MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow is one of the best known names in USA news. She has hosted the Emmy-award winning Rachel Maddow Show since 2008, a role which made her the very first openly gay primetime news anchor in the United States. And while her sexuality (and her coverage of LBTQ-affecting topics) has earned her a large queer following, it’s her outspoken views (she once said that she is “undoubtedly a liberal”) that have made Maddow loved by everyone.
Last month, the United States Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage across the country, establishing it as a right that cannot be taken away from same-sex couples via anti-marriage equality laws such as those that had been both passed and sometimes repealed in many American states. However, with some conservative states refusing to support the ruling and with other pressing LGBTQ issues still harming the community, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.
Speaking to Maddow shortly after the Supreme Court’s announcement, Variety spoke to her as part of their ‘marriage equality’ issue, asking her how “wide-ranging” she thought the decision is:
… [The Supreme Court’s] ruling is about marriage, which is an important aspect of equal rights. But the fact remains that in many places, you can still get fired or evicted if your boss or landlord knows you’re gay — or even thinks you’re gay. Basic discrimination issues can have a material impact on the lives of many gay people; a lot of those fights will remain.
There’s been a self-congratulatory, easy narrative — how gay rights have won, the issue is settled, the battle is over. The progress is true about the country as a whole. But we have a 50-50 divided political system, and one party is rabidly anti-gay, like it’s 1985.”
Indeed, some of the most outspoken people to come out against the Supreme Court’s decision have been Republican politicians. Next year, Americans go to the polls to vote for President Barack Obama’s successor and Maddow says that we can expect this anti-gay rhetoric to continue:
If anybody were against marriage equality in the Democratic primary, it would hurt them. But there are about two dozen Republicans seeking the nomination and, other than George Pataki, every one of them is against marriage equality. None of them thinks it will be a liability to be anti-gay in 2016. And some of them are anti-gay on every civil-rights issue.
Scott Walker wants to amend the Constitution to deny gay rights. When George W. Bush was running in 2004, that’s one of the things he said he wanted to do. But once he got re-elected, he dropped it. It’s surprising that more than 10 years later, it’s still considered a live issue.
There’s a lot of anti-gay organizing happening in the Republican party; they’re still passing legislation all over the country, even though we are supposedly in a more tolerant time. Much of this anti-gay movement flies under the radar, because the Big Picture is that the country is becoming more accepting.
But the backlash is vicious. I know there are a lot of progressive Republicans. But what’s going on inside high-end Republican politics and Republican politics within the states doesn’t match this happy-talk narrative.”
How will this play out? And will these same Republican nominees find themselves pressured into supporting LGBTQ people instead? While such an outcome could happen it seems unlikely, so as Maddow states, “there is still a long way to go”.