Meet the Press   |  June 30, 2013

Where does the gay marriage debate go from here?

In the wake of the week's historic Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage, a Meet the Press panel of experts forecasts what will come next for gay marriage rights.

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

>> you are such a significant newsman, as we like to discuss around here, that even when you get news of something significant like the ruling in the gay marriage debate, it is becoming viral sensation on vine, the loop seen round the world of the scotus blog intern hustling the decision to pete williams so he can inform the world. good to have all of you here.

>> i was sweating too.

>> exactly. you had been running just prior to that. so much to get into. let's begin with where this de debate over gay marriage goes now. rachel maddow , the reaction has been so big, so fast, and what now becomes a real by big question.

>> the supreme court had the choice not only which way to rule on gay marriage rights but how they were going to rule. they could have said this isn't a federal issue at all, states should decide it. or they could decide it onqual protection grounds and say gay discrimination is wrong. those are the grounds on which they decided it. i tend to side with justice scalia on this, who ten years ago in the lawrence case said if the court finds that there is not a state interest in discriminating and showing moral disapproval of home sexuality then we can't stop equal marriage rights . that's what scalia warned ten years ago. i think he's right.

>> if you look at part of the majority opinion by justice kennedy , he writes the following, and it seems to be a big shot in the arm for gay marriage supporters when he writes this. doma, the defense of marriage act , undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages for it tells those couples and all the world their otherwise valid marges are -- marriages are unworthy of federal recognition . this places them in a second-tier marriage. this demeans the couple whose moral and sexual choices the constitution protects.

>> that's the part of the opinion that will be used by supporters of same-sex marriage as they try to come up with a legal strategy to go state by state. there is something in this opinion for everybody. justice kennedy uses the word dignity ten times in the opinion to refer to same-sex relationships but at the same time he says this is so important because it demeans the choice the states have made. the other side can say no, no, this opinion is all about leaving it up to the states , not that there's a fundamental right but that you have to deaf to what the states want. that's something for the other side.

>> here is how it looks in the states . ralph reed , as we put up the map of where gay marriage is now legal, 13 states and the district of columbia where it is legal or will be soon. wide swath of this country, 37 states , in fact, where it is not legal. what happens now?

>> well, i hate to throw cold water on the celebration on the other side, but this court specifically and explicitly rejected what the plaintiffs argued in this case, which was there is a 14th amendment equal protection right to be married as gays and lesbians . the court rejected that argument. and even in the doma case --

>> did they reject it or sidestep it?

>> well, clearly the votes were not there. you know, kennedy's wanted to go there ever since, you know, the lawrence decision last decade. but the votes are not there, and i don't expect the votes to be there anytime soon. and i also don't buy into this sort of notion of history this is sort of an inevitable train and this is where we're going to go. even after that decision, david, 70% of the american people live in states that define marriage as between a man and a woman. 32 of those states passed referendums with an average margin of 57%, and in a cbs/"new york times" poll on june 9th , 60% of the american people and a majority of democrats said they want this resolved at the state level, not the federal level .

>> how did that dynamic change? because there is a huge part of the country and in many states where they're simply not on board with the notion that gays and lesbians have the right to marry. we've also looked at social change that's occurred and political change so rapidly. what changes?

>> let me represent the torrys against the wigs. it's not necessarily inevitable progress but that accentuates, highlights, and underscores the necessity for sustained political intervention on behalf of those people who had been underrepresented. here's the point. i come from a people where it was illegal to be married for a long period of our history in this country so that now that that right has been extended to us, that becomes a metaphor for others who are struggling similarly against state's rights, number one, and against the use of a constitution to prevent their ability to participate in a right that others share freely. so at the fundamental level -- and then if we bring in our own religious beliefs to say dignity is a critical point there, we're dignified because we're human beings , american citizens and because we have rights that everybody should enjoy. if you had polled people in 1963 , '64, and '65, there was huge resistance to a notion of civil rights of a civil rights bill and a civil rights act and a voting rights ablgts. but president used his bully pulpit to encourage congress to get on board. those three -- the judicial, legislative and the congressional -- have to be brought in.