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Gay Americans, Supporters Celebrate Supreme Court Victories, Others Upset; Chris Kluwe Talks Supreme Court Decision; Jurors Hear Testimony in Zimmerman Case.

Aired June 26, 2013 - 13:30   ET




KRIS PERRY, PLAINTIFF IN PROPOSITION 8 CASE: That you are just as good as everybody else no matter who you love, no matter who your parents love. And today, we can go back to California and say to your children, all four of our boys, your family is just as good as everybody else's family. We love you as much as anybody else's parents love their kids, and we're going to be equal. Now, we will be married and we will be equal to every other family in California.

Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: While millions of gay Americans and their supporters celebrate two Supreme Court victories today, others are upset about the decisions.

Austin Nimocks was the co-counsel of California Prop 8 case. He's the senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom. The group fights to keep marriage between only a man and a woman.

Austin Nimocks, thanks for joining us.

You lost that case today. The Supreme Court cleared the way for same- sex marriage in California, dismissing California's Proposition 8 appeal.

Actually, we just lost Austin. We'll get to him shortly. We'll talk to him shortly. We'll reconnect with Austin Nimocks.

Let's get the other perspective. A lot of people will be affected by the two rulings from the Supreme Court today. The justices struck down a key part of what's called the Defense of Marriage Act. They also cleared the way, as I said, for those same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Joining us now from New York is the Reverend Paul Mowry, and his partner of 27 years, Joe Silverman, and their 7-year-old daughter, Ellie.

Thank you for joining us. Reverend Mowry, let me start with you.

What's your reaction to today's two rulings at the Supreme Court?

PAUL MOWRY, IN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP: Well, a lot of joy. We're just overwhelmed. We're so excited about being able to take this next step with your family. It's interesting to me because, in 1986, when the Supreme Court actually went in the total opposite direction, I was downtown, we were blocking traffic and protesting that decision. And now, 27 years later -- I met Joe just a few months after that protest -- we're here with our daughter and our love and we're going to get married.


BLITZER: Congratulations, obviously.

MOWRY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Joe, tell us what this means to you.

JOE SILVERMAN, IN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP: Incredibly exciting day. Paul has been the love of my life for 26 years, and we've always felt married in our hearts, with the exception of benefits and protections. Now we've got it all, and we can move our lives forward. I think there's permission to be more ourselves, share more of who we are, of our relationship. So thrilling.

BLITZER: You're a Presbyterian pastor, Reverend Mowry, but you've waited. You've waited until now to get married. Why the wait?

MOWRY: Well, first we waited until it was legal. We were living in New York a year and a half ago. I was just about to be called to this church in California. The Presbyterians and New Yorkers were figuring out the gay issue simultaneously. The church cleared the way for the ordination of partnered people. We had to have the conversation, do we try to get married quickly before we move to California. We didn't want to do that because we waited this time. We waited for it to be possible and so we wanted to give it its proper respect and due. We thought if I don't get this call and we stay in New York, we'll get married in New York. If I do get this call, we'll move to California and we'll wait and pray and know that this will become law in California, and then we'll be able to get married there.

BLITZER: I'm sure it will be a lovely ceremony.

Joe, your daughter is there. She's got two dads. Tell us what it's like for Ellie to have two fathers.

SILVERMAN: Ellie -- I think, for her, it feels like the air that she breathes. It's what she knows and -- we're part of very loving, welcoming communities that accept us and our whole family. So I think for young people, it's not anything that they have to navigate in any particular way. Certainly, not where we have set up our lives.

(CROSSTALK) MOWRY: She said to a friend a few months ago -- they said, you don't have a mom, you have two dads. She said, I have two dads. I have a birth mother. Don't you get it?


BLITZER: She's obviously pretty smart little girl over there. And both of you should be very proud of her.

Once again, congratulations on your upcoming -- is there a date already?

MOWRY: No, everybody --


SILVERMAN: We've got a lot of questions about when we're doing this. Takes a while to plan a wedding.

MOWRY: We're now like everybody else and get to have all that stress and those discussions and arguments about when and where.

BLITZER: I assume you have a little flower girl who will be part of that ceremony, right?

SILVERMAN: Do we have a flower girl, El?


Yeah, I think so.

MOWRY: She's been waiting for that for years now.

BLITZER: Joe Silverman, Paul Mowry, thank you for joining us, and your daughter, Ellie

Thanks to you, Ellie. If you can hear me, thanks to you --

ELLIE SILVERMAN: I can hear you.

BLITZER: -- as well as.

Appreciate you joining us on this historic day.

Let's bring in Austin Nimocks. He has a very different perspective on all this. He was the co-counsel on the California Proposition 8 case.

You lost, effectively, in that case. Tell us what your reaction is when you heard that decision.

AUSTIN NIMOCKS, SENIOR LEGAL COUNSEL, ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM: I completely disagree with your characterization. Our objection was to defend Proposition 8 and, as of today, Proposition 8 is the law of land in the state of California. What the Supreme Court said is we didn't have standing to defend Proposition 8. But because the Ninth Circuit's decision was vacated, Prop 8 is the law of California and remains so as of right now.

BLITZER: But won't people of the same sex be able to get married starting maybe within a month in California?

NIMOCKS: Well, Proposition 8 being the law of the state of California makes it clear that marriage is only one man and one woman. The four plaintiffs that brought this lawsuit may have a right to get marriage licenses issued to them. But this was not a class-action lawsuit. It does not apply statewide. Proposition 8 is the law of the state of California. Because there's no appellate decision holding it unconstitutional under the California Constitution, which is what controls this interpretation, Proposition 8 remains the law of that state.

BLITZER: I must tell you, Mr. Nimocks, your interpretation of what this decision was, as far as Proposition 8 is concerned, the practical implication of the decision is different from all the legal scholars that we have been hearing from during the course of today who say, in effect, gay marriage will go into effect in California, perhaps as early as a month from now. What I hear you saying is that gay couples will not be allowed to get married in California. Is that what you're saying?

NIMOCKS: What's clear here, and we need to be very clear here, there's no appellate court decision that holds Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and that's very important because a single federal judge cannot declare a state initiative in California unconstitutional statewide. There were only four people that brought this lawsuit. They are the only four people to whom it applies because it's not a class action. Unless there's appellate court ruling, and this is very clear in California law -- California law professors can tell you this --striking down an initiative, the initiative remains the law of the state. Proposition is the law of the state of California. It remains so. The Supreme Court did not strike down Proposition 8. All they said was we don't have standing to defend it. And they've vacated the Ninth Circuit's decision. There's no appellate court decision on this.

BLITZER: What will you do if folks get married in California a month from now?

NIMOCKS: What we do fully expect is that the government of California will honor the law of California, which is Proposition 8. The over seven million Californians who enacted Proposition 8 did so for a second time in a nine-year period, those voices deserve respect. Their voices are still standing. It's the law, and the constitution of the state of California. We don't just ignore constitutions because we don't like the way they read. The law of California is clear. Because the Supreme Court didn't impose same-sex marriage as a fundamental right in this country or upon California or any other state, for that matter, Californians have the right to decide marriage just like it is in all the other states still.

BLITZER: So when David Boies (ph) came out of the Supreme Court -- the lawyer on the other side, he opposed you before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was smiling and cheering. They were delighted by what happened at the Supreme Court as far as Proposition 8 is concerned. What do you say to David?

NIMOCKS: I say that we've been disagreeing with him since the day the lawsuit was filed. We've had very different takes on this lawsuit, the nature of Proposition 8, the arguments associated, so nothing has really changed in the fact that we disagree on what should or shouldn't happen. But the law in California is clear. There's no decision striking down Proposition 8, so it remains the law of California. That's been established law in the constitution of California for a very long time. It hasn't changed. And the Supreme Court didn't try to change that.

BLITZER: There will be legal experts that disagree with you, but that's the nature of this decision by the Supreme Court. We'll continue to follow it. We'll see what happens on, practically speaking, if gay cups will be allowed to get married within the next month or two in California or not. The practical impact will be significant.

Austin Nimocks, thanks very much for joining us.

NIMOCKS: Thank you for having us.

BLITZER: Coming up, we'll speak with NFL player, Chris Kluwe, about the Supreme Court ruling. He's got strong views as well.


BLITZER: Just following up on what we just heard from Austin Nimocks, one of the lawyers who was opposing any rejection of that Proposition 8 in California. The governor of California issued a lengthy statement. Among other things, he said, "After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted." That statement just coming in from Governor Jerry Brown. The debate, though, will continue.

Let's get the perspective of Chris Kluwe. He's become an advocate for same-sex marriage through social media.

I assume you're delighted by these Supreme Court decisions. Give us your reaction.

CHRIS KLUWE, NFL PLAYER & SAME-SEX ADVOCATE: I'm happy to hear it because it means same-sex marriage partners can benefit under the thousand-plus laws they weren't previously allowed to benefit other. Those are American citizens who pay their taxes and who serve in the military. If you discriminate against them, it brings us down as a nation.

BLITZER: What's your understanding? We have a debate on what this means for same-sex marriage in California. You play for the Oakland Raiders. KLUWE: I think your previous guest kind of had a last-ditch gasp of trying to make things appear better than they are. I think the legal grounds are people will be able to get married in California pretty soon. The problem is that on Proposition 8, it doesn't only apply to California. The Supreme Court didn't make a sweeping ruling. There's plenty other states where we'll have to fight to get the right so they're still working to get down there.

BLITZER: We did some math. This decision by the Supreme Court today, given that if same-sex marriage does go into effect once again in California, we now say that 30 percent of the U.S. population -- California being the largest state, obviously -- 30 percent of the U.S. population will be eligible for same-sex laws that have been applied across the country. The 30 percent includes California. There's 13 states that will allow same-sex marriage, but there's a whole bunch of others that won't allow it. You're thrilled by what happened today. But from your perspective, a lot of work that needs to be done?

KLUWE: Right. It's not just same-sex marriage. Also, the issue of, in 29 states, you can be fired from your job simply because of your sexuality. That's something that needs to be addressed as well. With the way our economy is right now, that's a very troubling thing to worry about. The mere fact of who you are, you can get fired from your job for that. That's something that we need to address as a society as well.

BLITZER: What's been the reaction that you're seeing as far as your online postings are concerned?

KLUWE: People have been excited. They have been very happy. They realize this is a landmark moment that California is recognizing their benefit under law. It's sad it's taken this long. We'll take it. We finally got it on the federal level. Now it comes down to getting it on the state level.

BLITZER: Chris Kluwe, punter for the Oakland Raiders. Chris, thanks for joining us.

KLUWE: No problem. Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, he made numerous 911 calls about suspicious people in the neighborhood. The judge in the trial rules that jurors can now hear those calls. We'll have the latest on the trial. That's next.


BLITZER: We're also closely monitoring developments in the George Zimmerman murder trial. As you know the 29-year-old claims he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Jurors have been hearing compelling testimony today from neighbors who saw part of the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin.

Listen here as one of the witnesses describes what she heard and saw.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: The yells for help that you heard at that time, could you identify whether it was the dominant, louder voice or the higher pitched one?

JANE SURDYKA, WITNESS: In my opinion, I truly believe, especially the second yell for help that was like a -- you know, a yelp, it was excruciating -- I really felt it was the boy's voice.

JEANNE MANALO, WITNESS: One is on top of the other. The one on top is moving his hand.

RIONDA: You're describing something with the hands. You're demonstrating to the jury, I should say, moving something with his hands. Can you tell exactly what the person was doing on top with his hands?

MANALO: Like he's hitting him.

RIONDA: What is your opinion as to who was on top?

MANALO: I really think it was Zimmerman, comparing the size of their body.


BLITZER: Trayvon Martin's mother became emotional once again today in court. She was seen wiping away tears as she listened to some of the testimony about the night her son was shot and killed.

Coming up in 10 minutes, Brooke Baldwin will devote the full hour to Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial. The testimony, pictures, 911 tapes, all coming up right at the top of the hour. Stick around for that.

Also, Paula Deen, she says accusations that she's a racist are, quote, "horrible lies." Can she clean up the mess she's in right now? Protect her brand? Stay with us for that.

Michael Jackson's son gives tearful testimony today about the days before his dad died. The latest on the wrongful death trial. We'll have the update. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Two major decisions today by the United States Supreme Court. One overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, which President Bill Clinton signed back in the 1990s, that prevented the same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits. Also Proposition 8 in California, apparently, overturned for all practical purposes. The governor of California, Jerry Brown, just issuing a statement saying that he expects guy marriage to resume in California very, very soon. You see some of the other supporters of the overturning of Proposition 8 celebrating on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll have a lot more coverage of that coming up later today, 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room." Other news we're following right now, including Paula Deen, she has now broken her silence.


PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY COOK: I is what I is, and I am not changing. And I'm -- there's someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for, and they wanted it.


BLITZER: The celebrity cook offering an apology, doing some damage control today. The celebrity chef also saying she used the "N" word once in her life. That was decades ago. This, as Ceasars Entertainment dropped her four-theme restaurants. And shopping network QVC says it's weighing its options after a deposition revealed Deen has used that racial slur.

Michael Jackson's oldest son takes the witness stand today. Prince Jackson will testify at his family's wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter, AEG Live. Jackson was only 12 when his pop-icon dad died of an overdose of the drug Propofol. But he says his father told him about his concerns and fears as he prepared for his comeback concert. Jurors are likely to hear Prince Jackson talk about those tearful conversations.

That's it for me this hour. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

CNN NEWSROOM continues with the Zimmerman trial and Brooke Baldwin right after this.