TODAY | May 10, 2012
>> maddow is the host of "the rachel maddow show" on msnbc and joins us now. good morning to you.
>> hi, ann.
>> you called the president's announcement historic in civil rights . given what we've heard from chuck todd , he's leaving it to the states, there's no movement to do something federally in terms of making a change, i mean, what actually changes?
>> you know, i think that symbolic value is hard to see in the moment. i think this is something we will know more in retrospect in terms of what this milestone, just for knowing that the president believes this and he's waiting to see what that means. this is not a given that this would happen. think about what's going on in the rest of politics. george w. bush was for civil unions . the current republican de facto mitt romney is against civil unions . the states that recognized the rights would have those rights overturned federally by the constitutional amendment that the republican party supports. this is not something that is -- where everything is all marching in the same direction. i mean, mitt romney is right where rick santorum is on gay rights issues. it's a very, very conservative republican party on this issue. and i'm not sure that it's clear what the electoral impact will be given the way that states keep voting against these rights.
>> is it clear, though, that this will not satisfy gay marriage activists? in other words, that there's going to be an increase in their demands to push this further forward? beyond the platforms of the democratic party ?
>> i think that there's a very good chance it will be part of the platform for the democratic party . i think the prospect that that was going to be some sort of divisive fight or something they really wanted to avoid is now over because of yesterday's announcement. it will be in the party platform . what that means practically, i don't know. it's interesting. i'm an openly gay person who works in the news media covering this but also feeling this as a gay person, the thing that i'm realizing is that gay people have very practical feelings about this. that this is about our lives. this is about our families. this is about whether or not we are hurt by policy made in the public arena. and so the symbolic value, i think, is important and does mean a lot to us. but mostly we want practical policies that help us.
>> it's interesting in seeing how all this came about, this announcement in a hastily arranged interview on the heels of joe biden 's comments.
>> on "meet the press." you do get the sense that joe biden forced the president's hand on this, but i want to show you this poll because it's really interesting to also note that this comes as there is increasing support in this country for gay marriage rights. for example, take a look at this poll. there's a poll from 2004 . and it found that only 30% of the population was in favor of gay marriage . and now there's a new poll that finds that 49%, a majority, favors gay marriage . so to what degree is this really just smart politics by the president?
>> well, again, it's very hard to say because as you've seen those poll numbers go up, and it's consistent across all polls and really over an excaccelerating progression in the public, but every time you put these issues up to a statewide vote, they lose. generally speaking when you ask for a majority vote on minority rights , generally minorities do not fare well. you have to look at the fact that this came right after the north carolina vote on amendment one to ban gay rights . that was an overwhelming vote. so for the president to have made this decision to say this is my personal view i think is an act of political bravery because there's no clear -- there's no clear way to say this is going to help him politically. i think the gay community supported president obama . they pressured him on certain things. it's not like they were going to go to mitt romney who wants to roll back gay rights nationwide. i think this is something he did in a matter of conscience. we're in a chips fall where they may moment.
>> all right. on that note, thank you, rachel, for being here this morning. watch "the rachel maddow " weeknights on msnbc.