All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Wednesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
June 26, 2013
Guests: Barney Frank, Kenji Yoshino, Dan Savage, Mary Bonauto, Barbara Lee, Wendy Davis
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
And it has been an incredible 24 hours of democracy on display in the
United States of America. Tonight, the newest and brightest star of the
Democratic Party, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis will be here to discuss
her unbelievable filibuster, a dramatic 11-hour stand for women, and an
improbable victory that captured the nation`s attention last night. That
is coming up.
And speaking of rising stars, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro is
here to talk about how the new fight for voter`s rights, the critical
issue, the 2014 election has already begun.
But we begin with the monumental news that was delivered to us this
morning by the Supreme Court of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Take a look now, huge crowds outside
the Supreme Court today. Nine justices will rule on two cases that could
redefine equality and gay rights in this country.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The Supreme Court has just struck down the
federal Defense of Marriage Act.
(CHEES AND APPLAUSE)
WILLIAMS: It is the law passed by Congress in 1996, signed by
President Clinton, that prevented the federal government from recognizing
the validity of same sex marriages in the states where they`re legal.
EDIE WINDSOR, DOMA PLAINTIFF: Children born today will grow up in a
world without DOMA. The same children who happen to be gay will be free to
love and get married, as Thea and I did, but with the same federal
benefits, protections and dignities as everyone else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pete Williams has the decision we think was
previewed. But here it is on Proposition 8.
WILLIAMS: The Supreme Court has decided that it cannot take up the
challenge to California`s Proposition 8. Same sex marriage is now once
again legal in the state of California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is on the line, from Air Force One,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Mr. President, this is Kris Perry.
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: It`s Sandy Stier. And we thank you for your
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re proud of you
guys and we`re so glad that in California and in a growing number of states
across the country because of your leadership, people are getting their
equal rights. So, you guys should be very proud of today through your
courage, you`re helping out a whole lot of people everywhere.
PAUL KATAMI, PLAINTIFF: So today is a good day. It`s the day I
finally get to look at the man that I love and finally say, will you please
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES: Today, the Supreme Court opened up same sex marriage once
again in California. The most populated state in the country and ruled
that any couple that is legally married in their state, in these United
States is married before the eyes of the federal government.
This is a watershed moment in the century`s long struggle for
equality in this country. It is a sweet, sweet victory and it is important
in this life to savor those.
Joining me now is syndicated columnist Dan Savage. He`s editorial
director at "The Stranger", "Seattle News" and author of "American Savage:
Insights, Slights and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics."
Dan, where were you when you got the news it was early out in
Seattle. Where were you, what was your reaction?
DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN SAVAGE": I was sitting in my kitchen
at my computer refreshing my Twitter feed over and over again, while my
husband of 18 years, Terry, my husband now, at every level of the state in
Washington where we live, our marriage is recognized, and now at the
federal, was upstairs in bed asleep. And our 15-year-old son D.J. was
downstairs in bed asleep. And I cheered so loud I woke them both up and
that`s how Terry got the news.
HAYES: I interviewed you on my previous program "UP", the day before
you were legally married in the state of Washington after that state,
through a ballot initiative, I believe, had legalized marriage equality.
What does this mean for you? In your every day life, this transformational
law, what does it mean now for you?
SAVAGE: Well, pragmatically, as has been pointed out by other
people, some of the most important incidents of marriage kick in at the
worst moments of your life -- at the end of life, certainly being able to
make end of life decisions for your partner, for you, your spouse. But at
tax time, Terry and I, because we`re married and the federal government
didn`t recognize our marriage we weren`t able to file jointly, we paid
about $80,000 more perhaps in the last year in taxes than we would have
otherwise, basically our son`s college education funds drained from us,
because one of us didn`t have a vagina.
So, in practical terms we`re going to see our tax bill cut
significantly by being treated fairly, by being treated like any other
couple and not being penalized for loving each other and committing to each
other the way we have then.
HAYES: I want to read some of Justice Scalia`s dissent in this case.
It was a 5-4 decision. The majority decision authored by Kennedy, with the
four liberals in the court, four conservative in the court, in dissent on
the DOMA case. This is Justice Scalia writing for those -- "To defend
traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean or humiliate those who would
prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the
United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To
hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution."
I`m not reading you a part of the dissent in which he literally said
argo, bargle (ph). What was your response to the Justice Scalia dissent
which was quite, quite impassioned and angry.
SAVAGE: I don`t want to swear on this program, it will get you in
HAYES: Please don`t.
SAVAGE: But my response by basically a string of profanities. And
he`s carrying water there and (INAUDIBLE) you know, the National
Organization for Marriage line, the Family Research Council line, that you
either can support traditional marriage or you support gay marriage.
I`m a huge supporter of traditional marriage. My father happens to
be in a traditional marriage as does my brother, as is sister. Our
neighbors who we love very much and are very close are all traditionally
married heterosexuals. And Terry and I are big supporters of their
relationships and their marriages and they`re all big supporters of us and
our relationship and our marriage.
It isn`t -- you can love traditional marriage for people who are
heterosexual and you can love gay marriage for your friends and neighbors
and colleagues who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It`s not the either/or
that Scalia would have you believe that it is and (INAUDIBLE) would have
you believe that it is.
HAYES: I have to say, Dan, that my straight marriage today feels
incredibly undefended. It`s just naked and vulnerable out there in the
Syndicated columnist Dan Savage, thank you so much.
SAVAGE: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now is Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director
for GLAD, Gay and Lesbian, Advocates and Defenders. She`s been called the
legal architect of the DOMA repeal, an incredible attorney and incredible
voice in this movement for equality.
You were on the legal team that brought the case. And there were a
lot of questions. A lot of people were feeling cautiously optimistic that
on DOMA, that the court was going to rule in your favor. There was a big
question about how broad or narrow that ruling might be, when you got that
opinion in your hands today and you read through it, what was your sense of
how broad or narrow is this? Where is this on the scale of what you wanted
out of this court?
MARY BONAUTO, CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT DIRECTOR, GLAD: I would say it
was practically perfect. It was a terrific ruling, it was a strong
equality ruling. Justice Kennedy didn`t go for the federalism issue that
some people speculated he would. It is unusual, of course, to have the
federal government saying anything about marriage and he noted that in the
context of equal protection and saying, why was the federal government
essentially overriding state`s determination that people are married when
it comes to all federal laws?
But, anyway, it was a terrific decision.
HAYES: You were an early litigant in trying to push this at the
state level. You were part of the lawsuit in Massachusetts, the state
Supreme Court in Massachusetts ultimately found that any kind of
differential marriage in that state violated that state`s constitution.
When you started this undertaking, do you think you would see a
moment like today in your lifetime?
BONAUTO: I hoped I would. I remember when DOMA was passed by the
Congress in 1996 and, of course, that was eight years before we had
marriage anywhere, and I knew DOMA was an outlier then, it was a special
rule just for gay people to disadvantage them. It was incredible today to
see the clarity of that decision, making it clear that DOMA was, in fact,
intended to demean gay people and tell us and tell the economy and tell our
own families that we`re unworthy of federal respect.
So, now we have a situation where DOMA`s official disrespect for our
relationships has been replaced by respect by the federal government for
all of these 1,000 laws that are affected.
MADDOW: The majority of states in this union do not have marriage
equality. Some of them, many of them have prohibitions at the
constitutional level against it. Today a fascinating thing happened.
Justice Scalia handed folks like you who are warriors on behalf of
equality, a road map for how to take the majority`s decision and use it to
just crack everything open wide.
In his dissent, he takes part of the majority opinion and says, hey,
guys, this is how you take the majority opinion, cross out a few words and
what you end up with is the identical argument to strike down every ban of
marriage equality across the nation, is that your next step?
BONAUTO: That discussion is already underway. There are five
lawsuits right now in federal court challenging constitutional bans on
marriage. There are state level efforts to win legislatively. There are
cases in state courts.
I mean, the discussion is happening, and I think over the next number
of years, you`re going to see every branch of government, state and federal
involved in these discussions. And, of course, the court of public
So, we are undoubtedly moving forward, and I think this issue will be
back at the Supreme Court. The DOMA decision, and I want to give a shout
to Robert Kaplan and Edie Windsor and the ACLU and the Stanford Law Clinic
who drove that case and did a phenomenal job.
But the DOMA decision was really about DOMA. But it`s really clear
by the ringing declarations from the court that equality means equality,
including for gay people and in the context of gay people`s family
relationships, that this is a building block going-forward.
HAYES: Anthony Kennedy specifically cites specifically the Fifth
Amendment of the Constitution, and the violation of equal protection, and
that Constitution pertains in every state.
So, attorney Mary Bonauto from GLAD -- thank you very, very much.
BONAUTO: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now is Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from
California. She`s a founding member and vice chair of the congressional
LGBT equality caucus.
And, Congresswoman, my question for you is, you are a very outspoken
progressive, you`re part of the broad coalition that is progressivism, and
the liberals in America? What does today mean for that broad coalition
that includes people from so many walks of life. So many races and creeds
and cultures and backgrounds and circumstances, what does today`s decision
mean for that coalition.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I tell you, Chris, today we
reaffirm that the is equal justice under the law. This was a major, major
decision for those who believed that discrimination is wrong. For those
who believed that justice and fairness and equality should prevail, then I
think today for our coalition, but also for our entire country this is a
good day, because the Constitution is very clear for protections on
everyone, and nondiscrimination.
And so I think we have to move forward now and make sure that all of
our states in the country really, I think, live up to what the Constitution
requires and the Supreme Court decision today opened that door. And I am
so pleased and proud of this.
HAYES: I`d like to ask you about the White House. The White House
made a really remarkable decision, I think it`s important to take a second
to note that the justice department did something pretty extraordinary out
of the ordinary, they refused to defend the law, DOMA. They said, "We find
What that meant was, today, the president could be celebrating with
the rest of most of his coalition, with a lot of people in America. It
meant that they were, when history looks back, not on the wrong side of
history, what is the significance of that specifically, of the president
taking that stand in terms of the decision today?
LEE: What was the right decision, the president did the right thing,
his administration was on the right side of this, I have to applaud the
president because it took a lot for him to come out and do this, in the
administration, but they were right, they came down on the side of the
Constitution, and equality, and the Republicans I believe spent about $23
million just opposing and trying to rally against what took place today at
the Supreme Court.
So, I`m very proud of our president, and I`m very proud of everyone
who stood firm and fought for justice, equality and equal justice under the
law. This was a major, again, as I said, a constitutional decision that I
hope everyone will look at, because now we can move forward and hopefully
insist that there be equal justice under the law for everyone.
HAYES: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from California, always a
pleasure. Thank you very much.
LEE: Thank you.
HAYES: While many people were sleeping last night, one of the most
dramatic moments in politics in recent memory played out in the Texas
statehouse, a one-woman filibuster that lasted 11 hours. The woman who did
that will be here coming up.
HAYES: Late last night the Twitter account of the president of the
United States tweeted the following, "Something special is happening in
Austin tonight. #standwithwendy."
He was referring to the absolutely epic 11-hour filibuster by Texas
State Senator Wendy Davis. Senator Davis joins me next.
HAYES: Last night into early this morning, I was one of 160,000
people watching this on the Internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can have order in the chamber, so the
members can properly cast their vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those were the final dramatic moments of one of the most
remarkable acts of political leadership that I have ever seen. Wendy Davis
took to the floor on the final day of the senate`s special session for a
planned 13-hour filibuster to stop Senate Bill 5, an anti-abortion bill
that would be one of the most restrictive in the country if passed.
This filibuster is a genuine test of will and physical stamina.
Wendy Davis was not allowed to sit down, she was not allowed to lean on
anything. No one was allowed to physically help her. She could not eat or
drink or use the bathroom.
She needed to only speak about topics germane to the bill, and she
needed to do this from 11:18 in the morning until 12:00 midnight. Wendy
Davis was more than up to the challenge. And after nearly 11 hours of
standing and talking, Republicans interrupted Davis` filibuster saying her
discussion about ultrasounds was off topic on a bill about restricting
Republicans tried less than two hours before the session was over, to
use this alleged infraction to push through Senate Bill 5. This is when
Davis` Democratic colleagues tried to use parliamentary procedures to run
out the clock. They made it, until about 20 minutes before midnight when a
Senate Leticia Van De Putte`s motion was ignored in favor of a male
Republican colleague who motioned for a vote on the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE (D), TEXAS: Did the president hear me
state the motion? Or did the president hear me and refuse to recognize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, you are now recognized on the motion to
VAN DE PUTTE: I do not wish to make that motion at this time,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
VAN DE PUTTE: At what point m a female senator raise her hand or
voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those cheers you hear, they opens up a wave of emotion in the
Senate gallery, and all the people rooting for Wendy Davis to stop this
bill realized they could take it over the finish line. With 50 minutes to
go, the gallery became the Senate floor. And these cheering people kept a
vote from happening before the midnight deadline. They took Wendy Davis`
courageous lead and won an inspirational victory if temporary for the
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HAYES: And joining me now is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, a
Democrat. She represents Ft. Worth in district 10.
Senator, my first question to you is having watched a good chunk of
your filibuster yesterday, what was going through your head at that time,
and body? Was it -- were you like the runner in the 26th mile of the
marathon at the end of that?
ST. SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS: It certainly felt that way at
times. And it really wasn`t just a physical endurance, but a mental
endurance as well. Because unlike our Senate tradition where a filibuster
is respected and there are points of order called upon it, I was subject to
several points of order yesterday that ultimately shut things down and that
was as much a test of my endurance as anything, just trying to anticipate
what those pints of order might be, stay ahead of them, and stay out of
anything that might occasion one.
HAYES: People watching what was going on, a lot of people felt that
your colleagues, particularly your male Republican colleagues were being
disrespectful and condescending to you, did you feel that way as you stood
in that chamber?
DAVIS: Yes, I did. But I wish I could tell you that was atypical
here. On this particular issue, I think it became even more stark that we
were talking about a group of primarily men who were coming together to
make decisions about women`s health care, and women`s access to health care
in the state of Texas, and literally intruding upon private decision making
by women. And so I think maybe perhaps people viewed it more starkly in
HAYES: We just got news today, Governor Perry has called another
special session for next week to push this bill among a few others. And he
said this, I thought this was an interesting sentence in his statement, "We
will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from
doing what the people of the state hired us to do."
How do you respond to that?
DAVIS: You know, I would respond to that by saying that Governor
Perry and Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst led the charge in terms of a
breakdown of decorum. They have overridden and made a mockery of all of
the rules that we run by in this state. First by taking an issue that
couldn`t make it through the regular session where we have a two third
majority rule in the Senate in order to bring a bill up to the floor rule,
and instead moving it to a special session where Lieutenant Governor
Dewhurst made a decision that we would no longer respect that 2/3 decision
for purposes of the special session. That this bill could pass by a simple
And what we saw yesterday was injury added to that insult, where
senate rules became meaningless, and those who were watching and understand
anything about our rules in Texas, understand that the presiding officer,
the lieutenant governor used every ability that he had to run roughshod
over those rules to shut the filibuster down, to force this bill through.
And what we see is that they`re going to do that again.
And I think the people that were there in the gallery yesterday were
observing decorum in the most respectful way, until they no longer could
take it, because they saw that the presiding officer was expecting that
observation of them, but he was not conducting himself in that way, and
ultimately in that last 15 minutes of the evening, it became the people`s
filibuster and they were loud, and they were heard. And that`s what
democracy is about, and I was really proud of the way people conducted
HAYES: That was an amazing moment to watch. All right, there is a
gubernatorial election in 2014. Your state has not elected a statewide
Democrat for quite some time. Are you going to run for governor?
DAVIS: You know, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn`t had
aspirations to run for a statewide office. I love this state, and it`s
been an incredible opportunity to represent it in the Texas Senate. I
think the real story will be, will the sentiment of people hold? Will they
demonstrate their desire for new leadership in this state?
If yesterday was any indication, I think chances are pretty good that
that`s going to be the case.
HAYES: Did you know there were 100,000 people watching the live
stream last night? And what do you say to state legislators in Mississippi
or in Alabama or in North Carolina right now that are fighting fights on
this terrain. What do you say to them?
DAVIS: Yes. You know, keep up the fight. I think that people are
hungry for leadership. That`s going to stand up and take positions on
Yesterday, that filibuster was about handing that microphone,
essentially to the people of the state of Texas. And they saw it for that,
and they participated in that to the extent that they could. And for me,
it was a very encouraging sign that people appreciate when you take a tough
stand and you do hard things in order to make sure that their personal
liberties are preserved against the tide of big government intrusions that
are being pushed upon them like people -- by people like Governor Perry and
Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst.
HAYES: Spoken like a true citizen of the republic of Texas from
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, thank you so much.
DAVIS: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Do you know whose seat would have been lost to
redirecting if not for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act? Texas State
Senator Wendy Davis.
More on that coming up.
HAYES: Progressives everywhere are celebrating the Supreme Court`s
landmark decisions today on marriage equality. Yesterday`s big ruling, the
one that all but killed the very heart of the voting rights act has cast a
shadow on the triumph of this day. It`s already heralding in what promises
to be a long, difficult bruising struggle for equal access to the polls.
Literally within hours of the Supreme Court`s decision to strike
down Section 4 of the voting rights act yesterday, the state of Texas moved
to capitalize on what officials there see as a political victory. Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott announcing the state would be immediately
implementing a voter I.D. law that was blocked last year under the now
defunct authority of the voting rights act.
Quote, "With today`s decision, the state`s voter I.D. law will take
effect immediately." And while he was at it, he also made a push to revive
the redistricting maps Texas Republicans tried to implement back in 2011,
by which a federal judicial panel said last year violated the voting rights
act. Quote, "Redistricting maps passed by the legislator may take effect
without approval from the federal government."
Some Texas Republicans in other words seemed awfully excited that
they no longer have to prove that their voting laws are not discriminatory
before implementing them. And they are not alone. Five other states also
appear poised to move ahead with voter I.D. laws now the Supreme Court has
relieved them from federal scrutiny.
If you think there`s any kind of geographic theme here you are not
mistaken. Arkansas Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia have already passed
voter I.D. laws that no longer need preapproval. And South Carolina
signalled its intent to move forward with the voter I.D. law that had been
previously blocked under the voting rights act.
Joining me now is Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas.
Congressman, I got to say as a Democrat in Texas, a Latino Democrat in
Texas, I feel like yesterday`s decision has a very, very special relevance
to your political future.
REPRESENTATIVE JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well, certainly, Chris, many of
us were very disappointed yesterday in Texas and throughout the country
with the decision of the Supreme Court. I live in a state where as
recently as two years ago, a federal court found that the Texas
legislature, the Republican Texas legislature intentionally discriminated
against minorities in drawing congressional districts and other districts
and so this voting rights decision certainly doesn`t help in a state like
HAYES: I would even go a little further than it doesn`t help and I`d like
to hear your reaction to this. I mean, let`s look at the stark facts of
the state of Texas, it`s growing in population, the population growth is
coming disproportionately from Hispanics. It`s going to be the case in the
near future that there will be a Hispanic majority in that state. If you
are a White Republican in the state of Texas, you have every political
incentive to limit the voting power of that growing majority.
CASTRO: That`s exactly right. And that`s what we`ve seen over the last
few legislative sessions. As you mentioned, right away, Greg Abbott said
that the voter I.D. law that was passed in 2011 would take effect
immediately. But they also regulated things on polling places, on mail
balloting, all sorts of regulations that are aimed at shaving off
democratic voters. And I`ll give you one quick example.
CASTRO: In that voter I.D. law, they allow for the use of military I.D.,
but they don`t allow for the use of student I.D. clearly obviously favoring
voters that tend to be more conservative over those that tend to be more
HAYES: Congressman, you`re a member of Congress as well. And the Supreme
Court has kicked this across the street into your and your colleagues`
laps. Have you had conversations with your colleagues about attacking this
CASTRO: Well, quite honestly, it`s a tough conversation because I think
for a lot of Republicans, who especially in the states that you mentioned,
the nine states, often times where the Republican primary is controlled by
Tea Party folks, it`s going to be tough for some of them to essentially
come to an agreement where they`re admitting, the Justice Department should
be reviewing what my state does with respect to elections. Now that the
Supreme Court has made this decision, the job of Congress is to try to come
to an agreement and still have some oversight with respect to elections and
voting. But it`s going to be a tough haul.
HAYES: Do you see any nexus between the immigration bill that is moving
its way through the Senate, it looks like we may get a vote on it tomorrow,
and the voting rights decision yesterday in terms of the way that the
coalition politics in America are playing out? Because it seems to me like
Texas is really the ground zero for this future political battle for the
country. And obviously immigration reform is going to have a lot to do
with what the demographics of the voting population of your state looks
like in the near future.
CASTRO: Sure, I think all of these issues will affect elections. Texas,
for example, is a state that by 2020 will be about 45 or 46 percent Latino
in the ten years after that, will be over 50 percent Latino, same thing for
California. So immigration reform and how we handle how the Congress
handles adjusting the voting rights act are going to be crucial in the
HAYES: Finally, we just had Wendy Davis on, and I saw, I think you tweeted
some support last night.
CASTRO: I did.
HAYES: What does her moment last night, and I should be very clear, that
bill was not passed in that session, the governor`s called another one.
That fight is going to start next week. What did that moment mean for
Texas Democrats who had been on the map for so long in that state?
CASTRO: Yes. Chris, that literally was the moment that Texas Democrats
came alive. I spent ten years in the legislature waiting for a night like
that, and I never got it. We never got it when I was there. And so it was
electrifying last night. I stayed up here in Washington until 2:30, 3:00
in the morning following all the coverage, sending out tweets, and there
was so much energy, you could tell, we`re all very proud of Wendy. Glad
that she and the other state senators and legislators stood up for what
HAYES: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you very much.
CASTRO: Thank you.
HAYES: OK, we are not finished talking about the huge news in the Supreme
Court`s ruling on the defense of marriage act and Prop 8 today. Barney
Frank, the one and only joins me next.
HAYES: Due to time constraints tonight, Click 3 has hit the cutting room
floor. Tonight`s Click 3 will be up at our Facebook page at
facebook.com/allinwithchris. Coming up, former Congressman Barney Frank
will be here to react to the Supreme Court`s ruling of the defence of
marriage act. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REPRESENTATIVE BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think that for
political purposes, the majority is doing something that they really don`t
want to do, which is announcing that Congress has the power that they don`t
really think it has, and in fact by announcing here, they are weakening,
rather than strengthening states rights. They`re announcing it`s up to
Congress to decide whether or not you will give full faith or credit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was former Congressman Barney Frank, then one of just a few
openly gay members of Congress speaking at a hearing of the defense of
marriage act in 1996, questioning whether the Republicans really wanted to
say that the federal government had the right to tell the states what did
or did not count as marriage. Despite opposition from Barney Frank and
others, DOMA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President
Clinton in 1996. But today, of course, 17 years later, the Supreme Court
has struck it down.
Joining me now is former Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from
Massachusetts. He was the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out
back in 1987, and his decision to do so help change the landscape for gay
politics and gay politicians. It`s really a pleasure to have you here.
FRANK: Thank you, Chris. I`m glad to have this chance to talk with you.
HAYES: Well, first, I want to get your reaction to the news this morning.
Where were you when you heard and what did you feel when you heard it?
FRANK: Well, I was at an MSNBC studio in Washington.
HAYES: Our bookers are good.
FRANK: I was in Washington yesterday because my portrait was hung in the
committee room and I`m very pleased to say that prominent in the portrait
is my wedding ring. I was asked to be at MSNBC at 10:00. We knew the
decision was coming down so I was sitting in the chair when I heard the
great news. After finishing the program, Jim and I went over to the
Supreme Court to spend a very happy time.
My reaction obviously was great happiness, a couple factors. First
of all, my husband can now come on to my federal employee retired health
benefits. He`s been an independent small businessman doing construction.
That`s for me and many others.
HAYES: That`s a huge deal.
FRANK: There are hundreds of thousands of people who will get the benefits
they`ve been paying taxes for. Secondly, I talk about the constitution as
a series of efforts to extend to the people who are excluded from the great
principles of the constitution, of the declaration of independence, those
rights. And we`re the last group to get them.
The equal protection clause of the constitution has been a major way
to protect groups from discrimination. First obviously African-Americans,
but other ethnic groups, women, to a great extent thanks to Ruth Bader
Ginsburg. Today`s decision didn`t strike down the defense of marriage act.
It recognized fairly clearly that we are entitled to the protection of the
equal protection act.
And finally, you had the California decision which means that 30
million more Americans are going to say where that right exists. These
victories are self-re-enforcing. The more we have people able to marry,
the harder it`s going to be for the anti-s to say it`s going to cause harm.
In the end, the way we win this is reality defeats prejudice.
HAYES: What is the lesson? I want to talk about the moment this was
passed, it`s an intense lesson about how politics works and democracy
works. What made this law come into effect in 1996?
FRANK: Robert Dole`s presidential candidacy. In 1995, a group of people
in Hawaii sued in the Hawaiian Court to get marriage. The Hawaiian Court
was going to say yes. At that point some of my gay and lesbian friends
announced that if Hawaii accepted same sex marriage, it would then be
universal in the whole country. That was never a good law, and it was
terrible politics that gave the right wing the reason to step in.
Hawaii never went forward with that, but Bob Dole was the Senate
leader, he was running against Bill Clinton for president and within a
short period of time in the summer of `96, the Republicans saw this as a
great issue, to use against Bill Clinton. That`s exactly why it got passed
to try to give Bob Dole some leverage against Bill Clinton.
HAYES: And Bill Clinton signed into law. Today, Clinton saying, by
overturning the defense of marriage act, the court recognizes
discrimination against any group holds us back in our efforts to form a
more perfect union. What is your feeling about the arc of Bill Clinton?
FRANK: It`s not just the arc of Bill Clinton, Paul Willstone, one of the
great liberals of our time voted for that bill. In 1996, the country was
in a very tough position. We were beginning to win the fight against
unfair treatment, but marriage was the toughest issue, so what Bill Clinton
did was frankly what most Democratic politician and every Republican
HAYES: Made a calculation. Former Congressman Frank is going to stick
around. We`ll be right back with MSNBC contributor, Joy Reid,
Constitutional Law Professor Kenji Yoshino. Stick around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to
say, when people talked about interracial marriages, and I quote, "racists
do not fall in love and get married, individuals fall in love and get
married." Why don`t you want your fellow men and women to be happy?
People want to get married. Buy a house and spend their lives with the one
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was congressman and civil rights leader, John Lewis speaking
against the anti-defense of marriage act in 1996, drawing powerful
comparisons to the civil rights movement. Joining me now is MSNBC
contributor and managing editor of thegrio.com, Joy Reid and Kenji Yoshino,
a constitutional law professor at New York University School of law, and
still with me at the table, it`s my great pleasure to have former
Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts whose portrait was
Kenji, OK, today`s an awesome day, a great day, a beautiful day,
it`s a moving, overwhelming day. It is tainted to me by yesterday. I was
-- I have to say, I was so angry at that decision. I was surprised at how
angry it made me, and I feel whiplash and confusion and my heart is an
emotional pretzel after the last two days. How do we make sense of these
two days back to back?
KENJI YOSHINO, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: I want to add on the
third day, affirmative action day, I don`t think it got good news on
affirmative action either looking down the road. If we are trying to make
sense of it, we`re looking at first and second generations of
discrimination so gays are as John Lewis is articulating, where African-
Americans were in 1967 were confronting first generation discrimination.
It`s relatively easy for the court to see. What`s much harder for the
court to deal with under the equal protection clause is when the
discrimination is even slightly jiggered in a way, so that instead of
talking about eliminating the vote for African-Americans, we talk about
voter I.D. or literacy tests.
HAYES: DOMA just says gay people can`t get married. It`s not a voter I.D.
law. It`s not a redistricting that is plausibly or arguably raise neutral.
Right, it is just straight up honest face discriminatory. The mechanisms
people used for systematic racial discrimination are just much craftier.
YOSHINO: Exactly. No one is going to stand up and say, I`m for racism
what they`ll do instead, which is not to say racism is over. It`s just to
say racists will use code words, crime, immigration, or what have you.
HAYES: And the court has a hard time picking that up.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The only connective tissue I`ve been able to
find the only one I can find is sort of an anti-federal argument saying the
federal government should have respected the states wishes in the 12 states
that passed gay marriage, so we`ll go with that, and the federal government
has to be differential to the way the states want to do voting rights. I
find this court the most blatantly political. I think John Roberts has a
good cop bad cop mentality. He thinks he can hide the voting rights
apostrophe, the horror of what they did under a bushel by giving us the
good news of the DOMA decision last.
FRANK: Let`s talk about consistency. They were more consistent than those
on the right side. It was Justice Kennedy.
HAYES: We shouldn`t overstate there`s one guy.
FRANK: I`m pleased that I did not have to choose between did I want a good
day on voting rights or today, I`m heart broken by this, I would disagree
with someone who said, the court doesn`t get it. They get it. They knew
what they were doing. They knew they were supporting this kind of
discrimination. They are a very political court. Yesterday was bad news
for gay people as well.
I want to see a non-discrimination act passed. The fact is what
happened yesterday the court made it harder for us to find people who would
be supportive of LGBT rights. I was won who was urging LGBT people not to
push a same sex amendment to immigration. I didn`t want to kill the
immigration bill. So important to the Hispanics because for years the
Hispanic caucus was supportive of our efforts now with this DOMA decision -
HAYES: It takes it off the table.
FRANK: -- without that problem many.
HAYES: On a Facebook feed, someone I know when I was living in Chicago
posed a picture of her and her partner and their kid in front of the
picture with the news of this decision because it means maybe we could move
back to the U.S. I mean, it`s an incredible --
REID: I think the congressman makes a good point. They could have just
obliterated anti-gay laws in all 50 states. If you live in a state like
New York you have more rights than a state like Florida. I was surprised
at how angry I was at Clarence Thomas. I think there is nothing more sad
than somebody like Clarence Thomas who could have made the difference in
the voting rights decision, but who consistently ruled on the side against
the oppressed, against the people whose rights are being taken away.
FRANK: He`s always made it clear that he`s the last person that should
have benefited from affirmative action. I think with regard to the
decision -- incident. That professes you -- this has limitations beyond
same sex. This was the first statement that LGBT people are entitled -- we
would not have gotten that if it wasn`t for John Boehner and the House
HAYES: In refusing to defend it.
FRANK: The courts didn`t decide the California Prop 8, they said there`s
no way to appeal it. There was no presidential appeal there, the court says
clearly, thanks to the Republican members of Congress who decided to wade
in and defend the defense of marriage act. The court was then able to
write an opinion. John Boehner gets a little bit today.
HAYES: House Republican caucus.
FRANK: I would pay for that opinion.
YOSHINO: I want to add by looking at the question the other way, which is
to say a second generation world, who is going to use the word race, who is
going to use the word African-American, who is going to use the word
Latino. Her answer is the people who are trying to help subordinate a
minority. They have race on their faith and they get struck down and are
vulnerable in the court. That`s a way of fitting all the cases together.
The race cases on one hand and the gay cases on the other. Two different
FRANK: Don`t give them too much credit. Four of them were as unwilling to
help gay and lesbians.
FRANK: For one reason I`m grateful for it, it was consistent. Justice
Kennedy voted with us on the Colorado case, in the --
HAYES: Affirmative action, other things have -- former Congressman Barney
Frank, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid and constitution law professor, Kenji
Yoshino, thank you all for being here.
That is ALL IN for this evening. The "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
right. Good evening, Rachel. It`s a good day to have a television show.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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