Meet the Press   |  February 16, 2014

Gay Rights Evolve on Global Level

NBC News correspondent Harry Smith reports on the changing landscape of gay rights in America and its acceptance on the world stage, and how Russia will tolerate the issue after the Sochi Olympics.

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

>> same-sex marriage an equal rights for gays and lesbians took a few more steps to becoming a national reality last saturday.

>> i will formally instruct all justice department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition to the greatest extent possible under the law.

>> thank you.

>> reporter: while proponents applauded, opponents were dismay dismayed. america is changing. and changing quickly. michael sam, a star football player from the university of missouri , came out this week. i heretofore unthinkable act for a player with pro potential.

>> i'm michael sam. i'm a football player. and i'm gay.

>> the fact that his teammates all knew and this was an open secret for so long is what really blew me away.

>> oh.

>> andy cohen is the host of bravo's watch what happens live."

>> it seems like in missouri he was judged for how he played on the field, which is exactly how it should be.

>> which is more than i an measure of tolerance. it's acceptance.

>> i'm 45. i grew up not thinking that i could be openly gay in the world. so the idea that i'm hosting a talk show every night as an openly gay man saying whatever i want to say is incredible to me and the rights that are being afford odd to me and what's happening every year, i can't believe what's happening

>> a stark contrast to russia where the olympic games are being played. cohen refused to go to russia in november to host the miss universe pageant .

>> it seemed very disingenuous of me to go to russia and do a travel log about what a great time the pageant queens had in moscow, what a wonderful city, when i could be stoned in a square for throwing out a gay flag .

>> the russians though seemed to be on their best behavior for the olympics .

>> when you watch the olympics now and you see putin in the box, what do you think?

>> when i see putin, my blood boils. you know? i think he's living in a fantasy land where gay people -- the mayor of sochi said there are no gay people in sochi. there are now, by the way. a lot.

>> among them, gold medal winner brian boitano who was part of the american delegation to the games.

>> by bringing a lot of attention and realizing that other countries like america are moving forward with this, are it brings attention to how they're not moving forward if they don't agree with this. we are america . we're moving forward. you can either come with us or we will leave you behind.

>> boitano is convinced that the games will never again be held in a country that is proud of its prejudices.

>> i truly believe that the ioc will never again choose a country to have the olympics in that doesn't have a good human rights record or a country that is not tolerant.

>> earlier this week, vladimir putin inadvertently hugged a gay gold medal speed skater interest holland.

>> we all get carried away in the magic and pageantry of the olympics . i mean, wouldn't it be great if that bastard did too? i mean, it would be. he put on a huge show. learned something from it. we're