Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo appeared on 'Face the Nation' with Bob Schieffer on CBS Sunday morning. Ayanbadejo was part of a panel discussion on same-sex marriage. Read the complete transcript below.
Bob Schieffer: Good morning, again, this week the Supreme Court takes up two big cases on same-sex marriage, whether the voters can say no to same-sex marriage as they did in California with proposition 8, and whether the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and woman, is constitutional. At the Supreme Court, people are already lining up to get in to see the arguments. Here with us to talk about those cases, Evan Wolfson, head of the group Freedom to Marry. Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research council. Also joining us Austin Nimocks, who is part of the legal team defending California’s proposition 8 and David Frum, conservative columnist for the "Daily Beast" who once opens but now supports same-sex marriage and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who filed a brief in the court supporting same-sex marriage, he joins us today from Ft. Lauderdale, and Brendon, I want to start with you. We haven't seen too many people from the NFL on the frontlines supporting same-sex marriage. What brought you into this? You filed this brief to be a friend of the court on this. how did you become involved, and why?
Brendon Ayanbadejo: Well, this is something I’ve been speaking about since 2009, and in my opinion, it's just the evolution of civil rights and equal rights and athletes do a lot to change society, and this is something we can make a big difference on. It starts with bullying kids in elementary school and it goes all the way to legislative and treating everybody equally. This is a fight myself and a bunch of my colleagues we want to take to and we feel that everyone should be treated equally and we're not going to stop until everyone is treated fairly and that’s especially including the LGBT community.
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Bob Schieffer: Was there one single thing that caused you to say, hey, this is just wrong, and I think we ought to change it?
Brendon Ayanbadejo: Well, I think it's something we see every day. I mean, we all have coworkers, friends, family members that are part of the LGBT community, and I was always raised in a Santa Cruz, California, that everybody was equal, and everybody was fair and that's why proposition 8 needs to be repealed in California. It's just a way of life that I have been, you know, being a biracial kid and knowing what it's like to be a part of the minority, I know what it feels like to be treated differently and discriminated. So this is no different. The way the LGBT community is treated -- the same as minorities, whether it's African Americans or Latinos or Asians or even women comparing this to suffrage and the civil rights movement -- it's just the evolution of the same issue.
Bob Schieffer: Tony Perkins, of course you are on the very other side of this issue. You have been a defender of conventional marriage, that is, marriage should be between a man and a woman but even you recognize that attitudes are really changing on this, in this country. The Washington Post had a poll out here where now I think it is 58 percent of the people now support same-sex. That’s versus 36% who don't and among young people it's an even more overwhelming favorability, about 80 percent say they now support it. You said in the statement this week that abandoning marriage would place republicans; these are your words, on the path to a permanent minority. In light of these polls, why do you think that?
Tony Perkins: Well, Bob, first off, the polls that really matter are the polls that are taken when the people actually vote on this and when people have voted, as late as 10 months ago, 30 states have put the natural definition of marriage into their state constitution, on average by a vote of 67 percent. Talk about polls. Polls, you get really what you ask for. and there are later polls out by Reuters this week, the Pew research that show still not only is it evenly split in this nation, but when you look at Republicans, 63 percent of Republicans say it would be harmful to marriage to redefine, to redefine marriage, it would be harmful to the family.
Bob Schieffer: You certainly don't question the trend seems to be toward it's okay.
Tony Perkins: If it's inevitable, as the media would like us to believe, there's no reason for the court to interject itself in this. The reality, is it's not inevitable and the American people, when they've had the opportunity to speak on this, have spoken overwhelmingly. 30 states, eight additional states, have the definition of natural marriage into their statutes. So we're far from being at a point where America has embraced same-sex marriage. I mean, if you look at it-- Brendon, they won the super bowl by three points. We’re at 30 to 2 states where the people have voted on marriage. That’s a pretty wide spread.
Bob Schieffer: Austin, what is your best argument your legal team can make. You are not personally arguing this case but you're part of the legal team. What does this hang on? What will you hang it on?
Austin Nimocks: Well, the big question going before the Supreme Court is whether or not the Supreme Court should impose a 50-state solution upon this entire country regarding the debate surrounding marriage, a debate that is really very young in this country and we are just starting to have and that's exactly what we don't need when we see Americans of all walks of life, all different faiths and backgrounds, and creeds, engaging in the marriage debate. President Obama said there are people of good will on both sides of the debate and the last thing we need is to shut down the debate, have the Supreme Court redefine marriage for everybody, instead of letting us work through this question through our democratic institutions. That’s why we have them. The Supreme Court is not a legislature. We have ballot boxes for a reason and we're asking the Supreme Court not to interject itself in this question.
Bob Schieffer: Evan, the last thing we need, that would be, I would say -- you would say it's the first thing we need.
Evan Wolfson: Well, the whole reason we have fundamental freedoms and rights is that there are certain things that's shouldn't be put up for a vote. These are important questions for families and individuals to decide and the freedom to marry is one of the precious freedoms we cherish and gay people, like non-gay people, deserve under the constitution it’s the ability to shape a family, build a life and have these dreams. A few weeks ago the Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor unanimously for the freedom to marry and when the Supreme Court-- when the Mexican Supreme Court did that, it cited "Brown versus Board of Education" and "Loving versus Virginia," cases in which our court here in the United States did the right thing under the constitution. 64 percent of the American people, in the poll you cited, said that the freedom to marry is a question that should be addressed fairly and nationally, not left to every family to have to fight and struggle over. It’s wrong to exclude people from marriage, and America is ready for the Supreme Court to do the right thing.
Bob Schieffer: Now, David, I ask you today because you're someone who changed his mind. You used to be against same-sex marriage. You were, you are a republican. You worked for George Bush. You wrote speeches for George Bush. You’ve been an activist for Republicans. You used to be against it now you're for it. Tell me how that came about.
David Frum: Well, in the deepest sense I have had, I have the same view. Which is, I think the single most important question is how do you maximize the number of children who grow up in stable two-parent households. We know in all kinds of ways it makes a huge difference to how kids come out and we are hardening into a caste society where some kids do better in all kinds of ways because they have two parents and others don't. Since we’ve started debating this issue intensely, almost now 20 years ago, the proportion of American kids born outside of marriage has risen from about a third to nearly one-half. We will soon cross, it will become the majority way. While this social crisis is raging, we have been debating this other topic. The two issues seem to have less and less and less to do with one another. So my concern is instead of wasting energy trying to make 3 percent of the population the target for all of our anxieties about what is happening to the American family -- happiness is happiness. Let 3 percent choose, let them lead a more fulfilled life and let our redirect our attention to the crisis in the 97 percent where children are being failed by the institution of the family and marriage.
Bob Schieffer: Let me just throw a question out here to all of you, what would be wrong with letting religious institutions define marriage and what it is, and let the government define what equal rights are and the government would be the entity that decided and ensured that everybody got equal rights and then various churches could define what they thought marriage was, and gay people, other people could choose the church that fit their particular beliefs?
Tony Perkins: Well, if you want to talk about rights, let's talk about those rights that have been lost in the wake of same-sex marriage and religious freedom have been among them. You’ve got catholic charities no longer doing adoptions, not providing vital services right here in this city as a result of same-sex marriage in DC. You got parental rights being lost. Parents no longer being able to determine what their children are taught whose moral values they’re taught in school. We have small business men losing their right because they won't participate in same-sex ceremonies. So you want to talk about rights, let’s talk about rights. This ultimately is not about marriage. It’s not about the marriage alter. It’s about fundamentally altering society and so you can’t divide the two. David is right. This is what I spent most of my time in until this effort to redefine marriage came about. Kids need a mom and dad. We have decades of social science that show kids do best with a mom and dad that are married. It’s not two parents, because If it’s two, three would be better or four. It’s a mom and a dad, and this is a distraction. You’re absolutely right but this will be a major public policy shift that will move us further away from the ideal goal of giving kids a mom and a dad because by law we would be denying kids a mom and a dad.
Bob Schieffer: Do you agree with that, Brendon?
Brendon Ayanbadejo: No, I disagree. I think, Marriage, marriage, kids really need love from two parents. It doesn't matter if it's a mom and a mom, or a dad and a dad. Kids need love and kids are not getting enough love in America because kids haven’t been going the right way. We need to protect families by allowing same-sex couples to get married and also we need to protect religious freedoms because, in this country we allow people to practice religion or not practice religion. So, you need to keep the two separate. That’s why we're in a secular democracy and kids just need love. It doesn't matter if it's from two parents that are of the same sex or not and I think kids would be a lot better off if they have the love that they need and that's why we need to protect the family unit and allow same-sex couples to get married.
Bob Schieffer: Austin, when you go before the court, what about that? I mean from just the standpoint of the law, what do you want the court to do? Would you be satisfied if they just told the people in California they don't, you know, that it's up to people of California out there to decide what they want. I mean, or that is not constitutional for them to overturn prop 8, or do you want to see something else? I’m not sure I understand what you all would like to see happen here.
Austin Nimocks: I want the court to see what is happening right here, that we have a robust debate at this table, and in this country, going on about same-sex marriage. We’re looking at decades of social science research, and there's new research, and people on both sides of this issue have very strong feel about the well-being of children, the well-being of families and the well-being of the future of our society, and this debate has just begun. We’re very young into this debate over marriage and its importance to tower society and so this is the last time that we need the Supreme Court to interject itself, and remove this robust debate from the hands of the people. We have these robust Democratic institutions in this country for a reason because the people are sovereign and that's especially so with the prop 8 case and the people in California who have now voted twice in a nine-year period on the question of marriage and both times voted to uphold the union of a man and a woman. The right of the people to deal with and decide on this important issue should not be taken away and that is the thrust of what we are asking the Supreme Court to do.
Evan Wolfson: Well when the question of race restrictions of who could marry whom having come before the Supreme Court again, the court having gotten it wrong before they got it right, the court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and 70 percent of the American people at that time were against interracial marriage. Fortunately, in America we don’t put everything up to a vote, we don’t force families to put their freedom of speech or freedom of religion or freedom to marry up to a vote but you asked the question about religion, and the reality in the country is Government doesn't issue bar mitzvah licenses. It doesn't issue communion licenses, but it issues marriage licenses because marriage is not only a religious entity in which religions are free to decide for themselves who may marry. It is also a legal and civil status that the government opens through civil marriage licenses. What we're talking about here is who can get the civil marriage license from the government in order to strengthen their family under the law. it's not about telling any religion what it must do and you know you asked the question about defining marriage. Marriage is not defined by who is denied it. When gay people share in the freedom to marry, it doesn't change your marriage. It doesn't change Tony Perkins' marriage. My marriage is my marriage, and it means I’m able to share in the same aspirations of commitment and love and support and dedication and connectedness, and that my parents are able to dance at our wedding and that our family and friends are able to support and celebrate and hold us accountable for the commitment we've made to one another. That takes nothing away from anyone else. The gay people are not going to use up all the marriage licenses when we enter marriage, and this is not just somebody saying it. We now have nine states, plus want District of Columbia, 14 countries on four continents in which gay people share in the freedom to marry and the results is families are helped and no one is hurt.
Bob Schieffer: Brendon, I want to ask you, in the NFL if a player were gay, and I have no idea if there are gay people in the NFL. You may know. Would a gay person feel comfortable in coming out, as it were, if he were a football player in the NFL?
Brendon Ayanbadejo: Yes, I think so. You know, if you go back three or four years ago, people were a lot more harsh, and this issue really wasn't talked about and it was a little bit swept under the rug. Now we're trying to bring this issue to the forefront, and I’m preparing and Chris Kluwe and Scott Fujita, we're all preparing and laying a foundation for the athlete, our Jackie Robinson, that does come out, that he’ll be comfortable, that he’ll have a support group around him, with teams like the San Francisco 49ers with the It Gets Better" campaign, and also with the Baltimore Ravens denouncing discrimination and I think we're laying the groundwork for a player to be comfortable in 2013 to come out if he's willing to do so.
Bob Schieffer: Tony Perkins, sum it up from your side.
Tony Perkins: Well, I wish it was just about the marriage altar. It’s about much more. It is about altering all of society, with marriage goes with what our children are taught, Parents losing the right to define morals for their children. It’s about religious freedom, unfortunately. The two are intertwined in our culture. It’s about the right to conduct your business as you see fit. So there’s a lot at stake here and its right, Austin is right, the court should not interject itself. We’ve got the history of "roes have v wade "of what happens when the court interjects itself. The pro-life movement would probably not, as strong and vibrant as it is today had the court not stepped in and forced abortion on the nation 40 years ago so think it would be a big mistake for the court to interject itself.
Bob Schieffer: We will have to stop before there because the clock has run out but I want to thank all of and you for being here with us, we’ll be back in one minute.