Up   |  March 24, 2013

Social and political progress on same-sex marriage

Dan Savage, syndicated sex columnist and co-founder of the "It Gets Better" project, and Urvashi Vaid from Columbia Law School's Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, join Chris Hayes to talk about the remarkable social and political progress seen on the issue of same-sex marriage in recent years.

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

>>> hello from new york. chris hayes with dan savage , author of " savage love ." and urvashi, or of irreversible revolution." the director of the engaging transition project at columbia law school center of gender and sexuality law. remarkable social and political progress we have seen on tissue of same-sex marriage in recent years hit milestones in week. a record high 58% of americans now believe it should be legal tore gay and lesbian couples to get married. only 36% said it should be illegal. that's a complete and total reversal of just a decade ago in the same poll, same poll, found that 55% of americans opposed same-sex charge and 41% supported it. same day hilly clinton announced she now supports same-sex marriage.

>> bt americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. that includes marriage. that's why i support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. i support it personally and as matter of policy and law. embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for lgbt americans and all americans .

>> in a report released monday by the republican national committee 's growth and opportunity project, party strategist warned the gop 's institutional views on the lgbt issues have become a threshold issue and may be alienating younger voters. for the gop to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue but we do need to make sure young people do not see the party as a totally intolerant of alternative points of view. issues involving the treatment and rights of gays and for many younger voters these issues are a gateway into the party as a place they want to be. the gop at least conscious of the cost of its extreme lgbt issues. seems the poll six have permanently shifted. town hall associatal and political process may not be decided this week before the supreme court which oral arguments on tuesday on california's proposition 8 which bans gay marriage in the state and on the federal defensive marriage tact following day. cases resolve around for constitutional issues. it is such a great pleasure to have you two here. you just -- what did you say, urvashi?

>> i was listening to that for the tenth time. i turned to her. sometimes i have to pinch myself. there has been such a sea change so quickly i think even those of us who have been involved in the movement for decades are shocked by what seems to be the downbreak.

>> did you know, like all overnight sensations, this moment is the result of real hard work. and decades and decades of real good organizing and good strategies to change rules and to change the practices, and enforcement of the rules and change norms. and we are seeing all of that come together now.

>> the norms to me, though, that are -- i mean, the -- it is interesting to think about a social movement in each of those channels. sort of the claims you make from the state and -- those claims that you make from the state can be through the democratic politics where you try on assembled coalitions, between the legal channels, right in which you don't have to have a majority position. civil rights not put up for a vote. right. that's right.

>> frequently.

>> frequently although now what has happened is that this sea change meant they can be successfully put up for a vote. how -- but the third part of it is this interpersonal thing. dan, you said this thing the last time you were on the show, you said the superpower lgbt people have, inherently mixed among the population.

>> we are born into the families of the, you know, oppressor class. for lack of any better term. gay people are born to straight parents. the most dash single most for political act of any lgbt person can take is to be out to family and friends . we saw in ohio with senator portman the difference that can make. it can open someone's eyes. republican failure of empathy. senator portman wasn't for marriage when other people's children were allowed to marry, other people's children were gay. now that he has gay child, he sees the justice in gay marriage . we will take the support however we can get it. it shouldn't take people's kids come out but often that moves people.

>> i have come to the conclusion, for me, personally, i think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married and have the joy and the stability of marriage that i have had for over 26 years. i want all three of my kids to have, including our son who is gay. my son came to my wife and i and told us he was gay. and that it was not a choice. you know, he -- it is just part of who he is and has been that way ever since he can remember.

>> what's interest being that clip, two things. not to be too contrarian about it. i'm not in the same movement as rob portman . i'm happy that he loves his gay son and wants to now eradicate a barrier. so many things he still stands for are -- to the lives of many lgbt people . it is a weird, perverse thing to see that clip.

>> wait until he finds out his daughter is a woman. some movement on the rights of women from rob portman .

>> that superpower effect doesn't seem to work in this -- in the same way. right? there was -- portman thing was pol polarizing precisely in people are saying we will take the support any way we can. you are still -- just because this one individual thing happened in your life, i'm happy for you and i'm happy found the wisdom to accept that for what it is but there is a broader agenda you are still tied to.

>> there are people that it will not touch the economic hardship or racial disparities experienced by trans people or people of color . some argues it sets it back. given the history of marriage. but -- you know, i think that there's so much a bigger agenda these issues don't cover. one of the things that's interest being portman 's conversion and the moment, this moment we are in, with all these allies coming forward, and saying we support marriage equality , i think marriage has made us comprehensible to straight people in a way that no other issue did. in good ways and bad way.

>> explain that.

>> made us more legible. when we were sexual outlaws back in the day --

>> i remember a point in time.

>> i remember him when.

>> barred us.

>> i'm telling you. they did. that would have been a gay marriage .

>> month.

>> when we -- when we were central outlaws -- when we -- when the gay issues started to emerge publicly, when gay people started to advocate for ourselves, we were seen as sexual doo sexual deviants and outlaws. the marriage has won usual ice and domesticating in other way.

>> explain that. we talked about this last time you were here. i was like -- is there something lost in the loss of deviancy? i'm not saying deviant -- as a -- as sort of different ways of having relationships with other people and different sexual practices , et cetera , that is -- that stretches beyond what, you know, normal.

>> straight people say all the time access to marriage rights and write your own ticket and go your own way. i have two older straight brothers. one is married and has children. one of whom has a long-term female partner that don't want to get married. straight people can do their own way. straight people can be married and swingers. you can be married and not have children. children aren't definitional for straight people . i don't think that as gay people move into merry christmas , that we are going to be straighter than the straights are. or -- approach marriage any differently. marriage is what the two people in any one marriage say that it is. and i think the gay people are going to be create and define their marriages in ways that are true to what it means to be gay. even to it being still sexual outlaws.

>> incorporation of gay people in marn, i mean, what it does is, it creates a second class status for people who are not married, though. worry about that. gay movement once fought for a very broad set of family protections. you recognize the rights of single people. we were talking in the break about -- health insurance . and how criminal it is that it is tied to marital status for some people. people lose it if they get divorce.

>> i have seen this. i have seen this in just a short span of -- you know, the last, say, ten years in which -- places had -- domestic partner benefits. that was -- broadly construed across straight folks and marriage -- gay folks, right? and in states where you have sort of progressive employers who had domestic partnership benefits for health care , in which marriage becomes legalized, that goes away. right? they say okay, well, now we will just use this one definition, the state's definition which is our definition, which is marriage. that is what confers the -- benefit.

>> and that's criminal. you shouldn't lose your health care . your kids couldn't lose his or her health care because the parent with health insurance through his employer dies. gets run over by a truck. there are much more for rights that marriage confers on same-sex couple, including the right to designate and name your next of kin. there are a lot of lgbt people , particularly working class , poor, and often lgbt people of color, with hostile families and have a family sweep in at the last minute during medical crisis and end of your life, distant cousin you never met and take all your property, shared property from your life partner , be the -- ability to name next of kin with a $50 marriage license opposed to a 10,000 pile of legal documents , gives social justice component to marriage rights. that's frequently not acknowledged by the left.

>> i want to ask you guys to get in a time machine and think about what gay politics as such looks like 20 years from