tv Democracy Now WHUT May 1, 2013 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
bangladesh, thousands of workers marched following last week's devastating factory collapse that killed over 400 people and injured more than 1000 read it is considered the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. celebrating as may day with sorrow. the building collapsed and we lost 400 garment workers. see those responsible people arrested. >> basketball player jason collins becomes the first openly gay male athlete still active in a major u.s. team sport. the 12ink they called steps to go through, anchor and the nile -- but when you finally get to that point of acceptance,
there is nothing more beautiful than just allowing yourself to be happy and be comfortable in skin >> we will speak with martina navratilova. she came out in 1981. all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has about a renewed push to shut down the military prison at guantanamo or than four years after first pledging its closure. speaking at a white house news conference, obama called the indefinite imprisonment of over 100 people unsustainable, but defended the ongoing force feeding of those on a hunger strike to win their freedom. >> the idea we would still a group ofrever individuals who have not been
tried, that is contrary to who we are, contrary to our interests and it needs to stop. i am going to go back at it because i think it is important. >> are you going to continue force feeding these individuals? >> i do not want them to die. the pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best they can, but i think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? why are we doing this? >> in a statement, a group representing guantanamo bay prisoners welcome to obama's closure pledged but urged him to take immediate action the center for constitutional rights said obama should immediately released 86 people already cleared for transfer and lift his self-imposed moratorium on returning yemeni nationals to their home country. we will speak with the center for constitutional rights after headlines. the obama administration is reportedly close to providing syrian rebels with lethal
weaponry in their fight against president bashar al-assad. the washington post reports obama will make a final decision in the coming weeks on what one official described as "assistance that has a direct military purpose." syrian rebels have already asked western backers for antitank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. president obama suggested that confirmation of syrian chemical weapons could trigger u.s. intervention in some form, but still awaiting more evidence. >> we now have evidence chemical weapons had been used inside of syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. we don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. decisions am making about america's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, i have got to make sure i have the fax.
>> speaking at the united nations, syria's u.n. ambassador repeated the al-assad regime's vow to not use chemical weapons against its own people. >> the syrian government has asays emphasized in damascus well as elsewhere that it will or possesses any chemical weapons against its own people. i stress this point, which has been highly controversial and manipulated by the enemies of syria to serve their hidden agendas. >> the u.s. has deployed a small contingent of soldiers to mali to assist the operations of french and african troops. the pentagon says around 10 u.s. operatives are in mali providing international force or the operational support. the obama administration had
previously ruled out putting boots on the ground to aid the fight against mali rebels in the north. protests are being held around the world on this may 1st to mark may day or international workers day. in bangladesh, thousands of workers marched through central falling plastics factory collapse where more than 400 people died, mostly female garment workers. of more than 1000 injured. across europe, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest austerity measures that have cut wages, benefits and social services. in greece, train and ferry service has been cancelled as public sector workers take part in a series of strikes and rallies. in turkey, riot police fired water cannons at a large crowd who demonstrated in istanbul. in spain, more than 80 protests are being held nationwide. in the u.s., the occupy wall street movement is planning a series of actions including a rally for labor and citizens'
rights at city hall. the genocide trial of the former u.s. backed guatemalan dictator efraín rios montt has reopened under legal uncertainty. ríos montt is accused of overseeing the slaughter of more than 1700 people in guatemala's ixil region after he seized power in 1982. guatemalans top court annulled much of the case last week, sending it back to the earliest stages. the trial resumed on tuesday, but ríos montt's lawyers said the case has been thrown out and should not continue. the testimony of four witnesses from the initial trial was also been thrown out. the arab league has apparently softened its long standing peace offer to israel of recognition in return for the creation of a palestinian state. the 2002 arab peace initiative pledges normalized relations and full recognition of israel -- if israel were naturals completely from the occupied territories seized in 1967.
but in a meeting in washington this become the arab league said it's open to a deal that would see israel retain part of the west bank under land swaps with the palestinians. israel have long dismissed the arab peace offer. in washington, secretary of state john kerry praised the new initiative. >> the arab community, and i think they should be thanked for this, saw fit to come here to the united states as a delegation of the -- to make it clear that they are relaunching arab peace initiative. all have agreed, number one, then consider the conflict ended. no. 2, they would establish the normalization of relations with israel. no. 3, the would enter into peace agreements with israel. no. 4, they would provide security for all states in the region. >> the food and drug administration has approved mcginn emergency contraceptive pill plan the one step available
without a prescription to women 15 and older. the move will allow the pill to be placed on drugstore shelves instead of behind pharmacy counter. the culprit is the was available without prescription only to those 17 and older. the announcement follows a federal judge's orders earlier this month that the morning after pill be made available over the counter to all women with no age limit within 30 days. the fda says its approval is independent of that decision. reproductive justice advocates have long said in the age limit can bar access to immigrants and others who lack id, confused pharmacists, and delete access for all women. the suspect in the killing of the unarmed african-american teenager trayvon martin has waived his right to a published pretrial hearing. george and zimmerman was entitled to a pretrial immunity hearing under florida's stand your ground law, but doing so would have provided a preview of his defense of place the burden of proof on zimmerman instead of the prosecution.
the case is set to begin in june. a controversy has erupted around the san francisco gay pride parade after its organizers reversed the decision to make the army whistleblower bradley manning an honorary grand marshal. manning's nomination was approved last week, but was soon rescinded after coming under criticism from gay republicans and service members. the protest was held outside the san francisco pride office to oppose the reversal earlier this week. referring to manning's ongoing military trial, the demonstrators chanted "they say court-martial, we say grand marshal." colorado has enacted a new law legalizing same-sex civil unions, same-sex couples and their guests flocked to municipal buildings in denver and boulder to perform ceremonies shortly after the law went into effect at midnight. colorado is the eighth state to legalize civil unions or similar laws. the legalization of civil unions marked a victory for lgbt
activists in colorado, which banned gay marriage in 2006 and discrimination protection for gays and lesbians in 1992. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. onbegin today's show guantanamo. the pentagon has confirmed it has sent at least 40 medical personnel to the prison to help force feed hunger striking prisoners who are protesting their indefinite detention and ill treatment. lawyers say at least 130 of the 166 remaining prisoners at guantanamo are refusing the as part of a hunger strike that began in february. over 20 prisoners are being force fed, a practice considered torture by the united nations human rights commission and condemned by the american medical association. one prisoner described force feeding by saying it felt like a "rasul belaid going down
your nose and into your throat." >> i continue to believe we have to close guantanamo. critical for us to understand that guantanamo is not necessary to keep america safe. it is expensive, it is inefficient, it hurts us in terms of our international standing. it lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. it is a recruitment tool for extremists. it needs to be closed. now, congress determined that they would not let us close it. despite the fact there are a number of the folks are currently in guantanamo who the
courts have said could be returned to their country or region or potentially a third country. i am going to go back at this. i have asked my team to review everything currently being done in guantanamo, what we can do administratively and i will wind gauge with congress to try to make the case that this is not within the best interest of the american people. >> president obama speaking on tuesday at a news conference at the white house. he first vowed to close guantanamo over four years ago. to talk more about the issue, we're joined by pardiss kebriaei, senior staff attorney with the center for constitutional rights. her client ghaleb al-bihani is one of the guantanamo prisoners currently on hunger strike. welcome back to democracy now! can you respond to president obama's statement yesterday? >> it was an important statement. it was encouraging. it was time for the administration to say something,
for president obama to say something. we are now three months into a hunger strike at guantanamo. president obama has made important statements before. what we need now is action to go with that important statement about guantanamo. there are things the president can do on his own in his administration starting now. number one, he can appoint someone within the white house with the stature and backing and the authority to get the draw the done. he says guantanamo needs to close. legally unsupportable. it is morally world knows it, te president knows it, the american people should know it. to appoint someone to focus on this and the the effort to closure, signal to the secretary of defense to star certifying people for transfer under the national authorization act and lift the blanket ban the continues on all repatriations
to yemen that he and post. that is clearly within his control. there are specific things he could do now. >> what about the klan obama repeatedly has made that it is congress preventing him from taking some of the steps that you outlined? >> i think that is an excuse. i think cooperation by members of congress would be important. dianne feinstein made a claim last week calling for it a review of the 86 people, of the 166 remain -- 86 have been approved for transfer by the demonstration. she called for a review of those cases and efforts to move those people out of guantanamo. there is support in congress. there are those who have said they would be cheering obama. ultimately, the authority rests with the president. he does not need congress. there is a sort within ndaa for his secretary of defense to certify transfers. what is the his political
courage and action. she administration transfer many. the ndaa and congress has made it difficult, but not impossible. >> lay out the picture of guantanamo. you have 166 prisoners. the obama administration has refused to admit how many people are hunger strike. how many people do you believe, the man your client is on hunger strike. lay out why president obama has said he would not release the people who are completely cleared by -- explain who they were cleared by, the majority of people to be released. >> as far as who was on hunger strike, what we have said is what we have heard from our is that most of the men, most of the 166 men at
guantanamo have been protesting since february 6. there was a trigger point started by conditions at the camp, more restrictive conditions, searches of the korans. that strike has been going on for nearly three months now. we are over 80 days into the strike. the response by the military at the beginning was to deny anything really wrong. i think they acknowledged five or six were on hunger strike. those numbers grew steadily. at this point the military itself acknowledges one of the people are on strike and over 20 people are being force fed. i think the numbers don't matter as much at this point. i think we all except there is a crisis going on at guantanamo that most of the men are on hunger strike. that is all we really need to know. in terms of the picture of who
we are holding, there are 166 people. 86 of them have been approved for transfer. what that means is, every government agency, everett administration agency with a stake in these detentions has unanimously determined those people do not need to be at guantanamo. that means the department of defense, the director of national intelligence, the department of homeland security -- everyone with a stake in this matter has unanimously determined more than half of the population does not need to be there. >> i want to turn to the question of forced feeding. human rights lawyer david remes represents 17 guantanamo bay prisoners and described the process of force feeding. >> it can be extremely painful. one of my clients said it is like having a razor blade go down through your nose and into your throat. they restrain detainees who do
not need to be restrained. that has been happening during the hunger strike because they want to make it as miserable as possible to be on hunger strike. they use tubes that are larger than necessary, circumference wise, which causes extra unnecessary pain. if a detainee resists being taken from his cell to before said, a team of riot squads soldiers, that all quite robocops, enter and drag him there. it is really liked -- it is really like the way you treat an animal. that is really it. >> a spokesperson for the high commission on human rights described the force feeding as "worrying." >> it is clearly against the will of the people being forcibly fed than in the world
of the medical association and our view, this would amount to cruel and degrading treatment which is not permissible under international law. >> pardiss kebriaei, could you talk about the issue of force feeding? >> i think the most important thing to say is it is a clear violation of medical ethics, internationally accepted standards, to the extent there are people on hunger strike to commit voluntary informed decisions about refusing food, strapping them into chairs and forcing a tube up their nose and into their stomachs and pumping liquid formula into their stomachs for an hour while they sit there is inhumane and against athelstan rates. that is how the military says we're seven lives at guantanamo. that is been a response to concerns about deteriorating health and people who are near death. the responses been, don't worry, we will let people die, we will force feed them. that is the would-we will soon
have a camp full of men being force fed. >> president obama's of keeping prisoners and definite was not in the interest of the united states. >> the notion will continue to keep over 100 individuals in no- , evenland in perpetuity at a time when we have wound down the war in iraq, winding down the war in afghanistan, having success at the al qaeda corp., kept the pressure up on all of these transnational terrorist networks, when we have transferred detention authority in afghanistan -- the idea we auld still maintain, forever, group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, contrary to our interests and it needs to stop. >> one of the prisoners on hunger strike is an afghan
citizen obaidullah. last week his family urged u.s. and afghan governments to release them. this is his mother. >> i urge president karzai and the americans to help us and release my son. she is my grandchild. sometimes she cries and asks us about her father. we keep telling her her father is coming. we keep her hopeful, but she is telling me i am lying to her and deceiving her. my father is not coming. >> obaidullah's daughter made a similar plea. >> this is my father's photo. it was taken when he was young. and this is his recent photo, which i received last year. i urge president karzai to release my father. i am disappointed. kebriaei, if you could respond to what president obama said and the mother as well as the daughter of the prisoner obaidullah?
>> i think president obama's statement about withholding people without charge indefinitely is important. and our view, there is questionable, no legal authority, to continue to hold people who do not pose a threat to the u.s. there are 86 people the administration have determined don't need to be there. their detentions are absolutely arbitrary. as for the small group of people the administration has determined at this point are too dangerous to release, it is not a sustainable situation to continue holding them forever without charge. the president said that himself. i think the family members here raise an important point about the role of other governments in addition to the u.s. what i have heard consistently from a yemeni client is that it is the silence of the american government and the yemeni government that is killing them. 89 of the 166 people who remain
at guantanamo right now are from yemen. their country, the government has said they want their citizens back and open to receiving them, but there needs to be much more commitment and much more of a showing of real will to take people back, to take care own citizens back. it raises a point about the role of the public, the american public. it is ultimately president obama is responsibility, but there is a role of the public as well. people of the united states need to know what is happening in their name. these are prisoners who were sold in u.s. custody, transferred to an island that was deliberately selected because the bush administration believed the law would not apply. they were held in cages for the first few months of their detention. there were subjected to brutal methods of torture. there are people who have been
protesting, groups like witness against torture and other dedicated activists, but there needs to be much more -- a louder voice by the american people of what is happening in their name because the people who oppose the closure of viewsnamo, what are their on those who of not been cleared? >> i think the administration had been ready to transfer people to the u.s. for trial, the small group of people that it has said it ever intends to charge. at its peak, there were nearly 800 people held at guantanamo. there are a couple of dozen of that number to the administration says it ever plans to charge. i think the intention had been to breed them to federal court here in charge and try them -- i think the intention had been to bring them to federal court here and charged and tried them. those restrictions are not impossible. i think we start looking at
closure, the group of people the and ministration agrees need to be there and that is more than half the population. we need to start somewhere, let's start with that group of people, the people the administration has said years ago could leave. >> pardiss kebriaei, thank you for being with us, senior staff attorney, one of her clients is currently on hunger ghaleb al- bihani strike-. when we come back, we go to bangladesh. it is may day parade of more than 400 people, the worst garment industry accident in history took place there last week. of more than 400 died. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
today is may 1st, celebrated around the world as may day or international workers day. in bangladesh, thousands of workers marched through central dhaka earlier today to demand safety at work following last wreaks factory collapse where more than 400 people died, mostly female garment workers. hundreds of more workers remain missing, buried in the rubble. the collapse of the building is now being described as the deadliest accident in history of the garment factory -- industry. this is a labor leader in bangladesh. this may celebrating day was sorrow. wethe building collapse, lost 400 factory workers. see those we want to responsible people arrested.
and it will be an example of punishment. >> the building's owner, sohel rana, was arrested sunday and on monday a bangladeshi court ordered the government to confiscate his property. the new york times reports today that he is one of many powerful men in savar, a suburb of the capital of dakah, who owns flimsy buildings where factories could produce clothing for leading western brands. the times described sohel rana -- local officials say he was involved in illegal drugs and guns, but also had a building that housed five factories. on tuesday, another court froze the assets of the owners of the five garment factories, and ordered the money to be used to pay the salaries and benefits of their workers to their relatives. most of the workers reportedly earned an average annual salary of $38 per month -- roughly 21
cents per hour. anger over the disaster has sparked days of protests and some factories have been forced to remain closed. this is a factory manager. >> our factory was running as usual today. workers were working when suddenly people came in from the outside and attacked our factory, wanted to keep it closed. our workers created resistance and now they're protesting against that. >> western clothes companies linked to the arena plaza factory so far include the children's place, to a fresh, freestyle baby, benetton, the irish company's primark's denim company and cedar wood state and others. last wednesday's building collapse was bangladesh's third major industrial accident in five months. last november, a fire at the tazreen factory killed 112 workers. the company's garment industry
employs about 3.6 million people. for more we go back to charlie kernaghan in pittsburgh, director of the institute for global labour and human rights. welcome to democracy now! before this building collapsed, the workers left work the day before because they saw a massive cracks in the building. there were told if they did not return the next day they would lose their jobs. you are on with this talking about the bank on the first floor. they closed rid of their workers did not come in because of this crack. they all came in in the building fell. 400 people dead, more than 1000 wounded. what is the latest, charlie? >> don't forget the workers were forced to go into work because there were gang members there from rana plaza who are ready to beat them with clubs if they did not go and read it was not just that they would not receive their april wages, but they would be beaten if they did not
go and read the factory collapse at 9:00 after they entered at 8:00. saying 421re confirmed dead. the police are still saying and so are the university saying there are as many as 1000 people missing. the stench -- that cordoned off about 50 yards from the building and say the stench of the bodies is so overwhelming, you cannot stand it. thousands of parents are still there holding up pictures of their sons and daughters, begging people to find them. it is a horrific time. >> i want to turn to some more voices in bangladesh. this is a red crescent volunteer followed by a girl who lost her mother and her sister. the members of the red crescent, are waiting here while the operation goes on.
the moment rescue workers find any body, we will carry it away from here. >> i lost my mother and my sister. there is no one to take care of me and my brother. , can youe kernaghan talk about what the situation is of the survivors, of the victims? there have also been reports apparently of two pregnant women who are still in the rubble, one of whom has apparently given birth? >> it is understood those two women are now dead. they could not get them out, and least one child was born. because they did not have maternity leave, they were forced to work. the child is also dead. i think the trade union movement in beijing -- bangladesh, after two or three decades of these phony codes of conduct and miserable working
conditions and the unsafe working conditions and the starvation wages of 12 cents an hour to 22 cents an hour, the workers are marching for their rights so that they can have collective bargaining, unions. nothing is going to change in bangladesh until the workers have the right to organize. it would be amazing if our government had the guts to stand up and say, the workers in bangladesh have suffered enough. they deserve the international recognized worker rights to freedom of association, the right to organize a union and bargain collectively. if that doesn't happen, these steps will continue and continue and continue. they are torturing these young women. 80% of the workers in the garment industry are women. >> charlie kernaghan, you have said workers need laws comparable to those that protect trademarks. can you explain what western companies, who employs such labor in countries where labour is not protected, what steps
they can take to ensure the safety of their workers'? thehe corporations, companies are hiding behind these phony cuts of conduct. they are just paper. what the workers want our legal rights. just as an aside, when they found -- we found dogs and cats were being killed and china for fur collars and the burlington coat factory company. they're putting eyes fur collars on their jackets and the fur came from dogs and cats in china. u.s. congress went berserk and passed a bill that nobody is going to kill dogs and cats on our watch you cannot import dog fur or cat fur, cannot export or sell it rid our congress have a backbone to protect dogs and cats. we need the same backbone to protect the rights of workers. there is no reason in the world
why the american people and the people in the u.k. and europe and australia and canada -- there's no reason we cannot stand up and say, if we can protect dogs and cats, we sure as heck can protect the rights of human beings and we give these workers the rights -- wages are set in bangladesh or cambodia or vietnam or anywhere, but workers will have their internationally recognized worker rights so they can organize a union and protect themselves. senator,ama, then endorsed it and so did hillary clinton and joe biden. we had about 27 members in the senate and up to 170 members in the house until the corporations found out what we were doing with the decent working conditions. the codes of conduct are ridiculous. people should be embarrassed talking about these codes of conduct. >> one of the companies whose labels were found in the ruins
of the collapsed building in bangladesh that housed 5 garment factories was joe fresh, which is a brand of clothes sold by and canadian firm loblaw found in u.s. stores like j.c. penney. they said -- charlie kernaghan, if you could respond to that and also talk about the other companies that you know were making clothing there. the joad fresh label also said that there is nothing they can do in bangladesh because they are not allowed to pressure bangladesh. they cannot make decisions for bangladesh. it is completely a lie. the joe freshly will is protected, so they can demand
their label is protected in bangladesh. if they can protect the label, they can protect the workers as well. the fact they are innocent and they don't have any leverage is untrue. they're plenty of leverage, they just don't use it. it is not just joe fresh. it was cato, it was primark in the u.k., it was just a whole slew of labels from spain, italy -- high and clothing. produce 7 factors million garments a year. this was a big operation. and only now the place he cannot into, the crumble the factory, but eventually all of these labels will come out and these companies will be held accountable. >> according to a poll taken in 2006, 76% of americans said they agreed with the statement that --
charlie kernaghan, do you think the response would be the same today? this poll was taken in 2006. >> i think it would be more so. we have an economy where since the great recession started in december 2007, we are still almost 3 million jobs short of where we were in 2007 in december. we're going backwards, losing jobs. it will be until 2017 before we get back to the level of jobs we had in 2007. i think the american people know that the middle-class is being destroyed. the average ceo makes 380 times the average worker. they're going after the unions. they're trying to kill and strangle unions, which are the
basis that we need to survive this. what they're saying is, the workers need to have their right to organize. they have to have a level playing field. it is just a situation -- it is devastating right now. the union workers make $10,000 more a year, 27% more a year than non-union workers. that is why these right to work states -- michigan now, indiana -- they're going to go after the labor movement to try to kill it. this is one to be the fight for our lives now. we need to take back our country, take back our economy, take back our values. secretary rice recently said, we have never seen -- the american people have these shared values, but we have never seen the
conditions so radically pour and bad for working people. something has to give. we have to be set for a movement, a big social movement to take back our country and take back our rights. but the units go under, we are finishedecause they are the bedrock keeping us alive. >> the link between what is happening, for example, bangladesh and what is happening in the united states is rarely made. the issue of workers can get something like 21 cents an hour in bangladesh, how can workers in the u.s. compete? then you see the price of that. you see 400 people dead last week and more than 1000 injured. if you could just summarize by laying out what you feel needs to be done right now if you're in charge in this country, if your president obama? >> like the said with the legislation, it is not our job
to set wages around the world. that is up to the people in their individual countries. is we cane can do demand that if you want to bring the products into the united these workers must have their legal rights. they must have the right to organize, to bargain collectively, to have a collective contract, to have decent working conditions -- no child labor. the whole world agrees with this. the way we can help the bangladeshi workers, if they want to bring their garments in from bangladesh to the u.s., we welcome it. we want those garments. but you are not bringing those garments in if they're made by children or the workers denied their rights. we have the stupid codes of conduct for the last 30 years.
it is the biggest scam going. we need to stand up and say, you can bring anything you want into the united states, but not if it was made by children or the workers are denied their right to organize. the lift that would give to the bangladesh labor movement would be enormous. we found documents in a garbage truck for nike and it was children's sweat shirts. the sweat shirts sold for $22.90 in the dominican republic. we bought it at macy's in new york city. the workers got paid 8 cents to make that sweatshirts. and dominican republic, it was three tenths of 1% of the retail price. they are just crushing people and sucking the blood out of people. 8 cents to make the garment? what would happen if a triple to 24 cents? that would be less than 1% of the retail price. in other words, there is plenty of room but this is the size of
exploitation and misery. and pusho stand up back against these corporations. the american people are really suffering. it could go either way. either people are going to be so framed that the keep quiet or there is one of the some sort of explosion. the middle css is being destroyed and we have to fight for our own middle-class just as we fight for people in bangladesh or honduras where workers have miserable .onditions all over the world this is going on. >> thank you very much, charlie kernaghan, for being with us. charlie kernaghan, speaking to us from pittsburgh, director of the institute for global labour and human rights on this may day, may 1st. coming up, the gay in the nba. we're going to be talking about jason collins coming out.
a professional basketball player named jason collins publicly revealed he was gay, becoming the first male athlete to do so was selected in a major u.s. team sport. jason collins made the announcement in sports illustrated and then sat down bossn interview with abc george stephanopoulos. >> did you always know you were gay? >> you know the sky is blue, but you keep telling yourself it is red. >> so you fought it? >> yes, in the beginning. i think they, the 12 steps. you go through anger, denial. when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there's nothinmore beautiful. allowing yourself to really be happy and comfortable in your own skin. >> so you send this thunderbolt out into the world. 12 hours later, how did it feel? >> it is incredible.
just try to look honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you. >> what did he say? >> he was incredibly supportive and said he was proud of me and this not only affected my life, but others going ford. >> martina navratilova said this is going to save some kids' lives. >> i looked at her as one of my heroes. all that she has achieved in her career. she is my role model. hopefully, i can be someone else's role model. >> that was nba player jason collins speaking on abc about his decision to come out and now he was inspired by tennis legend martina navratilova. she came out publicly in 1981, making her one of the first openly gay sports figures. telephone.s now by she is the winner of 59 grand slam crowns, a record nine wimbledon singles championships. today she adds one more victory
to her name. as of midnight, same-sex couples in colorado officially obtained civil union and had the recognized by the state today. back in 1992, she was among those who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a colorado amendment that prohibited state and local regulations that extend minority civil rights protections to homosexuals and bisexuals in colorado. martina tweeted on tuesday -- martina navratilova, welcome to democracy now! >> thank you very much. i better be careful what i tweet. i keep thinking i'm only tweeting to my followers. but it is out there, isn't it? >> no your friends and family have gone viral around the world. your response first to the man who worships you come to jason collins, who has come out?
this first sentence is, "by may i'm blackd center and and gay." >> is pretty funny when a guy foot and a half taller calls you a role model. jason has been a breath of fresh air and a pioneer. it takes a lot of guts to come up to our friends and family. for most gay people, coming out is the most traumatic experience in their life because of the worry about the backlash, what is going to happen,, parents going to except the? are my sisters and brothers going to accept me? to come out to the whole world is extreme. jason has done it in a climate dotage in the sports world, it is a big no-no. kudos to him. >> martina navratilova, could you talk about your own experience coming out and how
different it is, the response was then to the response to alleged to jason collins? >> mine was much more mixed. , thepositive on one end crowd was very supportive. for the most part, it was negative but the media certainly roasted me. i had my share of, here is martina's love nest or good versus evil as one columnist said about me playing against chris evertt. it was pretty nasty, but you just kind of deal with it. when i just realized today, jason came out and get is a big story -- and it is a big story. for me, it was a big story but it was the embarrassing level. i certainly did not get an invitation to speak on "good morning america."
it was still a taboo subject. it made headlines, but in a very bad way. >> president obama congratulated jason collins. president reagan was president at the time you came out. what was his response? >> there was not one and i did not expect one. it is great obama is supporting jason, but in the 1980's, the climate was such there were thousands and thousands of gay man dying from aids but president reagan did not mention that. a phone call to me would have been unthinkable. i just wish he had been more supportive. >> talk about the decision you made to go public in the early 1980's. what went into? for many people listening right now and watching this broadcast , maybe a lot of professional athletes as well, talk about your feelings in those months leading up to this and how
exactly you came out? >> it was done exactly the decision to do it. i always thought i was say so one day. i never felt i had anything to hide. i never felt being gay was anything to be ashamed of, so i did not feel apologetic. i did not grow up with any religion, so did not have any asigious issues to deal with far as homosexuality is concerned. i accepted it very easily. for me it was not that big of a deal. but to make a public to the whole world is a different story. i really could not come out until after i got my citizenship because it was -- back then it could've been a disqualify air. i could have been denied u.s. citizenship because i was gay. >> explain what you mean. 1975 fromted in czechoslovakia. i got my political asylum and
apply for u.s. citizenship, which was due in 1981. the came out as gay, naturalization service could of said, no, we're not going to give you your citizenship because you are gay. it could have been a disqualify her to get my citizenship, so i kept quiet. i did not lie when reporters asked me, i just did not answer it. i just said it was private. once i got my citizenship, i did not have to hide anymore. >> martina navratilova, can you explain what the impact was on your career, and your tennis career both in terms of actually playing the sport and in terms of endorsements once you made this revelation? >> the endorsement did not come because i was never one for a long time and did not get the outside endorsements other than what came with tennis, which
meant tennis rackets and shoes, and clothing. outside of that, i did not get any outside deals. but i think because i came out and was true, i did not have to lie anymore or hide anything and i think because of that i played better tennis. of course i was a much happier person. it helped me become a better tennis player. most of all i felt free. you cannot put a price tag on that. financially, did it cost me? absolutely, but i don't care. >> do you think it is easier for women to come out then in? >> not necessarily, but i think in sports women have to prove the header sexuality when they're good athletes. they're women who have written books coming headers sexuality just in case anyone thought they were gay. as soon as girls are at a growing up, they're called a
natural or lesbians or whatever. a lot of straight girls don't even get involved in sports because they don't want to have that kind of bullying happen to em. it is almost assumed you are gay. yet to prove you are straight. but for guys, in the modern sports is the other way around. it is easier for them behind because people not ask them, are you gay? i don't remember, a reporter asking about athletes, are you gay? but they certainly feel free to ask the women. there is a double standard with men and women. but i think women, i don't know why, they have been braver over the years in coming out. >> from collins to colorado, as of last night, midnight, colorado can officially obtain same-sex couples there come a civil union and had recognized by the state. 1992,bout what you did in filing a lawsuit. >> first of all, kudos to governor hickenlooper for signing s. i am sure he will go a step further and we will have full
marriage rights in colorado. in 1992 there was a hateful amendment that basically made it legal for in the institution to deny gays and lesbians access, whether it is hospitals or restaurants or employment -- anyone could fire you are not lay you in a restaurant because you were gay. i wanted to speak about this press prior to the election because i was scared it would pass. no one wanted to talk to me saying, it will never pass. sure enough, bill clinton wins bill clinton2 loses. and passes by 52% to 48%. it did pass. the next day, my p.r. agent had like 200 phone calls for it everyone wanted to talk to me now. it was too late. but it was overturned by the supreme court and proven unconstitutional. there is a big fight over nothing, unfortunately.
>> last cummins, martina navratilova, on this day where the first male openly gay athlete in pro sports, jason collins, has come out and cited as his hero. >> kudos to jason. i hope he will sleep better now that he can truly be himself and maybe his basketball career will take off. i hope he finds the team of his dreams because he is a free agent now. but i know he will live a much happier life and he has done a lot for the gay community and i thank him for that. >> martina navratilova, tennis legend, thank you for being with us. she came out in 1981, making her one of the first openly gay athletes. that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley.tonight a conversation from acclaimed director mira nair. tackles issues of identity and nationalism and a post nine-11 world. we are glad you have joined us. a conversation with director mira nair coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only about halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.