Liberals Dominate 4 to 1 on Meet the Press Panel Praising Obama's Gay Marriage Support

On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, American Conservative Union president Al Cardenas squared off against a group of left-wing pundits on the subject of President Obama announcing his support for gay marriage. The liberal bloc of guests included MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington Post columnists Jonathan Capehart and Kathleen Parker. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Parker cheered Obama's use of the word "evolving" to describe his flip-flop on gay marriage: "I think that's the perfect word to describe this conversation because the American people are evolving on this issue. And increasingly they're coming on the side of same-sex marriage being the right side of history..."

Cardenas challenged that assertion: "...but at the same time, young people have remarkably changed their points of view in life from the time they're in their 20s to the time they get to be 32 and have two kids at home." Parker dismissed him: "But it's the young people...in another generation, this is not going to be [an issue]." Newsom, who championed gay marriage as mayor of San Francisco, predicted that there would a "tidal wave" of support for the issue in a few years.

Matthews eagerly gushed over Obama's announcement:

...if you're a gay person, I don't see how you can not feel something strongly about this, because for the first time ever, the leader of your country, really the spokesman for your country, at an idealistic level....He's with you. And he's saying you're a human being with the same rights as all other human beings. That's a dramatic statement....I think it's almost up there with the first African-American president being president. It's a statement about who we are, ideally.

Newsom agreed and added: "...it's more than symbolic in that respect. The substance is millions of people's lives were affirmed. Not just gay and lesbians, but their loved ones. Their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and the like. So there was real substance there. Their lives were validated."

Moderator David Gregory touted Newsom's activism on the issue while hitting the President from the left for not going further: "You were mayor of San Francisco. We have the video, you were giving licenses to  marry before...it was lawful. And so you believe in equality, actual marriage equality, not viewpoints here. Equality has not been advanced by him."

That teed up Newsom to demand action from the federal government: "But the issue of federal rights is important. Interracial marriage became federalized when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously in '67 adjudicated in Levy vs. State of Virginia and threw out those 14 states that denied it. Ultimately that's where equality needs to go, federally, not state by state."

Later, Newsom continued the civil rights comparison: "70% of Americans opposed interracial marriage in 1967. You could imagine submitting the rights of interracial marriage to the ballot."

Near the end of the discussion, Newsom borrowed a slogan from MSNBC to praise the President: "...a history's going to be written on this. That's why it was a point of, from my perspective, political courage. But he's on the right side of history. He's leaning forward and we now have someone on the other side who's taking us back, who's even opposed to civil unions, in Mitt Romney."

Gregory gave the last word of the roundtable to openly gay columnist Jonathan Capehart, who proclaimed:

I think a lot of supporters of the President are buoyed by what he did. But let's remember, leadership is about doing the hard thing when it's neither easy nor convenient. This is not a slam dunk for the President, but siding with families, with gay and lesbian Americans....Their president, president of the United States, came out and said that he supports – he supports their right to wed. He supports their right to be fully engaged and involved in the American dream. And that's an important thing to – that we shouldn't forget.

When Cardenas attempted to respond to Capehart's fawning declaration, Gregory cut him off: "I've got to make that the last word, we're out of time." Cardenas remarked: "Oh, boy, how about that?"

Gregory only asked for input from Cardenas twice throughout the 15-minute discussion.


Here are portions of the May 13 exchange:

11:17AM ET

(...)

KATHLEEN PARKER [COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST]: I think everybody's made fun – or the people – Republicans have made fun of the word "evolving." I think that's the perfect word to describe this conversation because the American people are evolving on this issue. And increasingly they're coming on the side of same-sex marriage being the right side of history as it's been-
                                            
AL CARDENAS [PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION]: See, I don't necessarily agree, Kathleen, with that conclusion.

PARKER: But it's the young people. And by the way...

CARDENAS: Well, young people, but-

PARKER: ...in another generation, this is not going to be a-

GAVIN NEWSOM [LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, CALIFORNIA]: Tidal wave, the demographics are not on-

CARDENAS: Could be Kathleen, but at the same time, young people have remarkably changed their points of view in life from the time they're in their 20s to the time they get to be 32 and have two kids at home. Now-

PARKER: Not as for sure.

CARDENAS: So maybe. You might be right. But we'll see how this stands the test of time.

PARKER: But it has to do with exposure.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I don't see how – if you're a gay person, I don't see how you can not feel something strongly about this, because for the first time ever, the leader of your country, really the spokesman for your country, at an idealistic level – I mean he isn't saying he can make this law. He is saying that he believes.

NEWSOM: Right, yeah.

MATTHEWS: He's with you. And he's saying you're a human being with the same rights as all other human beings. That's a dramatic statement.

NEWSOM: And Chris, I-

MATTHEWS: I think it's almost up there with the first African-American president being president. It's a statement about who we are, ideally.

NEWSOM: Well, Chris, and it's more than symbolic in that respect. The substance is millions of people's lives were affirmed. Not just gay and lesbians, but their loved ones. Their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and the like. So there was real substance there. Their lives were validated. And these are people that were afraid to tell folks who they love and who they are.  Now they have a president that's behind them, and that's significant.

DAVID GREGORY: But, look, you are for marriage equality. You were mayor of San Francisco.  We have the video, you were giving licenses to  marry before...

NEWSOM: 2004. Right.

GREGORY: Yeah. Before it was lawful.

NEWSOM: Yeah.

GREGORY: Before it was lawful. And so you believe in equality, actual marriage equality, not viewpoints here. Equality has not been advanced by him.

NEWSOM: No. And you're absolutely right. Look, he's run – he's gone from the 90-yard dash, did a lot of things on Don't Ask Don't Tell and other things. Marriage equality was not there, but civil unions, he was there. Now he's gone 95% of the way. But the issue of federal rights is important. Interracial marriage became federalized when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously in '67 adjudicated in Levy vs. State of Virginia and threw out those 14 states that denied it. Ultimately that's where equality needs to go, federally, not state by state.

[CROSSTALK]

GREGORY: Let me get in here for a second. We're going to get more on this, including the political impact. I've got to take a break here. We'll come back with our roundtable in just a moment.

(...)

11:24AM ET

GREGORY: The political impact of the gay marriage debate in the fall. This is not 2004, when the White House used it.

NEWSOM: ...2004 and it's a very different time. Right now, about 50 – I mean, we've moved, I don't know that there's another issue, generally, that's moved this fast in such a short period of time. The last 24 months, this has moved 10%. So it's a much safer time than in 2004.

MATTHEWS: Except at the ballot box.

NEWSOM: Except at the ballot box. But that's always the case when you subject the rights of the minority to the whims of a majority. Every single time the minority loses. And, by the way, I mentioned Levy vs. State of Virginia. 70% of Americans opposed interracial marriage in 1967. You could imagine submitting the rights of interracial marriage to the ballot.

GREGORY: Right.

NEWSOM: So this is tough in those swing states. There's still – a history's going to be written on this. That's why it was a point of, from my perspective, political courage. But he's on the right side of history. He's leaning forward and we now have someone on the other side who's taking us back, who's even opposed to civil unions, in Mitt Romney.

GREGORY: Jonathan, is this about getting back to hope and change in 2008 for those supporters for Obama who might have been disappointed?

JONATHAN CAPEHART: I think a lot of supporters of the President are buoyed by what he did. But let's remember, leadership is about doing the hard thing when it's neither easy nor convenient. This is not a slam dunk for the President, but siding with families, with gay and lesbian Americans, gay and lesbian Americans who are raising children across the country, who are doing so at a disadvantage because of the tax code, because of local laws, because of federal laws. Their president, president of the United States, came out and said that he supports – he supports their right to wed. He supports their right to be fully engaged and involved in the American dream. And that's an important thing to – that we shouldn't forget.

CARDENAS: David-

GREGORY: I've got to make that the last word, we're out of time.

CARDENAS: Oh, boy, how about that?

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