Thomas Roberts   |  June 26, 2013

LBGT activists across the US celebrate DOMA’s defeat

Activists across the country are celebrating this landmark ruling for gay rights. NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom  discuss the historic moment.

Share This:

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

>> christine quinn and mayoral candidate in the city. your reaction.

>> what a great day. it's just thrilling to have both of these cases, and particularly i have got to take a little home-town pride, edie windsor , a new yorker, have struck down doma . and think of what this woman did. after probably one of the worst losses in her life, her beloved wife, who she had taken care of through a lengthy illness. she gets a $300,000 tax bill, complete kick in the tukus from the federal government . and she could have -- no one could have blamed her, curled up in a ball. and she said no. not in my country. and that bravery, that strength of this teeny, tiny little new yorker has brought down doma .

>> i was going to say, she is 5'1", all bravery. an amazing woman. i know dates are really important and stone wall , the 44th anniversary comes up friday. it's amazing to think in 44 years how far the country has come, how far it still needs to go. but what do you think that doma and prop 8 now means to the country's national conversation that still needs to be had in so many states that -- where marriage equality is either unconstitutional or just not on the books being discussed so far?

>> these are huge steps forward, both these victories, but they're not the ultimate win. there is still work to do. but i think it changes the conversation. because it gives us a very strong supreme court foundation to stand on, to have that conversation with people. so when people are going to try to be like, oh, you don't deserve it. oh, you're not equal, oh, you're not this. you're not full americans. it's like, yeah, talk to the supreme court . that changes everything. and i also think what chad said was very important. these cases are about laws. the way they played out, they were about people. they were about those two men. they were about edie and her late wife. and that really does change the conversation, because you may think whatever you think about doma . but how can you not love edie windsor ? how can you not have your heart, you know, filled with love and sorrow for her loss? so that changes in a legal, a fundamental and a human way, in my opinion, the conversation.

>> i think it's interesting, too. i mean, for us sitting here, first of all, three gay people , discussing openly gay people discussing this on national television, is itself a moment. but edie windsor is also not somebody who came up as an activist.

>> no.

>> she is not somebody out her whole life looking for a case. she lived privately, closeted almost her entire life. and this struggle came upon her because of a private matter that she never intended to turn into a public fight. she made it into a public fight because she had to. but this is not something she sought out. and i think that mirrors this overall case within this overall issue within the gay rights struggle.

>> that's right.

>> the struggle to get married is not the most revolutionary idea. it's a very traditional movement. i was on the left side of the gay movement coming up in the '80s and '90s thinking you know what, i'm not sure marriage is my fight. i'm still not sure that marriage personally for me is my fight.

>> we're three openly gay people, two of us are married at this table.

>> not me. i mean, it is -- it does raise the pressure on it. but it also means that, you know, this is a -- this is a small c conservative decision made by gay people , not trying to advance any liberationist agenda. and it's something that i think bridges a lot of divides that might make people uncomfortable.

>> and edie does that perfectly. she wasn't a radical. she wasn't even out most of her life. and this became something that her loss and then what the government did to her was just too much.

>> yes.

>> and that's often when great moments are born. ordinary people who just get pushed a little too far by the government.

>> she did not confront the government. the government confronted her. it inserted itself into her private life that she had managed in an utterly reasonable way. and by the decision of doma to interfere in her private matter she ended up taking them on and winning.

>> and can i just give her lawyer another big shoutout.

>> i want to bring into this conversation, because if you are looking for someone to marry you ever, the man who married me and my husband, lieutenant governor -- newsome from california is joining us right now. i didn't know where he was going there.

>> would be considered truly the grandfather of all of this. because it was in 2004 that you brought marriage equality as mayer of san francisco that started this down this path. so what's your reaction to what we're seeing with proposition 8 as well as doma ?

>> well, it's a special moment. certainly. i mean, we're affirming not a supreme court decision. we're not affirming a legal brief . we are affirming people's lives, the ability to live their lives out loud. to live in dignity and to fall in love and be able to say "i do" and thomas you know this intimately. it's not just about couples themselves. it's about their loved ones , their brothers and sisters , their aunts and uncles, their kids and grandkids, whose lives are also affirmed. this is a special moment, and it's one substantive step on a journey that we all need to take to right the wrongs of those three dozen or so other states where we still have discrimination.

>> so lieutenant governor, when is california going to start issuing marriage licenses once again? because there is nothing holding you back now.

>> yeah. except it's just some clean-up. some legalese. i imagine within the next 30 days on the outside, hopefully before that. so by the end of july, we should be celebrating people's marriages here in front of san francisco city hall , all up and down the state of california . even in the most conservative parts of our state. we'll no longer be discriminating based on sexual orientation. so 30 days on the outset.

>> mr. lieutenant governor, when you look back at your decision to get out in some ways sort of ahead of the law, back a few years ago and starting marriages at city hall in san francisco , do you think that was the right decision? you're obviously advising caution now. nobody rush ahead and try to do anything today in california . wait until the legal clean-up happens. is that in recognition of how you feel looking back on your decision those years ago?

>> yeah. i mean, i have maybe, you know -- maybe i need to be a more shrewd politician. but, you know, i'm a fan of real leaders like martin luther king and gandy and mandela and those folks about steps up and in and not waiting around for things to change. it's interesting. every time i read on msnbc the scroll, it doesn't talk about ex president mandela. it talks about leader nelson mandela . we remember him for his moral authority, for stepping up and stepping in. guys like me, you know this, because you interview them, come and go, folks in elected office, formal authority, a dialectic by people on the outside constantly pushing us to do the right thing. and you've got to take that leap of faith . you've got to lean into that and step up and step in. i'm proud to have been a small part of that. what we're really celebrating are the extraordinary people , harvey milk 's legacy, phyllis lion and del martin , at this day in and day out, exercising their moral authority to make the world a better place , a softer place where all of us can live our lives out loud.

>> quickly, the statement we got from the white house . we did have the president on the iphone earlier in the hour, but now we have something more official. i applaud the supreme court 's decision to strike down the defense of marriage act . this was discrimination enshrined in law, attributed loving and gay and lesbian couples as a lesser class of people. the supreme court has righted that wrong and our country is better off for it. we are a people who have declared we are all created equal and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. this ruling is a victory for couples who long fought for equal treatment under the law for children 's whose parents of marriages will be recognized rightly as legitimate. for families that at long last will get the respect they deserve and for friends who wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better. so we welcome today's decision and i directed the attorney general to work with other members of my cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including federal benefits and obligations is implemented swiftly and smoothly. on an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital. how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. nothing about this decision which applies only to civil marriages changes any of that. this is a huge announcement, certainly, from the president. but lieutenant governor, when we talk about how someone in new york who might be married travels to alabama, that's not the case in terms of the geography of that state. is that the next big battle for the country to be able to have that protective marriage equality across border lines of states?

>> yeah. well, that said, i mean -- that's why we have to put this in perspective. the doma question, still have to be worked out, and president will, of course, be in a unique position to exercise some executive leadership. but the broader issue of marriage equality , to your point, has hardly been met. the larger issues of gay rights met. we have a dozen states firmly on the side of equality. but we have three dozen that are not. this wasn't a decision on the merits. it wasn't a decision that was nationwide. it wasn't a decision that was as impactful, for example, of the loving versus virginia decision of 1967 that overruled the laws denying interracial marriage in a dozen states. so we're going to have to get another crack. we've got to get back to the supreme court and we've got to continue the fight. it's just a reminder to everybody. the future is not just in front of you. it's inside of us. we all have to step up and step in. we can't be bystanders on this journey. final point, thomas. the extraordinary leadership of the president is not lost on me. here is someone in formal authority that exercised his moral authority. and he took a risk and leaned in. and i just want to grant his extraordinary leadership as a principle for all people in elected office to advance. it's not about us. again, we come and go. it's about principles that transcend and i really applaud the president for recognizing that.

>> lieutenant governor of california , gavin newsome , aka, a fantastic universal life minister. gavin, thanks so much. i really appreciate you being here.

>> i was cheap. i was a good deal for you.