Rachel Maddow on How Republicans Are ‘Rabidly Anti-Gay, Like It’s 1985’

Rachel Maddow marriage equality
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty

Rachel Maddow has hosted MSNBC’s Emmy award-winning “Rachel Maddow Show” since 2008. She is the first openly gay news anchor in the U.S. Maddow talked to Variety about the shaky status of the LGBT community’s civil rights earlier this month, before Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage.

This interview is part of Variety’s 106-page marriage equality special issue, which includes more Q&As with Eric Garcetti, Barney Frank and Elton John.

How wide-ranging is the Supreme Court decision?

Friday’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.

How will this play in 2016?

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.

What’s been your experience on MSNBC?

When MSNBC and (network president) Phil Griffin decided to give me a show, they were hiring the first openly gay anchor in primetime in the U.S.; they made this decision bravely. And the longer I’m on the air, and the more people come out — there are a lot more openly gay anchors now — it’s becoming less the defining issue about what I do. And to me, that’s the point of being out. I don’t want the fact that I’m gay to be the only important thing you can absorb about me. I have things to say which have nothing to do with that, and I need you to be able to hear me.

What happens next?

Overall poll numbers show that people are OK with marriage equality, and are not prejudiced. Those numbers are nice and comforting, but they don’t reflect the legal status of gay people in this country, which is tenuous. It’s an ongoing fight, and there is still a long way to go on basic civil-rights protection for gay people in this country. It’s two steps forward, one step back, but that’s still progress.

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  1. tgflux says:

    So Variety attracts crazy Rethuglican wingnut commenters: who knew?

  2. Emily says:

    This chick is a complete nutjob. Her words mean zip.

  3. Betty boop says:

    Please shut up. So sick of your lies and half-truths.

  4. Mekons says:

    God is her act tired…

  5. BillUSA says:

    No Rachel, it is you and your ilk who are rabidly anti-heterosexual.

  6. maxredlines says:

    Well, it’s Rachel Madcow, after all. The only place that would give her a job was MSNBC. They love loons.

  7. Ivan says:

    I have a problem with the article referring to Maddow as a “news anchor”. She, just like Hannity on the other side, is the host of an OPINION show. Her show has zero to do with news reporting, she just comments on events. And I don’t think she even qualifies as the first openly gay opinion show host. Really her show is a talk show, and doesn’t Ellen do a better job and did it long before her? She is a zealot for her cause, just like Hannity. Neither is a “news anchor” because they are so partisan as to be untrustworthy to deliver the news.

    Not beating her up, she, like Hannity, have their place catering to their crowd. But she has nothing to do with the news. Let’s be clear.

  8. pat jackson says:

    I am such a huge fan of Rachel Maddow and her show. I never miss it. She is intelligent, wise beyond her years and she breaks down the facts of each story she covers. Thank you MSNBC for giving us Rachel.

  9. KJ says:

    Rachel maddow is rabidly dishonest, like it’s 1984.

    • Bastian says:

      Ad hominem attacks suit you and your ilk just fine, don’t they?

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      “Overall poll numbers show that people are OK with marriage equality, and are not prejudiced”

      Being simply opposed to same-sex marriage does NOT in itself make a person a “homophobe.”

      • Aqw says:

        I think that the issue begins and ends here: Marriage equality is a civil rights issue. Denying a specific group of people equality under the law is unconstitutional. The government does not legislate based on religious principles — unless there is an issue of discrimination at stake. Personally, I can’t understand how two consenting people doing something together that doesn’t involve anybody else could ever be religious discrimination. Am I missing something?

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Aqw, it is NOT “two consenting people doing something together” which many gay marriage opponents point to . . . (they could be consenting to shoot up heroin for all we know) but rather, that the government will force churches to conduct such weddings or lose non-profit status or be sued in court.

        But hey, since you brought it up, how do you explain what people do in private becoming a matter of public policy???

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Sorry, wrong person.

        But now that I have your attention, I say many LGBTeers and their hetero supporters are dishonest in the sense that they do NOT even believe marriage is important. One looks at the 2010 US Census will tell you that. So why all the clamor??? Easy. They want the secular blessing from the State, and in turn the State obliges them because license fees are good for state coffers.

  10. Sal U. Lloyd says:

    Q: “The Advocate’s film critic, David Ehrenstein, says you made up a lot of things.
    A: He’s another absolutist. That man is the worst.
    Oliver Stone interview with Jeff Yarbrough

  11. Sal U. Lloyd says:

    She’s never heard of Bonnie Dumanis or Carl De Maio of Jonathan Haze in San Diego???

  12. Nathan Burks says:

    I watched her show the other night, and I thought she was having a spaz attack..She twitches all over the place and throws her arms around in spastic motions too. I thought they were going to throw a butterfly net over her..I hear she is highly intelligent, but she just isn’t right in the head..Like most liberals she is obsessed with degrading someone that doesn’t agree with her politics…

    Message to Ms. Maddow…There are good repubs and there are good Dems too…Good people are just that,good people.. Regardless of their politics…Put the Kool Aid away and join the human race before your soul is lost forever

  13. solartiki says:

    Such hypocrisy. I’ve tried to watch her show & it’s nothing but “republicans this, republicans that” for 60 minutes then she repeats it all on her website. Republican-bashing is her entire life. If anyone is rabid it’s Rachel. Look hon not everyone is going to agree with you. I don’t give a damn if you all get married but please respect those that don’t agree with you; everyone has a right to their opinion.

  14. Jim Martin says:

    What awards has this malcontent won on her prize winning show with a dozen followers????????????????

  15. WOW, anyone who lived in ’85 would say it was MUCH better then than now.

  16. So basically when she spoke to her viewers it was all three of them on that liberal joke of a network.

  17. Britlover58 says:

    Rachel, STFU! I am a Republican and I am not “rabidly” against anyone except those that insist on cramming their ideals, lifestyle and politics down my throat. I have many gay friends and have no problem with them being treated with dignity and respect. I always felt that this issue could have been solved years ago if the govenment(s) — both state and federal –, had strengthened and allowed “civil unions”. The issue, in my opinion, has always been with the term “marriage”, which was designed and maintained for centuries as a religious “contract”.

    My 20 year old son pointed out today that “we have nothing to worry about” because there is a separation of church and state, but I wonder how long that will last. Mark my words, the first Baptist, Catholic, Protestant church or Synagogue that refuses to perform a same sex marriage will be sued for discrimination. Pandora’s box has been opened.

    • Bill B. says:

      Marriage is a legal contract that doesn’t have one damn thing to do with religion. You should also inform your son that the GOP long ago forgot all about the separation of church and state. It is certainly not liberals who keep involving God and their religious beliefs in political issues.

      • twinkle toes says:

        The separation of church and state ensures that a private citizen, when acting in the role of some government official, cannot have any aspect of their religious belief imposed upon others. Therefore, a county clerk is not allowed to refuse to issue a marriage license to same sex couples.

        Likewise, the government is not allowed to require a church or any other religion to adopt the government’s views. The government does not tax religious entities and has never intervened in a ceremony conducted by a church.

        Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. Republicans need to put their big boy pants on and deal with it or they will never win another Presidential election.

      • Bill B. says:

        Dear Sal,

        Who cares how many people are married. It’s about equality and the benefits and difficulties of being equal.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        To Bill B, well obviously all the gays rushing to get married!!! THAT’s who cares how many people are married.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Billy B, as the 2010 US Census revealed, married people are now in the MINORITY! (Look it up!) So what’s with all this rush to get married??? Sounds like posturing and political expediency to me.

  18. Larry Lewis says:

    Republicans are nor rabid, they just stand against a lifestyle that is not normal in anyway and to some of us still a sin, just as it was in 1985. The supreme court has nailed the last nail in the coffin of the United States.

    • Marie says:

      homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

      1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A ufriend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

      2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

      3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

      4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

      6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

      7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

      8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

      9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

      10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

      I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

      Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

      P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.)

      • Joel says:

        Marie, you idiot. You just posted laws of the ANCIENT HEBREWS! Not one of those Old Testament laws is for any living person today. The NEW Testament outlines the laws for Christians. In your haste to criticize, you made a complete fool of yourself.

  19. decjordan says:

    It is tragic that people have such hatred inside of them , what happened to these damn republicans when they were kids to cause all of this hatred,
    Frued said” what we learn in childhood experience, stays with us forever. “

  20. DatSun says:

    Rachel Maddow? Who even watches him anymore? MSNBC has like 3 viewers.

  21. J. liberty says:

    Crazy socialist liesbo!

  22. Doc says:

    Let’s just say rabid and leave it at that.

  23. Bill says:

    Anyone listens to this insane woman? Certainly no one watches her show.

  24. I’m a democrat and anti-gay and I’m proud of it. Depraved homosexuals have debased the centuries old institution of marriage.

    • Brown Noise says:

      You sound more like a deeply-closeted knob-gobbler in deep denial.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Too funny! The centuries old institution? You best go back to the history books!

      Depraved? Guess its OK for heterosexuals to marry as many times as they want. Marry after divorce. Marry after affairs.

      Why oh why are you reading Variety? Its certainly not a bigots publication!

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Michael Anthony Hall. why don’t you take that argument to its logical conclusion??? Liberals don’t even bother to marry. Boyfriends just move in with their girlfriends and vice versa. So PLEASE expain all this commotion about marriage

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