tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley NBC June 26, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
>> it is already pride week in san francisco. thanks for joining us. our coverage of same-sex marriage continues on nightly news. see you at 6:00. on our broadcast tonight, making history at the supreme court. as the justices lay down the law, two big cases on same-sex marriage. tonight the decisions and the impact across the country. the final moments. chilling testimony from the woman on the phone with trayvon martin the night he died, talking about what she heard during that deadly confrontation. taking a stand. one woman's epic all-night filibuster, her desperate effort to run out the clock when suddenly chaos erupts during a showdown over abortion in texas. in her defense. paula deen's emotional appearance this morning on "today" followed by news tonight of another loss to her one-time food empire. "nightly news" begins now.
good evening. gay couples across this country were today handed a sweeping victory by a majority of the justices of the supreme court. they took on two cases. one to allow married partners full federal benefits, the other having to do with gay marriage in california. like so many other things in modern times, the framers of the constitution could not have foreseen this issue. they of course made no mention of same-sex couples in the constitution. and while the justices did not suddenly make gay marriage the law of the land, they did strike down barriers in the states that have allowed it so far in what's being called the most important ruling ever on gay rights. we have it all covered tonight beginning with pete williams at the court. good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. the court didn't go as far as gay rights advocates had hoped. it did not order all states to allow same-sex marriage.
but it will have an immediate impact on tens of thousands of gay couples nationwide. gay rights supporters crowded outside the court, cheering the historic decision. first a ruling striking down a law passed by congress in 1996, the defense of marriage act known as doma. >> doma is dead. >> reporter: it blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states that allow them, depriving couples of more than 1,000 benefits that other married couples have. in a 5-4 ruling written by anthony kennedy, they said doma serves no legitimate government purpose and demeans those who are in a lawful same-sex marriage declaring their marriages are less worthy and humiliating tens of thousands of children raised by same-sex couples. eddie windsor, socked with a $360,000 tax bill, when her spouse died, leaving her the estate. doma blocked the irs from
considering them married and exempt from estate taxes. >> we won everything we asked and hoped for. wow. i'm honored and humbled and overjoyed to be here today. >> reporter: in the second 5-4 decision, this time by chief justice roberts, the court tossed out an appeal involving california's proposition 8 passed by voters in 2008. it stopped same-sex marriage in california. the court said the people who put prop 8 on the ballot had no legal authority to appeal after a lower court struck it down as unconstitutional. it's not enough to have a keen interest in the case to file an appeal. instead, someone must have suffered a concrete injury he said, and the prop 8 supporters didn't have it. for the two california couples who challenged the law, that's the answer they wanted. >> now we will be married and we will be equal to every other family in california. >> today is a good day. today i finally get to look at the man that i love and finally
say, will you please marry me? >> reporter: a short time later, their interview on msnbc was interrupted by a call from the president on air force one. >> thank you so much for your support. >> be very proud of today, and, you know, you're -- you have affected a whole lot of people everywhere. >> reporter: opponents of same-sex marriage did take some comfort in the ruling. >> i am pleased that the court did not create out of thin air a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and this debate will go on. >> reporter: but with a boost to one side. >> they don't give anyone a legal right to same-sex marriage, but they give it a moral underpinning. the majority of the supreme court saying forcefully, these relationships deserve equal treatment under the law. >> reporter: california will probably have to wait at least a month before resuming the same-sex marriage to let the court process play out. and the obama administration is rewriting hundreds of key rules
now that the key part of doma is dead. >> and it's the reagan-appointed justice kennedy that becomes the leading voice on all this. pete, thank you for leading us off. thanks. now to the reaction of these two cases. the prop 8 case in california and the court striking down the defense of marriage act. reaction ranged from jubilation to consternation. anne thompson with more on that tonight in new york. good evening. >> reporter: the event taking place behind me, a series of rallies across the country in support of today's decision. the ruling means that legally married same-sex couples have new protections and obligations under federal law. mid-morning toast at new york city's stonewall inn, where the gay pride movement began 45 years ago. on capitol hill, reaction was as polarized as the court's 5-4 decision.
>> i feel jubilation. i feel fabulous. i feel every gay word i can think of. >> what we now have today is a holy quintet who goes against the laws of nature and nature's god and that's very unfortunate. >> reporter: the decision set twitter on fire, more than 9,000 tweets per minute as nation absorbed the news. on the nightly news feed, opinions split. the ruling means change. legally married same-sex couples will no longer have to pay taxes on a spouse's health coverage. they can file their federal taxes jointly and some will pay the marriage penalty. spouses can get social security retirement and death benefits, and the surviving spouse won't have to pay an estate kax. plus it means gay u.s. citizens can sponsor immigrant spouses for green cards. military couples may feel the biggest impact. tracy johnson lost her wife, donna, killed by a suicide bomber in afghanistan.
yet tracy wasn't the first person notified of donna's death, wasn't eligible for survivor's benefits, wasn't even entitled to the flag from donna's casket. >> the most painful, the death certificate came back, it said single and that was probably the most brutal blow. because we weren't. >> reporter: now same-sex military spouses will get medical coverage, death benefits, and the knowledge their country loves them as much as they love their country. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. >> reporter: this is mike tiabbi in california. in san francisco, thousands gathered to learn the court's ruling. same-sex marriage, suspended since 2008 by prop 8, now the law again. >> i expect by the end of july, marriages will be provided legally up and down the state of california. >> reporter: in west hollywood, nervous moments at the california equality offices.
where dozens gathered to watch together and then cheers of unrestrained joy. couples like bella and alicia say they can make their wedding plans. >> now we can do it, dad. let's get it going. >> reporter: in long beach, jody lambert got home from the night shift in time to greet rose and watch the decision coverage together. >> i'm so happy to be on the right side of history. >> reporter: they had an earlier civil union ceremony, but they say marriage the word with its full meaning is different. >> it's amazing so many people, my family included, treat my relationship so much differently than my brother and his wife. >> reporter: prop 8 may be dead, though its proponents say they're not done yet. >> we shall fight in the ballot box. we shall fight in the legislature. we shall fight in the courts. we will not surrender. >> reporter: for who knows how many americans, certainly tens of thousands in california, what happened today means one thing, their lives got better.
here in west hollywood, they are getting ready for a celebration that will start later tonight. in the meantime, california's attorney general camela harris has asked the federal district court here to vacate the stay immediately. and return to same-sex marriage. but as pete pointed out before, that may take a few weeks or months for it to happen 3 >> mike tiabbi and anne thompson, thank you, both. now we turn to sanford, florida. a day of riveting testimony in the trial of george zimmerman. among the witnesses taking the stand, the woman who was on the phone with trayvon martin during the deadly confrontation describing publicly and for the first time what she heard. we get the latest from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: today, prosecutors called perhaps their most important witness. number eight. >> he told me the man started following him. >> reporter: 19-year-old rachel
jeantel said she was on the phone with her friend trayvon martin when he told her a man he described as creepy was following him. >> you told him to run and he said no. >> he said no, because he was right by his father's house. >> reporter: she told of hearing part of the confrontation that ended his life. >> and then he said why are you following me for. and then i hard a hard breath man come saying what you doing around here. >> reporter: she then heard this exchange. >> i heard trayvon say get off, get off. >> then what did you hear? >> seconds later, the phone shut off. >> oh, my gosh, something horrible is happening. >> reporter: earlier today, two residents of the condo complex where the shooting took place testified about hearing screams and seeing two people fighting. jane surdyka called 911. >> the last yell for help, who did you believe it to be between the two individuals? >> the boy. the younger person.
it was like a boy's voice. >> reporter: but defense attorney don west challenged her. >> prior to the evening of february 26, 2012, you had never heard trayvon martin's voice. >> correct. yes. >> and you had never heard george zimmerman's voice. >> correct. >> reporter: another witness told the prosecutor who she saw. >> what was your opinion as to who was on top? >> i believe it was zimmerman, comparing the size of their bodies. >> reporter: her testimony is at odds with zimmerman's account. he pleaded not guilty, saying martin was on top of him on the attack. defense attorney mark o'mara questioned whether the neighbor based it on images in the media of a younger martin. >> you are not certain as you sit here today who was where in that altercation, are you? >> no. >> reporter: the trial resumes thursday. ron mott, sanford, florida. authorities in massachusetts announced a murder charge
today against aaron hernandez, tight end for the new england patriots. after his arrest, prosecutors said he orchestrated the killing of a friend, semi pro football player, several days after an argument over a trip to a nightclub. hernandez pleaded not guilty and questions for bail was denied. hours after his arrest, the patriots announced they had cut hernandez from the team. in south africa tonight, nelson mandela remains in critical condition. the vigil outside the hospital grows. president zuma canceled a trip to mozambique after a briefing from doctors. as we reported, mandela has been on a ventilator for at least part of his almost three weeks in the hospital. elsewhere in africa tonight, president obama has rived in senegal. he travels friday to south africa where he may try to pay a visit to nelson mandela. still ahead for us tonight, was it too late? new fallout for paula deen. after an emotional interview in her defense this morning.
as we said, new fallout in this ongoing saga involving paula deen. it all started when a former employee who is white sued her for discrimination. in a deposition, deen admitted to using a racial slur. that ignited a fire storm and after a no-show, she appeared. sat down with matt lauer on "today" trying to repair some of the damage. but tonight the pieces of her empire keep falling away. our report tonight from nbc's katy tur. >> reporter: almost a week after she called in sick for her "today" show appearance, it was a contrite paula deen that sat down with matt lauer this morning. >> there were hurtful lies said about me. >> reporter: in a teary 13-minute interview the self-proclaimed queen of southern cooking tried to whip up some damage control after admitting in a deposition last
week she used a racial slur in the past. >> i'll ask you bluntly. are you a racist? >> no. no, i'm not. >> reporter: today there were some contradictions. >> so the fact that you were asked in that deposition whether you had used the "n" word on other occasions and said probably are inaccurate? >> no. i answered the question truthfully. >> reporter: at her restaurant in savannah, her fans offered support. >> i thought was a sincere apology. >> we all say things that we don't mean. >> reporter: while fans are faithful, her business is suffering. she has already lost business with food network, smithfield, and today home depot and walmart. how much more can the paula deen brand take? >> when you deal with a racial issue in this country, it makes sponsors very afraid, it makes businesses run. >> reporter: also in jeopardy, sales from 14 cookbooks, bimonthly magazine, multiple restaurants, merchandise, and
endorsement deals. marketing experts say it's all at risk. >> even if you don't care about food, if you don't care about paula deen, this is a great case study in how words can come back to haunt successful people. >> i have apologized. i would never -- never, and i can truthfully say in my life, i have never with any intention hurt anybody on purpose. i is what i is. and i'm not changing. >> reporter: katy tur, nbc news, new york. up next here tonight, one woman's 11-hour stand. an old-fashioned filibuster, no sitting, eating, drinking, no bathroom breaks. then chaos erupts over an epic showdown over abortion.
through word of mouth and social media. it went on until the early morning hours this morning in the texas state senate. by the time it was over, a lot of people knew the name wendy davis. our report tonight from nbc's chris jansing. >> reporter: the ruckus cheers from the texas state house capped a long session that started almost 13 hours earlier. democrats were fighting a bill that they said would close 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics. republicans said it would make them safer and expected a win. then came senator wendy davis. >> i'm rising on the floor today. >> reporter: in an elegant white suit and comfy pink sneakers, the marathon began. talking and talking and talking. >> governor perry called us back. >> reporter: strict filibuster rules said she couldn't sit down, couldn't leave, couldn't take a break for anything. exhausted, she needed a back
brace adjusted. opponents charge that and reading from an ipad against the rules. >> it does say paper, mr. president. not a computer. >> reporter: as midnight hour came, tensions rose. >> probably the worst night i've experienced. >> reporter: republicans charged davis was off topic when referencing a previous bill. >> your point of order is taken and well-sustained. >> reporter: and the filibuster ended. hundreds of supporters packed in the gallery and lined up outside erupted hoping to stall the vote. drowning out attempts to pass the bill. by then, nearly 200,000 viewers had logged into the live stream of the event. amid the chaos, the bill didn't get signed in time, an unexpected victory for a woman who he did fied expectations before. a single mother of two who graduated with honors from harvard law school and today a rising political star. >> i feel great today.
i feel like the people of the state of texas had a tremendous victory. >> reporter: late today governor rick perry announced a special session to bring back the bill. and davis will be ready. chris jansing, nbc news, new york. on the new jersey shore today, an explosive after effect of hurricane sandy. the storm either revealed or deposited a powerful three-foot wide world war ii anti ship mine off the beach in bay head, new jersey. military divers decided it couldn't be moved, so it was blown up this morning. it was recorded from multiple angles. that was 600 pounds of tnt being exploded underwater. hurricane churned up miles of beaches. there will no doubt be all kinds of strange discoveries like this one as the summer goes on. when we come back, set free. the moment some incredible creatures take their first steps toward a whole new life.
invasive medical research, the fed today says that hundreds will be able to live out their lives in peace. the story from lisa myers. >> reporter: after as many as 30 years in research labs, four recently retired lab chimps are introduced to their new yard to see the sky without bars for the first time in their lives. they look up, climb, look up again. amy fultz helped found the national chimpanzee sanctuary in louisiana knowns a chimp haven. >> it looks like wonder and amazement. it is the first time that they've seen that. >> reporter: twila is a wall walker, afraid to let go of the steel and concrete she has known all her life. others go into the forest for the first time with their new group of friends. today's decision means 300 more federally owned research chimps
will be retired to walk on the grass and swing on the trees. >> it is a movement into a new and compassionate era for how we oversee research on our closest relatives. >> reporter: only 50 chimps will be available for research. the government's decision was triggered by public opposition to further experiments on creatures so much like us. what's more, a scientific panel concluded that most chimp research simply is no longer necessary. but some scientists argue today's move will slow medical breakthroughs. >> public health ramifications will be the delay in development of cures for certain existing diseases. >> reporter: still those who cared for the chimps in the lab argue retiring them is the right thing for humans to do. >> because of what they've gone through and what they've given to us, and not by choice. >> reporter: a new life in a new world, for creatures so much like us.
lisa myers, nbc news, louisiana. and that is our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. i feel very proud on behalf of millions of lives have been affirmed. >> today we can go back to california and say to our own children all four of our boys, your family is just as good as everybody else's family. >> june 26, 2013 will be written about in the history books. right now supporters of same-sex marriage are celebrating two landmark supreme court decisions.
>> the decision finally came and it was instantly cheered by hundreds of people at san francisco city hall. nearly five years ago, californians voted to ban gay marriage. today the supreme court steps in and gay marriage will once again be allowed. the high court dismissed the case and leaves in place a lower court's ruling that stated that prop 8 was unconstitutional. but wedding bells won't be ringing soon. the ninth circuit court of appeals will wait 25 days to clear the way for gay marriages to begin again. the justices struck down doma the federal defense of marriage act. we have live team coverage from the bay area to washington, d.c. and that's where we will begin with nbc bay area's cheryl hurd. >> reporter:om