CBS 'Early Show': Nearly Five Minutes on Gay Marriage Ruling, One Sentence to Critics

John Blackstone, CBS In a report on Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent John Blackstone described the fallout of a decision by California Judge Vaughn Walker to lift his stay on gay marriages after overturning Proposition 8: "Inside San Francisco City Hall dozens of same-sex couples lined up for marriage licenses, anticipating their wedding day." A headline on screen declared: "Save the Date."  

Blackstone explained how gay couples were still upset that the stay would not be lifted until August 18: "Despite a celebration here, these advocates know this may be just a temporary opening. And it turned out it wasn't opened yet....Among the disappointed couples was one of those who filed the lawsuit challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage."

Finally taking note of critics of the initial Proposition 8 ruling and the lifting of the stay, Blackstone remarked: "The delay gives opponents time to appeal and a political issue." The only sound bite of a critic was that of Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage: "The extreme nature of this decision is, in fact, going to impact the elections in 2010."

Blackstone then concluded his report this way: "Polls show a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, but in California, where there were 18,000 such marriages two years ago, plenty of wedding plans are now being made for next week." He made no mention of the majority of Californians also being opposed.

Following Blackstone's report, co-host Harry Smith spoke with liberal George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley about the issue. While Turley described the judge's decision as "very controversial," he also made sure to tell viewers where he stood: "I actually support same-sex marriage."

Smith was puzzled by the delay in allowing gay marriage: "Why would the judge leave – well, open the window and then say, 'okay, we're going to close the window until next Wednesday'?" Turley replied: "Well, he's actually doing a very standard and responsible thing....This is a controversial decision. And for the people on the other side of this debate, they should be entitled to make their argument to the court of appeals."

Later, Turley assured his fellow gay marriage supporters that allowing Judge Walker's decision to be appealed would "add legitimacy to his opinion."
                            
Here is a full transcript of the August 13 segment:
7:00AM TEASE

ERICA HILL: Save the date. A California judge says same-sex couples will have to wait one more week to get married, allowing for an appeal to move forward. We'll tell you why this could end up going all the way to the Supreme Court.        

7:01AM SEGMENT

HARRY SMITH: We begin with the court room battle over California's same-sex marriage ban, the federal judge that threw that ban out now says that same-sex weddings can be held next week, unless higher courts get involved. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone has the story.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Save the Date; Judge Delays Same-Sex Weddings to Allow Appeal]

JOHN BLACKSTONE: Inside San Francisco City Hall dozens of same-sex couples lined up for marriage licenses, anticipating their wedding day. Outside, a crowd gathered. The judge, who last week ruled that California's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, said he is lifting the stay he placed on that decision. Same-sex marriage in California has been on a roller coaster, sometimes legal, sometimes not. Despite a celebration here, these advocates know this may be just a temporary opening. And it turned out it wasn't opened yet.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The good news is the stay is lifted. The bad news is the judge has said it's lifted next Wednesday.

CROWD: Aww.

BLACKSTONE: Among the disappointed couples was one of those who filed the lawsuit challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage.

JEFF ZARRILLO: We're hopeful that we will be able to get married and we'll be able to announce wedding plans as soon as possible.

BLACKSTONE: The delay gives opponents time to appeal and a political issue.

MAGGIE GALLAGHER [NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE]: The extreme nature of this decision is, in fact, going to impact the elections in 2010.

BLACKSTONE: Polls show a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, but in California, where there were 18,000 such marriages two years ago, plenty of wedding plans are now being made for next week. John Blackstone, CBS News, San Francisco.

SMITH: And joining us now from Washington is George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley. Good morning, sir.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Hi, Harry.

SMITH: Why would the judge leave – well, open the window and then say, 'okay, we're going to close the window until next Wednesday'?

TURLEY: Well, he's actually doing a very standard and responsible thing. What he's doing is he's giving the court of appeals a short period of time to review his decision and decide whether they want to impose a stay. Most federal judges will do that. In fact, if he didn't do that, it'd be viewed as a little bit odd, if not aggressive towards the court of appeals. What he's saying is, 'look, I'm one judge. This is a controversial decision. And for the people on the other side of this debate, they should be entitled to make their argument to the court of appeals.'

SMITH: So what is the likelihood, then, a court of appeals would get involved in this by Wednesday?

TURLEY: Well, they're going to have to. I mean, they're going to have to take a look at whether they want to impose a stay. And's it's going to be tempting for some of those judges. You know, this did overturn a majority of people who voted on the proposition. It's a very controversial decision. Some judges might be inclined to say, 'You know what? Let's go ahead and stay this until other judges have looked at it.' But what Judge Walker said in this opinion was I don't see the irreparable harm being done to people by allowing people to get married.

SMITH: Right.

TURLEY: And he gave a very strong opinion saying, I don't think this should be stayed by the Ninth Circuit.

SMITH: If you are a proponent of same-sex marriage, how should you interpret this?

TURLEY: I would encourage my friends on that side – and I actually support same-sex marriage – but I would encourage people on the side of same-sex marriage to understand that they benefit, in some regards, with – from Judge Walker's move. He's going to add legitimacy to his opinion. It's not going to be just one judge. It's important for this to be reviewed, to satisfy all parties that it's not just one judge making his own decision, but that it's going to be other judges making independent decisions of their own.

SMITH: Right. Since this thing came down people have said this is likely to end up in the Supreme Court. Do you agree?

TURLEY: Well, you know, as you know, you've been around a long time, it's dangerous to predict when the court will accept something. They have actually avoided the same-sex marriage issue in the past, but if any case has a chance, it would be this one. By my count, there seems to be four justices on both sides of this issue, if you're going to make an early prediction. And as usual, Justice Kennedy's right in the middle. But Kennedy has been very sympathetic towards gay rights in the past. So, it would be a very interesting issue to go before this court at this time.

SMITH: Jonathan Turley, we sure do appreciate your expertise this morning. Thank you very much.

TURLEY: Thanks, Harry.

SMITH: Alright, you bet.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC