I had "Meet The Press" on yesterday and was just blown away, once again, by the strength and intelligence of Rachel Maddow.
To say that having this woman be part of the national conversation is a good thing is an understatement of vast proportions.
The MTP group, which included Jim DeMint, former Republican senator from South Carolina and current head of the Heritage Foundation, as well as Ralph Reed, social conservative leader and the first executive director of the Christian Coalition, was discussing the Supreme Court's recent decisions on marriage equality and same-sex marriage.
Here's the key exchange, read it for yourself:
DAVID GREGORY:DeMint essentially says: a) the Court insulted people who think gay marriage is wrong. I'll let that 'argument' soak in all by itself, I don't think I need to add anything else; and b) to paraphrase Helen Lovejoy of The Simpsons, "Won't somebody puh-leeaze think of the children?"
Let me bring Jim DeMint into this, because I want to come back to Pete's point. Justice Kennedy is using the word "dignity" over and over again. He's saying you can't demean gay and lesbian couples; you can't discriminate against them.
Now, let's be honest. In both of your backgrounds, Ralph Reed and Jim DeMint, you will be viewed in many quarters as being intolerant of gay rights, intolerant of gays, going back to the Christian coalition, your time as senator, some of your past comments. How do you answer Justice Kennedy saying, "To oppose gay marriage is to deny dignity to people who deserve equal protection"?
FMR. SEN. JIM DEMINT:
What I'd say, David, is he is denying dignity to the millions of Americans who, for moral or religious reasons, believe that gay marriage is wrong. As you just said, you've got 37 states where the people have decided that they want to protect the marriage between a man and a woman because they know that that's the environment where children can thrive and succeed. I mean, that's been proven.
So it's not about the desires of adults, it's really about the best environment for children. We're talking all about politics, but the reason governments at the state level and the federal level have recognized marriage between a man and a woman is because it's better for our country and it's better for children.
Then, we have the reply by Rachel:
[Justice Kennedy, writing for the Court majority] says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you're humiliating and demeaning those kids by denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family.Yes, says, Maddow, let's think of the children. All of the children. And as for us, you might think that certain kinds of laws provide support for heterosexuality, thus discouraging homosexuality, but it's not going to work. No law will turn a gay person straight.
So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And I think the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There's nothing we can do in public policy that makes more or us exist or less of us exist.
And these guys have been arguing for a generation that public policy ought to essentially demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don't make any less of us exist, you just are arguing in favor of discrimination. And more discrimination doesn't make straight people's lives any better."
This was incredibly powerful, both for it's logic, and because it was personalized. Even in 2013, it's an eye-opener for some in this country -- in particular the older-skewing demographic that watches "Meet The Press" -- to see an actual, non-fiction, gay person talking about "us" on television.
We're queer, and we're here, so get used to it, is what Rachel was essentially saying. So, just be honest about why you want to treat our marriages differently than yours. It's not about the children, or families, or whatever, because we've got children, and we are families. It's just because you don't like us.
PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.