Gay Rights Activist On 'MSNBC Live': 'Republican Party Is Teetering...On Brink Of Not Being Relevant'

During MSNBC Live’s coverage on Thursday of the newest circuit and appeal court decisions to overrule bans on same sex marriage in Utah and Indiana, former CBS This Morning correspondent Betty Nguyen gave platform to Democratic strategist and chair of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund Steven Elmendorf and  Aisha Moodie-Mills, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. No conservative voices were heard.

Instead, the two guests spent over four  minutes discussing how “Republicans are too busy playing politics with people's lives” and are “on this, kind of, brink of not being relevant.” [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

Steven Elmendorf began the segment by stating “there’s no backlash” to the latest court rulings, and that the pro-traditional marriage movement “has no energy anymore.” For her part, Nguyen seemed bent on portraying the marriage fight as already over, and asked Moodie-Mills, “is the Republican Party’s acceptance of same-sex marriage just inevitable as we heard by Steve and will 2016 presidential candidates have to really evolve or lose?”

If MSNBC is so certain the fight for marriage equality is over and that if Republicans “don't get on board with that, well then they're not going to have an electorate,” they should be willing to have conservatives on to discuss their side of the debate.

See transcript below:

MSNBC
MSNBC Live
June 26, 2014
10:17 a.m. Eastern
4 minutes and 4 seconds


BETTY NGUYEN: I’m going to start with you Steve. It seems like we're getting a decision in favor of same-sex couples, it is something that is moving very fast. Every few days, it seems like we're hearing about this. Almost half the country lives in a state where same-sex couples can be married. So how close are we to having marriage equality nationwide?

STEVEN ELMENDORF: I think we're pretty close, you know. I think this will get to the Supreme Court in a year or two. And when it does, I'd be very surprised if the supreme court went the an opposite direction. You know, what’s happening is people are getting married all over the country and everybody's realizing, it's not a big deal. It's a big deal for the people getting married but nothing bad is happening. There's no backlash, you know. They see loving people getting married and that's a good thing. And all these court decisions just reaffirm that the march towards full marriage equality nationwide is inevitable. It's going to happen soon. And people who are against it are rapidly I think realizing that. And there's no energy against it anymore.

NGUYEN: Aisha, I want to bring you in here because another prominent Republican has announced her support for same-sex marriage, we’re talking about Maine's Susan Collins. She revealed her decision to a newspaper in her home state. Now this makes Senator Collins just the fourth Republican senator to publicly support marriage equality, despite a majority of the country now supporting same-sex marriage. Why do you think only four have done so, so far?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS: You know, we see this across the board, be it marriage equality or be it other issues, that Republicans are too busy playing politics with people's lives, that, that's what's unfortunate. I think we don't see a lot of Republicans coming out because they don't feel that it is politically viable for them to support equality. You have to stop and ask yourself for a minute though, why are we in a place where the folks who are elected to serve Americans don't believe that all Americans should be treated equally? I think that’s the fundamental questions. So I'm excited that Senator Collins came out in support. She has been courageous her entire career in terms of bucking that partisan, kind of, her, her partisans. It's great for us, it's great for America that this is all happening so rapidly.

NGUYEN: Yeah, Steve one of the first Republicans in congress to publicly support same-sex marriage is congress Richard Hanna of New York. And he won his primary Tuesday night defeating a challenge by a conservative state assemblywoman. Steve, New York is obviously  more progressive than many other states, we know this. But are there any lessons the GOP can learn as a whole here?

ELMENDORF: Well, I think the lesson that Republicans need to learn is if they want to build a viable national majority, they're going to have to eventually be for gay marriage. You know, 61 percent of young Republicans under the age of 30, Republicans not Democrats, are for gay marriage. It's inevitable. And they can either follow or they can lead. Right now, there are some great Republicans like Susan Collins and Rob Portman who are leading. But there are too many of them that are following. It's not just about gay voters. It's about all sorts of voters who look at this as a values issue. Who are parts of families who are getting married and, and want full equality for their families and the people they love.

NGUYEN: Yeah, Aisha, I mentioned Senator Collins, we talked about it. Is the latest Republican in Congress to, you know, announce that she supports same-sex marriage, and– speaking of the latest-- let's talk about the latest poll showing 40 percent of Republicans supporting marriage equality and nearly 60 percent of Republicans between 18 and 29 support it. So, is the Republican party's acceptance of same-sex marriage just inevitable as we heard by Steve and will 2016 presidential candidates have to really evolve or lose?

MOODIE-MILLS: I think that all candidates are going to have to evolve to reflect the interest and the values that Steve said of the American population. The Republican party is teetering, right now, on this kind of brink of not being relevant, and they know this. So they're trying to figure out how to pander to their very, very right wing base and then also figure out how to move forward. And I think that, what we all know is that the country is moving in a way that we care about all of our citizens equally, believe that they should all be treated the same, believe everyone's family is equally valuable. And if they don't get on board with that, well then they're not going to have an electorate.
 

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.