tv Inside Story Al Jazeera November 18, 2013 11:30am-12:01pm EST
watching. i'm del walters. "inside story" is next. on "inside story." >> hello, i'm ray suareza. when the governor of hawai'i signed same-sex marriage into law wins it brought the issue full circle to where it began. it was 1991 when a woman sued to have the right to marry her partner. since that lawsuit the pace of change towards same-sex marriage
is nothing short of astonishing. on this edition of "inside story" we're going to discuss this sweeping social change including the fact that a majority of states still limit marriages to heterosexual couples. hawai'i became the 15th state in the u.s. to recognize same-sex marriage on wednesday. [applause] approved in the state senate and signed by democratic governor neil abercrombie. it overrules the limitation of marriage on the island state. >> we stand on the principles of equality and justice and liberty for all mostly we stand on the principle that all marriages are now equal. >> reporter: earlier this month illinois' legislature also passed the same-sex marriage bill. now it's in the hand of
democratic governor pat quinn, who is expected to sign the measure into law soon. >> at the end of the day all we're talking about is treating each family with the same equal law. >> reporter: in october new jersey's supreme court unanimously decided it would begin recognizing same-sex marriages, too, rejecting appeals to delay the position. >> marriages are equal in new jersey? >> reporter: a move where governor chris christie dropped his opposition. a statement from his office:
these three latest join a growing list of states in the midst of changes to marriage law. today 15 states plus the direct district of columbia see same-sex marriage as legal, and ten regular civil unions an partnerships. and 30 have included outright ban against gay marriage. today, more than a third of the u.s. population lives in states that recognize gay marriage. >> more people leave congress and newer people step in who are from our generation. i think if it's not changed now or sometime soon it will be changed then. >> according it
, 57% of americans were opposed to legalizing marriages for gay and lesbian couples. but now the majority in 2013 support gay marriage with 53% and 43% against. the first lawsuit filed came from hawai'i 20 years ago. congress passed the defense of marriage act or doma, and this year the supreme court struck down doma ruling that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage rights. >> today i get to look at the man that i love and finally say, will you please marry me? >> reporter: the verdict opened
the doors to a flood of federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. now they can file federal taxes jointly, share social security retirement and not pay an estate tax if they're the surviving spouse and sponsor a green card. six states still refuse to give benefits to the national guard. each say it conflicts with their own state law. one of those states is texas where governor rick perry's office said the texas national guard is a state agency, and as such is ply kateed to adhere to the texas constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman. marriage licenses are usually accepted in all states without
question, but for same-sex couples state by state moves are still complex and limited. >> joining us now to talk about the new law in hawai'i is nania bear, the first american to sue for her right to marry her partner. here we are 25 years later. when you first embarked on this, did you imagine that it would take this long? >> i could not have foreseen what was going to happen. i will say that the day we actually applied for a marriage license in 1990 we really thought we might get one. when we didn't, my partner always thought we were going to win. i don't know that she thought it was going to take this long, but it's very sweet to finally be here . >> were lawyers ready to take on your case in the early 90s? were they encouraging about your prospects of success?
>> no, we were not very sophisticated. this was not part of organized effort. we were in love. we wanted to get married. we applied for a license. at that time there was no organization gay or otherwise, that was willing to represent us. the aclu did submit friend of the court briefs. they were the first group on board, but we went with dan foley, a wonderful constitutional lawyer who was in private practice, and he will always be a hero to me. >> what changed? and were the things that happened along the way that encouraged you that this really was going to end in a result where hawaiians will be able to get married in same-gender couples? >> you know, we won in court with the hawai'i supreme court.
apparently the public of hawai'i was not ready for it yet, and so amended the constitution to say that the legislature could limit marriage to a man and a woman. and as a result the case did not change the law at that time. the change in public opinion has been enormous. 23 years is a very long time in my lifetime, but in terms of gaining civil rights and changing public opinion the change has been very fast and quite gratifying to see. >> how do you say that, though. when you see the earth shifting under your feet in this way, how do you think about it? >> you know, i think first of all the 1993 court decision from hawai'i made gay activists and our allies and people all over the world think this could really happen. maybe courts could really get
this, and we could move forwards forwards. so there have been legal opinions, but it has involved gay people coming out and talking about why equal rights, why marriage, why families are important to them. and it involves allies speaking on our behalf. it has taken millions of people working on this. we've had a lot of victories lately, and that's been terrific, but it's not done. we still have 35 states where people can't get married, and it's not inevitable that we'll have equal rights across the country unless we continue to work for it. >> has it also taken a significant change among gay people themselves. this was not something talked about during the early years of gay liberation when mimicking
a heterojoke aheterosexual institution. >> there were people, marriage, who wants it? we want gay liberation, not a gay citizenship movement. we're not trying to be just like straight people. but there were people who really did want marriage, the rights and the benefits and protections and obligations that go with marriage, and the respect in status that go with marriage. it was an agreement. there was also concern that as a result of our suit there would be backlash, and of course there was. there was the defense of marriage act that was recently overturned. institutional amendments across the country
. >> with hawai'i and likely illinois being filled in for marriage equality advocates, you might say all the obvious places are done or just about all of them. you yourself no longer live in hawai'i. you live in one of those states where it may be a harder row to hoe. does adding states go ahead harder from here on out? >> yes, i think it's going to be tough, and i think we have to work very hard on it, that means continuing to work at the federal level, and it also means working at the ballot box to repeal some of those constitutional amendments. i think we're going to have to work nationally and state by state. it's going to be a challenge.
we have to keep working, and we're going to win. >> one of the two women who started it all in the state of hawai'i. bahr. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> more on the same-sex marriage story and the ongoing battles going on in courthouses around the country. on august 20th, al jazeera america introduced a new voice in journalism. >> good evening everyone, welcome to al jazeera. >> usa today says: >> ...writes the columbia journalism review. and the daily beast says: >> quality journalists once again on the air is a beautiful thing to behold.
consider this: the news of the day plus so much more. >> we begin with the government shutdown. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> it seems like they can't agree to anything in washington no matter what. >> antonio mora, award winning and hard hitting. >> we've heard you talk about the history of suicide in your family. >> there's no status quo, just the bottom line. >> but, what about buying shares in a professional athlete?
>> i want to tell you that we tried really hard to get some of those people, both from the national organizations and people who argued some of the court cases who have been prominent opponents we weren't able to secure them for today's program, this is a story with a lot of development still to go, and we promise we'll have them with us in the future. joining us now are david, senior researcher at the pew research center. and in boston, lee, executive director of gay and lesbian advocate
defenders or glad. and how have things changed in recent years, and is it something that makes somebody who watches statistics and public opinion research say, wow? >> yes. the short answer is yes, it does. we've gone through a lot of change from a nation where we opposed same-sex marriage to where the majority support same-sex marriage. these trends are very unusual because in most social issue you just don't see movement like this. for example, about ten years ago 60% of americans said that they opposed same-sex marriage. today 50%, over half of americans say they support it. so we've seen this dramatic shift unlike probation wher aboe
numbers have stayed the same over the last decade or the death penalty where the numbers have moved a little bit more in opposition to the death penalty, by most americans support the death penalty. so yes, support of same-sex marriage has been a big move. >> when you see this, what do you explain it yourself? >> it absolutely com comports with that. not only as an american walking the streets but someone who in is a same sex relationship. many people bend over backyards to show how supportive they are. when you think about marriage--let me go back for a moment. when we started litigating in
the late 90s we talked about rights and benefits. lawyers looking for that lega grounding but that's not why people get married. it's not why straight people get married, it's not why same-sex couples get married. we get married because we fall in love and we want to share our lives. when we talked about that deep reality, people understand it. >> when you wrote that essay that got a great amount of attention at the time making a conservative's case for gay marriage, weren't there a lot of conservative who is said, yeah, that makes sense to me. as you look back at it now, is it what you were writing about then coming true? >> when you say a lot do you mean two or three? what we're doing here is trying
to strengthen the culture of marriage. this is a gay responsibility revolution, people who want to care for each other, commit to each other, their children and society. i think that's a very big part of what's changed in the last five years. gay marriage has gone from being seen as a threat to being part of marriage and family. people know the gay couple next door. they see the lesbian mom at the pta meeting and they're going, wait a minute, this is a conservative idea, and that's played an important role. >> could you have imagined when you wrote that essay how quickly things would continue to move. pi know it was already under way. >> when i started writing on gay marriage in 1995 my father advised me not to. not that he had anything against gays or gay marriage. he said people will think you're a nut if you endorse this crazy idea. and at the time that seemed right. but i thought we're talking two
or three generations. what we've seen in the last 30 years has been miraculous. >> we'll have a short break now. we'll continue our discussion on same-sex marriage in a moment. this is inside story. the stream is uniquely interactive television. in fact, we depend on you, your ideas, your concerns. >> all these folks are making a whole lot of money. >> you are one of the voices of this show. >> i think you've offended everyone with that kathy. >> hold on, there's some room to offend people, i'm here. >> we have a right to know what's in our food and monsanto do not have the right to hide it from us. >> so join the conversation and make it your own. >> watch the stream. >> and join the conversation online @ajamstream.
>> al jazeera america is a straight-forward news channel. >> its the most exciting thing to happen to american journalism in decades. >> we believe in digging deep. >> its unbiased, fact-based, in-depth journalism. >> you give them the facts, dispense with the fluff and get straight to the point. >> i'm on the ground every day finding stories that matter to you. >> in new orleans... >> seattle bureau... >> washington... >> detroit... >> chicago... >> nashville... >> los angeles... >> san francisco... >> al jazeera america, take a new look at news. ♪ >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. we're continuing our discussion on same-sex marriage in america, and lee, i'm wondering with the addition of illinois and hawai'i to the list, has all the low-hanging fruit been picked? are the games from here on out going to go tougher?
>> well, i wouldn't refer to some of the previous states as exactly low-hanging fruit. it's taken a lot of work. but yes, it's going to get tougher. right now we're waiting for a decision from the highest court in new mexico around whether their constitution demands marriage equality. but after new mexico it gets tougher. we're looking at a lot of states with constitutional amendments. on the other hand the 2012 election results showed that we can win at the ballot box, and people are gathering signatures in oregon to be on the ballot to repeal that state's constitution amendment. but the work will be more difficult moving forward. >> a third of americans, that's over 100 million people who live in a state where same-sex couples with get married. are we moving toward a stasis for a while, and can american sustain two marriage regimes?
>> it will have to sustain two marriage regimes for a while. while public opinion is slightly in favor of same-sex marriage, and it hasn't tipped. and the states that it haven't tipped is often in the south. those will be tough battles. we're looking at a number of years that this will continue. on the other hand, the intellectual has shifted. and th a lot of conservatives dt want to put a stake in this patch of ground any more. >> is there almost a wavelength, a momentum to public opinion? is it fluid in a way that once you've chewed up a lot of territory, there is sometimes lulls where things stay pretty much as they are? >> yes, sometimes that does happen, and i think it's important to point out that
there may be a little bit of an under estimation of opposition to same-sex marriage. some people have done some studies that show when people are asked about this, even when they know that they're going to be anonymous, that their name is not going to be associated with their answer sometimes there is potentially a social pressure to say--to give an answer that they think the interviewer wants to hear. in the case of same-sex marriage there is a chance that two, three, four, and even five percent of the support for same-sex marriage may be softer than the polls indicate because some of the people asked either may not feel 100% shore o sure,y may feel opposed to same-sex marriage but feel like it's not acceptable to say that any more. which is in itself a sort of momentum. i feel like pointing out what lee and jonathan said, the parts
of the country that are most supportive, new england is a region of america that has the highest level of support for same-sex marriage. all new england states have now legalized same-sex marriage. support for same-sex marriage is softest, the central southern states like texas, mississippi, alabama, the atlantic southern states as well, you know, that's where virtually no--there aren't legalized same-sex marriage. yes, the battle is going forward unless there is some sort of game-changing supreme court decision the battles going forward are going to be tougher. >> lee, let's turn to that part of the country where support for same-sex marriage is low, but where the presence of the government is very large in the form of the military. is having the federal government pushing it's own policies make
it tougher to sustain as a matter of legal tactics, as a matter of looking for the nex next--does it make it tougher to hold on to the anti---position from a legal point of view to have the federal government in your state and supporting marriage equality. >> well, from a legal point of view there are over 30 lawsuits in 20 states across the country and many are in federal court, and they're using this as part of the justification, the decision that the court made, he declare that it's unconstitution, and it may apply to a fundamental right to marry. certainly i think some of the court decisions are providing more weight to what might be an ultimate federal division. another point that is important
to make with the end of the defense of marriage act whether your state recognizes marriage or not, the federal government will in many situations means that more same-sex couples in southern states and some of these more challenging states are going to get married. as i said earlier, knowing people who are married, hearing their stories, i think that will also help move public opinion even to these much more challenging states. >> lee from glad joining me from boston. onthat and david here in washington, thanks a lot. >> thank you. >> and that's it for the team from washington, d.c. and from me, ray suarez. for now thanks for watching "inside story." good night.
>> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm del walters. here's are the stories we're following for you. >> it is important that we see ourselves as a family, that we come together. >> illinois governor pat quinn declaring parts of central illinois disaster areas as tornadoes ripped through the midwest killing six and devastating neighborhoods. after typhoon haiyan, still struggling to get aid where it is needed most. >> a massive clean up effort is underway in the midwest after severe sto