tv After Words CSPAN May 26, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT
you make in the of booking and your title is "forcing the spring" inside the fight for marriage equality" to get inside that part you fully embedded yourself with the team, activists and lawyers from proposition viii which is the constitutional amendment that took away mayor rich writes for same-sex couples in california. how did this come to pass? you said you were interested because you reported on of coming out in favor of marriage equality which it was published three months after the lawsuit was filed purpleheart -- did you make the first call? >> guest: yes. i picked up the paper i saw a opposing cancels and litigation filed the lawsuit.
i had known both men and i cover them and i thought whenever the story is of how this conservative icon ted olson came to embrace this house to be a fascinating story. i was in between investigative projects i picked up the phone and called and said i would love to do this story. but from my editors with "the new york times" said it is not investigative but i said i am fascinated that i am the only person he will talk to because he hates "the new york times". [laughter] >> host: he talked you obviously andy wrote to the story. did you make the first call about writing the book? >> guest: i did. i called chad the head of the american federation for
equal rights the organization formed to and i said i always knew what the right book was and i always felt passionate and i knew this was the book i wanted to write but mostly because it is a fascinating group of people of course, i got to know the of four plaintiffs and was captivated to find out what happened. ases you know, this was a controversial strategy. they could wind up pierrot's or goats.
[laughter] >> host: how much did you know, about the lgbt civil rights? or what kind of reporting had you done? >> guest: a lot of legal reporting. >> guest: and all the background for the supreme court justices with george bush and written about constitutional law except that i covered for state legislatures with the civil union legislation and this is in the early 2000's. it is funny to think today but it was very controversial i cover these legislative battles over the union's but certainly not the landmark case is you were involved in.
>> guest. >> host: what kind of experience with the lgbt civil-rights movement or that jay establishment? what with the organization's the being those rights. >> guest: just to the extent i covered the debates over civil unions but over the course of the last five years i got to know many of the leaders merry filed the phase -- the first case in massachusetts. but do challenge those doma baez as i was watching those mouflon simultaneously but it did not turn out that way >> host: so then they will talk about that but you talk
about you had unfettered access to chad who's started the organization and now the head of the human rights campaign and that most of ben incredibly interesting to be the fly of the wall story for your accounting and you were are conference calls you could walk into so boyars meetings. -- though boyars meetings did you have drinks with them? >> for instance the trial i ryan did in san francisco i took all my vacation time just to be in these rooms. i would echo eight or nine
days before. but i was reading room to room where chad griffin buyer is mounting a huge campaign but what is interesting to me now is they are reading this book they find out things because i was the only one crossing room to room. >> host: i take it any litigator knows it is intimidating. i had the impression you were part of that intensity that you lived with it and a breathlessness to the experience and if you felt part of the teams that you had these close relationships you had developed. >> guest: what is
interesting about being a journalist is the challenge is tear disappear so people don't notice you are in the room. there are scenes of the book is that they probably say that i wish she was not there for that particular moment but i did just disappear and over five years ever drive to court every court battle i was in in the car with the plaintiff listening to them to the extent everybody was sitting around waiting for decisions and having coffee or pastries. >> host: you are a journalist. >> i am a observer and a chronicler but i was not a part of the team. >> host: let me ask you and a step back to the
subtitle of the book is called inside the fight for marriage equality" at the end have a nice section how you got interested in and you say you describe the book as an insider account to civil rights history of marriage to quality. that struck me to be something different as primarily a story about a more limited in not so well-rounded but not with the pro marriage equality arguments but said if the focus is on a small group of people and offers a nine critical takeoff that efforts through the high-profile case so i have a hard time seeing fee
accounts of this chapter from the beginning to strike down doma. "forcing the spring" neece day it took years of work by many, many people to get to the point than history. it was one chapter of of much larger narrative but it is a chapter of wind some people in the of movement decide to take the it marriage equality case to the united states supreme court. i am gratified that your times call the a stunningly intimate story. that is what i set out to do. i was fascinated. what would it feel like to
be a plaintiff in a major civil-rights litigation case? high-profile and controversial what does that feel like? what is the judge sinking during that evidence? it turns out in the increase east-west he was gay. what does it feel like to want something that everybody else has and to be told you cannot have it? >> host: that absolutely comes across in the book to talk about the two couples or the four plaintiffs who challenged proposition viii. but you tell that story of that group and their litigation very well. that story does not seem to be an account of the history that leaving aside of what
was going on at that time in terms of people making claims of marriage equality. >> guest: what do you mean? >> host: there was this lawsuit, litigation around the country so as talk about what was happening right before that proposition viii lawsuits was filed. several months before gay and lesbian defenders had filed a lawsuit challenging the federal doma with that law of the grounds the federal government was refusing to recognize the valid marriage of many couples. and even with all the publicity that was rolling out also several months
before the iowa supreme court and three states from the verge. you talk about that briefly. the that was a very interesting sliver. >> guest: there was a lot going on but mary was the first person to file a state lawsuit and she told the when she filed of massachusetts case those of the community were opposed and thought she should not do that. if it was too risky. with the doma litigation was filed both mary and the lawyer who took the case all
the way to the supreme court both of them said there were parts of the lgbt community that the federal courts that it was us 10 / 10 / 10 strategy to fight this devastate court and it was the very real concern where the group files of proposition viii lawsuit which was so much more controversial than the doma lawsuit. even that was controversial john davidson said he was invited and rob reiner was the director that attracted
he felt the conversation was disrespectful. it was ignorant of the fact that many people thought of it the idea of a federal lawsuit was hardly new. it was not but the lawrence case was one of the landmark cases that predated this litigation that i write about to strike down the sodomy laws. he said ted olson approached as possible co-counsel. he also thought to of this after you guys won the laurence case. maybe we should file the federal lawsuit and he talked extensively to right the of lawrence opinion explains the votes on all the issues.
but he was told by the clerk said is a big job but justice kennedy the opinion of the lawrence case did not necessarily mean that the state could not criminalize. >> host: let me jump in. you describe the book it would be an incredibly bold stroke that gave rights movement made up of the constellation of groups fighting for equal rights the lawsuit would up and the cautious state of states strategy they were pursuing. but then go on to say that at the time there were just two states so chad and rob sheridan willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom of they believed they were good enough then talk about chad starting a revolution.
but sticking with the framing of the book it;= seems this story is happening alongside other work that is largely dismissed that you write about the a establishment to be very conservative pushing against the bold idea or not mentioned. you mentioned married twice and the whole book get most of her think of her as the architect. >> guest: i love her. >> host: but who you focused on so much it is an important piece with the chapter i think that for theç same reason they are
inherently interesting they are beautiful books written about the history of the movement i am sure there will save many more. and those have not made up their mind can read the books to decide what they want to think. >> host: but i want to stress i learn things from this fall can i find it interesting but i worry that people pick up the book that says inside the fight for marriage equality but they're really reading the story of chad griffin and ted olson and their team to bring a lawsuit that ultimately did not achieve the goal.
to risk a the crown jewel of the of movement. and that does not take the criticism seriously. and just do feel it was not that anybody doesn't agree with the end goal. everybody understood how important it would be if the supreme court could invalidate everybody wanted that. it speaks says one dash this, the country was moving demographically that young people don't get it or don't understand why this is even an issue.
but change was coming and the question was how fast? it was important. so what really concerned lot of people but also the doma litigation they can remember the terrible setbacks that occurred when the supreme court handed down the decision of course, it was of a terrible setback when it was the slow building effort. >> host: and they were bringing marriage to quality suits when the law was bad. and talking about these issues over a long time developed a strategy. but you start to the book.
this is hagel a revolution begins. when rosa parks refused his to give up her seat to a white man in the segregated south but in this man the 35 year-old political consultant at the st. francis hotel election night 2008. it is not a secret rosa parks did not start a revolution even been she herself covered one year ago >> guest: it was a deliberate act. >> host: but part of the organized social movement that was timed. but i was surprised to see that and is that because they thought she started the
of revolution? >> guest: what i was trying to say there are bowmans in history when somebody does something and it changes the direction. i think we can all agree when she sat in her seat it meant something new is usually important movement. >> host: but it was part of the social movement. here is the idea that. >> guest: is part of history to space one reviews says jo becker starts her book and then backs it up. what is revolutionary about what has happened is a group of people decided favor
bring federal litigation against the people working on these issues. and i would love to do talk to you more about it is the concept of time. some people say it all turned out fine. to say he did not want to be the co-counsel. and that as ben made up to that point. but by the end listening to the arguments that he thinks it will be fine because time has passed but the justice kennedy clerk calls of talks
about the time element and chuck cooper because he believed it was his interests the same time as the doma case. >> host: so do you believe or releasing he started a revolution of marriage equality? >> guest: with the steps that day took. it is revolutionary the way that -- that what happened as a result was the eagerness public education vehicle built around
litigation and that attracted to everyone from the first lady former communications director to the press secretary, annette was of relief fascinating especially as a reporter to watch as they would pitch my colleagues. >> host: it is a super interesting story. again resisting to some degree i am sure you have heard for a journalist to say the revolution began 2008 let me just finish, is is absurd as a civil-rights struggle began with the obama.
not that it is not an interesting story but do tell the story. >> guest: i don't claim is started in 2018 and i talk about the other landmark cases that came before it the lawrence case this case had not been brought without the cases that you personally are geared it is not go there is any claim that people thought let's start thinking about lgbt rights but proposition viii was so low point. the idea this could happen in california of all places for some people it was the last straw how can we continue to fight this at the ballot box? >> no question you capture of water that and it is
devastating for friends and family those who care about civil rights of absolutely important but the question is not whether the issue was important but just the case is i was involved played in 1996 or 2003 but ongoing litigation to very cheap quality but with the timing issue you said chuck cooper and many people believed to it was important for the case to go slowly because that was allowed and it did have been more states to recognize marriage equality or more prominent people to come around. you tell us that chad griffin and ted olson that
they were frustrated and chad wanted to scream and there was the ninth circuit. >> the judge save to their case for them. >> and they also wanted to be to the doma cases to the supreme court. i wonder why he thinks that was the case? settled think anybody thought it would be bad to strike down at doma at the same time of marriage equality for same-sex couples. do you think it does not sound like rational people thinking to me. >> let me play out the thinking on their side. it was so fortunate and lucky for them that the case was slowed down and several
points at several times. >> host: they tried to speed it up. >> guest: that is what i am saying exactly. it is fortunate for them that they did not get their way and the case did prove that slowly because it allowed the country to move in the direction of a marriage equality to create an atmosphere that was more conducive. that is why when paul was not too worried when he came in that morning. on the other hand,, chuck cooper the of lawyer fighting to keep proposition viii thought it was the good thing for him. because it moved slowly because but he thought!)íó is key believed if doma and proposition paper argued
that the sameç time then kennedy potentially could split the baby. the federal government needs to recognize these marriages that chuck plays were it is legal but the states can decide for themselves. that did not have been. >> host: everybody thought it was of a good idea except for your hero's. >> guest: it is important to recognize the lawyer who wanted to keep proposition viii. >> host: i & to run many in the establishment think there is also a the lawyer on the other side#mz i don't think we can no. it is an interesting tension one thing they're worried about what if the obama of
was not reelected? justice fergus is old and frail and what if mitt romney was elected president and got to pick and a new member of the supreme court to replace the liberal? then your chances became exponentially morç difficult so that was an issue early on. in the end i think everybody was right. clears the the atmosphere the trans to the extent it created a more hospitable political climate. at the same time paul who argued the case used that political progress for those listeners who were not deepen the weeds to use that as an argument the course
sunday to decide this look at the progress. >> host: we will take the quick break to decide which case has the impact because you referred to the other one so we will take up quick break and come right back. >> host: we've will pick up where they left off then we will go back. what struck me is the supreme court decision to
the courts the struck down the exclusion of same-sex couples after these decisions came down rely on windsor but the way you describe it to almost make it sound aha like justice kennedy's language with the dignity of the gay people came from ted olson. you have a paragraph in the book where you'' olson then justice kennedy and go back and forth. it was striking because a lot of that language came from it was not the case i wonder if that was of bits of an effort to to have more play in the doma decision
not that it was not influential. >> one of the interesting things about these cases is there is attention that kaplan always felt doma the a joke in the office is e.d. windsor was already married and olivetti gay. she tried to make it seem like this is the tax case i am asking for a historic landmark case but she finds herself having to argue alongside olson who absolutely says i want a huge landmark decision and there is a moment there at court together. this tension bubbles up a little bad and they pretend to be a justice they say the more passionate and she
thought to herself if he wins i will win also but if he loses i don't want to go down with him. so for all along both sides felt they did not want to argue alongside each other but they both benefited to be there together. the fact that chad olson won on the technicality that was beautiful because the piece of people to line up to get married it did not matter if he won on the technicality the largest state in the country could now merry that was the pretty paid victory not what they set out but it was pretty big. one of the things that
schaede did not want to go down but because he was making these arguments that is why kennedy was so sweeping he did not have to write the opinion the way he did. what i am excited for is one day to see that justice is own papers to see what they were really thinking. >> host: i agree. [laughter] but so we are clear when ted olson case one on the technicality has you know, what happened is the court called the supreme court did not have authority to hear the case that was a couple of years ago.
i know bobby and have worked with him for a longtime he would be surprised to hear she was suggesting the breadth of the decision were the claims to dignity came from when people can look at the brief himself but the windsor briefing is about the id dignity to respect people's lives. >> guest: when they read the opinion several people in the court room began to cry. it was a validation by he talks about the importance of marriage. again and again and came back to that several times with the importance of
marriage. so these arguments, it was not at the center of the case but of the proposition case for what this means for society. we will not really know but what robbie said is she felt that it was the potentially good thing her case was argued alongside the proposition viii case that justice kennedy could be broader than maybe she would have been. >> host: let's go back to the book. you talk a lot about chad griffin and others the k establishment did not want the lawsuit to be brought and it was slowing things down that is where you take a lot of criticism but from
my perspective some of the of commentary and the books has perspective on that day establishment to buy into the view of chad griffin and other lgbt activists that the longstanding legal groups were slowing things down. so us a couple of examples the freedom to merry project , this is where you come in for criticism because you say that gate establishment was slowing things down and not to describe in a critical way
the push back against chad griffin and the other characters and a cave from the time that young practice had grown up in a safer world where they're not forced to congregate and i have worked with him for a long time. he was not that old. i thank you get pushed back about that even for suggesting robbie was an outsider that she is that the law firm but she argued in new york. >> guest: i talked about that. in one moment when edy wilson 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. if that had not slowed down we don't know maybe they bled has been set back. so what i tried to do is talk about the tension and to even play its out internally. i tried to write about what i saw as an intimate behind the scenes look what they were looking and feeling and the plaintive looking and feeling and there are moments where they all have moments of doubt. to talk about terry is the main character in the bucket and he is say deputy attorney and one of the lawyers who wins marriage to quality in california and
that is the proposition a stripped away so that external debate playing out in the larger community also played out as much as she wanted to win, she was worried and there were moments she saw the brief that argued in of way to create tension was olson he does not want her to do it not that she did not want that, she did that talk about going to the california supreme court to make an argument one marriage equality initially that she felt she carried the pay of the entire community every day. and early on young lawyers annoyed her and she said
this is antitrust. this is real people and real lives. one of the things i think was interesting is the perspective of the gay lawyers on the team was very important that there were not just though olson boys show and they're brought so much to the table. >> host: absolutely but with bad experience they had commercial litigation experience terry did but the gay lawyers but that is not the case. let me ask you a question. there has been a lot of commentary about the book that said you glorified chad griffin and ted olson as visionaries while disregarding as a result to be embedded to gain the
perspective or if you had it to you lost it? >> but it comes from a certain quarter and the reviews has been amazing i set out to write a book about what it feels like to want something that other people have the you cannot have and those stories were so moving that chuck cooper when he saw them getting married on tv he said i could not help but rejoice for their happiness. that is an amazing statement i think anybody that cares about this issue once people they even have the power to move chuck cooper.
>> host: and aided is a beautiful picture and compelling. i guess it doesn't just purported to be about the stories of what about the risk because you got so close you could night game >> guest: i did not set out to write the entire+ history but the five years between the passage of proposition viii and the time the supreme court heard the statements with the amazing transformation and i want to do that in a very intimate way and i think that is great. i wanted to tell a story about the people.
i do sing for the perspective that we a talk about is very much in the book but just told through different characters they talk about the frustration of the steve jones. he was frustrated. he is a towering figure in the gay-rights movement. not a lawyer but frustrated where the movement was. when proposition viii past they were targeted more often than any other group in america. there was a feeling among this group of people absolutely this is what i did i follow that a group of
people and their frustration but there are also moments that certainly for instance you find out this light hollywood put them to tether or that they turned in they said i don't want any part of your case. it is too risky. >> host: so what made me you want to ask you is a question if you can lose perspective while indebted there are certain points that suggest that chad griffin where the human rights campaign came up with certain ideas. at 1.here is an example, you tell nicely about the bipartisan buildup in
support of marriage equality than a number of groups would borrow from the playbook had said he hired a republican lobbyist. why didn't you just say it was the big deal for chad to get up but but there were now working in a bipartisan fashion before the playbook? >> i spent so whole chapter on new york fed is of fascinating legislative battle. of what happened of course, there was a bipartisan effort but andrew cuomo called the groups together and said i don't want a repeat he put someone in charge. not just this but "the new york times." one of the characters in the
book is ken annulment of architect of reelection came out specifically to bring the group of the proposition viii lawsuit and was controversial because it was widely seen as the architect to put on the ballot with that turn out but really hard and not just in new york but all of valine the the, and rushing to and to round out the public and a -- republican votes in she was important that he turned down the crazy and show right it was then there
interest long-term to be against marriage equality. >> host: did you note 2004 and massachusetts won that fight was going on in that very worked closely with republicans and that continued in vermont and elsewhere? again it is not the information and the stories you tell our great but that they retaking a pate chad of his play book is a serious mischaracterization. >> guest: i think certainly it is fair to say over the past five years this issue has gone from being publicly viewed largely partisan do not so much but more so for rights and basic fundamental values many people deserve credit for that. i approach about a particular group of people i
hope the viewers would find them interesting. >> host: day are. but the question but that architecture you build up around them will people take away something that using some of media for working with the grass roots or publicly in beijing and messages but you did some research in connection with the book. >> guest: you have seen an amazing shift in the last five years, astonishing. if you talk to the pollsters and people who do political strategy it is the fastest shift in modern history with this litigation so the responsible but the bottom
line is five years ago to states and clear majority of americans but to day you have 17 states and a clear majority of americans support it and not just that change but you see one quarter of the people used to think something different. that is the result of people first of all, of people coming out. if we talk about credit let's start with people coming out tuesday -- to say that i am gay. that is my lawyer. that is my doctor. he elected bush or ways talk about it was chuck coopers
daughter the of light -- the lawyer who finds out midway through the case his own daughter was a lesbian and now about to get married in massachusetts and he is joyfully planning a the wedding. to talk about credit it is people coming out and that changes everything. rob portman is a wonderful example and is absolutely opposed to marriage equality and finds out his son is gay and here's the cases he was a republican in senator often mentioned as the presidential candidate. so people telling the story is whether the four plaintiffs to become known to america chuck coopers daughter or portland's son is where the credit begins. >> host: exactly something
some day say the organizations have been working on that for a long time and that is the foundation of the proposition viii to litigation and to so once the authors have them out is anything you would change? >> no. i set out to write this story. i hope there are other books with this was an important moment in american and civil rights history and lgbt history. i think i have read mark solomon will be doing a book. i am looking forward to that. if we start from the premise that telling stories matters that when people come to know through a book with
through the neighborhood that is powerful to change minds of the more books that can be written and the better the one of the things that transforms a society. >> guest: in the book i devoted a chapter but the hope had been because of the trial with evidence about parenting and the science of sensuality this would be perfect and we could televise to educate people on this issue. of course, the supreme court said no. it was very frustrating because they really thought
it was the public education opportunity. so fave point dawn of play and then judge told me and it was broadcast ineffectually had been, and nobody but not since george clooney played one of the lawyers but hollywood also has a role. shows like modern family and lee are important. it is a story telling. >> host: and the trial is sale little bit boring into towelettes as exciting but may be to ask once more the
worry about this book is not the dramatic telling of the story which again i a quite enjoyed but the impression that i think it tries to visa that this is an account to of a chapter in american history running from the passage of proposition viii through the decision of the supreme court not to decide that case and. >> guest: hopefully there will be a other books do augment and satisfy your thirst for more. [laughter] >> host: thank you very much to a9 to share with us this conversation of your book "forcing the spring" inside the fight for marriage equality"