Meet the Press   |  May 05, 2013

3: Ayanbadejo, roundtable discuss civil rights

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and gay rights advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo shares insight on the gay rights movement in the arena of professional sports, and a panel of experts examines issues lying at the intersection of religion and public policy.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with our round table. sporpts news now. thes by announcement this week from jason collins coming out as gay. first time that's happened in the four major sports . for that to happen. i'm joined by brendon ayanbadejo from the world champion baltimore ravens who's been really outspoken about this. brendon, great to have you here. why in your judgment was this a big deal ? is this the start in sports , basketball, football, baseball, hockey?

>> well, it's a big deal because really america's calling for it. you can still be fired in 30 states for being a part of the lgbt community . for someone to step up and show that society is changing and society is calling for equality and people are going to go out there and express themselves, especially in one of the four major sports which has never been done before, it's really a show of the changing of the tides and what's to come in the future.

>> you, i know, followed the supreme court arguments. you know about the political fight of this. the other side of this, the other side of the -- all the celebration from the president calling him to mrs. obama tweeting to others saying this is such an important step is very real and sustained opposition to gay marriage in many parts of the country, in many states, so how -- this may be a big moment. yet the political fight still goes on.

>> yeah. you know, politically we're still fighting to change a lot of things to be accepted federally and to gain marriage equality in the other 40 states. socially it's a change of the times. people have to realize that even though it's your right to have religion and to -- really you can't use that right of religion to take other people's rights away. equality trumps all of them. we protect and we believe in religion . but we just don't feel that religion should be calling out the lgbt community . we just need to open up people's eyes and educate people a little bit more.

>> brendon, you where this week very powerfully about the fact that lesbians have come out in pro sports have not gotten this kind of attention. why, do you think? why is this so much different?

>> i think it's just a little bit harder to break the lines in men's sports . people have this idea of what gayness is. and my good friend ez ra tuolo is a 300 pound physical defensive lineman in football. people think gayness has something to do with femininity when really we just need to erase that stereo types from our minds. lgbt people come in all different types and shapes and forms. so i think that's really what we're fighting. but the beautiful thing about what britney griner did, it barely made a splash. that's what we're trying to do in men's sports when people announce they're gay. we don't want it to change the climate in sports . we want everybody to be accepted and people can go out there and love who they want to love and be who they are so they cannot only be better people but they can also be better athletes.

>> finally you think some players in the nfl will come out. as soon as this next year?

>> i don't know when it's going to happen. as an ally, myself and dante staalworth, chris cluey, scott fajita, when an athlete does come out they'll have a supportive group around them.

>> brendon ayanbadejo , we really appreciate your perspective. thanks for joining us. back to the round table. rich lowry , as i say, the other side to this very big moment in sports and society is the political fight that is still moving on. there's still a great deal of opposition as the supreme court sits with this issue of marriage equality .

>> yeah. look, this is a sign that social attitudes are changing. he got a call immediately from oprah and the president of the united states . you can't get more social affirmation than that. it shouldn't be a big deal , really, one of the reasons it is is underlying -- between the knicks and celtics players turning their series. the culture of major league sports and the nba is at about a seventh or eighth grade level . that's one of the reasons it's such a big deal .

>> joy-ann reid, one of the issues politically, prop 8 in california, mormon community, african-american community most strongly against this. african-american clergy speaking out in the debate over same-sex marriage and gay adoption in illinois. again, it goes to the point that societal views are changing but our politics are changing very slowly around this.

>> i think they're changing really quickly. i think the lgbt community has shown the power of the grass roots to be that additional component to political organizing. you know, you wouldn't have had such a rapid sea change on things like don't ask, don't tell had it just been listed to the congress and president. you've seen the grass roots actually move the debate forward and move society forward. look, there's also the reverse effect. president obama coming out in favor of the rights of gay people to marry actually moved public opinion within the african-american community. there's not blanket opposition to gay rights within the black community. there are prominent pastors, our colleague reverend al sharpton has been one of the most outspoken. there are plenty of black clergy who are actually in support of lgbt rights . i think the president moving has helped that. i also think the gay community itself, gay rights community, has been very aggressive, very tactical and very smart in moving for their civil rights .

>> newt gingrich , do you think -- i haven't hrd whether you say you think a republican nominee for president can support gay marriage ?

>> i think that's up to -- i doubt it. but i think that's up in the air. i do think things are changing. but what i'm struck with is, the one sidedness of the desire for rights. there are no rights for catholics to have adoption services in massachusetts. they're outlawed. there are no rights in d.c. for catholics to have adoption services. they're outlawed. this passing reference to religion . we sort of respect religion . sure. as long as you don't practice it. it would be good to have a debate over -- beyond this question of are you able to be gay in america. what does it mean? does it mean you have to actually affirmatively eliminate any institution which does not automatically accept that and, therefore, you're now going to have a secular state , a wide range of religious groups , catholics , protestants, orthodox jews , mormons, muslims, you cannot practice your religion the way you believe and we will outlaw your institutions?

>> which prohibitions are you speaking of?

>> let's start with adoption services. it's impossible for the catholic church to have an adoption service in massachusetts that follows catholic doctrine.

>> isn't the catholic church , strictly catholic charities in boston, they affirmatively --

>> they withdrew them because they were told you could not follow catholic adoption which was for marriage between a marriage and a woman.

>> the point is you don't have the state telling people what to -- the question is whether or not religious institutions can make public policy . whether they can --

>> there's a lot of religious institutions that have moral objections and --

>> if you're running a pharmacy the public is allowed to use -- same issue if people had -- let's say it's my religious objection to have --

>> the catholic church 's opposition to contraception is on the same moral level as racial discrimination?

>> i'm saying would you have the right to discriminate based on your religious beliefs ? a lot of people used to say that was their reason. what i'm saying is people have a right to their religious beliefs but there is a --

>> except for when you say public policy should trump it.

>> if the church is fwoing to make our public policy are we any longer a secular state ?

>> harold, your general comments on the general impact of jason collins this week?

>> look, people should be able to marry whom they want to marry. i'm a believer everything -- i'm a christian. everything god touches is perfect. if someone has a different sexual orientation than me or preference for marriage, bless their hearts. the fact we're sitting here te baiting this still, i think this is a different topic around religious freedoms. that conversation needs to take place outside of this context. bless the boy's heart. he's able to pursue what he wants to pursue and hopefully more people in sports in these masculine enclaves will make this even more acceptable.

>> i just got about a minute and a half left. i want to inject something, rich, you wrote about on the social issue topic about abortion this week. the trial getting a lot of attention. i want to put it on the record here. you write this. the unwritten rule is that when the left discusses abortion it's never called abortion but always referred to as health or more specifically reproductive health . though abortion is the opposite of reproduction. for one party involved the opposite of health. the trial of kermit gosnell is accused of murdering babies because he allegedly didn't kill them in the womb and had to finish the job outside the womb. because it illustrates how slight the difference is between late term abortion or late term health. nearly everyone recognizes as a crime. he's a complete outliar beieoutlier but --

>> if doing it outside the womb, collapsing the skull, snipping the spine and the rest of it is wrong, why is it okay inside the womb? i think that's a very diffiult question for pro-choice people to grapple with. i was struck by president obama goes to planned parenthood , first sitting president to address planned parenthood , and doesn't mention the world abortion. why doesn't he hail them for their clinics and their affiliates performing more than 300,000 abortions a year? it's such a wonderful thing. they're ashamed to say frankly what they do.

>> joy, 30 seconds.

>> planned parenthood does a lot more than abortion. before i had a job that paid me health insurance planned parenthood is where i got my health care . everything from just general health care and i wasn't going there to get abortions. i was going there to get health care . so planned parenthood is not simply an abortion clinic .

>> right. it does do abortions. the president never acknowledged that.

>> there are doctors and clinics that do it, too. the second thing is gosnell is not something that should outrage liberals, it's something that should outrage anyone. general abortion services are not performed -- he was performing these in late, late term. i don't think any rational or thinking human being or feeling human being thinks that's okay whether it's in the womb or out. this was also a case of impoverished women who were going to a place for supposed health care that shouldn't have even been open. it wasn't being inspected where the laws in that state were not being followed. where were the inspections to make sure these services were even being provided in a sanitary facility? just because these women had no money doesn't mean they didn't one... more... step! [