tv After Words CSPAN May 24, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
up next on booktv "after words" with guest host suzanne goldberg. colombia law school director for the gender and sexuality law. as we told her prize-winning investigative jo becker enter books sub pour inside the fight for marriage equality in at "the new york times" veteran takes readers to the latter stages of as what some call the new civil rights movement culminating in the supreme court's decision to strike down the defense of marriage act. this program is about an hour.
>> host: it's wonderful to be here today. we have so much to talk about so before we get started i thought it would be useful to share with people our format which is that i want to start a little bit by asking you about how you came to write the book and the experience of being embedded in and step back and talk about the frame of the book and what you're covering here and get back to the particular assertions you make in the book. you talk about. the book is called "forcing the spring" with the subtitle inside the fight for marriage equality and to get inside this fight as you say to fully embedded yourself with the team the activists and the lawyers and plaintiffs who challengechallenged california's proposition 8 which was the course the constitutional amendment that took away the marriage rights for same-sex couples in california. for starters i'm interested in how this came to pass.
he said at the end of the book you got interested in the story because you interviewed ted olson and reported on his coming out in favor of marriage equality. the story was published three months after the lawsuit was filed so i'm curious did you make the first phonecall to the team to cover the story? >> guest: yes i did. i picked up the paper one day and i saw the title of posing posing councils in the bush should be khobar litigation filed this lawsuit and i had known both men actually. i thought whatever the story is and ted olson this conservative icon came to embrace this cause. there's got to be a fascinating story. so i was in between investigative projects and i picked up the phone and called and said i would love to do this story. in fact it was a little bit funny because the writers at "the new york times" says it's not exactly investigated.
they said yeah i know but i'm fascinated by this and plus i'm the only person that ted olson will talk to because he hates "the new york times." [laughter] >> host: he wanted to talk to obviously and he wrote the story and then do you make the first call about writing the book's? >> guest: i did. >> host: who did you call? >> guest: i called the head of the american foundation for a full rights foundation that was formed who filed this lawsuit eventually and ted and i said look i'm just, i kind of was -- i knew what the right book was to write. every journalist thinks that they have a book and i was felp i would have to feel passionate and very just i will know it when i see it. i just knew it. i knew this was the book i wanted to write. i wanted to write it for so many reasons but mostly because this
to me was a fascinating group of people. during the rep course of reporting the story i have course got to know the four plaintiffs at the heart of a lawsuit and i was captivated. i wanted to find out what would happen to them and this was as you know, this was a controversial strategy to take this to the supreme court. they could wind up heroes or they could wind up goats. >> host: i was going to ask you how much did you know about bible college lgbt transsexual transgender. had you reported on the civil rights movement before? will kind of reporting had you done? >> i had done a lot of legal reporting. bush v. gore in the background for the "washington post" with a supreme court justice picked by george bush so i had written about constitutional law but not specifically about this issue except to the extent that i
covered for state legislatures and then everyone civil unions would come up. this was unions that legislation would come up in each of them and this was probably in the early 2000's. it's funny to think today that that was very controversial in these legislatures. i covered these legislative battles but certainly not the landmark cases that you are involved in. >> host: and you -- apart from the cases what kind of experience you to have with the lgbt civil rights organizations that have been leading lgbt civil rights? >> guest: to the extent that i covered the debates for several unions and talk to folks in the movement about that but over the course the last five years i got to know many of the leaders from cleve jones to mary benanado and mary filed the first case in
massachusetts. >> host: did you spend a lot of time talking to mary? >> guest: not as much as i would have liked. i thought she challenged the doma as well as edie windsor's lawyer and i thought as i was watching those cases moving along simultaneously with the case that hers would be the one that the supreme court chosen it didn't turn out that way. >> host: you talk to mary bonanno a couple of times. we will talk about that mourned couple of minutes. you talked in the book that you had an unfettered access to the plaintiffs to their lawyers to chad griffin has started the organization american foundation for equal rights and now is the head of the human rights campaign which is the largest lgbt political advocacy group. that must have been incredibly interesting. these fly on the wall stories and there are many things in your accounting that i found interesting. i know you were on conference
calls with them and you go walk in and out of lawyers meetings. you were in the plaintiffplaintiff s homes and got to know them quite well. did you have meals with them? did you have drinks with them? >> guest: i was with them for everything that they did so for instance the trial. i arrived in san francisco and took my vacation time at "the new york times" to be in these rooms so i probably arrived i would guess eight or nine days before the trial is everybody was getting ready. what is kind of funny is i would go from room to room as the lawyers were talking to witnesses and back to the political room where chad griffin was milking this huge campaign that was going to be run in conjunction with this lawsuit. so what's interesting to me now as they are reading this book is they are finding out things that they didn't -- because i felt they were crossing from rim room to room. >> host: let me ask you.
as any litigator knows when i've been involved with trials it's a very intense experience and having the impression reading the book you are part of that intensity that you felt it and you lived with it and there was a kind of breathlessness to the experience. i wonder if that is certain point he felt part of the team and however you felt did you think that the other side you in some eyes as part of the team since you have these close relationships you developed with them? >> guest: i think what's interesting about being a journalist in this kind of situation is that talent i guess is to try to disappear so that people don't really notice that you were in the room. you know there are scenes in this book that people love and there are scenes that they probably say well i wish it wasn't there in that particular moment but i did kind of just disappear and i would show up and over five years to drive to court with people and i would drive to every court battle and i'd be in the car with the four
plaintiffs. everybody was sitting around and waiting for decisions and we were having coffee or pastries or eating way too much chocolate. i am an observer and a chronicler of what they did. >> host: let's step back. the subtitle of the book is inside the fight for marriage equality and then at the end you have this nice section where you talk about how you got interested in writing the book and you say that you describe the book as giving an insider account of this chapter in the nation's civil rights history on marriage equality and i guess the book struck me as being something different from that as primarily a story about a more limited and with not so
well-rounded story not in the sense that it develops the pro-marriage equality arguments more than the arguments against. you explain that in the book of really more that the book focuses on a small group of people. very well-connected very prominent but a small group of people that offers are largely although not entirely uncritical take on their efforts to seek marriage rights through a high-profile case. so i'm having a hard time squaring the inside the fight for marriage equality and the account of this chapter in our nation's history from the beginning of the prop 8 lawsuit until just after the supreme court struck down doma. tell me about that. >> guest: let me say an upfront way that many people to get to the point in history that i chose to write about so this is one chapter in a much larger narrative but it's an important
chapter in my mind because it's the chapter about when some people in the movement decided to take the cause of marriage equality to the united states supreme court. that's what i chose to write about and i'm gratified "the new york times" called it a stunningly intimate story. that is what i set out to do. i was fascinated and i wanted to know what would it feel like to be in major civil rights litigation case one that was incredibly high-profile and controversial. what did that feel like? what was the judge thinking as he was considering evidence? to judge as it turns one of the maids -- many crazy twists in the story turned out to be. ultimately what i've really wanted to convey is what does it feel like to want something that everybody else has and be told you can't have it. >> host: that is something that absolutely comes across in the book and i think you talk
compelling way about the two couples the four plaintiffs whose suit challenged proposition 8. to get to ask it another way it seems to me that you tell that story of this group and their litigation very well. that story doesn't seem to me to be an account of this chapter in a nascent civil rights history in the sense both leaving aside what came before and we can get to that but even what was going on at the time in terms of people making claims for marriage equality. >> guest: what do you mean? >> host: i guess what i mean is there was this lawsuit. there was litigation around the country i'm sure you know and maybe we can talk about what was happening right before the prop 8 lawsuit was filed. i'm sure you know this but to share with their listeners. several months before gay and advocates and defenders have filed a lawsuit challenging the
federal defense of marriage act and it particular challenge of the law on the grounds that the federal government was refusing to recognize the valid marriages of many couples and the harm that was causing. even -- and all his public education market in rolling out for years but the other thing was several months before the iowa supreme court recognized the right to marry. there were three stays poised on the verge and the legislature granting the right to marry. >> guest: i did talk about that. >> host: you do talk about that briefly but it seems like a sliver of very interesting sliver but just a chapter of our nation's civil rights history. >> guest: well look i think there was a lot going on but one of the interestiinteresti ng things that i've learned of course in writing this book is married or not a as we said is
the first person to pilot a state lawsuit and mary told me when she filed in the massachusetts case there were a lot of people in the lgbt community that were opposed and thought she should not do that. it was too risky and when the doma litigation was filed both mary and rob are kaplan who was the lawyer who ended up taking e. windsors case in the successful challenge of doma to the court both of them said there were parts of the lgbt community that thought this was not the federal courts were not fighting this as a state legislators and state courts. and it was a very real concern. i talk about this in the chapter where the group who files the proposition 8 lawsuit which that was so much more controversial than the doma lawsuit because the doma lawsuit was asking for
less. it was asking for recognition of the legality so even that was controversial. when the proposition 8 case was filed john davis was invited to a large ad robin michelle reiners and rob writer who attracted a lot of the funding for the lawsuit and was a personal friend and an architect of the lawsuit. he felt like the conversation was disrespectful and it was sort of ignorant of the fact that many people had lot of it the idea of a federal lawsuit was hardly new. it was not new and facts as you know because you were with small small -- paul smith in the lawrence case one of the landmark cases that predated this litigation that i'm writing about and it struck down laws. paul said ted wilson approached
him as a potential cocounsel in the proposition case. he too had thought of this after he had won the lawrence case. maybe there should be a federal lawsuit and we have to be able to get married and he taught to justice kennedy and justice kennedy wrote lawrence and was considered a swing vote on all these issues. he said he was told by these clerks that it's a big job and justice kennedy is beautiful flowing opinion in the lawrence case didn't necessarily mean that the state would criminalize the behavior. >> host: you describe the book and i will just read this any say in the book it would be an incredibly bold -- the movement was made up of a constellation of established groups fighting for years for equal rights. a federal lawsuit with
completely up and the state-by-state strategy the states have been pursuing and then you go on to say at the time they were just two states that allowed same sex marriage and you said chad in broad shared a willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom wisdom and you go on later to talk about or earlier in the book to talk about chad starting a revolution. i guess against the framing of the book question for a moment it seems to me that this story is happening alongside so much other work. that work either gets largely dismissed and write about the gay establishment as being very conservative and pushing against this bold idea and you mentioned mary granato and most people think of her as the architect of the legal strategy. >> guest: i love mary but.
>> host: it's not so much whom you focused on as really asking you about your claim that this is a chapter which is a sliver. it's an important piece but it's just a piece of the nation's civil rights struggle so i wonder about that claim in the chapter. >> guest: supreme court cases are inherently interesting. there have been really beautiful books written about the larger movement and the history of the movement and i'm sure there will be many more and i think the more books that are written about the subject the better. i think a lot of americans who haven't really made up their mind can read these books and decide what they want to think about this issue. i think the more books the better. >> host: i totally agree with you and again i want to stress i have learned things from this
book and found it very interesting. what i worry about is that people pick up a book that says inside the fight for marriage equality and think they are reading out book about the fight for marriage equality when what they're really reading about is chad olson and -- bringing a lawsuit that ultimately did not achieve their goal and as somebody says really risk the crown jewel of the movement. they brought a risky lawsuit and it doesn't seem to me that the book takes the criticism very seriously. >> guest: i respectfully disagree. when i'm talking about john davidson feeling disrespected thing we are going to file a federal lawsuit. i talk about it wasn't that anybody disagreed with the goal with the end goal. everybody wanted to see that happen in everybody understood how important would need if the
supreme court were to validate this community and its full equality. everybody wanted that and the question was in the title actually sort of speaks to those change was coming. the country was moving. demographically young people just don't get it. they don't understand why this is even an issue. why gay and lesbian shouldn't be able to marry. the question was how fast the change was coming. it's an important question and i think what really concerns a lot of people not just about the case but the doma litigation was that they had to remember the terrible set back that occurred when the supreme court handed down the decision and the decision upheld the law. what happened was it was just a terrible setback. it was used as a precedent for all sorts of other things.
>> host: absolutely in them what happened was there was a slow building efforts of people wanted marriage equality and in the 1970s people were bringing marriage equality suits when the law was really bad. the people who grew up with these issues for a long time developed a strategy but let me ask you this. you start the book and you say this is how a revolution begins. it begins and i will skip ahead. a seamstress named rosa parks refuses to give seat on the book in the segregated south and in the story begins with the handsome 35-year-old political consultant named chad griffin in his suite at the st. francis hotel on election night in 2008. before i ask you about chad i just have to ask you it's not a secret that rosa parks didn't start a revolution and even rosa
parks herself as her covered in "the new york times" book review a year ago. >> guest: it was a deliberate act. >> guest: it was also part of the organized social movement and it was deliberately timed. i know sometimes in speeches people talk about rosa parks starting a revolution but i was surprised to see that in a serious book and i wondered is that because you thought rosa parks started a revolution and if not what were you trying to do? >> what i was trying to say is there are moments in history where somebody does something and it changes the direction. i think we can all agree when rosa parks sat down in her seat on that us it meant something. it was a hugely important moment in the civil rights history. >> host: i don't question that but what i guess what comes across here is the idea that --
>> guest: the washington "washington post" and a great review that i was thrilled about said she starts the book with the bull klayman goes on to back it up. look i think what is revolutionary about what happened here is that a group of people decided that they were going to ring federal litigation against the judgment of much of the people who have been working on these issues and working very hard and very long. what's interesting and i would love to talk to you more about is this concept of time in the book. there are two countervailing things. some people say it all turned out fine. paul smith is sitting in the supreme court and he said he didn't want to be the cocounsel and it was too risky. as you say all the progress that
had been made up to that point. but at the end he sitting in the court listening to the arguments and he thinks it sees walking in that morning and i talked to him he thinks that you know it's going to be fine. enough time has passed and the case move slowly enough. on the other hand polka puccio who is the justice committee clerk also talking about this time element and the lawyer who fought to keep proposition 8, chuck cooper deliberately slowed down the case because he believed it was in his interest to have his case argued at the same time as the doma case. >> host: let me ask you a question about this. first i want to ask you a question about the revolution and what we are talking about now. do you believe, do you really
think that chad griffin started a revolution on marriage equality as you say in the book lacks. >> guest: it was a revolutionary step that they took. >> host: a revolutionary step. >> guest: it was revolutionary in the way that look i think what happened as a result of this litigation was this enormous public education vehicle that was built around this litigation that was attracting everyone from the first ladies communications director to the first lady's press secretary to hillary rosenheim are. this was a really fascinating -- one of the things it was interesting to me as a reporter was the inside those political war rooms and watch as they were pitching my colleague. >> host: and again it's a superrich or sting story. i guess and again where i am
resisting you to some degree is that it seems to me to be over claiming. for a journalist to claim that the marriage equality revolution began into the -- 2008. let me just finish. the journalistic claim that the marriage equality preposition began in 2008 it says absurd as saying the civil rights struggle began with obama. again i think the resistance is not to the interest of the story or inside the war room. >> guest: i think that's a mischaracterization. i don't claim that started in 2008. i talk a lot about all these other landmark cases that came before. the lawrence case. this case could not have been brought without the cases you personally argued. it's not as though there's any claim that suddenly people woke up in 2008 and thought let's start thinking about lgbt writes.
i think what happened was proposition 8 was the low point for many people. the idea that this could pass in california of all places for some people it was kind of like the last straw. if it can pass here how can we buy things at the ballot box. >> there's no question i think you capture a lot of that and it certainly was devastating or lgbt californians and their friends and family and people who care about civil rights and people across the country you care about civil rights. absolutely important but let's go back to the time -- again the question is not whether the issue was important. it's where does it fit and it wasn't just that there were the cases that i was involved in with roemer in 1996 and lawrence in 2003 but ongoing litigation related to marriage equality. let me go back to the timing issue because you said chuck
cooper knew and many people believed that it was important for the case to go slowly because that would allow -- as actually did happen more states to recognize marriage equality and prominent people from both sides of the aisle to come around and support marriage equality. you tell us in a number of points in the book chad griffin and ted olson wanted to get their piece there fast and they were frustrated. at one point you say chad wanted to scream will win when there was another ninth circuit slowdown. >> guest: judge reinhardt saved their case and they were very upset at the delay he caused. >> host: you actually say they took the dummy cases to the supreme court. i wonder why you think that was the case. i don't think anybody thought it would be bad for the supreme court to hear and strike down doma at the same time addressing
the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples across the country. so do you think it was more ego? it doesn't sound like rational legal thinking to me. >> guest: let me lay out what the thinking was on either side. a lot of people just felt it was fortunate and lucky for them that the case got slowed down several times at several points. >> host: they tried to speed it up and not slow it down. >> guest: that's exactly what i'm saying. it was fortunate for them that they didn't get their way and this case did move as slowly as it did because it allowed the country to move in the direction of marriage equality and created an atmosphere that was much more conducive to the court ruling. that was why when paul smith came in the morning of the argument he wasn't worried.
on the other hand chuck cooper the lawyer who is fighting to keep opposition eight.it was actually a good thing for him and in other words that this case had move so slowly because what he hoped in slowing the case down deliberately several times what he hoped hope to accomplish was that he believed if doma and proposition 8 were argued at the same time that kennedy potentially could split and say well the federal government needs to recognize these marriages that took place were legal but it's okay that the state can decide for themselves and go ahead and uphold. now that can happen. >> host: if everybody thought it was a good idea for this to slow down except for the two people who are the heroes in the book. >> it's important to recognize that the lawyer who wanted to keep proposition 8, -- you have
essentially many people in the legal establishment thinking the lawyer and the other side thinking it in the two people who brought this case disagreeing. i don't think we can know. it's one of the things that's an interesting tension in the book. time is always sort of this tension in the book. one thing that they worried about early on was what it president obama wasn't elected? he didn't win a second term and justice ginsburg is quite old and frail and you just never know. what if mitt romney was selected president and what if he got to pick a new member of the supreme court in a place of liberals? been your chances became exponentially more difficult. that was an issue early on. i think in the end you know everybody was right anyway. clearly the atmosphere was the
time that elapsed was a good thing to the extent that it created a more hospitable political climate. at the same time paul clement who argued that some -- doma case both used that political progress. it's hard for listeners who aren't in the weeds like we are but they use that as an argument that the courts don't need to decide this. look at the progress that has been made. >> host: we are going to take a brief rate and then we will think about which case ultimately had the impact because you referred to the other piece the winter case which turned out to be a big victory so we will take a quick break and come right back. >> guest: all right.
>> host: we will pick up where we left off which was the windsor decision and the prop 8 decision and then we will go back. one of the things that struck me as you describe the supreme court's decision in the windsor case which is the decision that has now changed the landscape. the many courts that have struck down the exclusion of same-sex couples for marriage after these decisions came down rely on windsor. i was struck with the way he described it because you almost make it sound like justice kennedy's language in the opinion and his recognition of the dignity of gay people and the right to marry really came from ted olson's vision. you have a paragraph in the book where you quote olson and then you quote justice kennedy and
you go back and forth. it was striking to me for two reasons one because a lot about language seem to come from the brief that robbie kaplan and eddie winslow -- and it wasn't olson's case. i wondered why and if it's a bit of an effort to have olson's team have more play in the doma decision than perhaps it had. not that it was an influential but it was striking to me. >> guest: one of the interesting thing about these cases is there is a tension between these two cases that bobby kaplan felt like doma was, she was a joke in the offices office as they would in the book already married and already gave so what she was trying to convince the court to do and in the brief she talks about this. this is a tax case. i'm not asking her some big historic landmark thing.
here she finds herself having to argue alongside olson who is absolutely saying i won the huge brown bee board decision. they are in moot court together and this tension bubbles up a little bit and one of the people who is doing moot court where lawyers tend to be justices in a more passionate argument and he thought look if he wins i'm going to win too. if he loses i don't want to go down with him. so what i think was interesting was all along for varying reasons oath sides felt that they didn't really want to be arguing alongside each other. in the end i think they both benefited from being together. the fact that eddie windsor olson won on a technicality. it was a beautiful thing because if you are watching people
starting to line up to get married it didn't matter to those people. people in california the largest state in the country are now able to marry. that was a pretty big victory. it wasn't the victory they set out to have but a pretty big victory. with the case one of the things robbie said as she was looking back she didn't want to -- that may be because he was alongside in making the big arguments maybe that's why kennedy ended up speaking as he did. what i am really excited for is one day to see the justices on papers to see what they were thinking because all these lawyers were speculating. >> host: i agree. just so our listeners are clear
when ted olson's case one you say on a technicality the prop 8 lawsuit didn't win in the supreme court as you know. what happened was the court held that the supreme court didn't have authority to hear the case and the trial opinion a couple of years ago. i know robbie and i've worked with robbie for a long time and i think she would be surprised to hear that she was suggesting suggesting -- >> guest: she was quoted in the book talking about that. >> host: the claims to dignity came from the olson brief when people can look at it themselves but the story in the windsor
brief is about the dignity of perspective gay people's lives and their marriages. >> guest: when they read that opinion there were several people in the courtroom that started to cry. it was a validation. she talked very much about the importance of marriage and justice kennedy talked again and again and came back to that several times the importance of marriage. i think these arguments, that was not at the center of the windsor case but it was in the proposition a case importance of society and so one. what robbie said was she felt it was a potentially very good thing that the case was argued alongside the proposition 8 case and justice kennedy was a bit
broader than he otherwise might have been. >> let me go back in the book. you talk a lot and may be picking up on the language of chad griffin and others about the gay establishment and the gay establishment didn't want this lawsuit to be brought and the gay establishment was slowing things down and that is where your book is taken a lot of criticism. maybe you'd like the opportunity to respond. from my perspective actually some of the commentary in the book seem to lack respect upon the gay establishment and to seem to very much buy into the view of chad griffin and nonlawyer lgbt activists that the long-standing gave legal groups were slowing things down. i will just toss out and i will toss out a couple of examples. you talk about wilson who
created the freedom to marriage project and is one of the unquestionably advocacy architects of this. you say the gay establishment was slowing things down and you describe him in quite a critical way his pushback against the chad griffin and some of the other characters and the people in the book. you suggest it came from a time when gay people -- you say younger activists have grown up in a relatively safe for world where and lesbians were not forced to congregate in when does for fear of being raided. what struck me as i have worked with evan for a while and it's not that old. he was 12 when stonewall happened. you get a lot of pushback in the press about that and for
suggesting that robbie kaplan was a bit of an outsider which he certainly isn't a law firm that she argued the case in new york in 2006. >> guest: i talk about that and went eddie hired her. i understand litigation is a high-stakes game and i understand and i tried to describe why people were so fearful. they could have lost. we don't know and that's that's why it brought up the concept of time. if it hadn't slowed down we don't know maybe they would have lost. what i have tried to do here and i've tried to talk about that tension and even internally. i may not have you know -- what i try to do is write what i saw. it's a very intimate what these
lawyers were thinking and feeling and what the plaintiffs were thinking and feeling. i think there are moments where they all have moments of doubt. let's talk a little bit about kerry stewart is kerry stewart is the main character in this book. she's a deputy assistant attorney and one of the lawyers to win marriage equality in california at the state supreme court and that is what prop 8 stripped away. that external debate that was playing out in the larger community was also playing out inside this case. as much as she wanted to win and win big she was worried too. they're a poignant moments where she files a separate brief that argues in a last broadway and that creates tension. he tries to get her to back off and again it's not that kerry didn't want the big win.
she absolutely did but she talk to me when she would go to the california supreme court she was making the argument that marriage equality initially in california. she carried the pain of the entire community and her briefcase every day. early on some of the bluster of the gibson dunne young lawyers annoyed her a little bit. she said this is an antitrust case. these are real people's lives. i think one of the things that i think is interesting in the book is the perspective that the gay lawyers on the team was very important that there were gay lawyers on this team. it wasn't just the boys show. they brought so much to the table. >> host: what it didn't bring to the table was experience of the litigation. they brought to the table commercial litigation experience did.
great lawyers but that's not the experience. a question because i'm sure he would like to respond to this. there has been a lot of commentary about the book that is said you glorified chad griffin and ted olson and to some extent david boies as visionaries while disregarding the work of significant leaders and perhaps as a result of being embedded in that group you either were never able to gain a perspective on what it called the gay establishment or if you have it you had lost it. >> guest: i would like to defend this. it's coming from a certain corridor. the reviews have been amazing. i set out to write a book about what it feels like to have what other people have that you can have and the stories about these plaintiffs in this lawsuit were so moving that pat cooper the
lawyer who fought them all the way to the supreme court when he saw them getting married on tv he said i couldn't help but rejoice. what an amazing statement. i would think everybody in the lgbt world and everybody that cares about this issue would want people to read this book and read these for plaintiff stories. they even have the power to move chuck cooper who fought them in the supreme court. posts that you paint a wonderful beautiful picture of them in the book. i guess the question again is it's not a book that purports to be about their stories but what about the risk that because you got so close to them you weren't able to gain perspective not about the plaintiffs as human beings but about the claims. >> guest: i did not set out to
right the entire history. i set out to write a story of the five years between that passage of prop 8 and the supreme court cases and the amazing transformation in the country that went on. i wanted to do that in a very intimate way. i think there will be many other looks they get to some of the things you are talking about and i think that's great. i wanted to tell a story about the people and i do think the perspectives we are talking about spend a lot of time talking about are very much in the book. there are just told three different characters and they are told to carry stored. they talk a little bit about the frustration. lee jones, he was frustrated. he is also a towering figure in the movement. he's not a lawyer. he was frustrated with where the movement was.
when proposition 8 past and lesbians were zero for 30 at the ballot box. they had been targeted more often than any group in america by these ballot initiatives. there was sort of a low point and a feeling among this group of people who i followed and that's absolutely what i did for five years, i followed that group of people and their frustration but there are also moments in this book that certainly are not in the scripted telling. for instance you find out it's hollywood put together. they don't say to people turned ted down to people who are towering figures in the movement they said i don't want any part of your case. i think it's terribly risky. >> host: part of what made me
want to ask you the question is there risk of losing perspective when you're embedded is there are certain points in the book that suggests chad griffin or human rights campaign came up with certain ideas and let me give you two examples. at one point you say, you tell quite nicely about the right partisan build up in support of marriage equality and then you say a number of groups were starting to borrow from chad's bipartisan playbook and a republican lobbyist. i wonder why he didn't just say it was a big deal for chad griffin to get ted olson on board because he's a republican leader. did you think that the gay legal groups weren't working in a high partisan fashion before chad griffin wrote the playbook wax. >> guest: listen i spent a whole chapter on new york which
i think is a fascinating state legislative battle. what happened in new york was of course there was a bipartisan effort but andrew cuomo of new york called out the groups together and he said i don't want a repeat. the groups are disorganized and have not worked well together. he put someone in charge and he says not just in this book but "the new york times." one of the characters in the book that i find interesting ted melvyn of course was the architect of bush's real action came out specifically to join the group bringing the lawsuit. he named ted olson. it was quite controversial at the time. of course ted was widely seen as the architect of the bands that were put on the ballot to help drive evangelical turnout in these elections. can worked really hard with that
and mark solomon and not just new york but maine. he worked with mary bonanno and washington tried to round up republican votes trying to recast this issue. i think he was really important in terms of turning down the crazy. he showed republicans why by this wasn't in their interest long-term. >> host: did you know in 2004 in massachusetts when the marriage fight was going on that mary bonanno among others worked closely with republicans and that continued in vermont and continued elsewhere? again it's not the information and the stories you tell her great but the idea that gay legal groups are taking a page out of chad griffin's bipartisan playbook is a serious mischaracterization. >> guest: well i think
certainly it's fair to say that over the past five years this issue has gone from being publicly viewed as largely a partisan lens through a much more fundamental values lens. many people deserve credit for that. i wrote about it and i think there and just sing and i hope that viewers will find them interesting and compelling. >> host: they are interesting. again it's a question of the architecture that you built up around them and will people take away from the book something that is in such rue like some of these ideas are used in the media for working with grassroots for framing publicly engaging messages starting with the proposition 8 lawsuit because they didn't. i assume you know that because you did a lot of research. >> guest: again you have seen
an amazing shift in the last five years a really astonishing shift. if you go out and talk to pollsters and people who do political strategy is a public opinion on a social issue. with this litigation solely responsible for it. the bottom line is five years ago the clear majority of americans agree and today you have 17 states and a clear majority of americans poured if of the right of and lesbians to marry. it's not just a demographic change. what you see is a quarter of the people that support marriage equality used to think differently and i think that's a result of people first of all number one the result of people coming out.
no question if we were going to talk about let's start with its people coming out in people saying whether it's ted mellon or anyone else saying i am gay and they realize that's my lawyer. that's my doctor. that's the guy who elected bush or in the book we talk about it was chuck cooper's daughter. the lawyer who fought this all the way to the supreme court finds out midway through the case he finds out that his daughter was a lesbian and she's now about to get married in massachusetts. he is joyfully planning the wedding. if we are going to talk about credit where credit is due its people coming out in that changes everything. rob portman a wonderful example. was absolutely opposed to marriage equality and finds out that his son is gay and right
before the supreme court before these cases turn out and is often mentioned as a vice presidential candidate. people coming out and telling their stories where did the four plaintiffs in the case becoming becoming -- moulthrop portman's son or chuck cooper's daughter that's really where credit begins. >> host: that's example he dashed exact way some might say the organizations have been working on for a very long time and really is the foundation on which both the prop 8 litigation and the windsor litigation and all the marriage rights litigation sits. let me ask you. i am curious once authors have written a book and you have your seven year brits in the of the commentary is anything you would change about the book if you were to rewrite it? >> i set out to write the story and i hope there will be many other books. this was an incredibly important
moment in american history american civil rights history in lgbt history and i think there'll be a lot looks and i think i read that mark solomon is going to do a book and i look forward to reading that. i think again if we start from the premise that telling stories matter where people come to know whether in a book or in the neighborhood or school that is a powerful thing and that changes minds than the more bucks that can be written about this the better. >> host: telling stories as we were talking about is one of the things that transforms a society. >> guest: i devote a chapter to a screenwriter academy award-winning screenwriter. when the supreme court the holder been at this trial and
incredible trial. you have evidence about parenting and the science of sexuality and all this stuff. it would be perfect if they could televise this and it would educate people. of course the supreme court said no. it was very frustrating for the people who are bringing this case because they thought it was a great public education opportunity. dustin lance black was a screenwriter and wrote a play. they put on display in judge wapner the judge in the case told me it was broadcast on youtube and got 12.5 million hits. he said if this had been broadcast and the trial was broadcast 1.5 million people -- but since george clooney was playing one of the lawyers and brad pit played the judge a lot
of people tuned in. hollywood also has a real role here. i think shows like glee and modern family are really important. it's storytelling. >> host: the trial actually as you've probably experienced was a little bit boring and the dramatic retelling is exciting. i will ask you once more to the worry i have about the book is not about the dramatic telling of the story which again i quite enjoyed. it's the impression that i think it tries to -- this is an account in the chapter of american history from the passage of proposition 8 through the decision of the supreme court not to decide that case and it's a great story but it doesn't seem at the full account