CBS: CA Gay Marriage ‘Seen As A Huge Victory for Equal Rights’

On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" an entirely one-sided story about the California Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage by correspondent John Blackstone, was followed by an entirely one-sided interview of a gay couple by co-host Julie Chen. Chen introduced the segment by declaring: "The landmark decision by the California Supreme Court yesterday to allow gay couples to marry..." while also fretting that the decision "... may be short-lived. Conservative groups hope to undo the ruling by putting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in November." However, the perspective of those "conservative groups" is never presented in the segment. [audio available here]

Blackstone then offered his report on the ruling, which talked to no lawyers or legal experts and discussed no details of the ruling. Instead, Blackstone began by exclaiming: "In the Castro District, San Francisco's predominantly gay neighborhood...The court's decision was seen as a huge victory for equal rights." In the middle of Blackstone’s statement an overjoyed gay woman proclaimed: "Thank you, goddesses."

Blackstone went on to portray liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as the hero of the day:

BLACKSTONE: At San Francisco's city hall, Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested barriers to same-sex marriage everywhere would begin to topple.

GAVIN NEWSOM: It's going to happen whether you like it or not.

BLACKSTONE: This all began four years ago when Mayor Newsom threw open the doors of city hall for a flood of gay weddings.

At the end of the report, Blackstone once again brought up those anonymous "opponents" to the ruling, though he had not featured any: "The debate isn't over. A measure to once again ban same-sex marriage is likely to be on the California ballot in November."

Still Shot of John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, May 16 Blackstone’s story was then followed by Chen interviewing John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, a gay couple from San Francisco. At one point, Chen asked Gaffney: " Stuart, domestic partnerships exist, civil unions exist. Explain to us why it's so important for you and John to be married." Gaffney replied by comparing gay marriage to that of the interracial marriage between his parents:

Well, I really am inspired by the example of my parents who are an interracial couple. There used to be barriers against interracial couples marrying. And what if my parents had been told they had an interracial union because they were of different races, whereas people of the same race could get married. The U.S. Supreme Court said no in 1967 and overturned all states laws banning interracial couples from marrying. That would be unthinkable today to tell couples like my mom and dad that they couldn't marry. And that's what we see right now. That equal marriage rights means that love is love is love.

Chen later mentioned those "opponents" one last time:

Still Shot of Julie Chen, May 16 CHEN: And Stuart, how do you guys plan on dealing with the opponents out there who are trying to get this on the ballot in November to ban same-sex marriages?

GAFFNEY: Well, you know, no one should have to put their love before the voters. But if this is on the ballot in November, we will continue telling our story and telling people that this court decision is really about love, fundamentally, California has now made a great statement that all love deserves to be treated equally. And we're going to tell that story all the way until November. And we're very hopeful.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:01AM TEASER:

JULIE CHEN: But also coming up this morning, big news out of California. California has become the second state to allow same-sex marriages. And we'll have more on that straight ahead.

7:12AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Up next, same-sex couples in California win the right to marry. But opponents are promising to push a constitutional ban.

7:15AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: The landmark decision by the California Supreme Court yesterday to allow gay couples to marry may be short-lived. Conservative groups hope to undo the ruling by putting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in November. More from CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

JOHN BLACKSTONE: With both cheers and tears, those gathered on the courthouse steps were already making plans for the next step.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don't know the details of the ruling, but I think we're getting married pretty soon.

BLACKSTONE: In the Castro District, San Francisco's predominantly gay neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: Thank you, goddesses.

BLACKSTONE: The court's decision was seen as a huge victory for equal rights.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN C: They got it. And I'm really happy.

BLACKSTONE: Talk show host Ellen Degeneres released a statement saying, she 'can't wait to get married.' She added, 'P.S., I'm registered at Crate and Barrel.' At San Francisco's city hall, Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested barriers to same-sex marriage everywhere would begin to topple.

GAVIN NEWSOM: It's going to happen whether you like it or not.

BLACKSTONE: This all began four years ago when Mayor Newsom threw open the doors of city hall for a flood of gay weddings. Jim Smith and Frank Reithsnyder got married then. They have 14-month-old twins. But until this court ruling, their marriage certificate had no legal meaning.

JIM SMITH: My family knows I'm married. My church knows I'm married. Finally, the state knows that I'm married.

BLACKSTONE: The debate isn't over. A measure to once again ban same-sex marriage is likely to be on the California ballot in November. John Blackstone, CBS News, San Francisco.

JULIE CHEN: Joining us from San Francisco are John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney. They were among the couples that sued to overturn laws against same-sex marriage. Gentlemen, good morning and congratulations on your success here.

STUART GAFFNEY: Good morning.

JOHN LEWIS: Thank you so much. Good morning.

CHEN: John, let me begin with you, because you and Stuart have been together for more than 20 years. Why -- what was your --

JOHN LEWIS: Yes, yes.

CHEN: What was your reaction when you heard the ruling yesterday?

LEWIS: We were just enormously happy. As you mentioned, we've been a loving, committed couple now for 21 years. And it's just a tremendous feeling to know that we are no longer excluded. And that our loving, committed relationship is going to be given the highest dignity and respect under the law.

CHEN: Stuart, domestic partnerships exist, civil unions exist. Explain to us why it's so important for you and John to be married.

STUART GAFFNEY: Well, I really am inspired by the example of my parents who are an interracial couple. There used to be barriers against interracial couples marrying. And what if my parents had been told they had an interracial union because they were of different races, whereas people of the same race could get married. The U.S. Supreme Court said no in 1967 and overturned all states laws banning interracial couples from marrying. That would be unthinkable today to tell couples like my mom and dad that they couldn't marry. And that's what we see right now. That equal marriage rights means that love is love is love.

CHEN: John, since -- since this ruling came down yesterday, it will actually go into effect 30 days from now. So in 30 days, do the two of you plan to have a ceremony and get married?

LEWIS: We are planning to get married just as soon as possible. And our families and friends they're so excited. We were on the phone and on e-mails all day yesterday and we're going to have a wonderful, grand celebration with friends and family to celebrate love.

CHEN: And how do you guys plan on dealing --

GAFFNEY: The best part of getting --

CHEN: Yeah, go ahead, Stuart.

GAFFNEY: I was just going to say the best part of getting married is sharing your love with your family and friends and loved ones. That's the kind of wedding we want and that's the kind of wedding we are going to have now.

CHEN: And Stuart, how do you guys plan on dealing with the opponents out there who are trying to get this on the ballot in November to ban same-sex marriages?

GAFFNEY: Well, you know, no one should have to put their love before the voters. But if this is on the ballot in November, we will continue telling our story and telling people that this court decision is really about love, fundamentally, California has now made a great statement that all love deserves to be treated equally. And we're going to tell that story all the way until November. And we're very hopeful.

CHEN: In the final moments of this interview, it is hitting the wires this morning that Ellen Degeneres and her partner, Portia De Rossi, plan to marry in light of this ruling. Your reaction, John?

LEWIS: Well, it's just wonderful that we've been a loving, committed couple for, you know, over 20 years now, and there are thousands and thousands of loving, committed couples in California and across the nation who simply want the same dignity and respect for their family that everybody else has. And so we see this as a great day and a great step forward.

CHEN: John Lewis, Stuart Gaffney, thank you, gentlemen.

LEWIS: Thank you.

GAFFNEY: Thank you.

CHEN: You're welcome.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC