it would ruin my career. But that is when I was invested in a
career. And what could bring down a career, but a scandal. OK. Gay man
doing books for children. Hello.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I know that I was lucky enough to grow up and come into
consciousness in a household where Sendak`s work was cherish and revered,
and we know that the pathos and the pain he felt in the life produced an
artist of uncommon compassion, empathy and brilliance. I know I`ll be
reading his books to my daughter for years to come, and I know I won`t be
We also know just how much work there is to be done. We now know the
heinous and extreme state constitutional amendment in North Carolina passed
by more than 20 points, making not only marriage equality, but any state
recognition of same sex unions illegally.
We know that 30 states have constitutional amendments banning
marriage equality and our fellow LGBT citizens continue to face
discrimination, large and small, in daily life.
We also now know that sustained attention of bigotry is making it
harder for bigotry to flourish. Thanks to viewer David Williams III, we
now know that the Eisner Foundation will be able to present a $40,000
Matthew Shepard gold scholarship to Iowa high school senior Keaton Fuller
for fighting homophobia in school while being openly gay student. The
diocese of Davenport originally objected to the representative of the
foundation being present at the graduation at Fuller`s Catholic school,
prompting Fuller to write that this whole ordeal has been incredibly
hurtful and I`m even sadder this will be one of my last experiences to
remember my high school years by.
But after newspapers report on the story, diocese struck a deal to
allow the foundation to present the award at the graduation ceremony. We
know the pain of bigotry can never fully be eradicated just by changes in
laws and we know the work of changing minds and institutions continues.
All right. I want to find out what my guests now know that they
didn`t know when the week begun.
I will begin with you Sir Richard Kim.
KIM: You should know the case of the Davis dozen. These are 12
protesters at the U.C. Davis, home of the famous pepper spray incident,
including a poet Joshua Clover, who is a contributor to "The Nation." And
they staged a series of peaceful sit-ins at U.S. Bank, on the campus of
And Wednesday, a California prosecutor decided to bring 20 counts of
obstruction of movement and one count of conspiracy against the Davis
dozen. And if they are found guilty, they could face 11 years in prison
and $1 million fine.
HAYES: For sitting down on a campus?
HAYES: Jose Antonio Vargas, what do you now know?
VARGAS: Well, I know, just researching this, because I always get
the question of what about illegal don`t I understand?
VARGAS: I didn`t know that in 1958, it was illegal for a black
person to marry a white person. And then three years later, 1961, Barack
Obama, a first generation American, a son of a Kenyan who got here to the
United States through a student visa, was born in 1961, three years.
VARGAS: And it is interesting if you think of Barack Obama being a
first-generation American and some people would call an anchor baby.
HAYES: Exactly right.
What do you now know that you did not know at the beginning of the
VAID: Well, I think it`s really in the North Carolina fight, one of
the under-covered story stories, was the support of the president of the
NAACP statewide co conference, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber.
HAYES: Melissa Harris-Perry covered it and had him on the show.
VAID: Incredible voice for marriage equality and nondiscrimination
and for not persecuting different kinds of people. And I think that that
uncovered story is true across the country. African-American political
leaders and civic leaders have been strongly in support of all LGBT rights.
HAYES: Yes, it`s interesting, because I feel that the press is
focused on this and wanted to pick this fight of that the African-American
versus the gay people. And if you look at the polling, and we talked about
how much we wanted to talk about this today and it is over-covered and
there is not a huge amount of difference of the black and the white voters
an converging to the same point.
David Sirota, what do you now know that you did not know at the
beginning of the week ?
SIROTA: I now know that there`s real evidence that Republican
politics on these issues can actually change, and I know that from our own
state legislature in Colorado. We are having a civil unions` fight, and
the speaker shut down the entire legislature because he did not want to
allow a vote on the floor on legalizing civil unions. We`re going to start
a special session on Monday.
The reason the bill got to the floor is because Marilyn Musgrave,
former Congresswoman Musgrave, who is the sponsor of the constitutional
limit to ban gay marriage, to all -- the leader of the anti-gay movement,
her staffer is now a legislator named B.J. Nikkel, a Republican legislator.
She casts a vote for civil unions, the key vote to bring it to the floor,
which suggests that if Marilyn Musgrave`s staffer can vote for social
unions, then this issue is really changing in a potentially good way.
HAYES: That is a great, great thing to know.
My thanks to Richard Kim of TheNation.com, Jose Antonio Vargas,
Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist, Urvashi Vaid, author of the upcoming
book, "Irresistible Revolution: Race, Class and the LGBT Imagination," and
David Sirota, author of "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explained the
World We Live in Now, Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything" - thanks
for getting up.
Thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00, for an in-depth look at how the mommy wars are playing out
in the presidential race and our culture. Playwright Eve Ensler, creator
of the "Vagina Monologue," and journalist Katie Rophie, author of "The
Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism."
You can like UP WITH CHRIS on Facebook to check out tomorrow`s other
guests. And also, sign up to join for my web chat this Wednesday at noon
Eastern. You can also see me live at one of the events I`m doing around
the country for my new book, just check out "Twilight of the Elites" on
Facebook for a list of upcoming appearances.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY".
Melissa, what do you got for us today?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Chris. And his to my "Nation"
editor Richard, nice to see you, and hi, David, too.
OK. We`re going to -- we`re going to push ahead on same sex
marriage, Chris, and we`re going to ask about the GOP backlash and whether
or not they are actually making themselves more and more irrelevant because
of their behavior about this.
We are also going to have Arlen Specter on to talk about the kind of
death of moderation in our current government both at the national level,
the congressional level, but also the state level.
And then you and I perhaps as parents are on the same wavelength, and
we are going to talk about "Where the Wild Things Are" and the citizen
education we learned from this text.
HAYES: Amazing, amazing book. And Arlen Specter, fantastic booking,
nice work "MHP" crew. I`m really looking forward to that. Dick Lugar, of
course, lost his primary race. We didn`t get a chance to talk about that
today, and I`m so happy that "MHP" will be bringing you that after us.
That`s going to be coming up right next.
We will see you here tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Thank you so much
for getting UP. See you tomorrow.
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