The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/09/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Today was an historic day in civil rights in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve always been
adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and
equally. And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, you
know, the word “marriage” was something that evokes very powerful
traditions, religious beliefs, and so forth. At a certain point, I`ve just
concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and
affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking today with Robin Roberts of ABC,
making remarks that were both highly anticipated and that nobody was quite
sure he was going to say, until he actually said them. There has been no
ambiguity about whether or not this administration supports the advancement
of gay rights as a matter of policy. But there has been uncertainty about
whether the president would ever say what he said today – whether the
president would ever say that he personally supports same-sex couples being
allowed to get married.
In Kansas this month, there was a protest outside the state capital
after the Republican-dominated House there passed something they`re calling
the Religious Freedom Act. The religious freedom at stake in this act is
the freedom to fire somebody because they`re gay or kick somebody out of
the house because they`re gay. It would mean if your town had an ordinance
that said you can`t discriminate against gay people, your town could be
sued by people who want to discriminate against gay people, asserting that
it is their right to do so. It`s legislation to overtly advance the right
to discriminate against gay people and to get rid of anything that might
shield gay people from discrimination.
This thing passed by nearly 3 to 1 in the Kansas House. If it passes
the Senate, my guess is that Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback will
sign it with a very, very pious smile on his face.
Legislation like this is a thing for Republicans now. The same sort
of bill was introduced in Colorado this year by Republicans in the
legislature there. Ultimately, they pulled it, but the folks behind it say
that they will bring it back soon.
In Colorado yesterday, the Republican speaker of the House killed 30
different bills last night, all at once. Bills covering everything from
water infrastructure to something to set the standard for driving while
stoned. Thirty bills, all of them set to be moved at the end of the
legislative session in Colorado, all killed in one fell swoop, in order to
stop a civil unions bill for same-sex couples in Colorado from going to the
floor, where there was a threat that it might have passed.
So there was almost progress for gay couples in Colorado, from third
class citizenship, to second class citizenship yesterday, but the
Republican speaker of the House took a stand and stopped that progress,
killing 30 other pieces of legislation in the process. Close one.
If you follow the issue of gay rights in American public policy, you
know that public opinion has been shifting on this subject. Support for
same-sex marriage rights in polling has been going up and up and up, but
public opinions shifting on this issue has not affected most Republican
politicians. In fact, the most visible Republican politicians in this
country have become more anti-gay over time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You gave an answer I thought was really
interesting in the third debate. Bob Schieffer asked you if you thought
homosexuals were born that way or became that way.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
UNIDENTFIED MALE: And you said you didn`t know.
BUSH: Right, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the possibility – it`s a nature/nurture
argument. So the possibility exists in your mind that it could be nature?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how can we deny them rights in any way to a
civil union that would give them the same economic rights or health rights
or other things?
BUSH: Well, I – I don`t think we should deny people rights to a
civil union, a legal arrangement if that`s what a state chooses to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was George W. Bush in 2004 saying that he was in favor
of civil unions for same-sex couples. 2004, the last Republican president.
The current Republican nominee for president is against that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think people have
differing views on marriage and I respect people`s different views. I`m in
favor of traditional marriage, between a man and a woman. And I don`t
favor civil union or gay marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We think of the country as getting less anti-gay over time.
But for the top tier of Republican politicians, they are getting more anti-
gay over time. Even Mitt Romney personally is getting more anti-gay over
time. When he ran for the United States Senate in 1994, this is him on the
cover of the Boston gay magazine, gay newspaper, sorry.
When he ran for Senate, he famously promised that he would run to the
left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights issue. He said he would make equality
for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.
Now, that he`s further along in his career and he`s the de facto
Republican nominee for president, not only is he not trying to mainstream
gay and lesbian equality, he is actively working against it. He`s
promising to fight it. He`s pledging to pursue an amendment to the United
States Constitution to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples, to impose
that ban federally, no matter what individual states want.
When the Romney campaign appointed an openly gay spokesman recently,
he was hounded out of the job on the basis of the fact that he was gay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN FISCHER: Personnel is policy. When Governor Romney picked
somebody who`s an active homosexual and puts him in a prominent position,
he`s sending a shout-out, it seems to e, to the homosexual lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When attacks on that spokesman forced him to quit, Mitt
Romney never said a word to those anti-gay critics. That led even that guy
you just saw there, Bryan Fischer, to worry that maybe Mitt Romney is a
wimp on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISCHER: If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced,
co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in middle America, how is
he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin?
How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a
yokel like me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A yokel like me.
This past November, when former Vice President Dick Cheney was
lobbying in Maryland for Maryland to passage same-sex marriage rights for
same sex couples, when the last Republican vice president was doing that,
the current nominee for president, Mitt Romney, was campaigning against the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: On my watch, we fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from
becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When a federal court in California ruled in favor of
marriage for same-sex couples on the Prop 8 case earlier this year, Mitt
Romney jumped in to make clear he was on the anti-gay side of that. He
declared himself a combatant on the war on gay rights.
He said, quote, “Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the
people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This
decision does not end this fight.”
See, it`s a fight and he`s a combatant in that fight against gay
rights. Even when he`s not making public statements on the issue, and he`s
just doing things like doling out political money, you know, if he`s doing
something more quite like that, this year`s Republican nominee, Mr. Romney,
has been giving money to groups fighting against gay rights. Including
groups who say they know how to cure you from being gay. Mitt Romney`s
foundation campaign has been funding those groups.
This is what it`s like for Republican politics now. Yesterday the
Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, gave over Statuary Hall in
the U.S. to a guy who said that AIDS is God`s punishment for homosexuality.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DAVID BARTON, WALL BUILDER: The Bible again, it`s right every time,
and studies keep proving that. And that`s why AIDS has been something they
haven`t discovered a cure for or a vaccine for, because it`s the fastest
self-mutating virus known to mankind. Every time they just about get a
vaccine, it transmutes into something new and they have to start over
again. That goes to what God says, hey, you`re going to bear on your body
the consequences of this homosexual behavior.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The consequences of your homosexual behavior.
Yesterday the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner invited
that guy to use your room, Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, for some type
of publicity stunt.
Regardless for the public opinion polling on this issue, the elected
officials of the Republican Party in 2012 are more anti-gay than they have
been in my lifetime, and they have been anti-gay for a really long time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Today, I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send
to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution, defining
and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman, as husband and wife.
Marriage can not be severed from its cultural, religious, and natural roots
without weakening the good influence of society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Notice the date there, right? That was President George W.
Bush, February 2004, running for re-election, against these advances in gay
rights that threaten civilization, that threaten to bring down the nation.
In 2004, that year, the Republican Party supported ballot initiatives
in 11 states banning gay rights. That not only had the effect of
materially hurting gay people all over the country, but they also hoped it
would drive up turnout of voters motivated by anti-gay prejudice. So come
for the chance to hurt your gay neighbor, stay for the re-electing of
George W. Bush.
But at the same time that George W. Bush was standing there in the
Roosevelt Room, pledging the power of the presidency and a change to the
U.S. constitution to stop these terrifying gay people who were coming to
destroy our civilization, the Bush administration was also leaking word
that personally, George W. Bush was actually totally cool with gay people.
Mr. Bush`s friends say that the president is quite comfortable with gays.
The president`s wife, quoted by “The New York Times,” saying that of course
she and the president had gay friends. The White House also apparently
leaking a story about Mr. Bush being not at all offensive towards a former
Yale classmate that was transgender.
The idea was that we were all supposed to be assured that even though
the president was trying actively as a politician with his power as
president to make gay people`s lives harder in this country, to stop the
advancement of gay rights and to roll it back, where he could, we`re
supposed to feel personally assured by the fact that personally he is all
right with gay people.
This is a constant in American anti-gay politics. Even just in the
career of George W. Bush. This is from that – I want to read – this is
from the “Lewiston Idaho Morning Tribune.” It`s from August 1999, when
George W. Bush was running for president for the first time. Listen to
Quote, “George W. Bush, for example, has said he opposes allowing gay
couples adopt children. I believe children ought to be adopted in families
with a woman and a man who are married, the Texas governor said months ago.
But after he said that, governor bush told a gay legislator he doesn`t mean
Texas State Rep. Glen Maxey, the state`s only openly gay legislator,
says that last April, Bush talked to him during a visit to the House
chamber. Quote, `He put his hands on my shoulder and he pulled in close,
we were nose to nose. He says, `Glen, I value you as a person and I value
you as a human being and I want you to know that what I said publicly about
gay people does not pertain to you personally.`”
But to the extent that I can take away your rights and destroy your
family, I`m going to do everything in my power to do that.
With Ronald Reagan, it was sort of the same thing. At a time that
Republicans were all but applauding the deaths of tens of thousands of
Americans from AIDS, on the idea that AIDS was God`s punishment for
homosexuality, and therefore should be sort of welcomed as it killed lots
of Americans, in the midst of that environment in the Republican Party at
the time, Ronald Reagan as president did nothing to stop the AIDS epidemic
and could not bring himself to even say the word “AIDS” in public until
seven years into his presidency, at which point tens of thousands of
Americans had already been I killed by AIDS.
But, but, apparently, personally, he was really nice about gay
people. Do you care? They think you`ll care. So, President Reagan`s
daughter publishes a piece in “Time” magazine talking about how she watched
a movie in the White House with her father when he was president and he
explained to her while they were walking the movie that Rock Hudson was
gay, and he said that, quote, “In the same tone that he would be telling me
about people with different-colored eyes.”
Does that make you feel better or worse about tens of thousands of
dead Americans and the president not saying a word about it?
In the case of the Clinton administration, as president, he made lots
of gay appointments. We`re told he had very pro-gay intentions, which may
make you feel great. But in policy, the gay rights legacy of the Bill
Clinton administration is the Defense of Marriage Act, and “don`t ask,
don`t tell.” Awesome.
Does the president`s personal feeling about gay people make that
policy legacy any better or worse? Not substantively.
But the connection between personal beliefs and the wielding of
political power is a very, very thin connection on this issue. So when
George W. Bush writes on page 69 of his memoir, “Decision Points,” when he
pats himself on the back for telling Vice President Dick Cheney, that,
quote, “I could not careless less about the sexual orientation” of Dick
Cheney`s daughter, Mary,. when he pats himself on the back about that,
about how personally tolerant he is, that does not make me feel better
about George W. Bush`s record as a virulently anti-gay campaigner who got
re-elected in part on his commitment to blocking gay rights and making gay
people`s lives more miserable.
It does not make me feel better about knowing that he was personally
OK with gay people actually sort of makes me feel more disgusted about
that. Not everybody feels the same way about this.
But personally, I don`t much care about a politician`s personal
beliefs. I care about whether a politician hurts people in their job as a
politician. Whether you are using your power to hurt people is the
relevant thing. Not how you feel about it privately while you`re doing
that. That`s always been my belief on it, personally.
The flip side to that, as a matter of principle, is what`s going on
in the Barack Obama administration. The Barack Obama administration has
been very, very, very pro-gay rights. They have pursued at every level
policies to improve the lives of gay Americans and to further gay rights.
It`s not just repealing “don`t ask, don`t tell.” It`s expanding
federal benefits for the same-sex partners of people who work in the
executive branch. It`s signing the Hate Crimes Act into law. It`s
clearing the way for hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples.
It`s lifting the travel and immigration band for people living with
HIV. It`s ordering the federal housing authority to not can consider the
sexual orientation of people who apply for housing loans. It`s expanding
the census, even, to make sure that people in same-sex relationships get
counted. It`s directing U.S. agencies who work with foreign countries to
ensure that our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts abroad take into
accounts the rights of gay and lesbian people in those other countries.
It`s supporting states that are trying to extend marriage rights to
same-sex couples. The administration did not always do that. They didn`t,
for example, do that before the vote on same-sex marriage rights in New
York state. But they do that now. They did that before the vote that was
lost yesterday in North Carolina.
It`s taking the huge step of refusing to defend the constitutionality
of Bill Clinton`s gay rights disaster in the Defense of Marriage Act.
If you are in favor of gay rights, the Barack Obama administration
has been great on the issue of gay rights. While before today, never
saying what the president`s personal view is on same-sex couples getting
We treat presidents like they`re celebrities. We are all curious
about all of these personal things about them, including who their friends
are and what they like in a person, what their prejudices might be. But
ultimately, what presidents do is they wield political power. And even
before today, that legacy of the first term of the Barack Obama presidency
was already clear.
Today, he added to that. He added icing to that. The cake was
already baked. The legacy was already secured by his actions as president,
by what his administration had done.
The legacy was already secured before he took this extra step today.
This was something extra. This was something not necessary to secure his
legacy here. This was above and beyond.
And it is not without risk. And now having said these words publicly
that no president has ever said before, now we get to see how this changes
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts joins us next.
MADDOW: Congressman Barney Frank joins us live when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It`s interesting. Some of this is also generational. You
know, when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college
Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy or on
foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality,
or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In an interview with “Good Morning America`s” Robin Roberts
today, President Obama announced his personal support for the rights of
same-sex couples to get married.
The president signaling in that interview that equality for gay
Americans seems inevitable. That at least with the youth vote, he may not
lose much political ground, by stating his personal convictions in favor of
equality now, no matter who else it might alienate.
Joining us now for the interview is Congressman Barney Frank of
Massachusetts, the first person to make the decision to come out while
serving in the United States Congress.
Congressman Frank, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to see
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Rachel. I`m about
to have my 25th anniversary of my volunteering that I was gay to the
“Boston Globe.” It`s Memorial Day of 1987.
MADDOW: Wow, 25 years. Twenty-five years ago, could you have
imagined a sitting U.S. president of either party coming out and saying
that he believe that you and other gay Americans should have the right to
FRANK: No, and I didn`t figure at that point that I would be one of
those who would be doing it within a couple months.
MADDOW: I actually wondered about that. I know that you have plans.
You`re going to be retiring. You`re not running for re-election.
But before you leave Congress, you and your partner, Jim, have
announced that you`re going to be married. You are going to be a married
member of the United States Congress, with a same-sex partner. I wondered
if today`s announcement changed the seating list for the ceremony.
FRANK: No, I admire the president. I deeply respect him. But I
don`t want my guests to have to go through the metal detector.
You know, the Secret Service does a great job of protecting ft. But
while they are protecting the president, they pretty much disrupt
everybody`s lives around them. So I want the wedding to be celebratory,
MADDOW: I hear you.
You know, on this issue of, I guess, the president`s personal views
versus what the president has pursued on policies, this has been a very
pro-gay rights administration. The president never before today had said
that he personally endorsed the idea of gay marriage rights. You`d said a
couple of weeks ago that you thought it was a problem that he hadn`t
personally said anything about it.
Why was it a problem and has he solved that problem now?
FRANK: Yes, he has. It was a problem, frankly, because of the
referenda. In terms of public policy, as you had pointed out, the
president had already taken the position that was relevant from policy.
Namely, by opposing DOMA, by saying that he would not carry out the
unconstitutional mandate that we not get the same benefits as anybody else.
There is no general federal marriage policy. So, again, in public
policy, he did just the right thing.
But as you know, we have several referenda coming. And there has
been some effort within the African-American community to kind of say –
oh, well, family stability is important. These people are trying to
undermine it. In the California referenda in 2008, people were quoting
Barack Obama`s opposition at that point to same-sex marriage, in literature
aimed at the black community.
We have a very important referendum coming up this year in the state
of Maryland, where the legislature got this, Governor O`Malley took the
lead, and same-sex marriage was approved. I was fearing that you would see
people who were trying not to allow this to go forward, invoking President
Obama in the referendum. Now they won`t be able to do that.
Plus, that`s it`s also important what the president says. And I
think with regard to Bill Clinton, it was important that he was saying 15
years ago, that he was supportive of gay rights, even if the Congress
wouldn`t g along.
And I do think there are two areas that Bill Clinton deserves credit
that he`s not always gotten – using his executive power, because we
couldn`t deal with the congress at that time. He revoked a 40-year-old
policy that said that those of us who are gay or lesbian couldn`t get
security clearance. That was a serious problem for people, not just going
to work for the government, but working for businesses that worked for the
government. And he abolished that.
Secondly, and in terms of the international, he took the first step.
Janet Reno, at his direction, promulgated a (INAUDIBLE) if you were gay,
overseas, and you were being persecuted, you were eligible for asylum.
So, those were two very powerful things that were not just personal
But beyond that, it is important that the president is a figure that
people respect and when the president speaks out, it moves – we`re moving
in the right direction anyway. It moves us a little further.
MADDOW: In terms of that last point, about how it moves – how it
moves the country for the president to have made a personal statement about
this, I can absolutely see your point on the negative side of him not
saying anything. That him being against gay rights could be used against
gay rights, particularly by other constituencies that might otherwise
Are there people who aren`t in favor of same-sex marriage rights now
who will be, because President Obama is? Will he attract anybody to the
FRANK: No, that`s a very good point. As a matter of fact, that`s
why he won`t have any political impact, I believe, in terms of the
election, if your view on whether or not we have the right to marry helps
determine your vote in a significant way. If you were against it, you were
already against Barack Obama because of what he did the DOMA. If you were
for it, given what he`s done in other areas, you were for Barack Obama.
But it has an impact. First of all, there will be some people who
will be more emboldened to speak out now. You know, this is a society
where people influence each other. And when the president says that
there`ll be people, it probably won`t make any difference in Manhattan, Los
Angeles, Cambridge, Massachusetts, but in parts of the country where people
are still feeling a little intimidated, morally and culturally, having the
president on their side will be very helpful.
So these things don`t operate in a one-to-one fashion. And it isn`t
necessarily just about marriage. I think it is helpful. Again, we`re on
the move. He`s absolutely right about the generational issue.
And you know, some generational issues, people think one way at 25
and they may think differently at 50. In this situation, on LBGT rights,
every indication we have is that people aren`t prejudiced at 25 aren`t
going to become prejudiced later.
MADDOW: Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts – thanks for
being here tonight. I know we`re lucky to have you tonight. Thank you.
FRANK: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, yes, that did happen. And now the political backlash
begins – or not. We will talk about that with Newark mayor and rumored
super hero, Cory Booker, coming up next.
MADDOW: On the night that Barack Obama was elected president in
2008, there was a lot of celebrating. Obviously, people who voted for John
McCain and Sarah Palin were not happy and they were probably not among
those dancing in the streets, but there was, in fact, dancing in the
streets. It was Democrats and independents who supported Obama/Biden. It
was the people in the middle who were excited by the historic national
achievement of having a first black president in this country. Maybe also
people excited by the end of the George W. Bush years. There was
On election night in 2008, in a liberal city like San Francisco,
there was definitely celebrating that election night, but there was also
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe we`ve got some pictures out of San
Francisco as well. Some of the celebration pouring out in the Castro
district of the city, as it`s known, a place near and dear to your heart.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Certainly me, having written for the
papers out there all those years.
MADDOW: That may not all be celebration, if it`s in the Castro and
we haven`t got the Prop 8.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Prop 8. On the same night that Barack Obama was voted
president, California voted to take away existing marriage rights from
same-sex couples. The same electorate that gave California to Barack Obama
over John McCain by a 24-point margin, voted by more than four points to
take away existing gay couple`s marriage rights.
And from that perspective, it sounds like that was a surprising vote,
but that`s perfectly in keeping with the track record with what happens
when you take a majority vote on this type of minority rights. After last
night`s vote against marriage equality in North Carolina, the track record
for state ride referenda on gay rights is 1 in 33. So in the past 15
years, anti-gay forces have put 34 ballots questions on gay rights to a
statewide vote, and 33 of those 34 times, the vote has their way, it has
gone against gay people`s rights.
The only exception, the only time has not been for a ban on gay
people`s right was one vote in Arizona in 2008, but Arizona remedied that -
- thank you very much – by taking another anti-gay right vote in 2008 in
which the state flipped and did ban same sex marriage rights. So, there
was no place in the country where this role doesn`t hold true. In
conservative states, in middle of the road states, in liberal states, every
time there is a statewide vote on same-sex marriage rights, the majority
votes to deny those rights.
And at the same time, people talking to public opinion pollsters are
increasingly saying that they support same-sex marriage rights. In the
Gallup Poll in 2009, the proportion of Americans say they supported same-
sex marriage rights was 40 percent. The next year, 2010, support went from
40 to 44 percent. The next year, 2011, support went from 44 to 53 percent.
But rising poll numbers in terms of marriage rights have not
translated into statewide votes to support those rights, not anywhere in
the country, not even now in 2012. Not last night in North Carolina.
Even before his statement today that he personally now supports the
right of same-sex couples to get married, President Obama had come out
against that North Carolina marriage ban that passed last night. He also
said he is against the marriage ban that`s going to be on the ballot in
Minnesota in November.
In New Jersey right now, marriage would be legal for same-sex couples
under legislation passed by the New Jersey House and Senate earlier this
year, but that legislation was vetoed by New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie. He has tried to make himself not seem too anti-gay for having
vetoed marriage rights for New Jersey, that would exist without his veto.
He says that, frankly, he thinks it`s just better to put things like this
up to a statewide vote, as a general principle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is that
I think people would have been happy to have a referendum, you know, on
civil rights, rather than fighting and dying in the streets, in the South.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Think about that for a second. Instead of protecting
African-American civil rights in the South, as rights, right? Rights,
right? We should have just put them up for a majority vote. What could
possibly go wrong? How would that vote have turned out in the segregated
That`s the argument Chris Christie made for why he vetoed same-sex
marriage rights that passed the legislature in New Jersey. This was the
response to Chris Christie from the mayor of New Jersey`s largest city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NJ: Dear God, we should not be
putting civil rights issues to a popular vote, to be subject to the
sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights
subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a
fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for. And I get very
concerned that we have created in our state and we refuse to address and
call it like it is, that we`ve created a second class citizen in our state.
That`s what we have in America right now. We have two classes of
citizens. Jackie Robinson said the right of every American to first class
citizenship is the most important issue of our time.
Let`s stop – let`s stop the ruse. We have two types of citizens
right now in our state. Citizens like me, who if I choose to marry
somebody, I can marry somebody from a different country, they have a right
to a United States citizenship. I talked to somebody last night, their
spouse is looking to be deported. Their spouse is looking to be deported.
I`ve got a right, people against taxes, that if I die, I`m married,
this first class citizenship that I have says that my estate taxes, my wife
will get to avoid those estate taxes.
The second class citizens in our country don`t have those rights.
There`s over a thousand federal laws that create different classes of
American citizenship, because we`re not treating everybody equally under
I read the 14th Amendment clearly. It talks about equal protection
under the laws. And that was never something that should go up for a
popular vote, whether blacks, women, or other minorities should be equal
first class citizenships.
Thank God Jackie Robinson wasn`t a popular vote, whether he should
join and be a professional baseball player.
And so to me, this is infuriating, that we are still in the 21st
century, and we haven`t created equality under the law. So I will be
fundamentally in the fiber of my being, supportive of equal citizenship for
all people under this country. Because I know at the end of the day, I
would not be here, my family wouldn`t have been able to put food on the
table for me, if it wasn`t for that idea in America.
I`m tired and exhausted that we have a country who is able to
overcome women having a position in this country, blacks having a second
class citizen in this country, Latinos have a second class citizen in this
country, blacks and whites who want to marry having a second class
citizenry in this country. It`s about time we create a first class
citizenry for every American, plain and simple, every New Jerseyan.
This should not be a popular vote. This should be something we do
now. To me it`s ridiculous and offensive that we`re still having this
debate. It should have been done months if not years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On the day that President Obama announced that he, too,
believes that same-sex couples should have the right to marry in this
country, we are joined now by Newark Mayor, Cory Booker.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here.
BOOKER: It`s very, very good to see you.
MADDOW: It`s a little weird to make you sit there and look at three
minutes of yourself.
BOOKER: It`s also weird to hear you call me “Mr. Mayor” when back in
the early 1990s, you called me many other things.
MADDOW: I called you, hey, you, for a long part of our adulthood.
MADDOW: Cory, you were publicly here on this issue a long time
before the president said he agreed today.
What is important about this stand that the president took today?
BOOKER: Well, I think, first of all, I think you`re right to
highlight that he`s done a lot for equality behind the scenes, without
having a personal view.
But to have Barack Obama, the president of the United States, to
stand on the public stage and say, once and for all, I believe in equality
of all citizens, I think, it has a very powerful symbolic effect, I think
it puts the light on many people, Democrats and Republicans, who have the
same personal sentiments, but haven`t had the courage to come forward and
say it, and I think that there are kids in my city today who finally, image
this, feel validated by their president, that I am an equal citizen in your
eyes as well.
And to me, that`s an historic thing, when a president comes out and
says, I believe in equality, I`m going ready to go through that. I think
it`s one of the last hurdles for us being the nation that we say we are.
MADDOW: You know, we – in terms of the symbolic value here, one of
the things that has always made me crazy on this subject, and I talked
about ate the top of the show a little bit, is the idea that the
politicians, particularly president who is pursue an anti-gay policy
agenda, who achieve political power and wield it to hurt gay people, then
want to be seen as still getting credit for the symbolic value of them
being personally nice to gay people, even when they`re wielding power to
MADDOW: This is the opposite, right? This is somebody who has used
the symbolic value to it of his personal stance.
BOOKER: First of all, there`s no difference to me than somebody
saying, in a time of segregation, oh, I support segregation laws, oh, but I
have a black friend or somebody that works for me. To me, there`s a
despicable nature of that, when you`re denying the worth and dignity of an
individual, but you`re saying, hey, I like you, I have a friend or a family
member, or what have you. That`s ridiculous.
And so, in this case with Barack Obama, I respect the fact that he
struggled with his conscience. And I actually don`t see for those of us
who have surrendered to cynicism about politics in general, I don`t see a
political advantage to this.
I see a guy who was wrestling with this in his heart and the totality
of his personal experiences, the totality of his personal experiences,
finally brought him over a line. I wish he was there a long time ago, but
I still give him a tremendous amount of credit for crossing that line and
finally calling it like it is, in the midst of a very different election.
MADDOW: Barney Frank just said moments ago that he doesn`t think
there was a political downside to the president on this, that anybody who
was going to disagree with him anyway. Do you think there is political
BOOKER: Why would Karl Rove go out in the 2004 elections and
insidiously, and in a great political, with great political machination,
get the gay right votes on many different ballots, because he knew it would
excite and awaken an electorate that would come out passionately just for
So, I disagree, I think there will be many people with that kind of
hate in their heart that will come out and say that we`re not going to,
we`re not for president that would give equal value and worth under the law
to gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
So, I see disagree. And I see that in my own city. I`ll never
forget a moment I had before a polling place, where a pastor came to me and
was so upset in the 2004 elections, and said, I will not vote for somebody
who supports gay marriage.
I had to say, first of all, the Democratic presidential nominee does
not support gay marriage, but I can`t believe this is your singular issue
that you`re voting on.
And so, in many ways, that people want to keep this election to the
wedge issues, that don`t unify our country, that drive people apart. And I
think it is playing into the hands, if you think to think of the political
machinations, to those people that want to make this election, portray this
election in that way.
That said, to me, I don`t care about the politics of it all. When
are we going to be a nation that just stands up and says, it says in the
core documents of our nation, that all people are created equal? That we
have equal protection under the law? Why are we leaving gay and lesbian
Americans aside for a second class citizenship? I cannot accept that,
especially as an American that has benefitted so much.
And we keep saying this is about gay rights, and I appreciate. But
to me that`s not the framing I would use at all. This is about equal
BOOKER: This is about the – the civil rights movement was not
ability black rights, the suffrage movement was not about women`s rights,
it`s about the rights of Americans to be equal under the law, plain and
If you ever – and I understand the passions that come from a
religious perspective. You know, that`s why we`ve taken pains to separate
church and state. When it comes to the laws of this country, people don`t
understand the agony and the anguish it causes the families to be – from
Social Security, to veterans affairs, to immigration, to tax law, to hit so
many barriers and the effects it has on people`s lives.
And then just the simple idea that I have teenagers in my city that
feel like that they`re worth, that they`re dignity is denied them in this
nation that views them as unequal, and inferior. And that to me is so
counter as to what we stand as a nation.
Enough is enough. Your religious passions ands the like, they are
important and they have your place. But when it comes to the government of
the United States, to discriminate in this manner should be unacceptable to
MADDOW: That idea of a single class of citizenship being a universal
goal, regardless of the people, the specific group that is excluded from
BOOKER: Right. And the irony of this is based just on who you love,
based on love. And that to me is unacceptable.
MADDOW: Love you, man. Good to see you.
BOOKER: Love you too. All right.
MADDOW: All right, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey.
All right. We have awesome guest tonight, Lizz Winstead, who is the
co-creator of the “Daily Show,” and another old pal of mine. He`s coming
MADDOW: Of all the terms you could use to define the modern
Republican Party, whether you like Republicans, whether you don`t like
Republicans, whether you are a Republican or you wouldn`t be caught dead in
the Grand Old Party, there are a lot of phrases you could use to define
what the Republican Party is like right now. Is the phrase
“extraordinarily pro-woman” one of those phrases?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Extraordinarily pro-woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Extraordinarily pro-woman. The Republican Party? That`s
news. That`s ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: To describe Republicans as being anything but
extraordinarily pro-woman, pro opportunity for women of America, pro-moms,
pro-working moms, pro-working women – look, that kind of effort is totally
missing the mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republicans are extraordinarily pro-woman, so says Mitt
What counts toward that exactly? May we discuss what counts toward
that? And on the day when President Obama put Mitt Romney`s anti gay
platform in center of the presidential debate. Can we talk about that too?
Joining us now to talk about and much more is my old friend Lizz
Winstead, comedian and writer, author of the new book of essay, “Lizz, Free
or Die,” which is the single best title in America. The book comes out
tomorrow. Lizz is co-creator of “The Daily Show.” She`s the person who
hired me at Air America Radio, and brought me out of wilderness.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, AUTHOR, “LIZZ FREE OR DIE”: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Congratulations on the book. It`s really funny.
WINSTEAD: Thank you.
MADDOW: It`s really, really funny, very touching.
WINSTEAD: You know what? Thanks.
MADDOW: You didn`t tell the dark side of Air America. You made is
sound like it was meaningfully – you took the deep and meaningful lessons
and none of the cheap shots you could have taken, which I`m not sure I
could have done.
WINSTEAD: You know, here is the thing – as we lived through the
crazy part of Air America, the one part that rose out of it, everyone knows
the story, saw the documentary and know these people from Guam decided to
sign on with, which was bizarre. Sure, this sounds like a pretty good
idea, guys from Guam who had a radio station once. We`re going to give up
our careers and go there and do that.
But when it all started falling apart, we banded together. Nobody
quit, people who had money helped pay the other people. We made these
crazy comedy bits. We had a riot and built relationships that were really
WINSTEAD: And we especially on the radio, had a darn good time.
MADDOW: It`s true. And the legacy of Air America ultimately is what
everybody has done since then, and it was that liberals ought to be in the
media, that there ought to be an overt liberal voice in the media, and that
has borne some fruit in the world.
WINSTEAD: It has borne fruit and we were right. The problems with
Air America wasn`t that there wasn`t a butt load of talent, if you will.
MADDOW: Technical term.
WINSTEAD: You know, when I`m on a news network and I thought butt
load was appropriate, you know?
Starting in the morning with Marc Maron and you and Chuck and then Al
and Catherine and Jeanine and Sam and it was astounding. And all of us we
both go on to do amazing things. We have you and the senator.
My work is done. See you later.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things you write about a lot in “Lizz,
Free or Die,” is your evolving politics about abortion rights, about having
an abortion when you were a teenager, about the circumstances around that,
about your family`s dealing with it or not dealing with it, and then your
activism around this as an adult. And it`s been a real constant in your
And I just – I wonder if you have an explanation for why the anti-
abortion Republican Party has gone so hog wild in the last couple of years.
They`ve always been anti-abortion rights, but the last couple of years have
been nuts in terms of anti-abortion politics. Why is that?
WINSTEAD: Really nuts.
I think when women have been moving further and further to demand
their place at the table and threatened in obvious power structure that,
all of a sudden, has to prove itself like we have had to for so many years,
I think it`s about control and I think it`s incredibly frightening. I
mean, there are a couple of states that it`s illegal to exfoliate at this
point. I don`t know, but the laws keep coming down the pipe.
WINSTEAD: Yes, don`t you dare use a loofah, missy.
Some of the laws, the more draconian they get, and for me to have
been a teenager who was alone and got pregnant at 17, to see this law in
Oklahoma, where now doctors can be, you know, civilly prosecuted for not,
you know, letting a juvenile have an abortion, I think they lump us
together as though we were one big uterus. And your life and your needs
are very different than my life and my needs.
And I have known from a young girl that I would not be a good mom. I
just don`t have that thing. I have other goals, other drives, other needs.
And the thing that I think is sort of the untold scary part of all of this,
and I hope we talk about that more, the less access we have to health care,
the less access that women have choices to follow their destiny. And
that`s the part I feel so incredibly strongly about.
And I tell my story, because it`s not an extraordinary one.
MADDOW: That`s the thing about the book, self-determination, being
raised to be a kid who knew who you wanted to be. It being incredibly
unpopular from the moment you told the priest that you wanted to be an
MADDOW: Right to the bishop, I don`t want to deal with it.
But self-determination is sort of your lesson. Know who you are,
fight to get it, and that`s the most rewarding thing you can do with your
WINSTEAD: Well, true, I kind of this anvil rule. Like I can`t lift
an anvil, you know? So I would never apply for a job to like move –
pullout couches, for example, I can`t lift them.
And so, if I wanted to try something that wasn`t going to harm me and
didn`t involve the metaphoric anvil lifting, why shouldn`t I be able to?
And I think as I evolved as a young woman, that`s why I was so drawn to the
gay community and people from color because skin doesn`t prevent you from
lifting an anvil, and we prevent people from doing things because of the
color of their skin, who do they love.
Why? Why? Why are we so focused on something that makes them happy?
WINSTEAD: That does not create a better society? I never understood
that. Even in my tiny little pea brain, as I grow as an adult, which is
just slightly bigger than a pea.
MADDOW: I will say that the book is incredibly irreverent,
constantly laugh out loud, deep story about that self-determination idea
which is really important. Thanks, man.
WINSTEAD: Thanks, man.
MADDOW: Is it inappropriate to hug?
WINSTEAD: And you say mwah.
MADDOW: You have to wait until we have a smaller table.
MADDOW: Other than that, we`re good. Perfect. Lizz`s new book is
called “Lizz, Free or Die.” It is a great title. It is a great book.
It`s really, really funny and it`s important.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Today has been a big, big news day. And tomorrow is
promising to start in a very early way. This is a programming note. I
will be on NBC`s “Today” show right near the top of the 7:00 a.m. hour.
NBC, tomorrow morning, “Today” show, I will see you there.
But that does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”
with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>