Guests: Kenji Yshino; David Chalian; Aisha Moddie-Mills; Kenji Yoshino, Richard Kim, Ana Oliveira, Liz Margolies, Scout, Jonathan Cohn
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: There morning, my question in the battle
of black church versus voter suppression, who wins?
And 43 years after stonewall, they are here, they are queer and yet, we are
getting used to it.
Plus, supreme decision. We don`t know exactly when, we don`t know exactly
how, but the ruling on health care is coming soon.
But, first, the president of the United States is the most powerful man in
the world. And President Obama is getting his Voltron up.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
This morning, we await news out of Cairo where the panel overseeing Egypt`s
first presidential election since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. It is
expected to announce the winner. Now, the crowds are gathered in Tahrir
square awaiting the news, expected to come at any moment.
In addition the name of the winner, what remains to be seen is if Egypt`s
new president will have any power. Earlier this month, the ruling military
council dissolved parliament and stripped down the power of the presidency
to near figure head status.
We`ll bring you news as it develops throughout the morning.
But right now, I want to bring the focus back to our shores and
presidential power here in America.
You see, the Obama for America re-election campaign is driving home the
message that we are living in a post W world. Now, critics might say that
the president is just wining or avoiding his own record. But let`s face
it, President Obama faced a reactionary climate on inauguration day,
January 20th, 2009.
President Obama walked into the oval office, freshly vacated by an
administration that concentrated an unprecedented level of executive power.
The electorate was by and large exhausted with the exercise of executive
discretion to the detriment of the interest of the people.
Calling for change, President Obama campaigned on the promise to turn back
the clock as an early critic of the powerful executive branch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, there has been a
tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive
privilege every time there is something a little shaky taking place. And I
think, you know, the administration would best be served by coming clean on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In March of 2007, senator Obama was leading on an issue
important to progressive Americans. His statement was a response to the
2006 midterm elections, when Democrats took back both chambers of congress.
That 2006 midterm win was the result of one overarching theme, opposition
to the war in Iraq. And by the fall of 2006, most Americans understood
there were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no broad coalition of
the willing. There was just a war bent administration with unprecedented
authority granted to them by terrified citizens in the aftermath of
By 2006, voters expected to bring in the Bush presidency and they showed it
with the clear referendum against the war. How did President Bush respond?
With a surge, sending 20,000 additional soldiers to Iraq.
In turn, then-senator Obama promised to be the candidate to bring more
accountability and cooperation back to Washington, a hard job for a man who
is aspiring to ascend to the seat which had amassed such vast power. But
he really did work toward this goal at the start of his first term seeking
compromise and collaboration on the affordable health care act.
The president brought all interests to the table, literally to negotiate
the health care reform publicly. But he bought -- he built a coalition in
response to violence in Libya and bipartisan bargaining on revenue, in
This week, when President Obama exerted executive privilege for the first
time in his term, critics dug up the statement from 2007 and decried the
return of the imperial presidency.
Now, while others were quick to point out that President Clinton had used
executive privilege 14 times and President Bush six, we could easily go
back a lot further and see the precedent of exercising executive power.
Now, why the practice of refusing to release internal documents or
presenting evidence related to the executive branch is not a constitutional
issue, it is as old as the republic.
President Thomas Jefferson used executive privilege to get out of
testifying in the conspiracy trial of his own vice president, Aaron Burr.
That seemed a little more nefarious than our current president`s attempt to
circumvent the congressional effort to hold attorney general Eric Holder in
contempt of congress.
And isn`t this the kind of no nonsense, action oriented attitude that
progressives have been calling for from the president all along? In a
post-Bush presidency, we expect partisan political agendas to be jammed
through the legislature no matter what, and now it`s our turn, right?
You didn`t hear too many supporters grumbling last week when the president
presented his executive order on immigration reform or when the president
stood out front for same-sex marriage.
Yes, it`s time to take off the gloves. But these days, that`s only if your
side is in that seat of power. Not because deliberative democracy is
served by unilateral decision making.
With me today at the table is constitutional law scholar Kenji Yoshino of
New York University and David Chalian, Washington bureau chief of Yahoo!
Thanks guys. I appreciate you being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for having us.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I tried to lay out a claim here that part of what
happened with President Obama`s presidency early on is an attempt to maybe
begin to think about reigning back in executive power by being a president
of compromise, by bringing folks to the table, and the fact is a lot of
folks in his own party had an aggressive anti sort of compromised stance.
Based on what we won the White House, we won the house, let`s get going on
Is that kind of let`s just go, we`ve got the majority good for us as a
country in general, or ought we be focusing on compromise even if it`s
ineffective or inefficient?
DAVID CHALIAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, YAHOO! NEWS: I would say that
Barack Obama, as we`ve seen as a candidate when he was United States`
senator and as president, is never one to sort of charge the barricades,
you know what I mean. In fact, I think the 2007 clip that you played of
Obama on Larry King that his critics put out this week, he`s somewhat
reserved about it, although he was clearly saying, hey, we should do this,
he didn`t come out with a very specific argument, because he envisioned
himself one day at that point being president and wanted to reserve all the
rights of abusing executive privilege when he got there.
So, I think he was a little bit guarded in that clip, rather than it being
sort of this exculpatory evidence that he was once was railing against
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting. Kenji, this is not a constitutional
issue, right? There`s no sort of line that tells the executive has the
right to withhold this kind of information but not this kind which is
something more than has grown up over our tradition as a people. Is that
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I would
say that it is a constitutional issue, but it is not tactually enumerated
within the constitution. So, to just drive that wedge a little bit, there
is no provision in the constitution that says, you know, the executives
shall have, you know, executive privilege over matters that relate to
national security or so forth, so on. So, we look at article two for that,
that`s the article that lays out the powers of the executive.
However, you know, as you noted that this is something that has grown up,
as tradition, but it`s not just tradition, it`s not for Supreme Court
precedent. So, the Supreme Court in the 1974 care, United States versus
Nixon case, says the separation of powers means there is a qualifies
executive privilege that flows out of the basic structure of the
constitution, for the principles of the constitution, even if not the text
of the constitution, mean that there is executive privilege.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. You bring up Nixon. I want to sort of pause there,
because it feels to me like that`s where a lot of our angst is. Carney
this week, I want to play what Carney said because he`s playing the
president in a very particular moment in saying OK, this guy doesn`t invoke
executive privilege very much. I mean, let`s go back and look at our angst
about it. Let`s listen to Carney for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In fact, President Obama has gone
longer without asserting the privilege than any president in the last three
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So we`ve got the White House press secretary saying OK, you
know, this is the president has withheld more than anybody else, had sort
of used his particular set of powers and authority, unlike, for example,
his democratic predecessor Bill Clinton who we know used it 14 times. But
that 14 times or in the Nixon moment, the fact is on the other side of
that, there was a lot -- there was a lot that the American public needed
to know, should have know.
YOSHINO: Right, there are competing goods here, right? In the one hand,
there is this idea that was stated by the court in the Nixon case, the
president needs to be able to have conversations that are candid and
confidential to his closest advisers and if there is public transparency
with the fact of this conversation. It is the changes as we all know the
kinds of ways in which we talk to each other when we know that there is
going on the record.
On the other hand, you know, this is the highest elected official in the
land. We want some public accountability and public transparency, so those
are the two competing goods.
The way the Supreme Court has reconciled those goods is to say this is not
absolute immunity. It`s a qualified immunity. So in the Nixon case, as we
see from the outcome, Nixon did have to hand over tapes. Clinton loses on
executive privilege on the Lewinsky scandal even on a civil matter. So,
when it`s criminal or civil, there are times when the public emphasis so
overriding that the qualified privilege is overcome.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, is that will that happen with fast and furious?
CHALIAN: Well, I mean, we`ve seen a lot of executive privilege claims.
The claim is made, and then court kicks them out, or a deal is made. I
don`t know that there is going to be a deal here. I would imagine
negotiations aren`t entirely done. But right now it seems that
politically, this issue is playing really well for both bases, right?
So, you have speaker Boehner coming out this week and saying I`ve been
involved with chairman Issa every day on this, every step of the way and
this is a really important issue, you can hear the NRA is making this vote
that they are going to score, right, so that a lot of Republican members
want this. The right-wing blogosphere and eco-chamber has totally into
this fast and furious scandal for a long while now. And it excites them
and energizes them.
And then on the left, here`s Nancy Pelosi comes out this week and say
basically blaming the Republicans are doing this for retribution because of
what Eric Holder was trying to do with voter suppression issues in certain
states. So, she completely rallies here base by doing that extension of
Democratic enthusiasm. So, if it is playing well for both bases, it`s hard
to see where people will come in the middle.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s get through, I mean, in an election year, a fight can
be really productive. Because a good enemy is sometimes a good way to
deflect on either side from one`s own position is.
We are going to talk more about fast and furious but also this general
question of executive power and executive privilege.
And up next, we`ll add a couple more people to the table to explain how the
power of the presidency can be awfully popular. Standing ovation popular.
HARRIS-PERRY: When President Obama walked into the national association of
Latino elected and appointed officials conference Friday, he received a 45-
second standing ovation. I thought it would be fun to show the whole
thing, but we have a show to do. He did have this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To those who were saying Congress should be the one to fix this,
absolutely. For those who say we should do this in a bipartisan fashion,
absolutely. My door has been open for 3 1/2 years. They know where to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: A 45-second standing ovation. The president received a
welcome that warm because he exercised his presidential power. Serving
both as a pragmatic policy initiative and really a savvy campaign move.
Perhaps it just comes with the territory when an incumbent is running for
re-election and the skeptical assumption that politics trumps all decisions
or maybe the president is exerting his power because he sees it can affect
With me is Kenji Yoshino, professor of law at New York University, David
Chalian of Yahoo! News, Aisha Moodie-Mills of the center for American
Progress and MSNBC contributor, Jeff Johnson.
So, you know, again, if it took them as kind of criticism around the
president invoking executive privilege around fast and furious, obviously,
there is a great deal of enthusiasm, at least among progressives and in
this case, Latino elected officials for the president using executive power
for the purpose of moving forward this dream act that couldn`t get through
Do running for re-election, do you go ahead and flex the muscles, do you
get your Voltron up as I was saying, kind a, you know, bring all you`re
your robots together and make a big one that can defend the universe? Or
he kind a keep writing back and say look, I have done the best I can, but I
have this Congress that`s my enemy?
JEFF JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, you don`t. This president in
particular, I think, has tried to do the latter too often, and he has -- he
even said I`ve been here 3 1/2 years. I have been waiting for you all to
work with me. You haven`t worked with me. He`s at a place where not only
from an administration stand point, but also from a campaign standpoint, he
needs to be able to show what he`s done.
And so, yes. It`s time for him to flex. And I think that this move over
the fast and furious move was a even better political move. Because I
think he even those on the right would say, while we don`t agree from a
policy issue, we are not going to argue the politics.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, ADVISOR, LGBT POLICY AND RACIAL JUSTICE: And I think
too, that we need to realize there is a reason why the president is using
every tool at his disposal right now to try to have an efficient government
that is open pasture, that`s inclusive of all Americans, it`s because
Congress isn`t doing their job.
So, if Congress were to have moved for example around the dream act, then
the president wouldn`t have to do what he had to do to help the young
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, they moved right? They just moved to decline. No
thanks. We prefer not actually.
No. And you know, so, on the one hand, like I love this, because I agree
with this decision, right? I agree with the dream act position. But, you
know, I started the show by saying, however, in 2006, when we had a midterm
that put in this congress that said, we are against the war and the
president`s surge, I was amongst the group of people who said, that is an
overreach of executive power.
So, I guess part of what I`m wondering is, do we really care about the
process, or are we just interested in our side winning, you know, by
whatever means necessary?
CHALIAN: Well, I agree this is playing politically a lot better than it is
substantively, in the sense that it`s not the dream act, right? I mean,
the president still said, he couldn`t by executive order just enact the
And so, this is really dream act like, and a pretty significant ways,
right? I mean, the threat of deportation goes away, but there is still no
sort of access to funding for young kids to go to college the way that
there would be in the dream act.
HARRIS-PERRY: And no path to citizenship.
CHALIAN: And no path to citizenship, of course, which is the ultimate goal
for many who support this. So I do think -- politically, it was really
smart and that is probably where it has its biggest impact.
I would also argue though, that it`s not just a stalemated Congress that
forced the president to have this. It was also that the economy and what`s
happening in Europe and what we`re seeing happening in the Middle East.
There is so much out of the president`s control right now, that impact his
world, that if there is something he can control to try to drive the
narrative, he has to seize the opportunity to do that, because so much of
his re-election prospects hang on factors that he cannot control.
HARRIS-PERRY: Greek voters, right? It`s interesting. You know, the
Republicans seem back on their heels about how to define this in terms of
So let`s listen, because I want to listen first to representative Ben
Quayle on "FOX & friends." And then, I want to listen to Romney at the
same conference on Thursday. Because they have two very different takes on
whether this is too much power or not enough. Let`s listen to Ben Quayle
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BEN QUAYLE (R), ARIZONA: Really, it`s yet another unconstitutional
power grab by this administration, because we have separation of powers,
co-equal branches of government. Immigration laws are supposed to be
written in congress, passed by the congress, signed by the president. We
don`t have an imperial presidency where he can do whatever he wants,
whenever he wants.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last week, the president finally
offered a temporary measure. He called it a stopgap measure that he seems
to think will be just enough to get him through the election. After 3 1/2
years of putting every issue from loan guarantees to his donors to cash for
clunkers, putting all those things before immigration, now the president
has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on
day one, but didn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, Republicans aren`t sure, is it an imperial
presidency with a power grab, or he was just so worthless that he was like
dealing with clunker cars before he got around the immigration?
YOSHINO: Right. And I think to your earlier question, I think it has to
be it`s not just about one side or the other, meaning that there are trans-
partisan values here, namely constitutional values, about the operation of
powers that have to remain in intact no matter who is on power.
And I think that one of the other things so misleading about the debate is
that, everyone talks as if article II, the executive branch powers, is, you
know, just a lucid like limped document that lays out every job intended
for presidential power. So, it is actually a very short, incredibly
abstract, pretty spongy short document.
And so, one of the things going back to executive privilege that I`m very
excited about this, you know, partisan fight, because both sides actually
have a dog in the fight now, it could actually get to the Supreme Court
without either side backing down and settling it.
I think the Supreme Court really needs to give us guidance about how, you
know, what executive privilege is or the executive powers are. So.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although I`m so nervous about this Supreme Court.
YOSHINO: That`s the thing, Melissa. This Supreme Court knows whatever
rule it sets down is also going to have to be precedent and the rule for
future Republican administrations too. So if this Supreme Court lays down
a rule that there is no such thing as executive privilege hence, there
were all fast and furious documents, if there is a Romney administration,
Romney will have to live by those rules too.
HARRIS-PERRY: If you say Romney administration --
HARRIS-PERRY: But up next, the power of presumption, Mitt Romney hold no
office. We`ll talk about actually what a Romney administration would look
like when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mitt Romney will not officially be the Republican nominee
for president until the Republican National Convention at the end of
August. But, as a presumptive leader of the GOP, he has presumptive power
to set the agenda for its power? And for his party, excuse me, and what is
his message to the GOP?
Well, to stay on message, his main message on the economy, being all doom
and gloom, is actually being undermined by some bright spots Republican led
battleground states. Bloomberg reported this week that the Romney camp
suggested that Republican governor Rick Scott take off his rose tinted
glasses when it comes to his state`s economy.
Although Romney`s campaign denies this, it does highlights the presumptive
nominees` weakness in leading when conditions change. When Romney is still
proving himself with his own party, does he held any true presumptive
With me to discuss, Kenji Yoshino, David Chalian, Aisha Moodie-Mills and
So Jeff, I was really thinking about the fact that when I look at Romney in
relationship to his base, I feel some of the kind of discomfort frankly
that I also felt with McCain. In other words, his discomfort with the
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, I`m sort of wondering, is there -- does he have room
to push them to lead with soft power, even if he doesn`t have any hard
JOHNSON: I don`t believe so. I think what he`s got the power to do is be
a magician. And that is, he is doing James Cameron like illusion optics,
where he has right-wing conservative evangelicals, pretending like they
don`t care about Mormonism. And members of the base, who still believe
that despite them thinking he was not a great candidate; that they are
going to ride with him.
I mean, I think his power is keeping them in line and mobilizing them to
the polls by using imagery to say everything that with the -- everything
with president is bad. But beyond that, I don`t see any power or his
ability to be able to shift the hard core members of the party in the
direction that he wants them to go in.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting. I mean, that immigration piece that we
were just talking about, it is -- I mean, you can see tension with him
and the potential the PE Marco Rubio. As Rubio is kind a like I`m with
kind of with the president, I`m not with the president, I would have been
faster with the president. You do sense the tension between Romney and the
guy who might end up being his VP.
Is there in history anybody who was a presumptive nominee, or just ended up
a nominee, maybe didn`t win, but somehow pushed the party one direction or
CHALIAN: Well, we don`t have to go too far in history. Let`s do this
race. I think that the time we see Mitt Romney exercise the most "soft
power" as presumptive nominee was right after he secured the nomination and
Santorum dropped out. The issue of student loan rates that will double
next week came up, right? It was not clear if Republicans where going to
oppose that, or try to work to get that done.
Mitt Romney came out knowing how it was polling, obviously And then he
assured loser issue if you came out of post to not protecting these rates
from doubling. He came out and he said we absolutely need to keep these
rates at 3.4 percent.
His entire party on Capitol will follow. Now, there was a whole partisan
assembly how to pay for that $6 billion price tag and they haven`t fully
sort that out yet.
HARRIS-PERRY: And while the clock ticks.
JOHNSON: Being able to ride a wave doesn`t mean you control the water.
CHALIAN: But, I`m just saying the party had not yet taken a stance. He
was the first out on that, then you saw the party rallied round to that
position. I think you are going to see some more where, by just being the
titular head of the party, he gets to set direction. Obviously, he has no
mechanism to pull. He has no real leaver power, but that was an example of
seeing him exercise some of that presumptive nominee power to rally his
party around an issue.
MOODIE-MILLS: But, we can`t forget the fact that Mitt Romney has turned
into a completely different Mitt Romney that he was when he was governor.
And so, in terms of power, the question becomes, does the tea party and the
really conservative wing of his party that`s really transform who he is.
I mean, even, you know, not too long ago on the campaign trail, he thought
nobody was looking and he started talking about voter suppression,
essentially and talking about the fact that, well, maybe we could start
giving out ids at the polls.
Now, that`s ridiculous, but nonetheless, he was saying that well, maybe we
could give folks voter IDs, even though it`s awkward way to do it which is
completely against what his party believes in. And then he kind a
backtracked and pretended he didn`t say it. And that`s happened on more
than one issue.
So, you know, I don`t really think that Romney necessarily setting an
agenda. I think that he is trying to become president because he cares
about power, and he is going to do whatever it takes. And, you know, to do
that and kind of sway with whatever voice of his party is echoing at the
HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, it`s interesting given that one of the lessons
from the W. Administration was that people who even disagreed with George
W. Bush appreciated the fact that he had sort of the stay the course
mentality. I mean, obviously not everyone did. It is certainly part of
what meant that his party didn`t win as he left office.
But there was a sense of like, well, I don`t agree with him, but, man he`s
a strong leader. Man, that guy will just stay the course. You would hear
people repeat that very language of stay the course. Interesting that
Romney is now being sort of represented as the ultimate flip-flopper, the
opposite of stay the course kind of guy.
YOSHINO: Well, right. In fact, remember, that was an early talking point.
HARRIS-PERRY: Actually -- I`m sorry. We have got a little bit of
breaking news that is -- I`m sorry. Actually we don`t quite know just yet,
but we have been following breaking news in Egypt this morning, and the
panel overseeing the recent presidential election has actually just
I want to bring in NBC foreign correspondent, Ayman, live from Tahrir
square in Egypt. Ayman, are you there?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: I am. That`s correct. In
fact, you can probably hear the fireworks. I`m just going to step out of
the shot for a second to give you a sense of what`s taking place behind me.
You can hear the thousands of people that have gathered here erupting in
celebration. You can probably also hear the sounds of fireworks and
explosions taking place. And it has become immediately a scene of one of
great euphoria of the people.
That is because, as you mentioned, the supreme presidential elections
commission just announced that the Muslim brotherhood candidate, Doctor
Mohammed Morsi will become the next president of Egypt. He has outnumbered
his rival candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister and that`s why
people here behind me are celebrating.
It was a long day for people here. The vote came against a very tense back
drop in the country. People were not sure which way the results would go,
as both candidates were claiming that they had won, but as you can see and
hear from the results behind me, that the Muslim brotherhood`s candidate
has, indeed, won Egypt`s presidential election.
HARRIS-PERRY: What does Morsi`s win mean substantively at this point given
the way the military has truly emasculated the presidency of Egypt?
MOHYELDIN: This is going to be a very important question right now. To
what extent will Mohammed Morsi use his mandate from the people and more
importantly as the next president to challenge some of the recent decisions
made by the staff?
Now, keep in mind as you mention, the supreme council here, the ruling
military council held on a lot of powers anticipating that is was going to
be Mohammed Morsi who is going to win. They have stripped the presidency
away from some of the most important powers, including oversight of the
national budget, the ability to declare war, the ability to legislate.
And so, for many people here, they felt the incoming president would simply
be going to be a symbolic position, not one of great power. The question
now will be is, how will the Muslim brotherhoods interpret this victory and
to what extent will Dr. Mohammed Morsi coming in try in reclaim some of
that power that will strip away from him.
But also, it marks a very defining moment in Egypt history. The Muslim
brotherhood, keep in mind, has been for 80 years, a political organization,
a socio-religious organization that has been banned by the government here.
They have been at times at war with the government.
It is a very defining moment in Egypt`s history, that they have elected the
first Islamist president. And particularly for a country that has been
dominated by secular authoritarian and more importantly military leader, to
what extend will Egypt now take a turn for a different tone in terms of its
legislation, in terms of outlook to the world, in terms of foreign policy.
So, there`s no doubt that the president, who is inheriting the
responsibilities in this country has a tremendous amount of weight on his
shoulders and more importantly, not only are the Egyptian people in the
region watching it, but so too will people around the world.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it feels to me like leaders in Washington, D.C. right
now must also be asking the question of do we have a preference for
authoritarian secular government, versus democratically elected but
religiously affiliated government? How do you expect Washington to
respond, given we have obviously that enthusiasm that we hear behind you
that sends of democracy, this kind of culmination of what began there this
Tahrir square in Cairo, and yet undoubtedly some anxiety on the part of not
only Washington`s leaders, but also Europe`s.
MOHYELDIN: Well, there is no doubt that concern in Washington and other
European capitals is one that Muslim brotherhood is very much aware of.
And that`s why for the better part of the last year and a half, they have
constantly tried to assure both Washington as well other capitals that if
indeed they assumed power in Egypt, if they are elected to power in Egypt,
they are going to work with and maintain all of their international
treaties and obligations. They were also going to try and preserve, to
great extent, Egypt`s foreign policy outlook.
The concern is, you mentioned, is to what extent will Egypt turn to perhaps
an Islamic bent? And that is a valid concern not only to people outside
those in Egypt, but among many ordinary Egyptians who voted for secular
So, that excite the Muslim brotherhood candidate has says its priority is
not to come and legislate new social laws. They are very much aware that
the number one issue on every Egyptian person`s mind is the economy and
security. And they promised to work to that extent to try and restore
security, to try to get the economy back and up and going. Because the
economy since the resolution, has all but collapsed.
They are very much aware of these concerns, and to some extent, the Muslim
brotherhood which has been in touch with senior members of the U.S.
government, the U.S. administration. They have visited the United States.
They are constantly holding meetings here in Washington. They are very
much aware of how the world is watching and more importantly, they are to
that extent deliberate in making sure they do not strike the wrong tone
with European and American powers.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you for sharing this amazing historic
moment with us.
And viewers, stay with us, more when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Breaking news out of Egypt just now. A decision made on the
presidential elections, leader of the Muslim brotherhood, Mohammad Morsi
has been declared the winner.
Ayman Mohyeldin is our correspondent on the ground there. Yes. please go
MOHYELDIN: I was going to say, you can probably hear the fireworks behind
me. The celebration is really just getting under way for the supporters of
Dr. Mohamed Morsi. And that is because, as you mentioned, the supreme
council here at the presidential elections council, rather, just announced
that Mohammed Morsi had won, close to 52 percent of the runoff vote, making
him Egypt`s next president, 48 percent going to the rival candidate, Dr.
Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister under president Hosni Mubarak.
It is a defining moment not just for the revolution. And believe me when I
say that although there are thousands here in Egypt, there are many going
to be holding their breath in terms of what this means for a country that
has been long dominated by secular forces, now elected the first Islamic
And more importantly, the nature of that is going to mean in terms of the
power he will have and more importantly what it means for society at large.
But the celebrations are getting under way. The military council has asked
all of the parties on both sides to try to calm the situation down.
The week has been very tense. There have been rumors and reports that have
really build up the anxiety levels here. The Egyptian military had
deployed around various parts of the city and they have warned people not
to disrupt the public good.
And so, we can perhaps expect in the coming hours, particularly with the
announcement that Mohammed Morsi won, the situation particularly in Tahrir
square to remain a festive one, a celebratory one. But there is no doubt
in other parts of the country, not everyone will be happy about this
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I was going to ask you just a bit more about that.
So, obviously, it sounds like nothing but enthusiasm. But obviously,
that`s because our cameras are in just one place there in Egypt. Kind a
give me the landscape a little bit, what part of the country do we expect
it to have sort of a very different reaction to this announcement? .
MOHYELDIN: Well, in fact, in almost every city, you find the country has
become polarized, very divided over this presidential election,. You have
to take a big picture approach when you are looking about what these meant
On one hand, when you look at the candidate, Doctor Mohammed Morsi, a
member of the Islamic brotherhood, an organization that has been banned in
Egypt for many years because of its religious affiliation particularly in
politics. There are people who don`t want to see Egypt to take a turn and
inject that type of religion in its politics, particularly from an
organization like Muslim brotherhood.
And so, many of those people supported secular candidates throughout the
first round of voting and even particularly with Ahmed Shafiq in the second
round. There are others who are particularly those that are supporting Dr.
Morsi and others` revolutionary group, saw other candidate, Ahmed Shafiq,
the rival candidate who lost, they saw him as a representation of the
military establishment. They saw him as the representation of the old
And so, for many Egypt, that`s what debate boiled down to. It did not boil
down into an issue of policy. It did not boil down to which one can lead
Egypt better. But rather which one of these candidates represented the
ideas that every voter wanted to see Egypt adopt?
That`s why you will get a sense that not only in Cairo, I mean, just a
short while or short distance from where we are standing late last evening,
thousands of protesters gathered in a square similar to Tahrir, supporting
Ahmed Shafiq. And that is because they are very much concern about the new
Islamic president that has elected.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And in some ways this is the final vanquishing, the
sort of final moment here on Mubarak, but they are still so much more for
us to watch.
So, thank you, Ayman, for being there. Your reporting this morning has
MOHYELDIN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, Nerdland goes to church for the salvation of
democracy. Religion, democracy, Egypt, the U.S., that`s what we`re doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "your business" entrepreneur of the week.
Nicholas Brand of Seattle wanted to start a window washing business. To
stand out, he wore a Scottish kilt, his wife made for him, called the
company men in kilts and went door to door offering his services. That
attention grabbing idea now has grown to seven franchises with more in the
For more, watch your business Sunday mornings at 7:30 on MSNBC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: African-Americans will be disproportionately affected by a
record number of restricted voting laws enacted by states legislature since
last year. According to the Brennan Center, 34 states have introduced
legislation that would require voters to show I.D. And that means 25
percent of voting age African-Americans that have no current government
issued voter I.D. may be disenfranchised on election day in November.
In addition to voter ID law, legal restrictions on registration drives and
early voting compound the impact on communities of color. But that
potential problem t the poll has sparked action from the poll pit. Black
church leaders have responded to the threat of voter suppression with
MSNBC`s Jeff Johnson dug a little deeper into this issue on a report that
we`ll show you now.
JOHNSON (voice-over): Black churches have organized traditional souls to
the polls voter drives after Sunday services during election years. But
because of a new Ohio law, voters will no longer be allowed to cast their
ballots during the weekend before the November election.
Ohio state representative, Alicia Reece of Cincinnati voted against the
bill known as hbi94. Now she says, Ohio churches will need to step up and
spread the word.
STATE REP. ALICIA REECE (D), OHIO: Nothing beats word of mouth and the
churches have hundreds and hundreds of people that come every Sunday and
they can get that information out to them in a nonpartisan way.
BASHIR JONES, YOUTH ACTIVIST, CLEVELAND: You have to change your
situation. You have to change your condition. It`s up to you.
JOHNSON: Bashir Jones, a youth activist in Cleveland, said the black
church needs to take things a step further.
JONES: Voting is good, but change doesn`t end with the vote it may start
there. But, you have to educate them on what they are voting on.
JOHNSON: Education, not just about the issues, but the process as well.
With new voter access laws in more than a dozen states, minority voters in
particular are facing more scrutiny across the country. This year, an
estimated five million voters will be affected by these new laws. Many
black churches planning to guide congregants and in some cases, even help
them pay for valid IDs.
MCKINLEY YOUNG, BISHOP, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPICAL COUNCIL: Well, the church
has to make certain we give the people copies of what they need, that they
know that we take them to the supervisor of elections office, that we walk
them through the process.
JOHNSON: With more pressure to register in time, black church leaders know
they are on the front line this election year.
REVEREND DOCK FOSTER, UNITY BAPTIST CHURCH, CINCINNATI: We must register
all that we can, because turnout, numbers in America really count.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jeff is back with me on the table, along with Kenji Yoshino,
David Chalian, and Aisha Moodie-Mills.
So, here we`re just getting news out of Egypt saying, democracy works,
people have a vote, but also we`re a little bit nervous about the role of
religion in this new democracy and here we turn back to the United States
and we are saying, maybe democracy is not working so well. Maybe people
don`t have access to the polls and religion, in this case of the church,
may be conduit to fighting that energy and the democratic effort.
Jeff, this realistic that churches can push back against something as
powerful as these voter suppression efforts?
JOHNSON: Well, churches traditionally have. And so, the real question is,
can the black church have a renaissance of sorts? And in many cases,
moving away from some of the, a, political activity that a lot of churches
have done to hard core mobilization. And some of the pushback is because
the IRS went hard against churches during the last two cycle in the name of
And so, you have a lot of black ministers that are gun shy about being
involved, because they are worried about the IRS. And so, I think -- but
they understand this is a real fight, and as much as we don`t want to talk
about a lot of these racial issues, you know, there is an African-American
president who is under attack in many cases, because there are people who
are afraid of an African-American president, regardless of what people want
to say. And there is a community of African-Americans that did support the
president. That did help him get elected, that want to see him elected
again. But beyond that, want to exercise their right to democracy without
Republican state legislatures standing in the way and blocking them at
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, on the one hand I love that. I love the notion of
well, you know, part of the civil rights movement was the work of the
church against the ultimate voter suppression effort of Jim Crow.
On the other hand, I always have a little bit nervous about the church for
the same reason I`m nervous about the Muslim brotherhood which is to say it
comes with its own ideological package that may be beyond partisanship.
I`m thinking, OK, they may sort of generally end up registering people who
are going to vote for President Obama, but they might also be registering
people just after preaching a sermon it said, it`s Adam and Eve, not Adam
and Steve. And so --
JOHNSON: We`re not talking apple and oranges though, right? Because this
is not -- we are not talking about a religious fundamentalist running for
office. We`re talking about a base of people mobilizing their followers,
which shouldn`t make us feel uncomfortable. It should encourage us.
Because it increases the number of people participating in the electoral
process. And that`s what we`re talking about. Not religious
fundamentalism from a leadership standpoint mobilization of people of faith
that are interested and seen themselves represented.
MOODIE-MILLS: And I think to your point though, about those wedge issues
that conservatives try to exploit to utilize the black church to get votes,
I think what we know though, is that the reason why we see voter
suppression efforts is because when black folks turn out en masse, they
generally are going to be more progressive in ideology.
Sure, there are a couple of wedge issues that might divide a little bit,
but at the end of the day, we know conservatives are pushing, because that
is probably not the biggest fear. We know when black people come out and
vote, Democrats will probably win. And that`s why they are trying to keep
Any reason to have church/state anxiety, or is this a reasonable way to
expand and make sure our democracy is functioning?
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we have just a few seconds for Kenji. Is there any
reason to have church state anxiety here or this is sort of as Jeff points
out, just a reasonable way to expand in the church are democracy is
YOSHINO: I think that`s one way. I think the problem I have with it is,
that I don`t think churches should be bearing the burden of this. I mean,
we should all be outraged. From a constitutional perspective, we have four
constitutional amendments the 15th, 19th, 24th and 25th. Each one of them
expanded the franchise on the basis of race, basis of gender, basic of age,
and the basis of wealth, you know. So that there would be fewer and fewer
restrictions, and have the clock turn back in this way, is really, really
discouraging. Citizen should be outraged, not member of the church.
JOHNSON: The concern too is the retribution, right? Because we really
jumped over the point of this retribution by the Congress against Holder
for challenging them on these voter laws. We haven`t talked about that
enough. And so, this is a long conversation and one I hope did not just
the church but all of us are aggressive on moving forward to November.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, the church of one kind, but this is a space where all of
thus us should be outraged and moving towards a democracy like the one we
are seeing in Egypt.
Jeff Johnson, thanks you for your reporting on this. And thank you to
David Chalian. The rest of you are going to come back in a little bit.
Later, pride of the city.
HARRIS-PERRY: Here in New York, it`s pride week. And in about an hour,
the annual celebration will culminate in the world famous New York city gay
June is also national pride month, in commemoration of the birth of the
LGBT movement in 1969, and this has been an amazing year for the movement,
with the repeal of don`t ask, don`t tell in September. The number of
states passing laws in favor of same-sex marriage climbing to nine, and the
president himself, evolving his position to support of same-sex marriage.
My, oh, my. It wasn`t always that way. In an effort to show how far we`ve
come, Nerdland dug into the vault and found this clip from WNBC`s 1973
Special Report of the native movement. Oh, such a Special Report. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this were a man and a woman holding hands it would
be considered perfectly natural even if it were two women. But these are
men, and for men in this society to hold hands in public, is at least
shameful and more often offensive.
But men who want to hold hands in public or private are emerging from the
shadows. They are homosexuals, men who relate sexually to other men, and
women who relate sexually to other women, lesbians, have begun a battle for
their civil, legal, and personal rights.
Homosexuals who acknowledge homosexuality and pattern lives accordingly are
known as gay. And the gay liberation movement is challenging a society
that abhors homosexuality.
In New York, as n most other state, the law known as the sodomy statute,
provides that even in private, consenting adults may not engage in deviant
sexual contact, which includes homosexual behavior.
(END VIDE CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank goodness. Thirty nine years later, things are
different. But we are talking about the movement in a much, much different
More on that when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: After more than a week of waiting for results, and months of
working toward a Democratic state, the Egyptian people now know that their
new president will be Dr. Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Just moments ago, he was declared the leader of Egypt`s presidential
election, and will be sworn in on July 1st. Thousands have gathered to
celebrate the news.
Where democracy in Egypt goes from here is a bit unclear, but for
now, what we`re seeing is that that square is a celebration of the
culmination of a movement to move toward democracy -- which brings me back
to a different kind of movement here at home.
Only on MHP do we go from Tahrir Square to Pride Week because it is
LGBT`s Pride Week and it ends today with a series of parades in cities
across the country. But LGBT Pride Month doesn`t conclude until the month
of June ends this Saturday, thanks to this proclamation from President
Obama. He`s the president since Bill Clinton to declare an LGBT Pride
He`s my niece Chris holding that proclamation earlier this month that
she and I attended the White House reception for LGBT Pride Month.
And now, this is the fourth straight year that the White House is
hosting one of these events, but the first reception since the president
uttered these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)
HARRIS-PERRY: That endorsement arrived way too late for some, and it
did arrive. And, of course, the advancement has been about more than
symbols and rhetoric, considering the unprecedented steps which this
administration has taken to advance LGBT Americans.
Six months after he took office, President Obama made sure that same-
sex partners of federal employees received benefits offered to hetero
couples. He signed into law the landmark Hate Crimes Prevention Act,
signed the repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell," and announced a new rule
protecting against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and
gender identity. And those are just the highlights.
So, back in February, the White House made it clear that it believes
the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will no longer defend
it in federal court. Seeing that proof positive is just how far up the
White House has progressed, but also, how much pressure from LGBT activists
has helped to change our society`s attitude toward the entire community.
I mean, you watch Ellen DeGeneres in the daytime, don`t you? And one
of the companies that employs her as the spokesperson, JCPenney, hardly
radical, put out a Mother`s Day ad featuring a lesbian couple and their
children. They did the same this month for Father`s Day with two dads.
The only real public havock (ph) came from this one group called One
Million Moms. They are actually a splinter of the anti-gay American Family
Association. They also fretted about JCPenney employing Ellen, and "New
York Times`" Frank Bruni said that the retail chain showed the religious
right should the back of its hand.
To answer that question about how can be even imagine such a thing a
decade ago. You may not have even noticed that JCP ads or have thought
about Ellen being gay if those One Million Moms haven`t had a fit about it.
Progress sometimes looks very normal.
But does being normal count as progress?
Joining us to help us answer that question are: Ana Oliveira, the
president and CEO of the New York Woman`s Foundation; Richard Kim, my
editor and also executive editor TheNation.com; Aisha Moodie-Mills, adviser
for LGBT Policy and Racial Justice at the Center for American Progress; and
Kenji Yoshino, New York University law professor.
Glad to have you all. Happy Pride Week.
So, seriously, this feels in a certain way like a really good moment.
Aisha, you were also at that event at the White House, and it was
sort of surprisingly gleeful, wasn`t it? Like there was a level of
electric enthusiasm, I had to remind myself -- actually marriage equality
hasn`t become the law of the land yet. It seems like there is a lot of
enthusiasm where we are right now.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, ADVISOR, LGBT POLICY & RACIAL JUSTICE: Yes,
absolutely. I was there. I was thrilled. I was there with my wife and we
were marveling at how here -- who would have guessed even five, six years
ago that we would be standing in the White House together, as a married
couple, legally married couple, with the first black president of the
United States affirming our love? I mean, that was really, really
So, I think there`s still a lot of excitement, because there`s still
a lot of firsts that are happening for us, even though, yes, we are seeing
some big gains across the country and some key states.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kenji, it feels like one of the important ones is
DOMA, and particularly the administration`s position on DOMA. So, talk to
me a little bit about where that`s progressing, though? Because the
administration taken a position on it, but it`s not over yet.
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: Absolutely this
will be a blockbuster term, the upcoming term, even though everyone is
focusing on this one as understandably with health care being such a huge
term. Next year is going to be a huge one as well on civil rights issues.
So, both the Perry case and DOMA case are going to get appealed to
the Supreme Court. The Perry case is the California Prop 8 case, and the
DOMA case is coming out of the first circuit on the other side of the
country from Massachusetts.
And the issue on DOMA and everyone is hoping on the progressive side
that the DOMA case goes up first, it`s a smaller bite to ask for from the
Supreme Court, on progress and gay rights.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because it`s just one state? Actually, because all
it`s doing is that saying that if a state allows for same-sex marriage,
then the federal government has to abide by that decision. So it would not
actually change the definition of marriage in any of the 50 states.
Whereas the other case, the California Prop 8 case, if it goes up to
the Supreme Court, potentially, the Supreme Court could alter the law and
the 44 states that don`t allow same-sex marriage.
So if we want to take an incremental strategy, a much smaller ask to
get this court in particular to say the DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act is
unconstitutional. In a way there, say pincher move if I can say one more
thing on this. It`s a really fascinating moment, because it`s like states
rights versus equal protection.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, but it`s in reverse.
YOSHINO: But it`s flipped. Exactly.
So, .like, you know, all of the conservatives on the court are like
states right, states rights, states rights. Family law has traditionally
been an issue of states rights. And as you know, Melissa, in 2000, we lost
the Violence Against Women Act, you know, litigation because the Supreme
Court said family law is about states rights. So, therefore --
HARRIS: So, if they stay on that, this ought to be a win for that
YOSHINO: Exactly. If you say what you said, family law is states
rights, and marriage is certainly family law, so the federal government
should not be defining what marriage is. And so, therefore, you should
strike down DOMA.
RICHARD KIM, THENATION.COM: Even if cases go forward and there is a
go ahead outcome, which seems to be some optimism now that that might
happen, particularly with Justice Kennedy, we know from studying the civil
rights movement, that having formal legal equality and having substantive
equality and substantive justice on the ground is very, very different.
So, we have to look at a broader map of both legal and policy changes we
can make, including passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, as well
as just providing resources in support for the most marginalized in our
I was reading a statistic the other day that said something like 30
percent, 40 percent of homeless youth in New York City are LGBT and they
are homeless because their families have abandoned them basically. And so,
as we approach Pride Month and the parade, I hope they are out there, I
want us to look to those children and those kids and say, what do we, as a
community, as a country, need to do to ensure there is justice and equality
for all of us?
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, part of why my favorite, you know, as we
sort of did a listing of the things that the Obama administration has done
well on, my favorite is actually the HUD rule, because it says you cannot
be denied housing if are you gay and/or transgendered, or gendered self-
presentation, any of those things, if this housing complex or this person
receives any money from the federal government. So ,we know that section
8, that`s public housing, that`s exactly the folks who are most likely to
be most vulnerable.
And so much, sometimes it feels as though much of the progress has
been made around LGBT issues have been for those with the most privilege
within that position of relative disprivilege with gay identity.
ANA OLIVEIRA, NEW YORK WOMEN`S FOUNDATION: And I think we have a
wonderful opportunity in the conversations around marriage and changes with
that, in talking about the inclusiveness and how expensive, how different
our community is, and work very hard to use this opportunity to talk about
LGBT kids and gender nonconforming, self-expression kids which normally
tend to be left out of the equation.
It is true that the homelessness of youth in New York City is
exceedingly disproportionately that burden borne by LGBT kids. It`s an
MOODIE-MILLS: And it almost happened black, by the way.
OLIVEIRA: Absolutely. Most of them are black and Latino kids. And
it`s not just -- it`s the issue of a family. And you really need to work
with an overall consensus and moving everyone to understanding the value of
our lives, right?
But there is also the educational system, the foster care system, all
the institutions that touch the lives of kids, need to become weigh more
competent, way more aware, and may more validating of the breadth of our
HARRIS-PERRY: And the health care system. I mean, if there is one
thing that ought to be critically important, we ought to be calling the
Affordable Health Care Act part of this. What we haven`t thought about so
much is the civil rights issue.
We`re going to talk about exactly that, the intersection of race and
class, along with clear identity as soon as we come back. More on this.
And, yes, you know, the LGBT movement has come a long way. A lot of
ground to cover and it`s not about marriage. We`ve talked about marriage.
We`re going to talk about the rest of the when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to show you an actual headline from what to you
is known as the "New York Daily News" on July 6, 1969. Yes, that reads,
"Homo Nest Rated: Queen Bees are Stinging Mad."
The headline appeared about a week after the Stonewall rebellion on
June 28th, 1969. That resistance here in New York`s Greenwich Village is
the main reason Pride Week falls in June. And so, the gay rights is to
Stonewall is what sort of the Montgomery bus boycott to the racial civil
rights movement in `50s and `60s. That was then, this is now.
Last night, New York City lit up the iconic skyline in the colors of
the rainbow, in symbolic support and visual manifestation of the city`s
enthusiasm about Pride Week.
To talk more about this transformation: Ann Oliveira, Richard Kim,
Aisha Moodie-Mills and Kenji Yoshino.
So -- it feels like we have come a long way since Stonewall. But
talk to me about you know, the Stonewall and obviously the angst around HIV
movements in the 1980s and then sort of where we are now. Just a bit on
OLIVEIRA: So, we definitely have come a long way. And those are
very important victories. I think that when we look at history, we should
be, I`m going to say, dipping very -- you know, in the depth of our
struggles, our victories, but we are not all the way where we need to be.
So, it`s a tricky thing to celebrate, but not become complacent.
And I think where we are, is that we understand the wholeness of our
lives. Our lives are also struggles around education, around violence,
OLIVEIRA: Around immigration. So that there comes a time in social
movements in which we fight the specific contributions, you know? I mean,
the LGBTQ movement contributes to the whole world in challenging gender, in
how we define all of ourselves, how we create boxes, right? Very much like
feminism in that regard, but way beyond feminism.
So, we are now in a place where we need to understand poverty in our
ranks. We need to understand races and we need to understand immigration
issues. We need to understand homelessness. We need to be embedded in all
of those, in all of them.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that`s exactly where I want to push, on this idea
-- you know, Michael recalled the trouble with normal, right? The idea
that part of why we assembled this particular table is everyone here is a
queer person of color and to remind us, sometimes the visual image of gay
activists that we get are you know, sort of privileged white men.
Undoubtedly, there`s still real civil rights issues there, but to kind of
expand our notion of what counts as LGBT and particularly Q, queering, like
literally making things more difficult than those normal boxes.
MOODIE-MILLS: Right. You know, there are two things that are
happening. There`s a civil rights fight as it relates to laws, right, and
equity. But then there`s also quality of life issues that we need to
address particularly when we look at LGBTQ folks who are also people of
color, when we look at black youth like we were just talking about who are
homeless. When we look at black lesbians and transgendered women and
bisexual women and their health and they`re not getting the same access to
mammogram, et cetera. So, they would really benefit from the provisions of
the American Care Act.
We are not having as many conversations in the national sphere about
quality of life issues with LGBT issues. But I think that we should have,
because at the end of the day, when we all get married, right, and we
expect that, you know, hopefully, DOMA will get struck down in the courts,
much likely before we get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, we`re not
going to pack our bags and go away in terms of doing LGBT work and being a
movement, just because we get marriage.
Marriage is not the silver bullet that`s going to solve all of our
problems. But at the same time, it is an important civil right component
we need to deal with we need to learn how to chew gum and walk and address
lots of issues.
KIM: And I think it`s also very important that as a movement, we
continue to focus on issues, even after these issues have somewhat passed
us by a little bit, and I`m thinking of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
You know, my partner wrote has pretty sort of great documentary
coming out called "How to Survive a Plague", and it tells the story of ACT
UP and how a group of activists worked with the CDC, NIH, protested and
also went on the inside to fast track the approval of these antiretroviral
What happened since then, as we know, here in the United States,
almost everyone who is HIV positive has access of those drugs, although
that access is under threat because of budget cuts. But you look across
the world, sub-Saharan Africa, there are millions of people who don`t have
access to these medications. Here in the U.S., there`s disproportionate
impact by race, color, and class about HIV and AIDS. And so, as a
movement, we need to stay on these issues, we developed the expertise and
pressure to continue to these advance causes, even if our own community is
not the most impacted by them.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s such an important point, particularly around the
anti viral medications, because at the moment, the fastest growing
populations of persons with HIV infections are heterosexual black women,
right, but who are nonetheless, you know, actively benefiting from the
movement that came before them that had a different identity and yet was
about kind of increasing access.
OLIVEIRA: I think that the trick for us is what we define as
success. Right? When do we define that the work is done? So I think we
need to learn as we are, our incremental gains are necessary gains, but
they are not sufficient, so that we have an incredible opportunity to not
leave part of our very large community out, as we are talking about,
because of color of their skin, immigration status, economic status,
because how they express their gender.
So we have an incredible opportunity to really on the ground. And I
wanted to talk about that kind of really joining Richard, we have the
legislative victories and battles which are critical, and we need to be in
there, and we need to get them, and incidentally, we need to make sure that
the law is implemented, that the law is followed.
OLIVEIRA: And there is a lot of work to be done there. And in
addition to that, we have the lives of folks on a daily basis that are --
that need to be responded to, that need to be supported.
So, it`s really important that we -- all of us support LGBTQ
organizations that are making the political changes, but also are first
responders and in particularly concerned with youth, because the amount of
violence that we -- you know, we need to make this a crisis. We need to
label this as a crisis, as much as we label HIV and AIDS crisis.
MOODIE-MILLS: And this isn`t just about the LGBT movement. It`s
about everyone that touches these folks. So, we`re seeing in New York, for
example, around the stop and frisk laws, we`re seeing NAACP and other civil
rights band together with the LGBT community to try to do something about
these stop and frisk issues.
HARRIS-PERRY: That means exactly why I took my niece with me to the
White House. She is gender nonconforming. And I`m constantly in terror.
She`s so post-modern. I don`t know that she is terrified.
But I constantly am. I want a world that is safer for her.
So, Ana, thank you so much for joining us.
Everybody else is coming back a little bit later. But, first, there
is a shocking White House engagement and we`ve got the video to show you.
HARRIS-PERRY: On June 15th, I had the privilege to attend the annual
White House LGBT pride reception hosted by President Obama himself.
A highlight was when I met Liz Margolies, a Nerdland fan. Liz
introduced me to her boyfriend Scout and we went off separate ways, had our
day, great fun, but in leaving the party. But in leaving the country, I
saw Liz one more time and this time was different. She came up to me and
said, Melissa, I`m engaged. Scout had proposed at the White House during
the pride reception.
And, at first, Liz had no idea what to do, as you can see in the
video, but then the big finish. And I could not be more than thrilled to
introduce my next two guests, Liz and Scout are here, newly engaged. And
so you know, they`re not just lovely newly engaged. Liz is the executive
director of the National LGBT Cancer Center and Scout is director is the
network for LGBT health equity at the Fenway Institute.
Welcome to Nerdland.
LIZ MARGOLIES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL LGBT CANCER CENTER: We
love Nerdland. It`s the best.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yay! I`m glad.
So, Scout, the White House? That`s brave. That is brave.
SCOUT, DIRECTOR, LGBT HEALTH EQUITY AT FENWAY INSTITUTE: You know,
he is a huge woman, an amazing advocate for our community. She si such a
big personality and such a fierce advocate for us that I realize I had to
go big or go home. And I want to do something amazing and do something at
the White House, and I`ve been thinking that for a year and telling her for
a year, the only problem was I wasn`t invited at the White House. So, I
had to wait a little bit.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Liza, as we were walking out, like on the one
hand, you`re so excited. You know, I`m engaged. But that pause felt like
-- particularly when I saw it on YouTube, it felt long to me.
And I`m sure, Scout, it felt extremely long to you. Talk to me about
that pause, what was that pause about?
MARGOLIES: Well, my whole life flashed before my eyes. As members
of the LGBT community, Scout and I have lived as outlaws our whole lives.
And the law has been outside our personal relationships, and as a second
way feminist, I come with very complicated feelings about the institution
And on the other hand, there was my Scout, down on his knee, and I
really love you, and we`ve been through so much together, including a
recent tragedy in my family, and he showed himself to be so much more than
MARGOLIES: So what was I going to do? And then I realized, just as
we`ve done everything, we could invent our own kind of marriage and then it
was easy to say yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I literally saw it like when you watch it, you can
see the whole process occurring, sort of saying, wait a minute, I`m a
second way feminist, the word wife has never been a lavatory word, I`m a
little outside of this.
That said, marriage equality wasn`t necessarily a problem in terms of
your relationship, right, because, Scout, you`re trans male. And so, in
the sense of like male being able to marry females in this country, it`s
legal, but it somehow outside of what we would think of as normative, is
what part of the angst is here?
SCOUT: Yes. Marriage is always kind of seem like the milquetoast
thing to do because that was confirming to do and it was a club that didn`t
want us. So, we have to really think about that. But I guess this really
has shown us that for us, it was in some ways really a personal moment and
really, you know, deep moment as much as it was public, but it`s really
shown us that sometimes just being yourself can be revolutionary.
HARRIS-PERRY: And marriage is sort of that terrain, right, where
there`s your Scout. There`s just the person you love and yet you are
entering into this institution.
So, both of you, for you, marriage is about your personal life. But
you are doing work in the community that is about the public life. So
beyond the issue of marriage, what is it for you, if you had to name sort
of one or two things that we need to keep our eyes on more broadly?
SCOUT: We`ve gotten some interesting comments and feedback around
this that were not always positive. A lot of them were about me being
trans and incredible negative. And it just actually reminds me, it felt
like the curtain of polite society is rip back, how much stigma and hatred
is still out there?
And I think what really rocks us with that is the youth who hear any
of those comments, or seeing those comments, and the trans people who might
think that this is the way the world feels about me, upsets us.
So, I mean, I really feel like, you know, we work in health all the
time. We need to be included in health care system. We need to have
Too many of my people have been denied access to a doctor. That`s
the kind of stuff we really need to move on quickly and let the youth know
they are loved.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And they are loved and that they have
access and equality. So, I just want you to know, we have one goal here at
Nerdland to get Beyonce on our show. We have now added a second goal, and
our second goal is to get you guys not only engaged, but hitched at the
White House. I have no idea if we have any power to do this.
But when are you planning to actually get married?
MARGOLIES: Well, we have no plan yet. I mean, if you get us a White
House marriage, that will certainly complicate it deeply.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ll clear our schedule.
MARGOLIES: But being engaged is absolutely enough for now, and we`ve
spoken about maybe not even getting married until the rest of our people
can. Because Scout`s legally male, we can get married, and as a resident
of New York state, we can. But that`s not true for most of our people, and
we want civil rights first.
MARGOLIES: Well, we will come with you and maybe with Obama`s call.
MARGOLIES: That`s right. And maybe civil rights can be a wedding
gift. It will be nice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, both, Liz and Scout.
And, OK, you`ve waited long enough. We`ve all waited long enough.
The Supreme Court ruling on health care is almost here. What you
need to know is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is finally over,
We will have a Supreme Court health care ruling this week and no
exaggeration to say that this ruling could change everything, at the center
of the debate is the individual mandate and whether Congress exceeded its
power in passing it.
If the mandate is struck down, is it the pulled thread that unravels
the entire sweater. More importantly, could the Supreme Court`s health
care ruling put us back at square one with millions of American lives
hanging in the balance?
At the table is Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of "The New Republic"
and author of "Sick"; Richard Kim, executive editor of TheNation.com; Aisha
Moodie-Mills, advisor on LGBT policy and racial justice at the Center for
American Progress; and Kenji Yoshino, constitutional law professor at NYU.
So, obviously, we don`t have a ruling yet, but, Jonathan, if
individual mandate is struck down, what parts of the bill can stand even
without individual mandate?
JONATHAN COHN, THE NEW REPUBLIC: It`s a little complicated but
important to understand. There`s no question, if you take the mandate out
of the law, it becomes weaker.
The mandate serves two purposes, right? We want to make sure that
everybody gets coverage so when they get sick and show up in the emergency
room, they have a way to pay for it. It allows insurance companies to
charge lower rates because we`re going to tell the insurance companies you
have to ensure everybody, they`re going to worry only sick people will sign
COHN: So, that`s the mandate.
Take that out, there`s no question the law becomes weaker. But, if
you think about it, what purpose does the mandate serve? The idea is to
encourage those who might not otherwise get health insurance to go ahead
and get it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Particularly young and healthy people.
COHN: That`s right. And if you think about it and if you do
surveys, one reason people don`t get health insurance, it`s too expensive.
The law has these subsidies in it. They`re very important.
As long as the subsidies are there, and as long as they keep those
requirements, saying that insurance companies, you still have to give
coverage to anybody because of preexisting conditions. The law can still
work. It won`t cover as many people.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is the assumption that health insurance is a
good, that people want to buy it, like food, and so if they have a subsidy
to buy it, they will, even if they are not -- you don`t have to mandate
people buy food. It turns out people get hungry, they buy food to the
extent they can afford it.
COHN: Some people. So, basically ,this is the difference --
basically the difference without a mandate, as long as you keep everything
else, you can`t let go of those requirements that tell insurance companies
you to give coverage to people even if they have preexisting conditions.
As long as you do that, you still got a lot of people insured, a lot of
people who need health insurance, if you are sick, preexisting condition,
don`t have money to buy insurance, that`s all still there.
And what`s more is that, you know, over time then, the next year,
five years, ten years, however long it takes, state lawmakers, federal
lawmakers can go to work fixing what`s wrong. It`s not ideal. It`s a huge
blow constitutionally as policy. But it`s not catastrophic.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you look at Kenji and say, constitutionally, it`s
a big blow. And I know you`ve been here before. You promised me that even
if individual mandate goes down under the Commerce Clause, this is not the
end of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and everything else.
But I got to tell you, people keep suggesting there is a possibility
that the decision constitutionally will reach far beyond the Affordable
Care Act if they say that the federal government has overreached itself
under this Commerce Clause.
YOSHINO: Yes, I`m just going to stick to my guns here, because I
think what`s at issue here is really the federalism, so let`s assume for
the sake of argument which I`m not endorsing and not even supposing, that
this is necessarily going to be struck down. Let`s say the individual
mandate get struck down, is that necessarily going to so transform
Congress` commerce power such it will stop them from engaging in broad
I just don`t see it, because you know, what this case turns on, act
omission. Can you force somebody to buy broccoli sort of stuff.
So, when we go back to things like the Civil Rights Act, that Civil
Rights Act had to do with people already being in commerce. So if you look
at the Heart of Atlanta motel case in 1964, it had to do the fact that the
Heart of Atlanta will tell all of these barbecue, were already in commerce,
already serving guests, food traveling through in interstate commerce,
those organizations. So you weren`t creating a market.
So even assuming for the sake of argument, that the Supreme Court
says are you creating a market that didn`t exist before and forcing people
into it, that argument is not going to have any implications for markets
that already exist. And no one is again saying those markets didn`t exist
in the case of the civil rights movement.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, exactly the point of creating market, Richard,
why in the world would the Chamber of Commerce, the Republicans, right, be
against this? The Chamber of Commerce has been winning in this -- like
basically the answer to who wins, the Chamber of Commerce, right?
And this was, what, 15 years ago --
COHN: Republican idea.
HARRIS-PERRY: Create a market for our product, right?
KIM: I mean, part of this is a political calculations that you have
a Democratic president who passes a piece of legislation that everyone in
the country is affected by and part of. Most people are.
But it creates a generation of real political support for that party
and that president. I`m worried not about the constitutional ramifications
of a decision that strikes down the mandate, but the political ones. If
you read, you know, Ezra Klein`s great piece in the "New Yorker" magazine,
he really documents how the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce
and conservatives created from whole clothe, this mandate question in a
space of two years really and shifted public opinion and they`ve created
the legal framework now, where we`re at this brink where we may have the
mandate stricken on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. So --
HARRIS-PERRY: And it happened this week.
KIM: I know. But as a political accomplishment, that is a stunning
achievement. And I think, you know, that really emboldens the right, who
brought this forward by doing it on FOX News, using the presidential
primaries to hammer home the talking point and now, here we`re at the
brink, and hasn`t told them they can get away with living in la la land
with creating reality from whole clothe.
HARRIS-PERRY: And let`s say it doesn`t get struck down. Let`s say
it goes forward and now everyone must buy insurance. That doesn`t create
access to health care, right?
So because I can now afford it being doesn`t mean I can actually
access it, right? I guess I`m so worried about the other piece of it, you
know, we`ve been talking a little bit about if it get struck down, but what
about the other side? What if it stands, are we able going to get to a
place where we can start taking about how generate accessible health care?
MOODIE-MILLS: I want to go back to something and come back to the
question. We can`t underscore the fact that this is a political debate and
conversation now in the Supreme Court. I mean, we`re creating a space
where conservatives are more interested in making sure the president
doesn`t get a second term, that they`re coming up with these lawsuits
against him and his policies, they are talking Eric Holder, they are doing
so much to distract us from the fact that they are not legislating.
They`re not exactly concerns about the health and wellness and the
access to health care of actual people, right? Of gay and transgendered
folks who right now, you know, are suffering crazy health disparities, that
are, you know, big disproportionate health outcomes than the general
population. They are not concerned about outcomes. They`re not concerned
about people on Medicaid. They`re not concerned about insuring more folks.
They are creating this political gain to distract us from what really
matters. And I think it`s important we talk about that. The --
HARRIS-PERRY: And the very fact that as a political game, I want to
come back in the next segment because in fact there is a presidential
election going on, and there are folks who are still saying we`ve got some
kind of health care act. So, they are alternatives out there. Let`s talk
about them when we come back.
Yes, absolutely, as soon as we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: We know what the politicians have to say about the
Affordable Care Act. But what about voters?
In a recent poll, 77 percent of Americans said that if the Affordable
Care Act is ruled unconstitutional, the president and Congress should work
on a new health care reform bill. The bottom line? Americans still want
and need health care.
But if he`s elected, what will Mitt Romney be offering?
Back with me are Jonathan Cohn, Richard Kim, Aisha Moodie-Mills and
That is my question, Jonathan. Obviously, Romneycare is the standard
for Obamacare, but this is Romney 2.0. What`s the new Romney plan look
COHN: Yes. The Romney plan looks nothing like the old one. It`s
actually bizarro Romney plan.
COHN: Everybody knows he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
So, right off the top, you`re telling 30 million people who are supposed to
get health insurance, no insurance for you, and not just poor people.
These are middle class individuals buying on their own, people with
What I think -- a lot of people will probably recognize that. What
people may not realize, he also wants to do two other things. He wants to
change the taxes and regulations around group health insurance. So that
means if you get insurance from a large employer, he is going to change the
incentives around that.
And so a lot of employers are less likely to offer coverage. So, if
you have insurance from a major employer, there`s a good chance you might
lose it or you at least might become less comprehensive. And he wants to
end the federal guarantees for all intents and purposes that now exist for
Medicare and Medicaid.
Remember, he likes the Paul Ryan plan for both of these. So, the
irony here is that, you know, if you listen to Republicans, this is a
version of what Paul Ryan wants to do, and they all of Republican
leadership, they go on and on, you know, President Obama wants to radically
change the health care system. Affordable Care Act basically takes the
system we have and just kind of fills in the holes.
COHN: The Republican plan actually would change health insurance --
HARRIS-PERRY: Radically change it.
COHN: -- for working Americans, elderly Americans, poor Americans,
and they are the radicals.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if I`m employed with coverage right now there, is
some possibility a Romney presidency could mean that my employer would be
less likely to offer coverage next time?
KIM: Yes, the plan is basically just die. I mean, that is the
Romney 2.0 plan straight from the presidential debates, just die.
HARRIS-PERRY: How does private industry like -- the one thing that
makes me not nervous about this, won`t insurance companies fight back and
win? I mean --
KIM: Because they want customers.
MOODIE-MILLS: Romney wants to give full reign back to private
companies. I mean, I think that`s what the key point is, is that he wants
to get take us back to a place where, which is part of our problem was that
we`re at the disposal of whatever the insurance companies want to do with
us. So, if I have a preexisting condition -- I mean, my father is a prime
example of this. He has a disease there is no cure for, and if he were to
go to, you know, get health insurance, he wouldn`t be served. He`s on
Medicaid right now. But that system isn`t necessarily working well for
But what they want is they want us not to be able to make our own
decisions, kind of not let doctors make decisions. They want to allow
companies -- insurance companies to be able to say, well, I`m going to
cover this person, this person, not you and I`ll charge whatever I want for
HARRIS-PERRY: So, to narrow the risk pool to the healthiest.
COHN: And that`s always the game with health insurance. If you are
healthy, that`s where the money is. And the extent they can do that, they
HARRIS-PERRY: Will the Supreme Court take any of these sorts of
issues -- not meant to be politicized, thinking about the politics of it.
And yet it feels so politicized. I`m just wondering whether or not if they
are taking into account what is likely to happen after, even after they
take into account case law that happened before.
YOSHINO: Right. I mean, Richard was talking about the political
ramifications of this. And I think it`s important to think about the
health care case in that context, because I think if the Supreme Court
strikes down health care, it is going to look so politicized so many 5-4
partisan decisions, again, the kind of mantel of legitimacy slips a little
bit off of the court as a neutral body. We know from polling that --
HARRIS-PERRY: People are not loving --
YOSHINO: Or the court as a neutral arbiter has gone down over time
as we get one after another of 5-4 decisions.
It used to be, the Supreme Court -- if we go back in the early
history of the republic. Every Supreme Court justice used to write an
individual opinion, following English practice. And John Marshall stop
this, he wanted to enhance the prestige. Except, we`re going to issue one
opinion, no dissents, a collective, we`re a neutral body, we`ll say what
the law is.
And that succeed for a time in shoring up the power of the court.
And then now, I think we`re seeing kind of a return to this idea of its
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Richard, is health care once again going to become
the issue of 2012 campaign as it was in `08 ands `04 and `94?
KIM: What happens with the decision, it`s all a political issue. If
the whole bill is upheld, the Republican Party is going to use this as
their primary get out the vote strategy. If it`s struck down, that creates
a big headache for the Obama administration and campaign.
And I wonder here, you know, people think it`s a good idea for Obama
to run against the court in a way. He sort of trotted out that line of
Citizens United. And as much as I agree that the decision is terrible and
if the mandate is struck down, that`s a terrible discussion, too. There is
political peril there in running against this institution, but it`s
perceived to be, you know, non-ideological or ought to be non-ideological.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s easier to run against Congress, even against
Wisconsin`s Scott Walker than it is to run against the Supreme Court.
COHN: And I`m going to say that -- I mean, you know, it`s not just a
health care decision. People are going to see this in the context of Bush
v. Gore, in the context of Citizens United. Probably going to get a
decision on the immigration case that cuts 5-4 in this direction and I
think there is a long-term perception issue, what this court is going to
be, this sort of retrograde, stick it to the Democrats` institution.
And, you know, maybe whatever the immediate reaction is to this
decision, I think the long-term legitimacy as Kenji said, is at stake.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we`ve talked about the institution of the
presidency. We`ve talked about the institution of the Supreme Court. Up
next, the institution of marriage, it changes all the time.
HARRIS-PERRY: For today`s "Footnote", a reflection on marriage, that
terrain where the personal is indeed political. Marriage is not solely
about loving attachment. It`s also about state recognition and a specific
bundle of rights and privileges.
But these rights are not enough to explain why people choose
marriage. The desire to express love, to commit, and to consent is more
deeply human than that. Take black American slaves, who were legally
barred from marrying, but who created their own ceremonies and adhered to
their own commitments, by choosing whom to love, how to love, what to
sacrifice, and how long to stay committed, they arrived out space for
themselves, as human beings, in a system that attempted to reduce them to
beasts of burden.
In slaves, people desired marriage and understood themselves as
married. But without the protection of government, their marriages could
be disrupted, their spouses sold, their families separated. They could
love each other, but they were vulnerable.
Now, to be gay in America today is not the same as being a slave in
the 19th century, little in human history compares to intergenerational,
chattel slavery. But there are important connections on the issue of
marriage. Many same-sex couples in the United States, live in a fraught,
contingent space of loving attachment, unprotected by state recognition.
They too are vulnerable.
But even as they fight for equal access to marriage, marriage as an
institution declines, fewer people who can marry are choosing to do so, and
more people who do marry are choosing to divorce.
Contemporary heterosexual marriage is a bit of a mess. And the
current state of straight marriage is a reminder that simply to have the
right to marry is not sufficient to generate social equality, create
economic stability, or ensure personal fulfillment. Even as we move toward
marriage equality for same-sex couples, we need to reflect on marriage as
an institution in itself. Our work is not just about marriage equality, it
should also be about equal marriages, about equal rights and security for
those who opt out of marriage altogether.
Advocates of marriage equality reassure the voting public that same-
sex marriage won`t change the institution. That`s a pragmatic strategy,
but I hope it`s not true.
I hope same-sex marriage changes marriage itself. I hope it changes
marriage the way that no fault divorce changed it. I hope it changes
marriage the way that allowing women to own their own property and seek
their own credit changed marriage. I hope it changes marriage the way that
laws against spousal abuse and child neglect changed marriage.
And I also hope marriage equality results in more equal marriages.
And I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult
lives outside of marriage. We have to do more than simply integrate new
groups into an old system, let`s use this moment to re-imagine marriage and
marriage-free options for building families, bearing children, crafting
community and contributing public goods.
That`s our show for today. Thank you to Kenji Yoshino, Richard Kim,
Aisha Moodie-Mills and Jonathan Cohn for sticking around.
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you next Saturday at
10:00 a.m. Eastern. House former speaker, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
will be my guest and Claire Underwood. A must-see show.
Coming up, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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