tv The Last Word MSNBC May 10, 2012 1:00am-2:00am EDT
>> at 3:00 this afternoon -- >> he now fully supports marriage for same-sex couples. >> the first president in american history -- >> we've talked about the president on gay marriage. >> what is the president waiting for? >> just show your true colors. >> stop saying your position is evolving. >> let the political chips fall where they man. >> man up and say this is what i believe. >> my feelings about this are constantly evolving. i struggle with this. >> today, the president told abc news -- >> he supports same-sex marriage. >> i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> gay couples should be able to marry. >> should be able to get married. >> the vice president i think forced his hand. >> men marrying men, women marrying women, i am absolutely comfortable. >> huge political risks taking this position. >> 32 times since 1998, gay marriage come up for a vote. 32 times, anti gay marriage advocates have won. >> mitt romney does not. >> marriage is a relationship between a man and woman. >> pink smoke coming from the white house chimney.
>> and i don't favor civil union or gay marriage. >> if republicans make it an issue. >> they will pound this thing. >> they will go hard. >> karl rove will gnaw on this bone until election night. >> the first president in american history. >> historic news. >> historic news, and it was the right thing to do. >> the president of the united states today chose an interview with robin roberts to make news and to make history. >> over the course of several years as i talked to friends and family and neighbors, when i think about members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, raising kids together, when i think about
those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrainted, even now that don't ask, don't tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point i just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> white house officials are leaking a background story that sounds like the stuff of fiction and just may be. as the story goes, the president planned to announce his support for marriage equality sometime before the democratic national convention in september, but then vice president biden said this on "meet the press." >> i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying
men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women, entitled to the same exact rights. >> this made the political story of the week and according to the white house story that put pressure on the president to clarify his position today. the president said to no one's surprise, the first lady shares his support for marriage equality, and he added the personal note, that this is an area where the kids can help the parents see what's right. >> malia and sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. it doesn't make sense to them, and, frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective. >> joining me now is crystal baldwin, doran warren, assistant professor of political science at columbia university and keith
boykin, b.e.t..com columnist and author of four books on race and sexual orientation and law school classmate of president obama. thank you, all, for joining me tonight. that last note about his children, it echoes with me, because my daughter has grown approximate up in santa monica and has known really since she could talk, children of same-sex couples and through their eyes, there is nothing strange about this now, i don't think that's necessarily a common parenting experience in this country. depends on zip code and it made perfect sense to me to hear the president use that as a way of explaining his own evolution on this. >> i totally agree, and i think it makes since to a lot of americans as well. i think about it from my own perspective. barely more than a toddler now. who knows who she will be, who she will love when she grows up. i want her to have full rights
and equality under the law. my mom is a preschool teacher, she has kids in their preschool that have same-sex mommies and daddies. i think a lot of americans understand his evolution. they are evolving in the same way. >> keith, place this statement today in its context on in our history. >> this the first time any president has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. i remember being in the oval office in 1993, in the first year of bill clinton. i remember asking him what he thought he would be remembered for? lifting the ban on gays in the military and health care. this is a sea change on where america is. and it's a big deal as biden would say. >> and dorian, in that clinton white house in 1996, the president signed the defense of marriage act, which, by the way, was relatively noncontroversial,
it passed the senate with 85 votes, only 14 democrats voting against it, the president was basically -- if he hadn't signed it, they could have overwritten his veto that's what the last democratic president did. >> we're a long way from the mid '90s, when you now have the mainstream position is to support marriage equality. that's a huge leap in a short amount of time. the president should be applauded. his evolution of personal beliefs is very important. but there is still a lot of work to be done in translating personal beliefs in the public policy this is now 30 states, ban gay marriage, the president said it's a states rights issue. there is still room to push him. and i think all credit should be given to the ljbt activist community. they were ferocious and kept the pressure on. >> i want to read something that
was posted, who worked for president obama a long time on these issues. wow, this is an important moment in civil rights history. it's also an important moment in political history in which the lesson for the gay community and perhaps for anyone advocating for change is that words are important, and to your point, but we have to insist on action from our friends. >> that's absolutely right. and, in fact, the president said repeatedly, i want you all to push me on this. i want you to push me. and, look, i'm someone who has been really defending the president because his record of accomplishment in office is quite incredible on what he's already done to push for the goal of equality, but absolutely i think raising those voices and putting on that pressure was important and to that point, going forward, we'll all be pondering what's the political consequence? the political consequence is entirely depend on how those of us who support equality behave. do we go out and work and make
this issue a political winner? or sit back and let the other side take the initiative and use this issue as a wedge? i think we have it in our control to go out and work and make this a winner in november. >> this is the big problem with the democratic party over the areas. i think we have failed to articulate what our vision is and stand by it. whenever we get into controversy, democrats back off and pretend like we don't believe what we believe. ist finally time to see a democrat like president obama to say, yes, i believe this, i will stand up and defend it republicans have been doing this for decades, it's about time democrats start catching up. >> a lot of talk about the timing of this thing, and people in the white house saying, biden surprised us, i have known joe biden a long time, i have a feeling for when he's speaking off the cuff and when he's unauthorized, and a strong feeling for when he's authorized. the way he spoke on "meet the
press" was very deliberate. i don't think anyone in the white house is surprised. another cabinet member came on the next morning on this network and clear all their comment with the white house before they go on and then the president in this perfectly -- the flow of the story this week, creates the climax, and then the story is, oh, yeah, he was going to do it maybe like sometime in august. it doesn't make any sense to me that they would have done this in august if they were going to do it, and endure months of complaint about not doing it. i'm not buying this was sort of took us by surprise this week. >> even if it took them by surprise, they knew by friday evening what vice president biden had said. he tape thad interview friday. so they had all weekend to figure out what their strategy was. i think what's really important, they knew the north carolina votes would question in favor of the ban on same-sex marriage and knew somebody would have to say something i don't known the
president was going to come out before the election, but with north carolina banning marriage equality essentially and then the democratic party and the president knowing that the convention is going to be held in north carolina. they already have labor leaders pissed off about having the convention in a right to work state. they can't have two core groups mad at them. >> i wrote something, and i says president obama supports same-sex marriage. i believe it in my heart. i can't prove it, but i thb is the case. three minutes later, the abc interview came out and i had to go and revise my article. i didn't think he was going to come out and say it this soon. i'm glad he did. i think they realized consequences aren't going to be that dire. 57% of independents support same-sex marriage.
and black people, not supporting barack obama because of this issue? that's a pipe dream. there has never been a single black candidate, elected official, lost office for supporting same-sex marriage. it won't happen to the first african-american president of the united states. no way blacks will abandon obama on this issue. >> i don't mean to knock abc news. they showed the great interview, and a man on the street and a black voter said i really don't like this, and they cut. and i'm screaming at the tv, ask him who he would vote for. >> that's exactly right. do we really believe this will be the issue that really anyone is going to vote on? anyone who is going to determine this election in the fall? if african-americans were voting on marriage equality, they wouldn't already be backing so many democrats. but i don't want to lose sight
of the fact that this is a politically courageous decision. if you look at the polling in swing states, it's still very tough. >> very narrow, very tough. >> in north carolina, this thing went down in flames by 20 points. we shouldn't undercut this is a bold move, a show of leadership, courageous, unprecedented. i think personally we can use it, that it will generate a lot of enthusiasm among young voters who may have been a bit apathetic. i think it reinvigorates them, we should not forget this was not a politically expedient move this is a tough sell still. >> a quick last word. >> i think president obama can put a pen behind his words, signing executive order banning discrimination against gay and lesbians when it comes to federal contracting. and can support a platform this august around marriage equality there are tangible things beside saying is he personally in favor.
>> thank you, krystal ball, dorian warren, and keith boykins. >> thank you rush limbaugh says that president obama's statement is -- what else? a war on marriage. the politics of marriage, coming up. but one host at fox news shocked his viewers by saying president obama is on the right side of history. guess which fox news host said this? sense guesses quickly on twitter, the answer will be in the rewrite. don't get me wrong, i love the french. french fries i love, french kissing. they lost me at the french press. i don't want a plunger anywhere near my coffee. not in my house. with maxwell house french roast, you just sit back and you let gravity do the work. right? i hate to ask... [ male announcer ] the rich, bold flavor
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north carolina vote to ban marriage equality and today's announcement by the president. they will share that, along with zack walls, who will give us his reaction and both of his mother's reactions. and the rewrite tonight, the fox news host who says president obama is on the right side of history. coming up. ♪ ♪ what started as a whisper every day, millions of people choose to do the right thing. there's an insurance company that does that, too.
liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? so now we have the president of the united states leading a war on traditional marriage. is it going to be like the war on stay at homeworking mothers that you people have led? is it going to be like the war on the catholic church that you people have led?
and people like me who are minding their own business have to stand up and defend these institutions and traditions from people like you, and the president who is waging war on traditional america? >> people like rush, who are minding their own business. joining me now are author of "who is afraid of post blackness." jonathan capehart. and richard wolf. your tweets, to put it mildly, are you concerned about what this means for the president politicly and for the african-american vote. >> i am. i was blown away by the gesture. this is an historic moment. if the arc of history bends toward justice, we're seeing get
toward the top of the arc i think. but we have most of the states in america are -- have amendments against gay marriage. we're not making the turn just yet. i am a little concerned about what will happen with the gay community. takely important stittwednesda constituency for the president. there is hopo phobia around america. 55% of black are telling people they are against gay marriage, and 55% of whites are for gay marriage. i wonder if this will not create a crisis of conscience for some voters who were supportives obama above brrr and do i need the brother to be re-elected and what we talk about on sunday
aside? or i got my god, my bible, my minister and we've been talking about this for years, and i need to speak about this. i don't think they need to go to mitt romney, maybe they don't send in the $100 last time. maybe they don't knock on doors like they did last time. >> jonathan capehart, do you share that concern in that analysis? >> no, i don't. african-americans went overwhelmingly in california in prop 8, went to barack obama, but 58% of the african-american vote voted for proposition 8 which banned gay marriage in california. i think what we're going to see is african-americans doing the same thing again meaning no matter what this president does, the african-american community overwhelmingly is going to vote for him. keeping the first african-american president of the united states is office,
trumps anything i think -- anything any emotions, any discomfort they might have on -- on the president taking this very courageous stand in -- for equality. i just -- i mean, toure and i are friends, i respect him, but this is one area, and he's not the first person to say this, and i wrote a piece about this yesterday, where i just don't think the president taking this courageous stand will do anything to his black supporters. >> let's all agree when we venture into this kind of area, we're doing a stern amount of risk. this isn't exactly science. richard wolf, 2008, florida voted for president obama 51-48 over mccain and on the very same ballot voted to ban same-sex marriage, 62% to 38%. but that candidate, president obama, senator obama, on that
ballot, not a candidate in favor of same-sex marriage, which he now is. >> you know, actually if you take me back to 2004, there's quite a lot of research done. karl rove encouraged marriage initiatives to be done on a bunch of different state election ballots and they happened to be battleground states. people went back and looked at the turnout. it did increase turnout occurring among conservatives. there was no correlation. think if you are trying to be crudely political about this, you have to say it's mixed. there are regional differences here, and in a close election, it can make a marnl natural difference. you know, igs possible that both toure and jonathan are height here, in terms of the percentage win among african-americans, president obama will could just fine, but actually, on the margins of turnout among religious groups, religious latinos and religious african-americans, they may be
inclined to stay at home. u.s. a marginal call. but in a marginal election it makes it all the more gutsy the presidents that taken this step. >> eight states where same-sex marriage is legal, and a whole bunch passed constitutional amendments against it. and only three states have absolutely no statute, no law on same-sex marriage. those states are new jersey, rhode island and new mexico. the only three that don't have anything, and so toure, a different dynamic here. the carl rove crowd cannot put one of these things on the ballot in one of those states they want to take away from the president, because they already did. >> right. right. you know, i want to back up for a second and say civil rights should never be on the ballot. you should never give the masses to vote for whether or not a certain group has the right to do something.
quite often, the masses get it wrong. if we put suffrage on the ballot, a locality of people would vote to take that away. we should not allow people to vote up or down. that should not be part of what we do. >> jonathan capehart, would you say this works to the president's benefit? is there a loss to him here? i want to look at it and say is there some advantage to him here. we've seen an advantage in fund-raising. leaving fund-raising aside, do we see an electoral advantage for the president in this choice? >> electoral advantage in right now i can't answer that question affirmatively. we have to see down the road where independents are, in relation to the president now that he's made this decision. and, you know, the gay community has been with the president overwhelmingly, going back to
richard's analysis in terms of the african-american community, on the march begins, quite a few gay and lesbian people upset with the president, who are not taking the public stand, today, you mentioned that the campaign has raised $1 million. i would be curious to know how much of that came from gay donors. one gay donor here in washington who -- you said he set up a fund-raising page on the obama website, and ended up raising based on just his one $500 contribution, $7,000. so i think you're going to have a reenergized gay community. i think it remains to be seen whether this will help the president with independents, very important in some of those swing states. >> let's listen to what john boehner said about this today. >> i've always believed that marriage was between a man and woman. all i know is that this is a very controversial issue in our country, but most people believe
that marriage is -- is a union of a man and a woman. >> richard wolffe, how hard are the republicas going to go at the president on this? >> actually, most people don't believe in that position, so he's wrong on the facts. this is a useful thing. for a more energized democratic party, more energized base for democrats, it has an equal but opposite effect about energizing conservatives. they have huge problems in terms of not liking their nominee, but the difference between social and libertarian conservatism, and this energizes the anti obama vote, and that's not a great thing for this president. >> gentlemen, we have to move on. more guests to get in here. thank you, toure, jonathan capehart, and richard wolffe. >> coming up, mitt romney has deinvolved on marriage equality. hward fineman was in romney headquarters when the news boek.
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today's closing bell was rung by -- at the new york stock exchange was run by members of family equality council in honor of international family equality day. in the spirit of this historic day, we'll be joined by two north carolina women who have been together for 45 years. we'll get their reaction to the vote against their rights in north carolina yesterday, and to president obama's remarks today. and we'll tell you what was happening inside romney headquarters at exactly the moment that president obama made history today. howard fineman was there, and he's coming up next. [ male announcer ] with six indulgently layered desserts, all at 150 calories or less,
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i do not favor marriage between people of the same gender and i don't favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. my view is domestic partnership benefits hospital visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not. >> that was mitt romney answering a question he was asked several times today, where does he stand on marriage equality? like president obama, mitt romney has evolved during his 1994 senate campaign against ted kennedy, romney wrote a letter
to the massachusetts log cabin republicans, saying a gay rights group, saying "i am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equal fooe for gays and lesbians, i had provide more effective leadership for the goals we share. we must make equal for gaze and lesbians a concern. my opponent cannot do this. i can and will. governor romney's goal of ensuring rights for gaze and lesbians took a hard turn after 2003 after the massachusetts supreme court legalized same-sex marriages. >> i disagree with the supreme judicial court of massachusetts. marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. i will support an amendment to the massachusetts constitution to make that expressly clear.
>> today's announcement from president obama game one week after richard grinle, romney's openly gay foreign policy spokesperson, resigned his position, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished on the hyperpartisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. now i am joined by a national political reporter by "the washington post." howard, you were at romney headquarters when news broke. what was reaction there? >> we there were to interview top staff of the campaign as we prepare for covering the fall election. this news came up, the interesting thing was the quietly pleased i would say but quite wary reaction to the people in the romney campaign. to simplify it, for every vote
they might pick up for there a swing voter in north carolina because of the president's decision today, if mitt romney were suddenly to try to do some kind of imitation of the angel of traditional vengeance here, key lose votes in places like pennsylvania or new hampshire where he is looking for suburban voters that he doesn't want to needlessly antagonize. the romney campaign headquarters in new hampshire -- excuse me, in boston, i don't think ever issued an official statement of any kind, reaction. he did what he did on the road quite cautiously. called it a tender topic so forth, so on it will be left to others, not the campaign itself, not mitt romney who is sort of talking back at least stylistically toward aiming at suburban voters it will be left to the rush limbaughs and ralph reeds of the world to go ballistic over this.
>> i'm struck by when i hear him say as he did in massachusetts when i hear him say, i agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. and he says marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. this is a man whose great grandfather thought marriage was an institution between a man and five women, as was legal when he began those marriages and so i'm starting to wonder if the soft response may have something to do with that issue that exists in romney's family's distant past, which "the washington post" has covered and detailed rather extensively, and because "the washington post" coverage and notice of that that might be involved in their muted response? >> well, that certainly one
reason and maybe sort of a -- an underlying reason for his tone today, but i also think, you know, more broadly, it is about those independent swing voters in states like pennsylvania, states like michigan and ohio, states like virginia. states that he needs to win, and i talked to some log cabin republicans who were pleased in 1994 with that version of rid romney who was very open to equality and extending gay rights. they are very much looking for a tone from him. they were pleased with his tone. talked about the tenderness of this issue and working with other republicans to make sure this sort of respectful tone is what will remain. that there isn't this rush mock republicans to make this the kind of issue it was in 2004. >> i want to read what harry reid had to say about this. he found a tone somewhat different from the president's.
harry reid, like mitt romney, a mormon. my personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. but in civil society, i believe people should be able to marry whomever they want and it's no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married. the idea that allow two loving, committed people to marry will have any impact on my life or my family's life always struck me as absurd. howard, i'm noting a certain libertarian, ron paul note in there when he says it's no business of mine. >> well, it's -- it's also nevada, it's also western. you can call it libertarian if you want. i thought that was a pretty impressive statement from harry reid, who laid out his personal views and views about civil society. and i would say that while the country is divided on this, if
you look at the polls, i think harry reid's statement probably would garner -- the way he framed it would probably garner pretty strong majority support in the country. the business about my belief versus civil society was pretty deftly done by him. >> that is the kind of statement we've heard in the past say from catholic politicians on issues involving abortion, roe versus wade. my personal belief is this, however, a civil society. is that civil -- president obama went far beyond that today and said, look, my personal belief is, in fact, this should be allowed. that's a very different statement. >> no, that is a very different statement. you heard him talk about hisuous is obviously a president who came into the presidency imagining himself alongside lincoln, fdr, and he was thinking about himself and the legacy he wants to be remembered for, and i could think this does.
so much talk about the african-american vote. i think this does give african-american leaders and preachers, some sort of language to start to talk about gay marriage and gay rights in a different way. some of the in north carolina with the reverend william barbara. this is a turning of the page in terms of dialog. >> you get the last word for the segment and howard fineman gets to have all of the fun at romney head quarters today. >> thank you. coming up, fox nation declared president obama has declared war on marriage. then an extraordinary thing. a fox news coast declares president obama to be -- his words -- on the right side of history. in tonight's rewrite. and two north carolina women who have been together for 45 years will join me along with zach walls, the man's whose plea
to iowa legislators on marriage equality was seen on this program and everywhere on the internet. coming up. today is gonna be an important day for us. you ready? we wanna be our brother's keeper. what's number two we wanna do? bring it up to 90 decatherms. how bout ya, joe? let's go ahead and bring it online.
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can help you be that person who's good with money. see what's free to spend. move money with a slide. save with a shake. feel good about your decisions. in tonight's rewrite, president obama, fox news and the right side of history. it didn't take long after president obama rewrote his position on same-sex marriage for the president to declare that the president has declared war on marriage. on the fox nation section of the fox news website, the headline was obama flip-flops, declares war on marriage. and the war on marriage chorus began on fox news. >> president of the united states in the 21st century and on the north lawn of the white house. >> wait a minute. what did he just say. >> president of the united states now in the 21st century.
>> president of the united states now in the 21st century. that doesn't sound like war on marriage. fox news host shepard smith declaring the president to be in the 21st century. and he didn't stop there. >> in this time of rising debt and medical issues and all the rest if republicans would go out on a limb and try to make this a campaign issue while sitting very firmly without much question on the wrong side of history on it. >> shepherd smith has frequently been the lone voice of reason at fox news, and now he's saying the president is on the right side of history. if fox nation wants a war on marriage, then fox is going to give fox nation a war on marriage. they have to. unless, of course, shepherd smith said those things about president obama being on the right side of history. the war on marriage was removed
from the headline on fox news on the fox nation section of the knox news website after shepard smith said that, now there is no war on marriage. just a flip-flop. >> after years of voicing strong opposition of same-sex marriage, president obama has reversed his position. it sounds like earmarks, lobbyists, like cutting the deficit in half. sounds like this president can't make up his mind very well on these things. seems like democrats wanted to say that mitt romney flip-flops, but this president flip-flops a lot. >> now it's time to sit back and watch fox news evolve on same-sex marriage, and all they really need to do to find their way on this one is to follow shepherd smith, the fox news man, on the right side of history.
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a gallup poll found if you know someone who is gay or lesbian you are more likely to support marriage equality. the know and love campaign posted this video online for people who maybe don't know a gay couple. >> nothing will change the 45-year bond we have. we have had -- we have the most remarkable bond and we think in part, it's because -- as she was saying to me in the last day or two. our core values are so much the same. we've never done a ceremony, and
we're not going to until we can do one legally and hopefully here with our family and community. >> okay. i'll buy that. >> joining me now and lenny gerber and pearl berlin, along with zack walls, a gay rights advocate who has two mothers and authored the new book "my two moms." lenny, tell me how you felt last night when the vote came in in north carolina to deny you your rights? >> well, look, this is the way think about what happened last night. the constitution of north carolina, article 1, section 1, says we hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal. and last night, they added five words, except gays and lesbians.
and that -- that just burns a hole in my heart, that they would put that inequality in the state constitution. >> pearl, after being wounded like that last night, what did it feel like this afternoon when the president of the united states said he disagreed with that vote? he had already come out against that amendment, but has now made the public statement that he believes you should have the right to marry? >> well, naturally i was pleased. i am a little concerned that there might be some negative effects in the next election because of the prejudices and the discrimination, but he has the courage and that i have lived long enough in my life to see this and hear this on tv when as many as or as few as 20
years ago, nobody ever heard the word lesbian said aloud, and in my life, i had to live quite a while in order to know and understand what it was all about. that president obama spoke for the way he did today, was just wonderful. >> zach wahls, we heard your impassioned speech to the iowa legislature about this issue. what was your reaction to what president had to say and your two moms' reaction to what the president said today. >> it was unbelievable, lawrence to hear those words from the sitting president of the united states, i hope my mom, terri, who was at work, she actually hadn't heard the news until i told her. she couldn't believe it. she kept saying wow and to be honest, that's how we all felt. for the first sitting u.s.
president to openly support same-sex marriage, the same president, when he was born, his parents, a black and a white, couldn't be married in north carolina, we've come a long away. >> do you think this might hurt president obama in his re-election campaign? >> one always worries a little bit about that, because there is -- i mean, losing the battle last night, you know, you are reminded of how many people are still prejudiced. on the other hand, when we see the progress that has happened and it's happening so rapidly, you know, each -- it seems like each month something else good is happening in terms of the gay community, and -- and people more and more are coming out, you know, like the two of us. i mean i'm 76 years old. pearl is 87. we have -- you know, lived our
whole life quietly. but here we are. out there in the open, the gay -- the lesbian icons of the decade or something or of the year. so this is -- everybody knows a lesbian or a gay person now, and that is helping move this along so rapidly, that i am less concerned than i would have been five years ago or four years ago, or even one year ago. >> pearl, what is it like to see a young man like zach wahls sharing the screen with you tonight, come out publicly and speak to watt walegislature in defense and praise of his two mothers? >> i just have the greatest admiration for him and respect for his openness and honesty, and i think he -- he's a role model, that i wish many other
young people would follow. >> zach. >> and i would like to add he's the living proof -- he is the living proof that the children raised by gay parents or lesbian parents come out beautifully. >> zack, you just have time to say thank you and good night to lenny and pearl. >> pearl, right back at you. i appreciate both of you, have a nice night. evolution concluded, let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews, out of the closet, president obama evolved.