CBS: The Vanishing Opposition to Gay Marriage

Still Shot of John Blackstone, June 15 On CBS’s "Sunday Morning," correspondent John Blackstone reported on the beginning of legal gay marriages in California starting Monday: "Even for people used to earthquakes, the California Supreme Court's decision last month to legalize same-sex marriage was a jolt. But even as gay couples make plans to wed this week...Opponents say tradition should and will be restored."

Blackstone went on to talk to one such opponent: "Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is confident Californians will vote to again ban same sex marriage. On the ballot, in November...Brown says the state supreme court improperly overturned the will of the people. In 2000, California voters approved a measure declaring that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California."

Out of a total of 8 minutes and 50 seconds of coverage during the show, 2 minutes and 14 seconds was given to highlight opponents of gay marriage. By Sunday’s "Evening News" the total coverage had shrunk to 2 minutes and 35 seconds with 27 seconds given to opponents. Total coverage on Monday’s "Early Show" was 5 minutes and 12 seconds, however, time given to opponents of gay marriage was only 41 seconds, with no mention of Brown or his organization.

During the coverage on all three shows a new CBS poll was touted as showing an increase in support for gay marriage nation-wide. On Sunday, Blackstone reported: "A CBS news poll conducted this month found that a majority of Americans, 58%, support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, but many still don't want that to be called 'marriage.' 28% approve of civil unions. 30% of allowing gay couples to marry. The highest number since CBS News began asking that question in 2004."

On Monday, "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen proclaimed: "Same-sex marriage remains a hot-button issue throughout America. But it seems that tolerance for it appears to be growing. According to a new CBS News poll, 30% of Americans now accept same-sex marriages. However, 36% favor no legal recognition of gay marriages at all." Of course, looking at those numbers it is clear that 70% of Americans are opposed to allowing actual marriage for gay couples.

One of the most controversial statements made during the CBS coverage was made by actor George Takei to Blackstone during the "Sunday Morning" segment: "I know that people can change because I grew up in -- behind the barbed wire fences of American internment camps. That was in my lifetime. And here I am now, a popular actor -- supported by many, many people throughout the country. America changes. America is made up of decent people, fair-minded people."

Chen interviewed Takei and his partner on Monday’s "Early Show": "Among the same-sex couples getting their marriage licenses this week are long-time partners, George Takei and Brad Altman. You no doubt remember George Takei, who played the role of Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek." Gentlemen good morning and congratulations."

Here are the full transcripts of the segments:

SUNDAY MORNING

06/15/08

9:00AM TEASER:

CHARLES OSGOOD: For the last century or so, Father's Day and Mother's Day have been special days, one for him, dad, and one for her, mom. But something has happened over the last several years and it's hit the nuclear family more like a nuclear explosion to some people, who liked it better the old fashioned way. In our biggest state the culture shock is about to be felt full-force. John Blackstone will be reporting our "Sunday Morning" cover story.

GAVIN NEWSOM: What a day in San Francisco! What a day in California!

JOHN BLACKSTONE: Even for people used to earthquakes, the California Supreme Court's decision last month to legalize same-sex marriage was a jolt. But even as gay couples make plans to wed this week-

JOHN HAM: I look good in white! It's okay.

BLACKSTONE: Opponents say tradition should and will be restored.

BRIAN BROWN: There's something unique and special about mothers and fathers. It's that simple.

BLACKSTONE: Later on "Sunday Morning," the shaking in California that's sending shock waves across the country.

9:09AM SEGMENT:

CHARLES OSGOOD: Starting tomorrow, you can expect to see more California cars with signs that say, 'Just Married.' But if you haven't been paying attention to a recent legal development, you might be surprised by who some of these June newlyweds are. Our cover story is reported now by John Blackstone.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you, Kevin, take this woman Impumei to be your lawfully wedded wife.

KEVIN: I do.

JOHN BLACKSTONE: In the cheery rotunda of San Francisco's City Hall, always a great place for a wedding-

WOMAN: I now pronounce you husband and wife.

BLACKSTONE: It's a moment of calm -- before the storm. Tomorrow this grand old building will reaffirm its place at the epicenter of the same-sex marriage debate with what's likely to be the very first legal gay wedding in California. Performed by San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom.

GAVIN NEWSOM: I don't know what the big deal is at the end of the day to allow people to be treated fairly. My gosh. What more American value is there than that?

BLACKSTONE: But American values have generally viewed marriage as joining a man and a woman. 30 days ago in California, that all changed. Gay couples cheered and began making wedding plans.

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

BLACKSTONE: When in a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. When the ruling takes effect at one minute after 5:00 tomorrow afternoon, California becomes the only state besides Massachusetts where it's legal to marry someone of the same sex.

NEWSOM: What a day in San Francisco!

BLACKSTONE: Mayor Newsom energized the same-sex marriage movement in 2004, throwing open city hall to more than 4,000 gay weddings. When the state supreme court finally ordered the ceremonies to stop, couples still waiting in line for licenses were crushed.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: God Dammit!

BLACKSTONE: The marriages were declared void, and the court battle began, that has now ended with victory for same-sex marriage.

NEWSOM: There are thousands and thousands and thousands of couples that want to see their lives affirmed. The fact is we're going to be fine. This is all going to be okay.

BLACKSTONE: For many gay couples, that's an understatement. Some of the more high profile marriage seekers include Ellen Degeneres who publicly came out on TV more than a decade ago.

ELLEN DEGENERES: So, I would like to say right now for the first time, I am announcing I am getting married.

BLACKSTONE: She announced her intention to wed actress, Portia Derossi.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How often have you done this.

GEORGE TAKEI: Actually, it's my first attempt.

BLACKSTONE: Actor George Takei, best known as Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek," plans to wed his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman. First of all, tell me what it was like around this house the day the supreme court decision. Were you waiting for that? Was that something you were anticipating?

GEORGE TAKEI: We did know about it, we were anticipating it. And all of a sudden, Brad fell down to the floor. I mean, he got down on his knees. And I said -- you know, with my mouth full of food, what are you doing? And he -- he was on his knees, and said, 'George, will you marry me?' And I said -- 'darn it! I meant to ask you. You beat me to it!'

BRAD ALTMAN: I just want to be part of the mainstream American society, which I am, but I don't want to feel like I'm a second class citizen that I can have a domestic partnership but I can't have a marriage.

BLACKSTONE: A CBS news poll conducted this month found that a majority of Americans, 58%, support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, but many still don't want that to be called 'marriage.' 28% approve of civil unions. 30% of allowing gay couples to marry. The highest number since CBS News began asking that question in 2004. But opponents of same sex marriage say marriage is much more than a word. It's an important concept with only one meaning.

[Footage of angry protestors]

BRIAN BROWN: And by definition, marriage is the union of a man and woman. It's based on the complementarity of male and female.

BLACKSTONE: Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is confident Californians will vote to again ban same sex marriage. On the ballot, in November.

BROWN: Now, what's going to happen in the interim? Likely all of the effects we've seen from around the country. Parents being told they have no say in what their kids are taught in school, and that johnny needs to be taught that it's the same exact thing to grow up and marry Jimmy as it is to marry Mary. That there's no distinction at all. That's what the law now says.

BLACKSTONE: Brown says the state supreme court improperly overturned the will of the people. In 2000, California voters approved a measure declaring that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California. But California does recognize domestic partnerships, arguing against same-sex marriage, the state attorney general said domestic partners have the same rights as married couples just under a different name. The state supreme court, however, ruled that separate but qual is not equal. The only other state that allows gay marriage, Massachusetts, issues same-sex licenses only for residents. Since California has no residency requirement, gay couples from across the country are expected to head west, and then go home to an uncertain legal future. Right now, 44 states have constitutional amendments or laws banning same sex marriage. Eight states do provide some spousal rights to same sex partners. But only New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: Ann can I talk to you?

BLACKSTONE: In California, some local officials are resisting. The clerk in Kearn County Ann Barnett dodged a reporter's questions about her decision to stop all marriages in county offices rather than perform any gay marriages. Even the most ardent supporters of the new law say it's going to be -- well, different. Contra Costa County Clerk, Steve Weir. This is the application for a marriage license?

STEVE WEIR: That's it.

BLACKSTONE: And so which parts of this-

WEIR: Have changed.

BLACKSTONE: Have changed.

WEIR: Well, instead of bride and groom, it's 'Party A' and 'Party B.'

BLACKSTONE: That's not very romantic.

WEIR: But I will be 'Party B.'

BLACKSTONE: Weir plans to be the first in line at his own office Tuesday morning to marry his long-time partner, John Ham.

JOHN HAM: I'm doing it for the ceremony, I'm doing it for the public ritual which I believe in.

BLACKSTONE: For the 18 years Weir and Ham have been together the closest they got to a marriage ceremony was a staged photo taken after too many cocktails. So, did you do that as a joke, or-

HAM: I look good in white! It's okay. I was just waiting for the time when you could just do it like everybody else does, and -- in the world. And you just go down to the city hall or to the county clerk's office, get the paperwork done and not make anything different or special. You know, some people in the world want it to be different. They want to be able to point that finger and say, you know, oh, there goes those gay people again, you know, making a spectacle of themselves. No, it's just like anybody else.

BLACKSTONE: But it's not like anybody else, says Brian Brown. To him, gay marriage is an attempt to normalize something that isn't normal at all.

BROWN: You're not just saying we're opening up marriage to these people. You're fundamentally redefining what the nature of marriage is, that marriage is the union of a mother and father, a husband and a wife, that ideal is what is worth protecting and again, I think that's a common sense idea. There's something unique and special about mothers and fathers. It's that simple.

BLACKSTONE: George Takei however, sees a world that's more accepting.

GEORGE TAKEI: I know that people can change because I grew up in -- behind the barbed wire fences of American internment camps. That was in my lifetime. And here I am now, a popular actor -- supported by many, many people throughout the country. America changes. America is made up of decent people, fair-minded people.

BLACKSTONE: But when the weddings begin again in California, some decent people will see only indecency. Though, that's not likely to diminish the joy for those who thought marriage could never be theirs.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN D: I now pronounce you Jet and Annie, spouses for life.

 

EVENING NEWS

06/16/08

6:20PM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: With same-sex marriages set to begin tomorrow in California, a new CBS poll out tonight shows Americans split on whether same-sex couples should even have the right to marry. Couples planning to take the big step are wondering how long the opportunity will be available as John Blackstone reports.

JOHN BLACKSTONE: For three years, Jason and Adrian have described themselves as engaged.

JASON HOWE: These are the reply cards.

BLACKSTONE: Now at home in Los Angeles, they are finally sending out invitations to a wedding.

ADRIAN: And this is society's recognition that we're family.

BLACKSTONE: They have set a date and even built a wedding website, but the ceremony they're planning isn't in California. It's in Spain. They started making their plans before California legalized same-sex marriage.

HOWE: We didn't do this because we wanted to have a wonderful wedding on the Mediterranean or whatever. We did this because we couldn't do it here.

BLACKSTONE: Jason, who works for a gay rights' organization, didn't expect California law would change so quickly. Now they'll get married in California as soon as they get home from Spain, and something they thought would be largely symbolic will now have the force of law.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: With this ring, I thee wed.

BLACKSTONE: Four years ago the gay marriages that filled San Francisco's City Hall were a symbolic challenge to the state law banning gay marriage. But last month when the California Supreme Court declared that law unconstitutional. Gay couples started making wedding plans and the ripples are going right across the country.

DAVID CRUZ: The development in California is huge nationally speaking. Unlike Massachusetts, California doesn't have a law that limits who can get married in the state.

BLACKSTONE: But the marriages that can legally begin at 5:01 PM tomorrow could end just as abruptly in November when a constitutional amendment to again ban same-sex marriage will be on the California ballot. Opponents of same-sex marriage are confident that Californians will vote to again define marriage as only for a man and a woman.

[Footage of angry protestors]

BRIAN BROWN: You can't just say, well, why not just two males, or two females. Why not then three or four? I mean you've done away with the essential meaning of marriage.

BLACKSTONE: But for Jason's mother Joanne, marriage seems exactly the right thing to do.

JOANNE HOWE: This is the beginning of something special and right and liberating.

BLACKSTONE: What is liberating for some, however, is certain to offend many others. As California rewrites the rules of a beloved institution. John Blackstone, CBS News, San Francisco.

 

THE EARLY SHOW

06/16/08

7:00AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And rush to the alter, starting today, same sex couples in California will be allowed to get married. Is America ready to say 'I do' to gay marriage?

7:12AM TEASER

JULIE CHEN: Well, up next, later today California opens its doors to gay marriage. We'll talk to Mr. Sulu from "Star Trek" about his wedding plans.

7:15AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Same-sex marriage remains a hot-button issue throughout America. But it seems that tolerance for it appears to be growing. According to a new CBS News poll, 30% of Americans now accept same-sex marriages. However, 36% favor no legal recognition of gay marriages at all. And starting today in some parts of California, same sex couples can get married legally. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone has more.

JOHN BLACKSTONE: The figures atop the wedding cakes in West Hollywood, California tell a story of dramatic social and legal change -- and big business.

TOM ROSA: Wedding consults have jumped dramatically. I mean, I would say our business has probably tripled in the last couple of weeks.

BLACKSTONE: Businesses all over the state are trying to grab a piece of this lucrative new wedding market.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We can do yellow gold, we can do white gold, we can do matching sets.

SUSAN WILCOX: It means an economic boom for California.

BLACKSTONE: On its website, the state tourism board is marketing California weddings to gay couples across the country.

WILCOX: We're hopeful that this is going to bring people to California to renew their vows or solidify their commitment to a significant other.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Diane Olsen, would you marry me?

BLACKSTONE: Two of the plaintiffs in the case that overturned California's ban on gay marriage are set to be married in Beverly Hills at 5:01 today, as soon as the ruling becomes effective. And in San Francisco, Dell Martin and Phyllis Lyon, both in their 80s and together more than 50 years will be married by Mayor Gavin Newsom. He energized the push for gay marriage in 2004 when he opened San Francisco City Hall to a flood of illegal gay weddings.

GAVIN NEWSOM: The idea that I'd ever be associated with the idea of same-sex marriage, you've got to be kidding me. It never even occurred to me five years ago. But, you know what, I believe in the principle of equality and I believe it's the right thing to do.

BLACKSTONE: But many others, of course, believe it's the wrong thing to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: Marriage is between an unmarried man and unmarried woman. It's clear.

BLACKSTONE: Citizens in Kern County lined up to tell the board of supervisors they were happy that county clerks stopped performing all weddings rather than perform any gay weddings.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: This is a slippery slope we're stepping. If we fall in the abyss, this is the first step and it's downward from here.

BLACKSTONE: More than a million Californians signed the petition to put the issue to a vote in November, a constitutional amendment that would again ban same-sex marriage. But between now and then, the state is bracing for a rush to wed. John Blackstone, CBS News, San Francisco.

CHEN: Among the same-sex couples getting their marriage licenses this week are long-time partners, George Takei and Brad Altman. You no doubt remember George Takei, who played the role of Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek." Gentlemen good morning and congratulations.

GEORGE TAKEI: Thank you very much and good morning.

CHEN: Good morning. So when is the big day, George?

TAKEI: Well, tomorrow's the big day when we get our license at long last. And-

CHEN: No wedding date yet, George?

TAKEI: Oh, we have a date. But it's going to be in September. And we wanted to give ourselves some months to go through the delicious anguish of planning for it.

BRAD ALTMAN: It takes a lot of work to plan for a wedding, Julie. A lot of work.

CHEN: Tell me about it, okay. So Brad, I understand you are the one who proposed to George. Tell me when you did it and how you did it?

ALTMAN: Well, actually George was watching TV and the news flash came on and I dropped to my knees and I said, 'George, will you marry me?' And George said-

TAKEI: Darn it, you beat me to it.

CHEN: You were going to do the same to Brad.

TAKEI: I had my mouth full of sandwich then. So I couldn't quite do it then.

CHEN: Now the two of you have been in a committed relationship with each other for 21 years. Why is it important now to call it marriage?

TAKEI: Well because it is a marriage. You know, they can find other names for it, but separate but equal just doesn't make-

CHEN: Doesn't cut it.

TAKEI: Oh yeah.

ALTMAN: I don't want to be domestically partnered to George Takei. I want to be married to George Takei. And beginning today in California, I can legally marry George Takei. I'm the happiest guy in California today because I get to marry George.

TAKEI: Well I'm the second happiest then.

CHEN: Brad, let me ask you, how much of this is about making a political statement and how much of this is simply about declaring your dedication and devotion to one another?

ALTMAN: Well, it's not about a political statement. It's about legally in California, the California Supreme Court says that everybody is equally entitled to marriage. And this is the first time -- George and I have been together for more than 21 years through good times, bad times, through sickness and health. And finally we can legally marry each other and I'm just thrilled.

CHEN: George-

TAKEI: And to us, it's about love, you know? But it's the climate we're going into that makes it political. But for us, it's love. And we get to make it a marriage.

ALTMAN: That's right.

CHEN: George Takei, Brad Altman. Thank you and best wishes.

ALTMAN: Thank you.

TAKEI: Thank you.

CHEN: You're welcome.

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