'This Week' Transcript: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

ASSANGE: Well, these accusations are largely blown up. There are of course all sorts of problems in any particular country. But why are they even spoken about? What has happened here is a mass revelation of illegal transnational spying by the National Security Agency, the collection of the communications records of every single person in the United States, laying out the entire community structure of the United States. And these sort of attempts are merely a mechanism to try and shift ground. But you know, going to CPJ, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, they list the number of journalists in Ecuadorian prisons -- zero. And it has been zero for a very long time. It's 48 in Turkey. So we've got to keep things in some kind of perspective (ph). There is no allegation that Ecuador--


ASSANGE: -- no allegation that Ecuador is involved in a mass transnational surveillance or assassination programs and so on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Julian Assange, Jesselyn Radack, thanks very much for joining me this morning.

RADACK: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our powerhouse roundtable is coming right up, with historic decisions from the Supreme Court this week and more. Stay with us.



TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS: The Defense of Marriage Act, which -- a federal law defining marriage as the union of one man, one woman, only denied all federal benefits to gay couples, that has been ruled unconstitutional.


STEPHANOPOULOS: History at the Supreme Court this week on gay marriage, and now the fight to define marriage moves back to the states and the courts again. Leading the campaign is our next guest, Brian Brown from the National Organization of Marriage, and Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also led the organization that sparked the court challenge to Proposition 8 in California. And Chad, let me begin with you. Congratulations on your victory at the Supreme Court. So what is next for you?


STEPHANOPOULOS: History at the Supreme Court this week on gay marriage, and now the fight to define marriage moves back to the states and the courts again. Leading the campaign is our next guest, Brian Brown from the National Organization of Marriage, and Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also led the organization that sparked the court challenge to Proposition 8 in California. And Chad, let me begin with you. Congratulations on your victory at the Supreme Court. So what is next for you? Will your organizations try to bring lawsuits challenging the gay marriage bans in more than 30 states? And given what we heard from the court this week, do you expect to succeed?

GRIFFIN: Look, there is no question this was a historic week for equality in this country, and American values really did win. With the erasing of the Proposition 8, same-sex couples in the state of California started getting married on Friday. And now that DOMA has been erased from the books thanks to that historic decision, those couples across the country who are legally married, their relationships and their families will be recognized as such.

At the same time while we celebrate, we have to acknowledge that there are 37 states in this country that still don't have equality. And our job is to work harder than we have fought before to bring equality, full equality to every single state in this country. And that's exactly what we start doing now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is that by repealing the bans or challenging them in court?

GRIFFIN: We'll fight this battle on all fronts, George. We'll fight at the ballot box where there are opportunities, we'll fight at the state legislature, and ultimately this will come back to our federal courts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you think you'll win there?

GRIFFIN: I have all expectation that we will. Look, 30 percent of American, thanks to these decision, now live in states with marriage equality. It's going to be very difficult to deny equal rights to those who live in other states when the next case ultimately reaches the court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the meantime, you have got this decision where everyone legally married in a state now will get federal benefits if they continue to live in that state. Kind of a gray area if someone legally married, say, in the state of Massachusetts move to the state of Alabama. There seems to be particular problems with Social Security and veterans benefits.

So what is it going to take to make sure that as I know you would like it to see every legally married couple in the United States, same sex, gets the federal benefits?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, absolutely. There is no reason to deny those benefits, those rights and privileges and protections that come with marriage to any family, George, to any family in this country whether they live in Hope, Arkansas, or in New York City.

And so we have got to work, and this administration has been doing a lot already, to ensure implementation of this decision. The president said in his view a marriage is a marriage. And I hope and expect that very soon legally married couples, regardless of where they reside, will receive all benefits.

Now there are some issues that congress might to address. And there's currently a piece of legislation called the Respect for Marriage Act that fully rescinds the parts that are remaining of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And I expect the congress will move on that and put into place real permanence so that families across this country can have the protections that they deserve under the law.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Brian Brown is coming up. And I want to get your response to some thing he said to the New York Times on Saturday. He says they're going to move to roll back legal gay marriage wherever it exists. And went on to give this quote to the New York Times, "ultimately, as Lincoln said, we can't have a country half slave and half free."

Your response?

GRIFFIN: George, look, there is no question. This country has always moved historically, whether it was women's rights, or the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s to today. We have always moved to greater inclusion and treating all of our citizens equally under the law. So that a young person today living in Fresno, California or Hope, Arkansas, can grow up with those same dreams, hopes and aspirations as anyone else.

At the end of the day, you have ask yourself two questions, who is harmed by receiving marriage equality coming to this country? I have asked my friends in those marriage states, my straight friends, and I can't find a single couple whose straight marriage has been harmed when the gay couple down the street got married.

The other question you have to ask yourself is who benefits? Who benefits? It's what's Justice Kennedy wrote about. Those kids, thousands upon thousands of kids today who are raised by same-sex parents, all this does is give them the same rights, protections and privileges as a straight child being raised by straight parents.

So, we have to move with great speed and great urgency to ensure that families across this country have equal protection under the law. And we're well on our way. We're not there yet, but we're well on our way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chad Griffin, thanks very much.

Let's bring in Brian Brown right now.

You just heard those questions asked by Chad Griffin. Let's take the first one, who is harmed by legalizing same-sex marriage?

BROWN: Well, we just saw who was harmed, the rule of law is harmed and all those millions of voters in the state of California who stood up and said we know the truth about the marriage. We know that marriage is the union of a man and woman. They are harmed when the courts are used to say they don't have a right to be represented. And that's what the court did.

Chad talks about American values. Is it an American value to deprive those people in California who stood up and voted to protect marriage as a union of a man and woman from their right to be heard? And the court did not do what Ted Olson and David Boies and Chad Griffin wanted it to do. It did not create a right out of thin air to redefine marriage throughout this country.

What it did do was rob the proponents of proposition 8 after they have seen utter lawlessness with Governor Brown and the attorney general refusing to defend the law, not giving them a defense. The court said, well, the proponents don't have standing. It did not say that there was a constitutional right to redefine marriage.

And I will caution you that this could be used -- this precedent is horrific for our republic, it could be used in states, say, that were moving forward with a law to make sure that voting rights are respected. If the governor and attorney general don't to want defend that law, you've just gutted the initiative and referendum process. This is not an American value.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Justice Scalia seemed more concerned by what the decision is going to do to those state laws and constitutions banning same-sex marriage. Here's what he said in his dissent. He said the majority arms well -- every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.

He seems almost certain that if these bans are challenged, they're going to go down.

BROWN: Well, I don't think that that is inevitable. What Justice Scalia is pointing to is the absolute travesty of Kennedy's decision in the DOMA case, which really is incoherent. He doesn't even lay out the basis of what his legal reasoning is. And what Scalia is saying is that, because Kennedy says something that is patently untrue, that your former boss and all of Congress were somehow motivated by animus when they -- when President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act and Congress passed it, saying that this -- that this truth, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman is motivated by animus and discrimination, leads to discrimination against those of us who know that there's something unique and special about husbands and wives, mothers and fathers coming together in marriage.

And that's why he's pointing to the future. There's no doubt there will be an attempt to use the decision that strikes down only section three of DOMA. Section two still stands. States have the right to define marriage as they see fit. But that that will be used in the future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, quickly, where's your next victory?

BROWN: Well, I think there's a hard fight in Illinois going on where we've seen the African American legislators and pastors, Democrats standing up and saying we don't want marriage redefined.

In Indiana, there will be a second vote on a state constitutional amendment to protect marriage. And there will be a lot of attempts to use this decision to redefine marriage in other states. And we will stand for the truth wherever it is, and again, in California, although the ninth circuit has lawlessly not waited the 25 days to allow the proponents to have a hearing, there now is an emergency application to the Supreme Court to, again, respect the rule of law. And that is not what is happening right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will see how the fight plays out. Brian Brown, thanks very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in our roundtable right now. I'm joined by my colleague ABC anchor Terry Moran our Supreme Court expert, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal; ABC News special correspondent political analyst, newly mustached Matthew Dowd.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat of Maryland.

And Terry, let me begin with you. You heard some discussion there of the decision, particularly on the DOMA case. And I was struck, most of all, by the sweep of Justice Kennedy's opinion. And I want to show one part of it. He said "the federal statute is invalid for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."

No legitimate purpose. How does a ban survive that?

MORAN: Those are the three most important words in this ruling. The court said congress could have absolutely no reason, there's no reason the congress could possibly have to could treat gay married couples differently from straight married couples. The court could have just said congress overstepped its bounds, shouldn't tell every state what marriage is, let the states decide. But Justice Kennedy opinion goes further. He picked up the most powerful, the irresistible force in the constitution, that principle of equality, and in the broadest and most ringing terms, he framed the claims of gay Americans in that. That's going to be hard to stop for those who don't approve of this decision.

PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think it was a pretty emotionally written and almost emotionally charged decision.

Here's the problem, while the Kennedy decision seems to make a lot of -- of suggestions about federalism and that the states can decide, the fact is because Kennedy posits as the logic of his decision that one can be against same-sex marriage only for reasons essentially of bigotry and wanting to cause injury, if that is so, as this thing now gets played out in 37 states, Chad Griffins of the Human Rights Campaign said, you asked him, are we going to go referendum, legislative, the courts, he said whatever it takes.

It is very hard to believe that any court in any state won't look at the Kennedy decision and say the court has spoken. To be against same-sex marriage, for traditional marriage is unkind by definition and not constitutionally supported.

To me, there are many people among conservatives who think, you know what, this seemed OK in some respects, but in fact we're back to Roe versus Wade. It is the nationalization of this decision.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what seemed to set off Justice Scalia. I want to bring this to you, Congresswoman Edwards, because he said basically the court would do whatever it could get away with.

And I have to say, I personally look at Justice Kennedy's opinion, sort of agree with the sentiment behind it, agree with the morality behind it. If I were to vote on DOMA, I would probably vote -- I would vote against is as well.

But it seemed that Justice Scalia's logic was kind of unassailable when he said Edith Windsor brought this case, the government said we're not going to fight it. What are we doing here?

EDWARDS: Well, I mean, There were plenty of people, both through the amicus process and others who put the argument forward. I mean, and the court could have come to a different conclusion had it wanted to. I mean, I think it's almost three strikes and you're out. DOMA, Prop 8, and the next to go are the state bans. And I think that's appropriate.

Look, we have a debate in our state, I mean, I'm from a state that passed marriage equality on the ballot, but still within some communities, within some of our African-American communities and churches, it's a really difficult issue.

But this is about what states do, what the federal government does with respect to its citizens, doesn't impact at all what churches and faith communities do within the confines of their church.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How does this play out, Matthew?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to me, this is the court actually trying to catch up to where America is in the 21st century.

And if you look at the series of court decisions over the last week and a half, conservatives are mad at this one and this series of ones; liberals were mad at the other series of ones related to the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, could be -- could be angry about it.

But the country has already decided this issue. The country has already decided about gay marriage. Whether the states will catch up and how long --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though there's 37 states where it is banned?

DOWD: No, so let me give you an example of this.

In the 1960s, the court made a decision that bans on interracial marriage would no longer exist. Twenty percent of the country was only for that at that time.

Today more than a majority of the country is for gay marriage. So the court is actually trying to catch up to where the country is in the midst of this. I think what the court is dealing with is the ghosts of our past, trying to hold themselves in some tradition, and they're trying to make a balancing act but trying to catch up to the 21st century America.

MORAN: But they are letting the country's conversations continue. They didn't nationalize all of gay marriage. And the reason that it didn't happen, Justice Kennedy clearly wanted to take the Prop 8 case.


MORAN: Exactly, he would have had to have done a dizzying about-face to run away from the language that he used in the DOMA case. It was only the judicial restraint of three liberals, Ginsburg, Kagan and Breyer, who said no, let's not decide this. Let's let the conversation continue.


STEPHANOPOULOS: It is on -- I wonder how the conversation is going to continue from here. Let me bring this to you, Peggy, because I'm kind of torn here. You know, you can see the heat behind it with Brian Brown and Chad Griffin.

On the other hand, you also get the sense that a whole lot of people would just as soon have this conversation go away, not be part of politics.

NOONAN: That's true, but I feel like the process now in 37 states -- that's a whole lot of states -- will in effect be a little shorter, more truncated, more strangled than it otherwise would have been on issues like this.

We forget as a culture a certain amount of patience, a certain amount of ease, talk about it, think about it, vote, leave it up to the people. It's always better when the people vote.

When you get something like a jump ahead on Roe, whatever you think of Roe versus Wade, that'll cause trouble and tension forever. So I'm a little disappointed we're not going the other route.


STEPHANOPOULOS: How does it play in 2016 --

DOWD: Well, that's (inaudible) point. So, again, the court is actually way further behind of where the country is. This isn't Roe versus Wade; this isn't interracial marriage. The majority of the country supports gay marriage in a definition of marriage between a -- it's broader than it has been, between a man and a woman.

I think this makes 2016 unbelievably important, because who that -- there's a number of justices, as Terry knows, that are at that age that they are going to probably retire or something -- you know, something awful could happen if -- whoever is elected president in 2016 is probably going to have at least two, if not three court justices.

And as we saw in these decisions, these 5-4 decisions on a series of things, one change or two changes in that, to me, 2016 becomes extremely important.


STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it. But if a ban comes to this court, the ban, I think goes down.

DOWD: It goes down. Goes down.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move to race and the big questions this week about affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. It seems like affirmative action lives to fight another day, maybe hanging on by a thread. The Voting Rights Act apparently gutted by the Supreme Court.

EDWARDS: It was gutted, in my opinion. I mean, I think that what the court did was basically said that there's no way to enforce these strong provisions in Section 5 that apply to these pre-clearance states.

And I think that that's a problem. I think the Congress is really going to have to come back, set up a formula.

What's amazing to me is that the court didn't even give notice to the fact that 15,000 pages of legislative history underpin the last authorization of the Voting Rights Act. And so I think, you know, it's problematic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it was based on very old data, Peggy Noonan.

NOONAN: It was. It was based on a law firm, '64, '65. I think the court's decision suggests that it is not fair -- roughly every -- it is not unfair to roughly every half-century; look at the realities around you, compare them to the realities when the law was made, see where you are.

If there seems to be justification, an argument for lifting a part of the act, then they can legitimately do it.

It seems to me, however, this is -- the Voting Rights Act is actually voting rights legislation always. And it's not the Supreme Court's job, it is the Congress' job to work this out.

EDWARDS: In 2006, the Congress did its job by, you know, two years of legislative hearings, 21 legislative hearings on the Voting Rights Act reauthorization, 15,000 pages of documents, testimony from experts. And just because a law has been in place for a long time doesn't mean it's not a good one.

NOONAN: Understood, but I think you can fairly argue that some progress has been made since the 1960s.


EDWARDS: Look at last elections, and we have seen time after time where state after state, jurisdiction after jurisdiction, tries to put in place barriers. Are they the overt barriers that went in place in 1964? Not necessarily, but they are still barriers to voting for African-Americans.


DOWD: To me, it's trapped. We're still trapped. We're still trapped in a time that in the states it didn't exist.

Virginia is a perfect example. Virginia was one of those states, nine states that was selected out for special scrutiny. Virginia today is not Virginia when it was in 1965. And Virginia was carried by the president twice, an African-American candidate.

To me, the restrictions on voting rights are much different today than they were then. And I think Congress and the president should deal with it. This is not a 13-state, a 15-state problem. This is a 51-state problem and (inaudible).


STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry, you get the last word. Hard to see it happening in this Congress.

MORAN: It is. The Voting Rights Act is probably the most successful law every passed in this country. It was an American democracy--



MORAN: It changed American democracy. We have a different country because of the Voting Rights Act. The Congress did decide that even though the formula was old, they found that in those states, voting rights violations are -- run at a higher rate than in other states. And they made a political decision to do this.

This was a very activist decision. But there's no question that the Supreme Court has declared what the law is. And we will find out. The court said, no George Wallace, no need for this. We'll find that out, because the states are going to very rapidly test that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Have to take a quick break. When we come back, we turn to the immigration bill passed by the Senate this week. But will it hit a brick wall in the House? Analysis of the policy and the politics when we come back.


Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...