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'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

March 24, 2013

Guests: Bill De Blasio, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson, John Liu, Dan Savage, Urvashi Vaid, Dean Hara, Camilla Taylor, Melissa Murray

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good morning from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.

The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in Baghdad this morning on
a surprise visit to Iraq, his first since becoming secretary of state and
Pope Francis at a Palm Sunday mass this morning, the first of a week of
ceremonies leading to Easter.

Right now I want to talk about one of the most hotly debated police tactics
in the country which was put on trial this week in the federal court in
Manhattan. A class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department
over its controversial policy of stopping, questioning and frisking people
on the street, a tactic known as stop-and-frisk.

It began on Monday and has unfolded in dramatic fashion with whistleblower
police officers testifying against the NYPD and complainants, who were
themselves stopped and frisked, breaking down on the stand.

On Thursday, in one of the trial`s most explosive moments, the court heard
a recording of a conversation between a patrolman and his commanding
officer about the stop-and-frisk policy, in which the commanding officer
seemed to suggest that skin color can be a deciding factor in who is

The conversation was surreptitiously recorded by the patrol officer, Pedro
Serrano (ph), in the South Bronx 40th Precinct.

In the conversation the commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Christopher
McCormack, urges Her Honor to be more active and conduct more street stops
in order to suppress violent crime. They discussed Mott Haven (ph), a
particularly crime-prone neighborhood in the Bronx as an example.


right people, the right place, the right location.


MCCORMACK: Again, take Mott Haven, where we had the most problems.


MCCORMACK: And the most problems we had, they was (sic) robberies and
grand larcenies.

SERRANO: And who are these people robbing?

MCCORMACK: The problem was what? Male blacks. And I told you at roll
call, I have no problem telling you this, male blacks, 14 to 20, 21. I
said this at roll call.


HAYES: Revelations like that have made the stop-and-frisk trial a major
flashpoint in the city this week. It`s also become a central issue, one
that`s likely been the most hotly contested political race of 2013, the New
York mayoral race. This will be the city`s first mayoral race in 12 years
without billionaire Mike Bloomberg spending large sums of his own money to
overwhelm his opponents.

As a result, the field is crowded. It is also the best chance Democrats
have had in regaining the mayoralty since the last Democrat held office in

New York politics has long been considered sui generis because New York`s
economy and demographic contours are so different from those of the rest of
the country.

As the country has grown more diverse and more dependent on the financial
sector as income inequality skyrockets and more Americans find themselves
working low-wage service jobs, the United States finds itself in many ways
looking more and more like New York.

And many of the political problems we are grappling with now --
immigration, the minimum wage, what the post-recession economy should look
like, privacy, policing, public health and more are issues that will be at
the center of New York`s mayoral race.

And so it`s my great pleasure to have with me here four of the Democratic
candidates for mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio, the city`s public
advocate, which is an elected citywide office; Sal Albanese, former city
councilman; Bill Thompson, the former New York comptroller and Democratic
nominee for mayor in 2009; and John Liu, the current city comptroller.

We also reached out to city council speaker Christine Quinn, who is also
running but who could not join us today.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here.


HAYES: So this trial, I think, is really explosive, and I think has really
changed the contours of the politics on this issue. And I`m curious what
your feeling is about what this means going forward about the stop-and-
frisk policy.

How do you -- my sense is there`s broad agreement that the current status
quo has to change. Am I right about that?

JOHN LIU, NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER: Yes. I think the trial was a huge
indictment on the policy itself. I think we all understood that racial
profiling was so integral, just -- you look at the results. Almost
everybody being stopped is black or brown.

HAYES: Eighty percent of stop-and-frisk.

LIU: And -- no, no; more than that, something like 87 percent. Not only
that, even in the white neighborhoods, it is all minorities that are being
stopped and frisked. So there`s no denying that there`s racial profiling
going on here.

Add to the fact that almost everybody who is being stopped, almost 700,000
in one year alone, almost everybody being stopped has done absolutely
nothing wrong. This is -- you know, this is not America. This is not

BILL THOMPSON, FMR. NYC COMPTROLLER: You know, it is -- it`s confirmation
of a lot of things I`ve been saying, that this is perhaps a useful policing
tool that has been misused and abused. And that has occurred for years.
So when you start to stop people based on purely what they look like and
who they are, and as you said, more than 90 percent of the people are black
and Hispanic.

HAYES: Yes, Sal?

SAL ALBANESE, FMR. NYC COUNCILMAN: I think it is a useful tool that needs
to be improved. For example, I think we need intensive training of a
police officer of what the appropriate constitutional methodology is of
stop-and-frisk. I think we need to hire more officers, assign them to
patrols that they could interact with the community, build trust.

And thirdly, I think we need to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana so --
that`s a huge reason, that`s a --


ALBANESE: Exactly. So I think we need to legalize it, tax it and regulate
it. That`s what I would do as mayor.

HAYES: But this idea about useful but overused. I want to explore that
idea, because I think that`s been the -- that`s sort of been the line for a
lot of people, Christine Quinn, has said that before in previous
communications. She called it a useful tactic.

Is it a -- I mean, should we just ban the tactic? Should people just not
get stopped and frisked?


BILL DE BLASIO, NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: I disagree with Danny (ph). It is a
policing tactic that`s been wildly overused. Obviously in many cases using
it in unconstitutional manner. And look, not only do we need to reform the
approach; we need a new police commissioner.

This is a difference that I have, certainly with Christine Quinn, who wants
to keep Ray Kelly; because Ray Kelly has been the architect of the overuse
of stop-and-frisk. We also need an inspector general, because what we have
had in New York City -- think about the magnitude here, hundreds of
thousands of more stops a year. There was never a vote on that. There was
never a public debate.

THOMPSON: Well, it comes back to, again, is the need for a new mayor and a
mayor who understands.

HAYES: Well, there is consensus at the table about that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve brought us all together.


THOMPSON: And a new police commissioner.

HAYES: Is that -- a new police commissioner, is that a shared view?

THOMPSON: I would not keep Bill Kelly.

ALBANESE: I`m not going make any decisions about police commissions until
I get the job. So all I can say is that what I do believe is that stop-
and-frisk is a useful tool that does keep guns off the street. I mean,
that`s been proven across (INAUDIBLE) weapons. But it has got to be done
constitutionally. Cops need more training, intensive training in the
academy, Chris (INAUDIBLE) --


LIU: -- easy to say that --

ALBANESE: -- to improve it.

LIU: Easy to say that. First of all, I guess there is consensus that we
need a new mayor. There isn`t a consensus on the issue of stop-and-frisk.
I believe I`m the only one here at this table who believes that stop-and-
frisk should be abolished because the numbers don`t bear out the facts.

We -- the mayor and the police commission have claimed that stop-and-frisk
has saved lives, that it has led to guns being taken off the street. The
fact of the matter is that there has been a minimal decrease in the number
of murders in New York City, even as stop-and-frisks have gone up from
something like 97,000 a year to 685,000.

You know, the number of guns that are being taken off the street, it is
less than one in 1,000 cases. Now, stop-and-frisk, I don`t-- I don`t
disagree that it reduces crime. But so would like an 11:00 pm curfew, so
would a 10:00 pm curfew. At some point we have to understand that we live
in a democratic society and people should not be stopped on the street.


HAYES: Let me just -- let me interject --

LIU: (INAUDIBLE) nothing.

HAYES: Let me just interject this as this -- I think part of the issue
here is the sense that there is a quota, right that it`s not just that
there --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a quota.

HAYES: -- a discretional -- this is a (INAUDIBLE), I mean, what`s
remarkable about this, if people were watching this and they`re not
following the trial, it is kind of amazing, because you have these
(INAUDIBLE) police officers, working police officers, going, who are so
outraged by this. They find it so ridiculous what they are being asked to
do, going to their commanding officers, taping them.

(INAUDIBLE). This is Adhyl Polanco, Adhyl Polanco testifying on the 20-in-
1 quota, which is 20 summons and one arrest per month. It was not
negotiable. It was either that or you are going to become a Pizza Hut
deliveryman, was his testimony. That`s a good sound bite.


THOMPSON: It`s the police officers have said that you are removing the art
of being a police officer from them; you are taking their discretion away.
They know what to do. The correct oversight should be there. But at the
same point, the quota, the -- let`s see, the indicators, the performance
indicators, I think that`s the phrase that`s used -- should -- you know --


THOMPSON: -- be part of that.

ALBANESE: I think we have to be very careful about calling for the
elimination of a constitutional option that the police have. Camden, New
Jersey, for example, half the cops laid off in that city. Gun violence up
because there`s no one -- because these -- the bad guys on the street --


HAYES: Well, no one`s calling for them to lay off half of (INAUDIBLE) --


ALBANESE: But if you do what John suggests, eliminate stop, question and
frisk, which is a constitutional option if done properly, you will have --
you will have --

HAYES: You think crime will go up?

ALBANESE: More people counting guns. Absolutely, no doubt about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- this quota.

DE BLASIO: This quota situation has made it impossible for us to continue
community policing, because community policing depends on some real
communication and respect both ways between policing and the community.

But here`s the other thing. The federal courts now understandably are
getting deeper and deeper --

HAYES: Well, they`re going to render a judgment on this.

DE BLASIO: Yes. And it could constrain of the NYPD, which means New York
City, because we didn`t do our own oversight right. We didn`t have an
inspector general. We may have federal courts starting to do that.

THOMPSON: Because of bad policy, the federal government is looking at this
because -- and this is a policy that has gone wild, that has --

HAYES: Why has it gone wild? Why has -- what --

LIU: It is all a numbers game.

HAYES: No, I know it is a numbers game. Why -- what I have seen in the
trajectory of this is this was happening -- and it says something, I think,
about the way the power works in the city, right? This was happening to
every 15-year-old black kid in the Bronx and in Brooklyn and Queens and in
Harlem --

LIU: It`s creating so much outrage, Chris.

HAYES: Yes. But why is it taking so long for that outrage to manifest
itself? This has been -- you know, I --


LIU: You know, as stop-and-frisks have gone up and up and up in recent
years, the outrage is bubbling over to the point where now it is just
unacceptable. The amount of division that it has created between police
and community members has gotten to the point where I believe it`s making
it less safe for everybody. And meanwhile, it is distracting resources --


THOMPSON: -- in 2009. It wasn`t as if it wasn`t spoken about and hasn`t
been spoken about.

HAYES: You ran in 2009 against (INAUDIBLE).

THOMPSON: But what`s occurred over a period of time is the numbers
continue to escalate. (INAUDIBLE) 2011, you get to almost 700,000 stop-
and-frisks and people go, wait a minute, there`s something wrong.

HAYES: Yes. There`s a tipping point.

DE BLASIO: There has been an absolute deference to the police commissioner
in New York City in a way that we have not seen anywhere else in the
country and this is a big part of the problem. You don`t see the President
of the United States say to the commander of the Joint Chiefs do whatever
you want. (INAUDIBLE) the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs do whatever you

Here in New York City, the police commissioner has been without oversight
or without kind of any kind of reigning in. And that`s why a policy like
this got so far.

HAYES: Which brings us to the point of an inspector general. There`s a
push to (INAUDIBLE) inspector general oversee the police department.

I want to play a bit of sound of Mayor Bloomberg, who`s very critical of
the idea of overseeing the police. We will hear that right after we take
this break.


HAYES: There is a proposal to name an inspector general to oversee the New
York City Police Department. And here is what Mayor Michael Bloomberg had
to say about it.


person would say we need two competing police commissioners. There would
be questions in the ranks of police officers about who is really in charge
and whose policies they should follow.

That kind of breakdown in the chain of command would be disastrous for
public safety. We cannot afford to play election year politics with the
safety of our city. And we cannot afford to roll back the progress of the
past 20 years. Make no mistake about it. This bill jeopardizes that
progress and will put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at


HAYES: Bill, since you seem to support an inspector general, what`s your
response to that?

DE BLASIO: Yes, look, we need an inspector general because stop-and-frisk
is a perfect example how a huge policy that affected hundreds of thousands
of people negatively, innocent people, was put in place without any public
debate, without any oversight, because the history of the city, again, is
the police commissioner makes those decisions` the mayor, the city council
defer that.

An inspector general would be a --

HAYES: Right, but --

DE BLASIO: -- oversight --

HAYES: -- but then -- look. There`s political means to bring pressure and
there`s also mayoral elections. The -- this is -- the mayor won the
election. And it is not like there was no democratic input in this. I
mean there -- it was the -- the scales were tipped a little bit by the
mayor`s bank account.


HAYES: I think we can all agree. But --

ALBANESE: I think this proposal is a shell game. (INAUDIBLE) support the
inspector general because the city council has the ability to do the
oversight over the police department, which my colleagues, Bill and John,
have never taken the opportunity to subpoena, which -- they have subpoena
power. Now they --

DE BLASIO: We don`t have subpoena power now. That`s not right. The city
council did. But we were -- we didn`t happen to be the speaker of the city


ALBANESE: You don`t have to be the speaker, Bill.


DE BLASIO: -- process.

ALBANESE: Well, you guys never requested, you were never on record as
saying you wanted the oversight over the police department, like it should
be done over other agencies. This is political theater. That`s what this
is, because you`re -- you haven`t (INAUDIBLE) -- they are punting the ball
to an unelected official. And it is not democratic.

DE BLASIO: Appointed by the mayor.

ALBANESE: It`s not democratic and it will not protect civil liberties.
It`s just a shell game.

LIU: An I.G. within the police department makes sense in providing
openness and transparency. You know, I would like to see the legislation
itself and see exactly what it means and do have a couple of questions
about that.

But in the end, this, again, is a question -- is the question of who the
police commissioner is. I know there is going to be a new mayor, like I
said before. But who the mayor of the city of New York is and making sure
that --

HAYES: You don`t think it is a structural problem. You actually think it
is a personnel problem. I mean, this is what we are disagreeing about,
right? I mean, you are saying a structural problem --


ALBANESE: First of all, Chris, he wants to put the -- this, the inspector
general whose DOI, the department of investigation, which -- who already
works for the mayor. He`s -- so you are not -- this person will not be
independent, this inspector general that they are proposing. He will be --
he will be --


DE BLASIO: He will have the bully pulpit or she will have a bully pulpit
and lot of independents. This is going to be a very high-profile job with
a long-set term. I think that`s a misreading of it. And by the way, in
this city, oversight of the police, every single time we think we`ve made
progress. Civilian Complaint Review Board back in --

HAYES: Yes, I remember working on it.

DE BLASIO: It was a wonderful thing that got immediately undercut by
Giuliani, has never come to full strength again. This is why we need
something stronger and different like an --


LIU: Chris, you know, I supported last year when the council members
proposed what was called the Community Safety Act, which is a package of
four bills, one of which included this inspector general thing. But
really, the more -- more you think about it, the more -- the less sense an
inspector general actually makes.

ALBANESE: Well, John, because (INAUDIBLE).

LIU: You know what, Sal, sometimes you are right. The fact of the matter
is that --

ALBANESE: Good to hear that.

LIU: Look, the fact of the matter is that the mayor -- it is not like the
mayor doesn`t talk to the police commissioner.

HAYES: All right. So I`m

LIU: -- at the end of the day, if I`m mayor, I`m going to be directing the
police commissioner not to undertake tactics that I think are undemocratic

HAYES: We have three --

LIU: -- and un-American.

HAYES: -- we have three people at the table -- I just want to (INAUDIBLE)
-- three people at the table who think this is fundamentally a personnel
issue and one that thinks there is something structural and a structural

I want to turn to -- I want to turn to another issue, because this is very
-- been very important to me, a little (INAUDIBLE) which is the paid sick
days legislation. There is a bill --

LIU: It seems to be a pet peeve for millions of New Yorkers.

HAYES: Yes. No. No, no, exactly. Yes.



HAYES: Let me just explain to folks that there is this -- this bill that
would -- that has majority support -- super majority support. It appears
in the New York City council. It would mandate five -- just five -- one,
two, three, four, five out of 365 days a year, five paid sick days --


HAYES: -- up to five (INAUDIBLE) --

DE BLASIO: -- use them all.

HAYES: -- every employee in New York City, and there are millions of New
Yorkers who are working without any paid time off whatsoever. There`s a
public health safety concern about food workers who have to come in even
when they have -- even when they`re sick, when they are sick, when they
have the virus.

LIU: And when people are sick they probably can`t do that much and they
wind up getting other people sick.

HAYES: So I want to talk about why this bill is not getting passed right
after we take a break.



HAYES: The speaker of the city council is Christine Quinn, who is also
running -- we invited her. Her people said they couldn`t make the schedule
work. But she has been preventing this paid sick day bill from coming to a
vote on the floor, even though it appears by all accounts to have the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For three years.

HAYES: For three years. It has been three years. Here she is talking
about why now is not the time for paid sick leave.


budget. You can take on another bill if you have a little money. You can
restructure your budget. You can`t do that if you don`t have any money.
So I -- it`s not a question for me of if. It is a question of when.


HAYES: I recognize that gentleman to her right there. So the idea here --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea in favor of paid sick.

HAYES: Everyone here is in favor of paid sick days?



LIU: But no matter what your position is, as one member of the city
council, why not just let it come to a vote on the floor? Let each member
decide that bill on its merits.

HAYES: Well, why not?

THOMPSON: Well, this week -- I have written Speaker Quinn. She said
continuing -- she is in favor of it. It is a question of when. She is
concerned about the economy right now.

Wrote her this week and said fine. And it also -- I testified this week in
favor of paid sick. What I said at that hearing is then put in a one-year
delay. If you are concerned about the economy, where things are at now,
put a one-year delay in but let`s move the bill.

And what we`re seeing is one person, one individual blocking the wishes of
not just members of the majority, the members of the city council but the
people of the City of New York. And I think it is really in New York City
that we -- that has been kind of the progressive capital so many -- for so
many years across this country to hold this up.


DE BLASIO: Couldn`t disagree -- couldn`t disagree more on the one year.
You know, I said the other day in one of these forums, during the
Depression we didn`t say we will help people when things get better. You
have to help people when things are tough.

We need these -- right now people need paid sick days. A million of New
Yorkers, according to "The New York Times" do not have any coverage. This
is a now problem. And Quinn is not moving this bill, which is profoundly
undemocratic and obviously she didn`t want to be here today to talk about

But "The Daily News" reported this week that she had received $370,000 in
donations from literally from folks in the private sector who had signed on
to letter opposing paid sick days and are working intensely to stop this
legislation. So as a great man once said, follow the money.


ALBANESE: This is a --

HAYES: And I`ll let you respond.

ALBANESE: This is a workers` right bill. People shouldn`t have to choose
between being healthy, and going to work. I sponsored the first living
wage bill in the city`s history. And I`m a -- very emphatic about this

We put -- 70,000 workers benefited. We put $3 billion in their pockets for
the second living wage bill law in the country. And this is tied into
that. We shouldn`t have workers being subjected to this kind of ridiculous
-- not being paid when they are getting sick. Doesn`t make any sense.

THOMPSON: Bill and I happen to agree on the need for paid sick leave. And
I think that, as he said, that right thinking New Yorkers will agree. At
the same point, businesses -- and you are looking at businesses, small
business, particularly that need a little time to help phase it in.

You are concerned about the economy continuing to come back and not doing
damage to those small businesses. The year will give them time to plan and
prepare. And that happens to be --


LIU: I wouldn`t think that --

THOMPSON: -- let`s get this done.

LIU: I think -- I`m sorry, Bill. I wouldn`t want people to think that
there are no small businesses that give their employees paid sick leave.

HAYES: Yes. Sure.

LIU: You know, very -- some very conscientious employers whose -- who
realize that their biggest asset in their business is the employees.

And they do grant that (INAUDIBLE). But this kind of bill would level the
playing field for all the small businesses across the city. And you know,
I have been thinking about this quite a bit. I actually think that -- I
actually think that Chris Quinn is in favor of this. But for some reason -

HAYES: She is.

LIU: Somebody is pulling strings behind her that`s preventing --

HAYES: Well, she is not here to defend herself. So I don`t want to
speculate on her motives.

THOMPSON: But, again, the one-year delay, if that`s the concern -- and she
expressed that concern -- it removes that consideration and it should move
that bill forward.


DE BLASIO: Let`s talk about this bill. First of all, for businesses that
are five employees -- under five employees, they`re exempted. So it does -

HAYES: And other cities passed similar bills.

DE BLASIO: Yes, Philadelphia, Portland this week. The point is the
smallest businesses, by the recent amendments, the smallest businesses are
left out because that`s clear they would have a particular challenge. But
here is the point about avoiding watering down this bill.

I said this week that Speaker Quinn is the world`s leading expert on
watering-down legislation. We can see the signs already of a bill that
will either have a long lag period or will cut out hundreds of thousands of
folks who need coverage because she is going to defer to some of the -- her
patrons in the business community.

The point here is we have a million people in need that if have a single
day that they are sick and can`t go to work, they literally, under the laws
of New York City, they could lose their job. That`s unacceptable; that`s
why we need a bill that reaches everyone.

ALBANESE: (INAUDIBLE) the threshold for this to kick this is higher in
terms of -- in terms of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in Philadelphia or Portland.

ALBANESE: This bill has five or more. I think that can be a little
dangerous to small businesses that are operating on very small -- a very
thin margin. So I would opt for a higher number.

HAYES: Sal, you said something I want to -- is a good transition, which is
talking about the living wage bill and something that I -- I feel very
passionately as someone that grew up in New York City and The Bronx. My
father was a union organizer; my mom was an educator, she worked in arts
administration in the -- for the district of education.

The vanishing middle class in New York City, it is really a staggering
thing to behold, having watched the trajectory of this city, from when I
was born in 1979 to now. And the rising inequality, the loss of middle
class jobs and the rise of low-paying service jobs and then the massive
increase in the cost of housing.

I want to talk about how to stop New York from becoming essentially a 1
percent-99 percent city right after this.


HAYES: Some really remarkable statistics from the Fiscal Policy Institute
and National Employment Law Project about the contours of job creation and
job destruction in New York City in the period of the aftermath of the
financial crisis.

So from 2008, July 2008 to November 2012, low-wage industries paying below
$45,000 a year added 164,000 jobs. Middle wage industries paying between
$45,000 and $75,000 a year lost 140,000 jobs. And even high-wage
industries above $75,000 lost 20,000 jobs.

So what you`re seeing is -- I mean, in those first two bars, right, a
massive expansion at the bottom of low-paying, largely service sector jobs
in the city and a real decimation of middle class jobs in the city.

At the same time that -- for reasons that I can never quite figure out from
an economic perspective -- housing costs here just continue to go up and up
and up, despite the fact that the housing -- you know, housing costs went
way down elsewhere in other parts of the country.

And this creates a -- just a situation in which it`s just tenable to just
live in New York as a middle class New Yorker and pay your rent and send
your kids to a good school.


HAYES: You all agree.

THOMPSON: Well, that`s why you continue to see people priced out each and
every day of the city of New York. Some of it is the policies of the City
of New York. They contribute to that.

Some of it is the -- you know, as you look to create new jobs in the city
of New York, an education system that`s not producing, graduates who are
going to take those higher paying jobs, it really is -- and meanwhile,
you`ve had you a mayor who is focused in one area, who doesn`t look at the
middle class of working New Yorkers for the last 12 years.

LIU: (INAUDIBLE) in the country is a big problem. In New York City, the
wealth gap is even bigger than the rest of the country and growing faster.
And the problem is that the economic development policies under this
administration have been erased to the bottom. It is all about creating as
many jobs as possible, almost all of them are at minimum wage. And that`s
been the --

HAYES: Could we show this? Let`s just show this graphic real quick, which
shows this income distribution. I`ll let you respond, Sal.

Ten percent of income went to the top 1 percent in 1980. By 2011, 20
percent of the income. This is -- now that -- now the bottom line is the
United States. The top line is New York City, where that share for the top
1 percent is much, much, much higher. You see that. So it is even more
unequal here in New York.


ALBANESE: That`s why I passed the living wage bill in 1996. Nothing has
improved since then. I mean, we have -- we have people working earning
$7.50 an hour that are living in shelters. They are working full time and
they can`t afford housing in the city. We have to raise the minimum wage,
index it to inflation. And we need more living wage legislation.

HAYES: OK. So here is -- I want to turn to solutions. So that`s one
concrete thing is a living wage legislation, index it to inflation here in
the city.


HAYES: Minimum wage.

ALBANESE: In the city`s contracting power to expand living wages.
(INAUDIBLE) the city lets out billions of dollars in contracts. Those
contracts should pay people living wages instead of busting unions like the
mayors do with the bus drivers.

DE BLASIO: So let`s talk about living wages. This is a huge opportunity
for us because we are subsidizing these firms with very big amounts of
money and not getting much back.

Quinn, another example, watered down that legislation so it reached only
400 workers. We need a real expansion of living wage legislation. But we
also have to help low-wage workers organize. This is something that the
city government can actually push the private sector on.

Combination of paid sick days which helps people keep their jobs, living
wage legislation which raises wage levels for a certain number of workers
and obviously helps the market in general. And assisting and organizing
efforts for low-wage workers, that actually starts to change --


HAYES: Bill, please.


THOMPSON: As well as you start to look at how do we keep people in the
city of New York. The City of New York, its government needs to focus on
building middle income housing. That helps to keep people in the city of
New York. Right now it is -- you know, if you look, they are trying to
figure out new ideas to be able do more luxury housing.

The housing authority, it continues to be a wasteland and there really --
the city administration, the housing authority head continues to allow
thousands of apartments to sit on the side that are vacant. The City of
New York needs to help focus on creating housing. That helps to keep
people --

HAYES: What does this focus mean? How do you operationalize that?

THOMPSON: Look at the housing authority, the proposal to put luxury
housing on the grounds of housing authority land. Instead of that, it is a
great opportunity to do middle income housing, to create some income
diversity within the housing authority. There are great opportunities if
that`s the focus. Right now that focus doesn`t exist in the city.

LIU: Housing has always been expensive. Let`s not kid ourselves here in
New York City. But over the last decade, housing has become that much more
unaffordable for now 50 percent of the households living in New York City.
And the pace of housing construction, even though Mayor Bloomberg had very
ambitious plans, it has not kept pace with the growth of the city.

So that`s what is driving the rents up through the roof.


LIU: And the other thing is you asked for solutions about economic
development and job creation. First and foremost, we have got to get rid
of these -- the hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes billions of
dollars, of taxpayer subsidies that are given to big corporations or
private developers who promise to create jobs.

And then through some of the audits that I conducted, they didn`t create
jobs. Not only that, the Bloomberg administration never checked back to
see if they actually created the jobs that they promised.

The other thing we need to do is we need to help middle class people. We
need to help working men and women take more -- take home more of their
pay. Would you believe that in the city of New York, we essentially have a
flat income tax something that`s roundly rejected everywhere else in the

But in the city of New York, no matter how much you make you pay pretty
much the same rate of tax. I propose a tax system that actually is far
more progressive.


ALBANESE: I don`t think we do have a fair -- a flat income tax. And so I
disagree with John and it`s progressive, actually.


ALBANESE: And don`t forget, New York City now with the -- with New York
State increasing their tax rate, you are talking about some people paying
54 percent of their income in taxes. So it is pretty high. So I don`t
think that`s the big problem.

I think we -- one of the things I want to -- I always point out when I
passed the living wage law, is that the mayor at the time, Giuliani called
it frivolous and it would destroy the economy.

Nothing happened. So minimum -- we would need to raise the minimum wage.
It has a multiplier effect. And it helps -- we are all better off.


HAYES: Let me play devil`s advocate for a moment, because we`re all --
this -- you are all (INAUDIBLE) --

LIU: While you are doing that can I have a scone?

HAYES: Yes, please.

LIU: Thank you.


HAYES: You are all on the Democrats. And so when we are talking about
these solutions and income inequality, let me channel the voice of either
the mayor or some other New York billionaire, which is that like -- you
know, all well and good that you, you know, all well and good. You`re
going to soak the rich. You`re going to make the income taxes more

You are going to -- no, no. I know. But you`re going to mandate --


HAYES: -- you`re going to mandate -- you`re going to mandate higher wages
for businesses. You want the businesses to give everybody five days paid
sick leave. Aren`t we going to destroy the engine, the miracle, the
economic miracle that is New York City which keeps the city thriving? And
this is argument that (INAUDIBLE) every time.


DE BLASIO: There is no evidence that the rich will flock away from New
York City because we are asking more of them.

I have proposed, for example, upper income tax, folks that make a half
million or more, so we can fix our school systems, so we can have early
childhood education, real early childhood education in New York City, real
after-school programs that we have actually been moving away from because
of budget cuts.

So Bloomberg, when I said that, exact same response you would expect from
Bloomberg. He said, feed people, the rich are going to leave New York
City. And it is going to undermine our economy.

There is no evidence of that. In fact, what`s undermining our economy is
this huge income disparity and a school system that`s failing to help
people be ready for the --


ALBANESE: And I don`t want you to think we`re all cookie cutters here.


ALBANESE: I disagree with Bill`s proposal to tax people even more in the
city. As I said, what`s at stake --


ALBANESE: In Manhattan, a half a million --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are people, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- people with a half million or more.

ALBANESE: Half a million more in Manhattan, believe it or not, is middle


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half a million or more is not middle class.


HAYES: All that -- hold that. People watching this (INAUDIBLE) cut here
are really throwing things at the television when you say that.

ALBANESE: The bottom line is that we are -- New York State -- with the
state imposing a high tax, as they should, is -- if you`re earning over
$400,000 a year, paying 54 percent of your income -- (INAUDIBLE) --



ALBANESE: -- when you go over 50 percent, it becomes counterproductive.
What Bill`s doing is counterproductive to (INAUDIBLE).


HAYES: Hold that thought, hold that thought. I want to -- I`ll get you
guys to respond to my channeling of a skeptical billionaire. (INAUDIBLE).


HAYES: Bill, you want to respond to my skepticism about you liberals with
your tax (INAUDIBLE) of the rich.

THOMPSON: Yes. I think, in the end it still comes down to what are we
trying to do in New York City. New York City used to be the city where
immigrants and those came here, you worked in lower paying jobs and you
moved up the economic ladder.

Well, it appears right now as if the rungs of those ladders, some of them
are being pulled out. So we are seeing low-paid and low-income workers who
aren`t moving up the ladder, who are being kept down, which is why you can


HAYES: But is there -- is there -- how much is the business environment of
the city and how much of the decisions being made at the margin by whether
it is wealthy people or it`s businesses about opening a business here or
opening it somewhere else, how much is that affected?

What tipping point is there when things like impositions and mandates like
paid sick leave or higher taxes push people over that marginal line and
decide not to open a business --


THOMPSON: Creating opportunity, creating that path to the middle class of
New York City, only helps create a stronger city. And what you are seeing
is New York City being made weaker as we saw by the -- by the graphs (ph),
the exodus of middle income workers. That`s killing the city.

Middle income individuals, that has always been the backbone of New York
City. It`s drying up bit by bit by bit. So trying to create that path,
trying to create more opportunity, it`s only better for the future of the
city of New York.

LIU: We want to create more opportunity. I absolutely agree. And I think
that we have policies that make it attractive to come to New York.

New York City is always going to be a destination for people from around
the country, from around the world. And we have to make it easier for not
only businesses and not only the big companies, but the mom-and-pops.

You know, I have called for the elimination of some of these tax breaks
that big corporations get that mom-and-pop stores never get. Not only do
they pay their share of taxes, but they get --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine. What are they?

LIU: -- they are given violations.

Well, for example, insurance companies in New York City are exempt from
general corporation tax. How many small businesses do you know of who are
exempt from general corporation tax? And I have to say something about the
personal income tax also.

You know, Sal, I will be happy to give you a lesson on this.


LIU: People -- well, it has been 15 years (INAUDIBLE) city council --

LIU: -- the fact of the matter is a person that makes $30,000 a year in
New York City pays something like 3.3 percent of their income -- of their
income in city income tax. A person that makes $30 million a year pays
something like 3.7 percent. So yes, they are not exactly equal but you go
from 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is over 5 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it is absolutely not over 5 percent.

DE BLASIO: Chris, to the tipping point, look, I think we have to recognize
the city is stuck on a lot of levels.

This income disparity, this lack of opportunity problem, and one of the
reasons I say you need to tax the wealthy is because if you don`t fix the
school system, a lot just can`t change if you don`t have early childhood
education and after school. You can`t allow a pathway to opportunity for a
lot of young people.

What`s interesting is the investment oriented strategy, which I say is kind
of a local version of Keynesianism -- we have extraordinary tools in New
York City. When we tax the wealthy half a million up, I think that`s going
to get us about $530 million a year, just for those two needs in our

If we use our pension fund investments --

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) are pre-K and --

DE BLASIO: -- pre-K and after school -- if we use our pension fund
investments on John`s watch, it`s up to $135 billion now, and pension fund
dollars that New York City controls. But with the laissez-faire policies
of Bloomberg, we haven`t used our pension fund dollars to create, say, for
example, affordable housing in the city, which other jurisdictions do.

So New York City, strangely, has become unprogressive in terms of what
government can do to effect equity, economic equity. I say there is a
Keynesian approach that works when you have a local government this big, a
city with this much wealth. There`s a Keynesian approach that works today
for that.

ALBANESE: I support the Keynesian approach but I`m very, very careful
about local taxes. I supported the increase on the wealthy at the federal
level. But at the local level -- you have to be very careful.

As I said, people can move to Connecticut and to New Jersey and save
literally tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. We don`t want to drive
those people out of the cities. It`s going to create the opposite effect
of what Bill wants to do. I`m a big believer (INAUDIBLE) universal.

HAYES: Let me just interject. This is -- this is an empirical question,
the empirical question of higher marginal rates producing exodus. And
there has been some literature on this. There`s --



HAYES: -- not much, but there has been some in New Jersey which actually
suggests that the predicted effects of exodus did not materialize. That`s
not definitive. The literature is not that robust. But this is an
empirical question about at what level and will it affect them.


THOMPSON: But again, this still comes back to -- we can debate this and we
can do this for a couple of hours at the same point it comes back to what
are the policies, what comes out of city hall, what does the mayor do? So
we talk about housing. We talk about education and an education system
that continues to fail. We talk about a number of different things.

We talk about what are the policies? Small businesses? The City of New
York squeezes those small businesses and hits them with fines and penalties
and pushes half of them -- and pushes a number of them out of business.

What are the policies that come out of city hall?


LIU: -- elasticity just for a second. Things that drive people, including
the wealthy, out of the city, it is not the marginal tax rate. It is going
to be the quality of life, it`s the quality of the schools, the safety in
neighborhoods. Those are the things that we want to protect in New York.

HAYES: So I want to turn to power in the city, and power, particularly in
the first election that we have had without a self -- a candidate who can
really self-fund the way that Bloomberg has in the regime of the current
campaign finance (INAUDIBLE). I want to talk about that right after we
take this break.


HAYES: New York City has some of the strictest campaign finance regulation
in the country in terms of the cap on donations. And two associates of
yours, John, a former campaign treasurer and a fundraiser are set to face
federal charges on April 15th. They are accused of fraud, of essentially
doing an end run around those donation caps by assembling straw donors

And you have not been charged or -- with anything or indicted or found of
any wrongdoing. But obviously this has been a huge item that`s --


LIU: -- and a huge distraction; it`s been a huge cloud. It has been more
than a year. Their trials are finally coming to -- hopefully to fruition
because -- and I`m looking forward to it because I think the more facts
come out about this, the better it will be for the public, the better it
will be for the two people, the better it will be for me and my campaign.

You know, look, this is an investigation that, according to news reports,
have gone on for almost four years. A full two years elapsed before they
then decided to try to go after these two individuals that they are now
putting up for trial. It has just been a travesty of justice.

HAYES: Did you -- did you at any point have knowledge of or engage in any
efforts to surpass the campaign finance laws?

LIU: Absolutely not. Listen, I have got to raise funds. I`m not Michael
Bloomberg. I don`t have enough money to use on my own. So I raise funds
like everybody else, with two exceptions. I pride myself on having raised
my ethical bars higher than anybody else in the city.

I don`t accept contributions from people doing business with the City of
New York. I don`t accept contributions from Wall Street or anybody who
might be eyeing some business with our pension funds because I think that`s

So I`ve raised those bars. And yet, somehow they have gone after me for
years. Almost four years they have interrogated thousands of my
contributors and supporters. They have examined a million documents.

They have even gone so far as to tap my own cell phone for an extended
period of 18 months. And what do we have? And (INAUDIBLE) with less than
six months to the election, they have got to put up or shut up.

HAYES: Well, they have come to April 15th.

Now, Sal, I want to turn to you. I`m trying to manage the clock here.

You had some news you want to make here about something you are calling
for, something very dear to my heart, on the issue of transportation, which
is another huge issue in the city.

ALBANESE: It`s an issue that`s being ignored on a national basis.

When I become mayor, I want to organize mayors for mass transit, because it
is essential to cities across the country. It affects the economy. If we
can`t move people around, the economic quality of the city (INAUDIBLE).

Secondly, it is an air quality issue. We want to get people out of their

And thirdly, you create living wage jobs. And I don`t think that there is
a constituency for it. Unfortunately, they don`t have lobbyists. People
take -- use mass transit. So I want to organize mayors around the country
to go to Washington and raise our voice for adequate funding of mass

HAYES: What you are seeing right there is a graphic of where funding for
mass transit comes from and it is the federal government, has gone up a
little bit, but really state and local have to take more and more share.
It`s a huge item of the city.

The New York City subway system, which is one of the miracles of
civilization and the history of the world. It`s the most incredible thing
that it works all the time, day and night, one fare. It`s the cost of a
slice of pizza.

LIU: All it takes, Chris, all it takes is a 10 percent shift in federal
transportation funding away from highway construction to mass transit. And
it would solve a lot of the problems.

THOMPSON: It would also, in New York, you know, looking for ways to be
able to fund mass transit, I suggested it for a few years now, that we do
two things, that we reinstate a commuter tax so that those in New Jersey
and Connecticut and Long Island can pay in and help --

HAYES: Well, good luck in Albany.

THOMPSON: It is not for the city of New York. It is for mass transit, for
the entire region as well as, you know, in -- looking at a registration fee
increase for the 12 covered counties in the MTA based on weight. All that
together generates between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. It goes into mass

HAYES: Bill?

DE BLASIO: And look, the big picture here is what is happening in
Washington is a disinvestment in our cities, disinvestment in
infrastructure and mass transit.

The next mayor of New York City has to be what past mayors were, a
spokesperson for urban America, changing the actual debate nationally with
other governors and mayors and the absence of that, the absence of that is
that -- and Bloomberg hasn`t been able to be that voice because he is an
oligarch, right, it doesn`t really fit, calling for -- calling for money
for mass transit, for working people.

But the next mayor has to push that national agenda.

HAYES: All right. Really a pleasure to have you all here today. I really
enjoyed it. I want to thank --

ALBANESE: Congratulations on your move up.

HAYES: Thank you very much for being here.

Good politician.

I want to thank New York City (INAUDIBLE) advocate Bill De Blasio, former
city councilman Sal Albanese, former city comptroller Bill Thompson and
current comptroller John Liu.

They are all running for mayor of New York City.

Thank you so much. I really, really enjoyed having you here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.

HAYES: Next (INAUDIBLE) Dan Savage. How that`s for a transition, America?
UP next.


HAYES: Hello from New York, I`m Chris Hayes, here with Dan Savage,
cofounder of the It Gets Better Project, the author of the syndicated sex
column, "Savage Love"; and Urvashi Vaid, author of "Irresistible
Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics,"
the director of the Engaging Transition Project at Columbia Law School
Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

The remarkable social and political progress we have seen on the issue of
same-sex marriage in recent years hit some major milestones this week. A
"Washington Post" ABC News poll published on Monday found a record high 58
percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian
couples to get married. Only 36 percent said it should be illegal.

That is a complete and total reversal of just a decade ago in the same poll
-- the same poll found that 55 percent of Americans opposed same-sex
marriage and only 41 percent supported it. On the same day former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in a video for the Human
Rights Campaign that she now supports same-sex marriage.


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.


HAYES: And in a report released Monday by the Republican National
Committee`s Growth and Opportunity Project, party strategists warned the
GOP`s institutional views on the LGBT issues have become a threshold issue
and may be alienating younger voters.

The authors wrote in a report, quote, "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 totally intolerant of alternative
points of view.

"Already there is a generational different within the conservative movement
that issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays. And for many
younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the party is a
place they want to be."

Leaving the GOP at least conscious of the cost of its extreme views on LGBT
issues, it would seem that the politics of this issue have genuinely and
permanently shifted.

But all that social and political progress may not be decisive this week
before the Supreme Court, which (INAUDIBLE) oral arguments on Tuesday on
California`s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state and then
on the federal Defense of Marriage Act the following day.

Thos cases revolve around very different and monumentally important
constitutional issues. We`re going to discuss those in just a bit. But
first, it is such a great pleasure to have you two here.

I -- you just -- what did you just say to Urvashi, about the pinching
during the -- during the Hillary Clinton sound?

DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST: I was listening to that for about the
10th time. I turned to her and I said, sometimes I have to pinch myself.
There has been such a sea change so quickly that I think even those of us
who have been involved in the movement for decades are shocked by what
seems to be the dambreak.

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

HAYES: It`s the norms to me, though, that are the -- I mean, the -- it is
interesting to think about a social movement in each of those channels.

There`s these sort of claims you make from the state and those claims you
make from the state can be through the democratic politics, where you try
to have assembled majority coalitions, where they can be through legal
channels, right, in which you don`t have to have a majority position,
right. Civil rights, you`re not put up for a vote.

SAVAGE: Or arms (ph).

HAYES: Right. Well, that`s right.

SAVAGE: Frequently.

HAYES: And frequently, although now what has happened is that this sea
change has meant that they can be successfully put up for a vote.

How -- but the third part of it is this interpersonal thing.

And you, Dan, you said this thing about last time you were on the show, you
were talking about the superpower that LGBT people have, which is that
they`re inherently mixed among the population, right?

SAVAGE: We are born into the families of the, you know, the oppressor
class, for lack of any better term. Gay people are born to straight
parents. And the most -- the single most important political act that any
LGBT person can take is to be out to family and friends.

We saw in Ohio with Senator Portman the difference that it can make. It
can really open someone`s eyes. You know, that Republican failure of
empathy, I mean, Senator Portman wasn`t for marriage when other people`s
children weren`t allowed to marry, other people`s children were gay.

But now that he has a gay child, he sees the justice in gay marriage. We
will take his support however we can get it. It shouldn`t take people`s
kids coming out. But often that is what moves people.

HAYES: Yes, I want to play the sound of Rob Portman. Take a listen.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: I`ve come to the conclusion that for me,
personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to
get married, and to have the joy and the stability of marriage that I`ve
had for over 26 years. I want all three of my kids to have it, including
our son who is gay.

My son came to Jane, my wife and I (sic), told us that he was gay and that
it was not a choice. And that, you know, he -- that`s just part of who he
is and he`d been that way ever since he could remember.


VAID: You know, what`s interesting about that clip, two things, not to be
too contrarian about it. But I`m not in the same movement as Rob Portman.
And I`m happy that he loves his gay son and wants to now eradicate a
barrier. But every -- so many of the things that he still stands for are
antithetical to the lives of many LGBT people. So it is a weird, perverse
thing to see that clip.

SAVAGE: And wait until he finds out that his daughter is a woman. You`ll
see some movement on the rights of women from Rob Portman.

HAYES: Right. That superpower effect doesn`t seem to work actually in
this -- in the same way. Right? But there was -- the Portman thing was
polarizing, I think, precisely because some people were like we will take
the support any way we can.

And then I think some people have the idea of like, no, you are still --
like just because this one individual thing happened in your life, I`m
happy for you and I`m happy that you have found the wisdom to accept that
for what it is, but there is this broader agenda that you are still tied

VAID: Yes, there`s just tons of people that for whom marriage equality
will not touch the kinds of economic hardship or racial disparities that
are experienced by trans people, by people of color. It doesn`t affect
women`s rights particularly. In fact, you know, some argue that 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.

But one of the things that`s interesting about Portman`s conversion and the
moment, this moment that 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.

HAYES: Explain that. Explain that.

VAID: It`s made us more legible. When we were sexual outlaws back in the
day --


HAYES: -- moment in time --

VAID: I remember him when --

SAVAGE: Yes, there`s a law that barred us from actually being sexual.

VAID: I`m telling you. They did. That would have been a gay marriage.



VAID: When we -- when we were sexual outlaws -- I mean, I think when we --
when the gay issues started to emerge publicly, when gay people started to
advocate for ourselves, we were seen as sexual deviants and outlaws. And
marriage has made us seem, oh, I can understand that person. They`re not
so different from me.

And that`s been good in many ways, because it`s won us allies. But it`s
been interesting and domesticating in other ways.

HAYES: Explain that, because, Dan, you and I talked about this the last
time you were here, where I was like -- is there something lost in the loss
of deviancy? Right? And I`m not saying deviant as like a normative
judgment, but as a -- as sort of different ways of having relationships
with other people, different sexual practices, et cetera, that is -- that
it stretches beyond what, you know, normal.

SAVAGE: Straight people say all the time that you can`t have access to
marriage rights and still write your own ticket, you can go your own way.
I have two older straight brothers. One of them is married and has
children, one of whom has a long-term female partner that neither of them
want to or ever will get married.

Straight people can do their own way. Straight people can be married and
swingers. You don`t have to be monogamous to be married. They can be
married and not have children. Children aren`t definitional when it comes
to (INAUDIBLE) for straight people.

I don`t think that as gay people move into marriage 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 that gay people are going to create and define their marriages in
ways that are true to what it means to be gay, even to, I think, a bit
being still sexual outlaws.

VAID: I think that the incorporation of gay people in marriage, I mean,
what it does is it creates a second class status for people who are not
married, though. I do worry about that. The 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 --

SAVAGE: Health insurance.

VAID: -- health insurance, and how criminal it is that it is tied to
marital status for some people, that people lose it if they get divorced.

HAYES: And I have actually seen this. I have seen this in my -- in just a
short span of -- you know, the last, say, 10 years in which places had
domestic partner benefits, and that was broadly construed across straight
folks and gay folks, right?

In states where you had sort of progressive minded employers who had
domestic partnership benefits for health care, in which marriage becomes
legalized, that goes away. Right? Because they say, OK, well, now we will
just use this one definition, which is the state`s definition, which is our
definition, which is marriage. And that is what confers the benefit.

SAVAGE: And that`s criminal. You shouldn`t lose your health care. Your
kids shouldn`t lose his health care or her health care because the parent
with health insurance through his employer dies or gets run over by a
truck. It drives me crazy when, you know, the marriage debate and gay
organizations talk about (INAUDIBLE), always link it to health care.

And I think that it should be dealing (ph). There are much more important
rights that marriage confers on same-sex couples, 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 to have a family sweep in at the last minute during a medical crisis at
end of your life, some distant cousin you`ve never met and take all your
property, your shared property from your life partner, be -- the ability to
name next of kin with a $50 marriage license as opposed to a $10,000 pile
of legal documents, I think it -- I think makes their -- it gives a social
justice component to marriage rights that is frequently not acknowledged by
the Left in the gay movement.

HAYES: 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 now, right after we take
this break.


HAYES: We are going to talk in just a moment about these two huge cases
before the Supreme Court this week, which are monumental.

But I should probably put my microphone on.

But given the fact that -- given the fact that the trajectory of public
opinion is what it is, I`m really curious what you think. I don`t want to
get ahead of ourselves, but I`m curious, the two of you with the
perspective you have about the social movement for equality, what gay
politics looks like after the marriage like? What is that -- what is that
-- what is gay politics after marriage?

SAVAGE: (INAUDIBLE), trans rights?

VAID: Well, I think it`s going to be like a -- I worry that it`s going to
be two-tiered, where some people will have access to lots of rights and
privileges because they live in certain states, because they are of an
economic status where we can access and assert our rights and that other
people who are not really touched by these issues of marriage are still
going to continue to face overcriminalization you know, stop-and-frisk, all
these other issues that are facing significant parts of our communities.

So I worry about the economic disparity and racial disparities expressing
itself even more. I worry about demobilization in our movement, the
history of other social movements shows that when you win a big one, it`s
kind of -- people go, well, it is done. I can relax now.

And you know what, it is not done. There is a right wing that wants to
eradicate gay people, culturally and politically and physically.

And we really need to be vigilant about that. And you are right, and Dan
is right, that there`s 29 states with no formal equality of any kind.
There`s nondiscrimination laws that have to be enacted, there`s this
problem of school bullying and harassment.

SAVAGE: Even if we win at the Supreme Court, you know, after Prop 8 there
was like some headlines of "The Advocate" -- and I thought it was a
terrible headline, gay is the new black. No, gay is the new abortion.
That even if we win --

HAYES: That`s an interesting model.

SAVAGE: -- it`s going to be a 40-50 year never-ending fight, because
Canada got the French, Australia got the convicts and we got the Puritans.
We will never be over because in America if it touches on sex and sexuality
and sexual freedom, a huge part of the country`s population, the GOP base,
is going to fight back.

HAYES: That is -- that`s a fascinating -- that is a fascinating analogy,
abortion. And I think it is fascinating because there were -- we had some
folks --


SAVAGE: And we`re linked (ph). Abortion, access to birth control, women`s
freedom, women`s rights, gay rights, it is all about sexual control. And
it is all -- the thing that links them all is kind of this anger about
sexual -- recreational sex.

You are having abortions because you had sex for fun; you didn`t want to
have babies. You`re using birth control, which Rick Santorum has a problem
with, because you`re having sex for the wrong reasons, which is 99.99
percent of the sex that human beings have, which is for fun and intimacy
and connection and release.

And that links gay sex, too. That`s why they`re against all -- abortion,
birth control, gay people, gay sex, gay marriage all linked by this
religiously inspired anger at people who are having sex for fun, not for

HAYES: So there is this civil rights progression you can see of winning
these kind of institutional legal battles. But you -- that -- the abortion
model is a fascinating one.

VAID: It has to be defended.


VAID: Yes, and you know, the other thing is that the right wing has shown
a very deep reservoir of funding; it has a strong base. It`s motivated.
It feels that it has right on its side.

HAYES: But I have to say, watching what`s happening on the right on this
issue is pretty fascinating because there is a big generational difference
on LGBT issues. And there is a real civil war battle brewing.

I mean, young Republican right wing activists, you know, even the stuff
happening over CPAC are increasingly for marriage equality; they
increasingly don`t want this to be part of right-wing politics.

VAID: Or is that just a rebranding strategy?

HAYES: I trust it. And the reason I trust it is because the young
conservatives that I interact with genuinely think -- genuinely support
marriage equality. I mean, I don`t think -- I think there is a strategic
component to it.

But the young conservatives that I have been in touch with -- and that`s a
self-selecting group, obviously, so (INAUDIBLE) broadly representative.
But they genuinely think that everyone should be able to get married.

VAID: You know, they want their -- so they`re supportive of the right to
marry but then they`re for shredding the social safety net and they`re for

HAYES: Right. But that`s my point, right? My point is that if -- what
happens to gay politics if that win with it -- I mean, I think what you are
saying is you are saying there is something essential and at the core of
the right of reactionary politics, that it is going to be opposed to your
interests, right, as gay folks?

SAVAGE: Forever with the wild card of gay children of conservatives that
we are going to be born into every family in the country, enough
generations go, every family is going to have one of us.

So that`s where there may be a separation from the abortion issue because
there is a lot of people in conservative families, a lot of women in
conservative families, who had abortions but their families don`t know that
they`ve had abortions and can look past it or be in denial about it. You
can`t be in denial about the fact that your daughter is married to a woman.

HAYES: Urvashi, I`m really glad to have you back at the table today. It`s
really wonderful.

VAID: Thank you so much.

HAYES: Urvashi Vaid from Columbia Law School`s Center for Gender and
Sexuality, thank you.

All right. The Supreme Court and gay marriage, big one, this week, after


HAYES: Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear challenges to
Proposition 8 and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, arguably the two most
important cases involving gay rights ever to go before the high court.

Already right now as I speak to you, a line of people looking to attend the
arguments is assembled outside the court. It began forming three days ago.
The first case on Tuesday will be Collingsworth v. Perry a challenge to
Prop 8, a voter initiative that banned gay marriage in California about six
months after it was legalized by the state Supreme Court.

At issue is whether the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment
prohibits California from defining marriage as a union between a man and

In 2010, a U.S. district court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.
Then a little over a year ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that

President Obama`s Justice Department submitted an amicus brief last month,
urging the court to overturn Prop 8, saying, "The president and attorney
general have determined that classifications based on sexual orientation
should be subjected to heightened scrutiny for equal protection purposes,
promoting democratic self-governance and accountability as a laudable
governmental interest, but it is not one that can justify a law that would
otherwise violate the Constitution."

On Wednesday, the court will hear United States v. Windsor, a challenge to
the Defense of Marriage Act. At issue here is whether Section 3 of DOMA,
which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, violates the 5th
Amendment`s guarantee of equal protection under the law is applied to
persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their

In short, can the federal government deny gay married couples access to
hundreds of federal benefits that come with marriage? Former President
Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law 17 years ago.

In an op-ed in "The Washington Post" earlier this month he said he was

"When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that
enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at time
divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for
discrimination. Reading those words today I know now that, even worse than
providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory.
It should be overturned."

Joining me now is Dean Hara, widower of Representative Gerry Studds, the
first openly gay member of Congress and a plaintiff in Gill v. Office of
Personnel Management, which challenges Section 3 of DOMA -- Dean is now
waiting to see if the Supreme Court will take up the case -- Camilla
Taylor, Marriage Project director for Lambda Legal, a national legal
organization committed to recognizing the civil rights with the LBGT
community; Professor Melissa Murray from the UC Berkeley Law School, where
she teaches family law, criminal law and advanced topics in family law.

It is great to have you here. These are big cases.

I want to begin with you because you experienced the injury of DOMA, which
is to say what did DOMA mean in your life? What did it deny you that you
would have had if DOMA was not there?

position because I was in the House with my husband during the debate in
1996. And even then we saw that it was blatant discrimination against gay

I remember that Gerry went on the floor and spoke and said that he paid as
much into and did everything every other member of Congress did. But yet,
the protections that their spouses would have would be denied me.

Little did I know that we would get married six years later and little did
I know that he would die two years after that. So it hurt then, knowing
that Congress was putting a law on the books that hurt me personally.

It was even harder after he died to know that what was an abstract point in
the 1996 was now concrete reality that I was denied anything that a spouse
of a federal employee for 25 years would have been given in due course.

HAYES: And what would have that been? I mean, presumably pension benefits
for a survivor --


HARA: Pension benefits, health insurance, even something as simple and
small as a $255 Social Security death benefit. I got a letter of rejection
from the Social Security. So it hurts when they put -- when you actually
see something -- and it took two years, first, to get the government to say
that it was because of DOMA that I was being denied these rights.

Originally they just said Gerry didn`t fill out the right paperwork.

HAYES: DOMA seems to me not to -- I mean, we are going to play the What
Will Anthony Kennedy Game Do because that`s what you do when you have a
panel discussion about the Supreme Court`s big cases on the weekend before
it happens. So let`s just do it.

It seems to me that, given Kennedy`s record, he`s going to be pretty
amenable to the arguments made in the DOMA case specifically. Do you think
that`s right?

absolutely right. And I think actually law professors of the gambling
nature around the country are all very confident that DOMA will be struck

I think a lot of them are expressing a lot more interest in discussing
whether various outcomes would be in Perry because there is such a feeling
of confidence that DOMA is so demonstrably unconstitutional and that it`s a
safe thing to strike it down, because to strike it down is, in fact, a very
conservative thing to do. There are a lot of very conservative arguments
for why DOMA should fall.

HAYES: What are those arguments?

TAYLOR: Well, what the federal government did was unprecedented in saying
that it was going to fail to respect state law determinations of who is
married. And federal government has never done that before.

And we can all think that it would be ridiculous for a non-gay married
couple in Arkansas to be denied a federal benefit like Dean was solely
because the federal government has its own determination of who is married
and they are going to decide that Arkansas`s laws don`t comport
sufficiently with its own notions. And the federal government has never
done that.

HAYES: And, in fact, there has been a wide -- a lot more variability in
the definition of marriage, right, over the years and over the states than
we might realize.

SCHOOL: I think there has been a lot of differences in terms of marriage.
But I think Camilla`s point is true. Marriage has been thought of as
almost exclusively a province of the states, a creature of state law.

So DOMA was unprecedented and that this was the federal government making a
federal law saying that it would only define marriage to be between a man
and a woman. And so for conservative justices like Scalia, Thomas, Alito,
this federalism argument, the states` rights argument is one that`s going
to be very appealing.

HAYES: Do you think that extends past Kennedy though? I mean, do we --
can we imagine -- can you imagine a scenario in which you have a real broad
and unanimous kind of court coming out, a kind of Brown sort of epochal
moment where everybody just says yes, this is absolutely unconstitutional?

SAVAGE: Only for Scalia.

HAYES: Right. Well, that would be -- I mean, that would really be
something. And part of -- part of the kind of -- the -- sort of the
precedential power, the political power of Brown, for instance, was
unanimity, right. It wasn`t the ACA decision. It was the court speaking
in one voice and declaring this obviously horrible practice, obviously
horrible and unconstitutional.

MURRAY: Well, there is something that everyone on the court can get on
board with. The liberal wing of the court can get on board of the idea of
striking down a law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation
and marriage.

And the conservative wing of the court can strike down a law that takes
away from the state something that historically has been theirs to define.
So there is a little something for everyone in DOMA.

SAVAGE: But we shouldn`t be irrational. Thomas, Alito, Scalia, they will
twist themselves into any shape to avoid, I think, overturning DOMA. I
think they are partisans and I think they`re Republican hacks. And I don`t
think that they are justices who can be trusted to do the constitutional
thing. And I have no illusions that it`s going to be very, very close. It
is not going to be Brown.

MURRAY: And I think in terms of legitimacy of the court as an
institutional body, the idea of striking down DOMA will be more palatable
to those conservative justices than upholding a right to same-sex marriage.

HAYES: Right. And this is where -- this brings us to the thornier issue,
which is Perry, right, which is the Prop 8 case. And I think there was a
lot of -- there was a lot of talk when the case was brought in California,
there was a lot of talk in the movement, right, of gay rights folks saying,
is the court ready for this?

Do we want to -- is this -- is this issue ripened sufficiently that we want
to bring this to the court now? And there`s a lot of thinking and kind of
litigation strategy, right, about when you bring an issue to the court.

And there was a lot of worry that this was too early, too early, too early.
And people were saying this to Olson and Boies, who were bringing the suit.
And it looks -- and I think what`s happened in the lower courts has been
pretty surprising. So I want to talk about that and the prospects in the
Supreme Court this week right after this.


HAYES: Dean, your late husband, Gerry Studds, representative from
Massachusetts, you mentioned him on the floor, talking about DOMA when it
was passed. And I want to just play that clip. It`s very powerful.


REP. GERRY STUDDS (D), MASS.: I have paid every single penny as much as
every member of this House has for that pension. But my partner, should he
survive me, is not entitled to one penny. I don`t think that`s fair, Mr.
Speaker. I don`t think most Americans think that is fair. And that is
really what the second section of this bill is about, to make sure that we
continue that unfairness.


HAYES: That unfairness and that, in law, the DOMA case, we just mentioned,
there`s, I think, more of a sense that it is -- it has got a better shot
before the court. The Prop 8 case is a little more complicated.

Why is the Prop 8 case more complicated? Why is there less of the
confidence, I think, about what the court is going to do there?

TAYLOR: Well, there are a number of ways that the Prop 8 case could come
down. It could result in a ruling, conceivably, that requires all states
around the country to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or it
could do something more limited.

HAYES: Wait, let`s stop there. That would be a very big deal. Just so
we`re clear, right? This would be a declaration by the court that it is --
that marriage is a constitutional right. I mean, that would essentially be
what the declaration is. Right? That it is unconstitutional to
discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of the
institution of marriage.

TAYLOR: Absolutely. It could do so either on equality or liberty
principles. So it could decide either that it is a fundamental right to
marry for all of us, regardless of sexual orientation around the country or
it could decide, as a matter of the quality principles, that all marriage
bans must be struck down.

Or it could do something more limited. It could do something along the
lines of what the 9th Circuit held, which applies, in a very direct sense,
exclusively to California, pointing out that there is something novel here
that the State of California determined that it was a fundamental right
under the state constitution for same-sex couples to marry.

And then the people of California, by a very narrow margin and Proposition
8, chose to take that fundamental right away, not from everybody.

HAYES: Right. You have a whole bunch of people who, after the state
Supreme Court says you can get married, you have a whole bunch of people
that get married, as you were married. You in Massachusetts, in other
states, as you were married, Dan.

And now then, after that, the state comes in and basically says no, no, you
are not married. You were married and now through this bizarre reverse
alchemical process we turn you, presto, into not married.

MURRAY: (INAUDIBLE) exactly what happened. So the people who got married
during the time when marriages were allowed in California and then the
moment when Prop 8 was enacted, those marriages are still valid under
California law. So you have this sort of odd limbo.

SAVAGE: Eighteen thousand couples.

MURRAY: Eighteen thousand couples --

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) right there.

MURRAY: -- that are still married. But there is no gay marriage going
forward from Proposition 8. So from November 2008 forward, there is no gay
marriage in California. So it`s sort of odd legal limbo.

And Camilla`s right. Like there are a number of different avenues that the
court might take. One of them is to think about this truly as a
California, an idiosyncratic California moment and think about the idea of
taking back rights that have already been conferred.

SAVAGE: We compared it to abortion earlier. And if we do get that sort of
decision that imposes using Brown --


HAYES: It is the Roe v. Wade of gay marriage (INAUDIBLE) --

SAVAGE: -- Roe v. Wade backlash, you know, I would like that. I would
like marriage rights to be extended to all same-sex couples in all 50
states. And it may have to be done by the Supreme Court, just as
interracial couples were allowed to marry because the Supreme Court
(INAUDIBLE) Virginia.

But the backlash against that will be staggering. And so, in some ways,
that is what -- I most hope for that decision and I most fear.

HAYES: That`s really interesting, because it could be a Roe v. Wade
moment. Right?

MURRAY: And I actually think that`s -- because everyone`s been talking
about how we need to look for Anthony Kennedy here. I actually think we
should be looking at Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because although she is
progressive on social values, she is a conservative in terms of her view of
the court`s institutional role.

In a lecture at NYU in the 1990s, she talked about Roe versus Wade and was
very critical and said that this was a moment when there was stuff going on
on the ground about liberalizing abortion and the court intervened in this
moment and prompted this wave of backlashes endured (ph) for the next 40

HAYES: And in fact, what`s also interesting about the Ginsburg history,
right, is that she herself was a litigator who was bringing civil rights
equality cases on issues of sex discrimination against women, sometimes
actually sex discrimination, ingeniously, against men, which is a brilliant
litigation strategy.

And her litigation strategy was always incredibly narrow. She would find
these sort of very narrow slivered cases and bring them, boom, boom, boom,
before the court. And has this kind of philosophy that you don`t want
these big sweeping kind of moments.

HARA: Well, in some way that`s what the DOMA case, the Defense of Marriage
Act about, in that the Edie Windsor case, the Defense of Marriage Act is
only -- would only recognize same-sex marriages in states where they are
already legal because of state laws.

And those individuals would then be treated the same as all other married
couples in that state that would not be second class marriages.

And I think -- I mean, that -- some people say, like, well, we don`t need
to deal with marriage or they -- even gay people don`t want to get married
yet. But maybe it is because it is in name only.

There are no benefits really attached to it, that when Gerry and I got
married, I knew that we were married. But for federal purposes and
anything dealing with inheritance, taxes, you know, we don`t have any
children. But all the kind of family law issues, we were still treated as
second class citizens and saying that, no, you are not married.

HAYES: And the point here being that striking down DOMA would be massively
transformational, even short of the kind of epochal constitutional moment
that might come in a Perry (INAUDIBLE).

HARA: -- hundreds of thousands of people in this country that are hurt
right now and married.

TAYLOR: I think Dean is putting his finger a common thread for both of
these cases, which is that in many respects, both of these cases are not
even so much about marriage as they are about affirming human dignity and
equality. And --

HAYES: You are speaking right to Anthony Kennedy at this moment, aren`t


TAYLOR: (INAUDIBLE) personhood. And the people -- I mean, as Dan was
pointing out earlier, some of the people who are most affected when you
strike down a marriage ban and affirm the equality of everyone in a
particular state, for example, are the kids, gay kids, who may have no
desire to marry, not even thinking about relationships at that point, but
who are being told by their families, by their churches, by their kids in
their schools that there is something wrong with them and that they can
never aspire to the same kind of family as everybody else.

HAYES: Could we talk about what the possibilities are, should -- what
specifically we need -- I cut you off before when you were talking about
the court doing something like what the 9th Circuit did, which is short of
this kind of sweeping decision, what would that look like?

MURRAY: So it would limit the force of the ruling to California. So in
California, there would be same-sex marriage and there would be same-sex
marriage in the other states that permit it.

It wouldn`t be the kind of sweeping decision like a Loving versus Virginia.
But interestingly, though, Loving versus Virginia is a great parallel to
sort of think about. Loving versus Virginia comes in 1967, 13 years after
the court decides Brown versus Board of Education, which was the seminal
decision dealing with race discrimination.

Immediately after Brown there was another case in the Supreme Court, Naim
versus Naim, same issue, racial discrimination, again, in the context of

And the court punts. It doesn`t take that case because it knows that it is
a divisive issue still, even as we have gotten to immigration and public
schools, we haven`t gotten there in the bedrooms. And so the court says,
we are going to punt, and they wait 13 years before deciding it.

HAYES: I want to talk about marriage more broadly and what its
significance is legally. You`ve written some really interesting things
about it, right after we take this break.


HAYES: You just said something interesting, Dan, during break about the
fact that this has been a grassroots legal strategy, as much as a sort of
top-down one.

SAVAGE: Well, from the outside, I think a lot of people think, oh, the gay
movement was always pushing for marriage and it was the -- you know, the
gay organizations and the bigwigs that were for this. And it was really
not. It percolated up from the bottom, even as far back as the early `70s,
when the first same-sex couples started applying for marriage licenses and
being denied.

But it was individual couples in HawaiI that really kicked off the movement
by suing and now with a lawyer from the big gay org, but with a lawyer, a
Hawaiian lawyer that they hired to do this. And I think this issue, a lot
of people realized, really scared HRC and other big gay orgs to death.
They did didn`t want to go there.

And we are seeing sort of a reverse from what everyone expected, that if we
push for marriage, we will get everything else. And the argument needs to
be we have to get everything else first and then maybe we can --

HAYES: Ah. That`s interesting.

SAVAGE: -- beg for marriage in 50 years.

HAYES: And it relates in an interesting way to this question of what --
how does one, when the justices are analyzing a court like -- a case like
this, right, the point you made about the court in Naim versus Naim
realized that this was too controversial too quickly and they punted.

And I think, you know, there is a lot of -- you know, the justices are
embedded in society. They are embedded in the institutions of America.
They see American public opinion. So there`s some level of constitutional
analysis that`s being brought. But there`s also a sort of level of just
kind of like sociological analysis when they are walking into a case like

MURRAY: I think that`s exactly right. I mean, I think they are very
attentive to what`s going on on the ground. And in fact, although there
has been a lot of movement on the question of same-sex marriage, there has
also been a lot of pushback.

I think there are a ton of states that have either constitutional
amendments or state level laws that prohibit the recognition of same-sex

And certainly they are attentive to that. So even as you have these great
strides in this handful of states, (INAUDIBLE) 10 states plus the District
of Columbia right now, there is still this opposition in other parts of the
country. And I think they are going to be wary of getting too far ahead of
this question.

TAYLOR: Well, I think -- I agree that the court likes to see itself as
doing something of a cleanup job and bringing in the few recalcitrant
states into the national consensus. But I also think that there`s a big
concern that this institutional legacy. And this court s not going to want
to deliver the next Korematsu or the next embarrassment, in other --


HAYES: Korematsu was the case that upheld the internment of Japanese
citizens during World War II. It is -- it is up there with, you know,
Plessy v. Ferguson in the annals of horrible decisions by the U.S. Supreme

TAYLOR: Exactly. And so I am -- I`m very optimistic that we`re going to
see some very good rulings on both cases. And it is simply a matter of how

SAVAGE: (INAUDIBLE) basically the court that gave us Citizens United; they
gave us Bush v. Gore.

HAYES: Right.

SAVAGE: They don`t seem to have (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE) versus Texas, right.

SAVAGE: That`s true, but they`ve demonstrated that they are not -- they`re
not embarrassable, I don`t think.

HAYES: Here is -- I want to read from Judge Yvonne Walker`s (ph) opinion
in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which is the circuit court.


HAYES: I`m sorry, the district court opinion. "Although Proposition 8
fails to possess even a rational basis" -- which is an amazing sentence to
write, which is basically, you know, saying all laws -- before you even get
to the Constitution, right, you have to have a -- there has to be a
rational basis for laws.

He`s saying it even fails rational basis test -- "the evidence presented at
trial shows that gays and lesbians are the type of minority strict scrutiny
was designed to protect.The trial record shows that strict scrutiny is the
appropriate standard of review to apply to legislative classifications
based on sexual orientation."

Explain the meaning of strict scrutiny in constitutional law and why that`s
such a meaningful sentence by the district court judge.

TAYLOR: Well, there are some classifications, for example, if a law
singles out people because of their race or because of their sex that
warrant a greater degree of skepticism by courts in looking at those laws
because we know, from our history as a nation, that there has been a
history of discrimination against those groups.

And that the color of your skin or your sex doesn`t have anything to do
with your ability to contribute in society. And so courts will accord
either heightened scrutiny in the context of sex or strict scrutiny in the
context race in order to make sure that the state bears the burden of
showing why it is important.

HAYES: And we could come out of a decision in these cases that does the
same for LGBT folks in this country.

TAYLOR: That`s right. And who has the burden is very important, not just
in the context of marriage cases, of course. But if you are considering an
employment claim of discrimination by a public school teacher --

HAYES: This could be a real sea change.

I want to thank Dean Hara, widower of Representative Gerry Studds, the
first openly gay member of Congress; Camilla Taylor of the Marriage
Project, director at Lambda Legal; Dan Savage -- get to it, Dan, cofounder
of the It Gets Better Project and author of the syndicated sex advice
column, "Savage Love."

And Melissa Murray, professor at UC Berkeley Law School, we didn`t get to
your amazing article, "Marriage as Punishment," but we`ll send a link on
our website. People should read that, very thought provoking. Thank you
for joining us this morning.

What you should know for the week ahead coming up next.


HAYES: So what should you know for the week coming up?

Well, you should know today is my final day hosting UP. You should know
that this job has been an absolute joy and an honor to hold down. It`s the
best job in TV, maybe the best job in the world.

You should know that I have learned so much over the past 18 months of
sitting at this table because of the incredible guests we`ve been graced
with, people from literally all walks of life, from senators to people just
looking for work and food stamp recipients, Walmart workers to ex-gang
members, to union organizers, to conservative journalists and activists,
historians and philosophers and doctors and farmers and civil servants and
essayists and rappers, all of these people who have come to sit here at
this desk and share their expertise and perspectives and experiences.

And I`ve learned as well because of you, the viewers, who have built a
community around this show that models precisely the kind of roiling
disputatious, respectful, informed conversation that is what the public
sphere should be.

Thank you for your commitment to the show and for allowing me to learn from

Now if you`re a fan of the show, one of those crazy diehards I meet
sometimes on the West Coast who set their alarm for 4:50 on a Saturday
morning like a maniac, you should know I have very, very good news.

The first bit of good news is that UP isn`t going anywhere. You may have
heard that Salon politics editor and MSNBC "CYCLE" co-host Steve Kornacki
will be taking over for me.

You should know Steve will be hosting the show right here at this desk,
with the same format, time slot and spirit. Steve is a fantastic analyst
and reporter, razor-sharp, curious and deeply kind and good-natured. And I
think he`s an absolute perfect fit.

I remember during the Republican primary season when I was asked to host
live coverage on the Saturday night of the main caucus -- and I would
characterize my knowledge of main Republican Party politics as fairly
limited -- but somehow we had the good fortune to book Steve, who appeared
to know every single politician in the state, what races they had won and
lost and how all the various local political disputes were playing out and
affecting the landscape of the presidential race.

If you crave deep knowledge, you`re going to love Steve.

Also, another bit of good news for Uppers is that the incredible executive
producer of this show, Jonathan Larson, who has been my partner in
developing the show, is going to stay with UP with Steve so the
tremendously high standards he`s brought to the production of the show will

You should know I`ll be watching UP with Steve Kornacki when it launched on
Saturday, April 13th, and you should, too.

The second bit of good news is that if you enjoy the show and its format
and its spirit of conversation and curiosity and openness, we`re going to
preserving all of those essential features in my new time slot, weeknights
at 8:00 pm. We will going deep on topics, bringing you new, fresh voices
and collectively thinking through the news with rigor and passion.

We will have an opportunity to follow stories as they arc their way across
the week and intervene more decisively in the national conversation about
politics, policy and culture.

I`m still going to be me and we`re going to have a lot of fun and cause
some trouble. All this is to say you`re now going to have nine hours of
television to watch every week at least.

And finally, you should know the way TV is produced and presented has this
nasty tendency to reproduce a lot about the broader structure of American
society and economy that I`m committed to fighting against.

Every weekend you watch this show, you see my name and my face. And what
you don`t see are the dozens of people who work here on set and in the
makeup room and the control room and the incredible brilliant funny staff
of UP who breathe life into this show every weekend.

If you enjoy this show, you`re enjoying their work as much as mine.
Everything we touch in our lives, the shirts on our backs, the keyboard you
type on and the coffee you drink is produced by a chain of human beings we
never meet but who pour forth their labor to make the things we use and

To those who have done that with such vigor and joy and brilliance here at
UP, thank you.

Thank you at home for joining us today and for the past year and a half. I
hope you`ll join me weeknights starting a week from tomorrow, Monday, April
1st at 8:00 pm Eastern for my new program right here at MSNBC. As I
mentioned, starting Saturday, April 13th. I hope you`ll join me in
watching UP with Steve Kornacki, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 am Eastern.

Until then, we`ll be looking back at some of the discussions I`m most proud
of -- (INAUDIBLE) too early -- the debates, interviews, analysis,
revelations and epiphanies chosen by me and the UP team that best represent
what we`ve been trying to do here and what we`ll keep trying to do, both
here on UP and in my new show. That`s the best of UP with Chris Hayes next
weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at 8:00 Eastern time.

Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s "MHP", the brilliant
constitutional scholar Kenji Yoshino with remarkable insight into both the
DOMA and Prop 8 cases going before the Supreme Court this week.

Also the fabulous McGill Brothers perform live. That`s "MELISSA HARRIS-
PERRY," coming up next. We`ll see you next week here on UP.


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