Meet the Press   |  June 30, 2013

1: The next step in the gay marriage debate

A Meet the Press panel of experts forecasts the future of the gay marriage debate in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark decisions, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi visits to share her views on the current conflicts on Capitol Hill.

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

>>> mandela remains in stable but critical condition , another busy day for president obama arriving in cape town and spending the morning at robben island , the jail where mandela was held for the 18 of 27 years of his confinement. saturday the president met privately with some of man dell will's children and grandchildren and spoke to state of the union about the former lead ears legacy.

>> as you go forward, think of the man who's in our prayers today. think about 27 years in prison. think about the hardships and the struggles and being away from family and friends . reflecting on his years of prison, nelson mandela wrote there were dark moments that tested his faith in humanity, but he refused to give up.

>> all of this amid significant political challenges and debates back home in washington . joining me now, msnbc's rachel maddow , founder and chairman of the faith and freedom coalition, ralph reed , professor at georgetown university , michael eric dyson , former republican senator from south carolina , now president of the heritage foundation , jim demint , and our own justice correspondent pete williams . welcome. pete, 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.

>> let me bring jim demint in because i want to come back to pete's point. justice kennedy is using the word dignity over and over again. he's saying you can't demean gay and lesbian couples, you can't discriminate against them. let's be honest, in both of your backgrounds, ralph reed and jim demint , you will be viewed in many quarters as being intolerant of gay rights , intolerant of gays going back to the christian coalition . how do you answer justice kennedy saying to pose gay marriage is to deny dignity to people who deserve equal protection ?

>> what i'd say, david , is he is denying dignity to the millions of americans who for moral or religious reasons believe that gay marriage is wrong. as you just said, you've got 37 states where the people have decided that they want to protect marriage between a man and a woman because they know that that's the environment where children can thrive and succeed. i mean, that's been proven. so it's not about the desires of adults. it's really about the best environment for children. we're talking all about politics, but the reason governments at the state level and the federal level have recognized marriage between a man and a woman is because it's better for our country and it's better for children.

>> justice kennedy addressed that issue in his ruling.

>> he talked about children as well.

>> he said by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids you're humiliating those kids. so we can put it in the interest of children, but i think that cuts both ways and i think the ruling cuts against that argument. i mean, gay people say there's nothing we can do in policy that makes more of us exist or less of us exist. you guys have been arguing far generation that public policy should demean gay people as a means of expressing disapproval the fact we exist. but you're just arguing in favor of discrimination.

>> i really can't let that go. i mean, this suggestion that because somebody wants to affirm the institution of marriage that they're ipso facto sbol ranlt, by that argument barack obama was intolerant 14 months ago. by that argument, 342 members of the house , 85 members of the senate, including by the way joe biden , harry reid , pat leahy , who all voted for this law, and bill clinton who signed it into law were intolerant and motivated by an animus and a hatred for gays. wait a minute.

>> they all changed their mind, though. all of them.

>> we're talking about when they -- obama was 14 months ago. was he a big got 14 months ago?

>> nobody's calling anybody a bigot.

>> was hillary clinton a bigot when --

>> but you are motivated by hatred for somebody else because you believe that the foundation and socializing institution of western civilization is something to be protected.

>> david , i have to say this. the same argument destroyed civilization, will undermine the american family , will challenge our civic institutions, unravel our civil policies. the reality is the same arguments were made on behalf of those.

>> george wallace ?

>> not george wallace . i'm saying george washington . my point is this, that in the american culture , yes, people can change their minds, evolve, grow, think one thing was true then and another is true now. most americans believed 50ears ago one thing abo issues of race, now they believe something different. as we make a move towards progressive realization of what is enlightened viewpoints, your affirmation of marriage for those who are heterosexual goes against people who are aif i wering their right as same-sex people.

>> pete williams , with all those points in mind, the supreme court did not answer this core question.

>> that's right. with all due respect to mr. reed, it did not reject the argument of equality, it just sidestepped it with great relief. it was only too happy to find an off ramp and say the parties that came here, the prop 8 proponents, don't have the proper legal standing . it was obviously clear from the oral arguments that the court is nowhere near wanting to take on this question. they would not like to see this come back. there were two cases pending in the supreme court after it decided these cases from two other states that raised the court question. the court said we're just not going to hear those now. so having done all this, it does not want to see these cases back on its doorstep for quite a while. it wants the states to have very argument you're having.

>> joining me now is republican congressman from kansas tim huelskamp. welcome. i asked you to come on because you are on the leading edge of those conservative opponents of gay marriage within congress who don't want to just have the fights in the states be, in congress . you have proposed a constitutional ban for gay marriage . you have some co-sponsors but you'd have to admit that it seems that the flow of history now, the supreme court and others are sort of working against you, working against the politics of what you're trying to advocate. do you not think that's true?

>> well, our founders made it extraordinarily difficult to amend the constitution, and that's what we're going to try to do. yes, you look at this decision. it's outrageous what the court did. they've taken it upon themselves to rewrite the constitution, and this would make it very clear to them, but to suggest it can't be done, if you look at the issue of life and abortion, we're moving in that direction where most americans oppose most abortions. by that same argument, we should be looking closely at any abortion in this country or something close to that.

>> what is it you have against gays and lesbians marrying?

>> this issue here is the definition of marriage. for centuries in this country and elsewhere around the world in every major rural religion has identified marriage as between a man and a woman. and that's the simple issue here. senator demint did note the research is very clear that the ideal for raising our children should be the issue here, and that's what we need to focus on in this debate.

>> right, but justice kennedy speaks to this. there's also research that indicates -- everybody talks about the interest of children. children tend to prosper in loving -- in homes where there is a loving marriage. right? i mean, there is really not evidence to suggest that if you are a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple that it makes one difference one way or the other.

>> well, actually, the research does not show that. actually, the research is very clear, as we have indicated here. but --

>> no, but everybody throws that out. no, no, the research actually shows that in broken homes it hurts the children, which i think most people would say that would be true with same-sex couples or heterosexual couples. we don't really know, do we. but we do have a sense that loving marriages provide a good family life for children. right?

>> well, we have an epidemic of fatherlessness here, and that's what i agree with the president on. we should be doing more to promote and protect marriage between a man and a woman after the needs of our children. the desires of adults, the court decided the desires of adults should trump the needs of children, and that's what's gotten lost in all the politics, all the debate, all the hand wringing in washington , d.c.

>> but justice kennedy has weighed in heavily on that point. i do want to ask you a political question and give you kind of the two ends within the republican debate about how to treat this issue. mike huckabee , former governor of arkansas, tweeted this out on wednesday. "my thoughts on the scotus ruling that determines that same-sex marriage is okay, jesus wept ." reflecting that part of the conservative party , the faith-based party. david kochel, a republican operative, worked for mitt romney 's campaign, wrote the following. "however intensely conservatives may oppose marriage, kochel said the country is witnessing an inexorable march of progress on the freedom to marry . there will be people who want to roll back the clock, continue this fight over and over again. there will be a lot of sound and fu fury, but i don't think it's going to amount to a whole lot over time ." why do you think this debate is over that the republicans are having?

>> well, because for the american people it's not over. this court attempted to short circuit the democratic process . what you're hearing from these professional consultants who have lost election after election, by the way, these folks have always wanted us to go light and to abandon our positions on social issues. as i mentioned earlier, there are more folks today that are opposed to abortion than support homosexual marriage . but the real issue here is who gets to decide. do five justices get to decide, or do the american people get to decide? do some consultants in washington , d.c., get to decide? at the end of the day , i'm going to go with the 7 million californians who had their votes discarded by this court .

>> tim huelskamp from kansas, thank you very much for your time this morning. i appreciate it.

>> thank you.

>> ralph reed , quick reaction on the political point. you have said this week, this is going to energize republicans not only to fight gay marriage at the state level, but this has implications for the midterm race as well.

>> no question about it. i mean, i think that, first of all, it's far better for this to be resolved at the state level than by a federal decision. second of all, it's better resolved in the political and legislative process at the ballot box than it is by ap active judicial fiat. i think if we find the silver lining at all, and it's hard to do in these decisions, that's it. so what you're going to see in states like iowa where the supreme court imposed same-sex marriage on the state , we're going to be --

>> the state supreme court .

>> the state supreme court . we're going to be attempting to elect legislators who will pass a constitutional amendment to ratify that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

>> three main election efforts, electing mitt romney , getting that iowa state supreme court justice thrown out and the minnesota anti-gay constitutional amendment . you lost all three of those fights in november 2012 . between organize arguments --

>> turn out the evangelical vote.

>> and it was great and they lost, but between -- when oral arguments were made in this case, there were nine states that recognized marriage equality . by the time of the ruling there were 12 states and five minutes later there were 13 states .

>> let me get in here. we'll continue this. but i want to get to another voice on this debate. on friday, i sat down with the democratic leader in the house , nancy pelosi , to talk about this issue, some of the other big issues, as well, that congress is dealing with. my conversation with her. leader, welcome back to "meet the press."

>> welcome to the capitol.

>> thank you. always good to be here. let me start on this historic week on gay marriage and where the fight goes from here. some supporters of same-sex marriage have said they'd like to see it be the law of the land within five years. but you've got 37 states in america where it remains illegal. do you think that's an achievable goal?

>> well, first of all, let's savor the victory. none of us was surprised that the supreme court ruled the way they did. nonetheless, it was a relief to have it over both in terms of the sections of doma as well as the sending proposition 8 back to where it belonged. and, you know, we still have work to do. the president, as you know, is has directed his administration to go through the federal laws that affect marriage equality , couples in their country. and yes, we would like to see it be the law of the land upheld as a constitutional right and no discrimination, no discrimination. that's what we're about as a country.

>> arkansas, only 18% approval. how do you change that tide?

>> well, you know what, look how fast things have changed, even when we went over to listen to the oral arguments at the time of doma in march, the chief justice said people seem to be falling, tripping all over themselves to come out in support of gay marriage . generationally, another generation of people think in a different way about this kind of discrimination. i'm optimistic that the momentum is with ending discrimination.

>> five years is achievable, you think?

>> i would certainly hope so. of course i've been in this, shall we say, crusade for a long time. to see the pace at which it has accelerated in the past few years is very encouraging. let's hope it's even sooner than that.

>> what would you say to conservatives who are energized by this to say, no, this is still a faith-based issue, we're going to lobby the federal government to be very narrow in its implementation and we're going to make this a big fight in the states based on a faith-based view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman?

>> well, for their faith, they can apply that to their religion, and we're not talking about things that religions have to perform wedding ceremonies. we're talking about the state , what the state does and what the state recognizes. people have a right to believe what they believe, but we are a country that professors not to discrimina discriminate, and this is a discrimination. and, again, i think the more people see in their own families, people coming out, saying people they love or profess to whom they love, they're much more receptive. i think that culturally it's still a challenge. but it's changing in favor of not being a nonissue before too long.

>> i want to ask you about the voting rights . the president this week said that you wouldn't have to target particular states the way they were, quote, unquote, precleared in the past. but basically, that every state should be subject to rules with regard to voting so that everybody can vote and that there's no suppression. is that how you view it? is that the way to get started, do you think, to get legislation?

>> well, what we want to do is to correct what the supreme court did. and to do so, we must do it in a bipartisan way, which it always has been, and to do so in a way that addresses the challenge. it may be that we add parts of some other states . but whatever it is, you're not adding states . you're adding criteria.

>> so many hot-button issues to get to. immigration.

>> yeah.

>> you've apparently spoke on the president about the game plan, the way forward . look how daunting this is. 70% of districts held by republicans in the house have a population of hispanic voters of 10% or less. you're an advocate, but you're also a realist. how tough will this be to get meaningful legislation in the house ?

>> i'm hopeful. i'm very optimistic before too long and certainly before this year will have comprehensive immigration reform . congratulations to the senate in a bipartisan way and to the courage of those on the republican side especially who made the tough vote. on the house side, the speaker will have his way to bring a legislation to the floor, and hopefully it will be in a form that takes --

>> what's going to happen? those are the outlines of it, but you've opinion very tough on the speaker saying he's weak. and how optimistic can you be given the fact that i just, you know, cited for you and the views you're going to get?

>> we wouldn't even be where we are right now had it not been 70% of hispanics voted for president obama , voted democratic in the last election. that caused an epiphany in the senate, that's for sure. so all of a sudden now we have already passed comprehensive immigration reform in the senate. that's a big victory. i believe that the members of congress , many more than are directly affected themselves by number of hispanics in their district, will do what is right for our country. and it's certainly right for the republicans to say they want to win a presidential race . the senators know it's important to win statewide, to have hispanics and other immigrant populations supporting them. hopefully, they can persuade their colleagues in the house . but i think they're enough, they're enough. the question is do we have to have these pi-r-squared mathematical formulas about what it takes to bring something to the floor? 218, that's a majority in the house .

>> that would include democrats not add hering only to the majority of republicans .

>> right.

>> on abortion rights , look what's happened, this back and forth in texas this week in an attempt to narrow abortion rights there. as you look at -- here's the supreme court giving back to the states power over big issues like gay marriage , do you see what's happening in the states as the potential, laying the groundwork for potential to undermine abortion rights and why the supreme court would take that up again? do you feel that pressure?

>> yes, i do. but i think it's really important to enlarge the issue beyond abortion because i have been serving here for over two decades, and i have seen year in and year out largely the republicans voting against women -- contraception, family planning . so they want to argue the sensational, which is about abortion, certain cases of abortion. but the fact is it's a fundamental disrespect for women , women 's judgment about the sizing and time of their families. this is a women 's health issue. and, again, if you want to win the day, take the issue to the extreme. but the fact is every single day in the ordinary, the american people , america 's families have to make decisions about their families that should be made by them, not by texas or the united states or congress .

>> do you fear we're at a new age of the erosion of abortion rights ? if you look at what's happening in the states , the number of states that have banned abortions, for instance, after 20 weeks.

>> i think we're in a place where a woman's health is in danger because of whether it is family or contraception or any issues that relate to women 's health. there is an assault on that in the congress , on the ongoing, and in other parts of the country. so we have to be ever vigilant and fight for this. this is -- again, this is about respect for women , the judgments that women make and their doctors about their reproductive health . it's an important part of who women are, their reproductive health .

>> let me ask you about the controversy surrounding these nsa surveillance programs and the issue of spying. you were booed by some progressives at a recent conference because you talked about edward snowden who leaked all this classified material and having broken the law.

>> boo!

>> i understand. i understand.

>> as there is widening concern about a quote, unquote, surveillance state , do you think we need more edward snowdens in this country who leak this material and force this kind of debate or less?

>> no. no. i think what we have to do is obey the constitution of the united states . and by the way, it was a smattering when i objected to him being called a hero, and yes, he did break the law.

>> he's not a hero in your mind.

>> no. here's the thing. i've been involved in the intelligence side of federal government for a long time. we all know that we have to have a balance between security, protecting the american people , and liberty. we take an oath to protect and defend the constitution and the american people . and so i have -- all of the legislation that i've been involved in puts serious obstacles to having surveillance that comes anywhere near to violating the rights of the american people , including the privacy and civil liberties board, which i think will now be further strengthened. it was a recommendation of the 9/11 commission of when we won the house hr-1, the first bill we passed was to enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, one of which was to protect their civil liberties , our proivacy and civil liberties board. when the left or the right wants to say that president bush -- excuse me -- president obama 's a fourth term of president bush , it couldn't be farther from the truth. president bush exercised unfettered, unlimited presidential discretion for surveillance. under president obama in '08, before he even became president, we passed the fisa amendments, which put up obstacles to the federal government doing surveillance, which put oversight, whether it'sment in or thes general, whether it's the congress of the united states , whether it ee's privacy or civil liberties board. so i would love to show you the chart to show you what was happening under president bush and what is the law now. whether it's a democrat or republican president, we do not want any president to have what president bush had, unlimited presidential discretion.

>> there's obviously a debate about whether this president has expanded some of those programs. beyond that, you heard the president this week say, look, i'm not going to scramble jets to get a 29-year-old hacker. how important do you think it is that america track snoeld snoed dou edward snowden down and make him face justice?

>> i think it's pretty good he's stuck in the moscow airport. that's okay with me.

>> but he's still in a position to leak more documents.

>> i think the bigger question here is who are these consultants who now -- we've gotten into a -- this president has reduced the number of consultants as i understand --

>> who get into the nsa, the contractors.

>> and this revolving door between the nsa and hamilton, taking that to admiral mcconnell as well.

>> how aggressive should we be in tracking him down?

>> the fact is we have to really know evidence, we have to know what is it that he has. and i don't know that he has that much stuff. since i don't know, he may know something about the machinery. i don't know that he knows that much about the content. but i think that anybody thought he was a hero to begin with now that he's threatening in any event to share information with russia and china, if, in fact, he has any information, i think that should disabuse anybody of the notion that he is a hero.

>> let me end on a political note. you talked about hillary clinton this week.

>> yes.

>> you talked about how credentialed she'd be, how prepared she would be to be president and if she ran she would be in 2016 . is that an endorsement? and do you see any challenges to her getting the nomination or winning the white house ?

>> i think it's a little early. we have the election in 2014 which we intend to win.

>> right.

>> so urgent so that we can really have a jobs agenda, that we can have a budget that grows the economy.

>> a lot of focus and a lot of planning goes into this among these potential campaigns. you speaking out was significant. are you endorsing her?

>> i'm excited about the prospect of a woman president of the united states . special a woman as well qualified as hillary clinton . i make a habit of not endorsing people until they make a decision to run, but i think there are many people who are waiting to see if secretary clinton runs. but first, we have to win in 2014 . we need a budget, a jobs agenda, and all we have here is obstructionism. i wish in 2014 one word could be on the ballot voted up or down -- bipartisanship, cooperation, working together. get the job done for the american people instead of the obstruction that the republicans have put up against any initiative that president obama puts forth to create jobs, to reduce the deficit, to grow the economy, to strengthen the middle class . we've got to get through 2014 first.

>> leader pelosi, thank you very much as always.

>> my pleasure.

>>> coming up, more with the roundtable, reaction to the pelosi interview, and more on the road ahead for immigration reform and voting rights .

>>> later, the abortion rightings debate. my live interview with the woman who took a stand in texas , wendy davis , joins us live coming up