MSNBC's Roberts Teams Up with Gay Activist in Segment About Defense of Marriage Act

March 10th, 2011 1:01 PM

So MSNBC's Thomas Roberts actually gave air time this morning to a conservative to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and congressional Republican efforts to defend it in court.

But alas, the openly gay anchor tag-teamed with gay activist Evan Wolfson, putting Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg on the defensive during the entire segment.

With the screen behind him labeled "The Case for Marriage Equality," Roberts set up the debate segment by noting that "a House panel has voted along party lines to defend this controversial law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages."

After reading a Facebook group status message that presents a liberal talking point about same-sex marriage, Roberts introduced his guests and opened with a neutral question to Wolfson, the executive director of Freedom to Marry, asking for his "reaction to what John Boehner is saying."

"Well, what John Boehner is doing, what Speaker Boehner is doing is inserting the House into a case in court that the president and the attorney general have said should not be defended," Wolfson griped, although under federal law the Congress is perfectly within its rights to defend in federal court laws that the executive branch refuses to defend.

After Wolfson had finished his first comment, Roberts echoed the gay activist's gripe, posing a question to Sprigg aimed at putting him on the defensive:

Mr. Sprigg, is the House panel doing the right thing? I mean, why does the House need to defend this law?

After Sprigg defended the move by the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group -- which is comprised of the Republican and Democratic senior leaders -- Roberts challenged Sprigg.

"But are people based, or their feelings about marriage based on religion?" Roberts protested, to which Sprigg argued that marriage is not merely a civil or religious institution but one grounded in natural law, "rooted in the order of nature itself."

When Sprigg noted that marriage is the natural institution arising from the needs of bearing children, Roberts shot back:

Well, what happens to people who get married and don't have children? Or Larry King, who's on his 8th marriage and hasn't had children with six of his former wives? Are you mandated to have kids if you get married?

After Sprigg's answer, Roberts again turned to Wolfson:

So, Mr. Wolfson, when we hear that side of the argument, what is the practicality of moving forward in trying to say that there is equality needed on this front?

Following Wolfson's answer, Roberts posed a final loaded question to Sprigg:

Mr. Sprigg, with the potential of a government shutdown, do you think that this is the best use of time in Washington, D.C., right now, to be talking about this?

The FRC senior fellow noted that the actual preparation of legal briefs and appearances in federal court would be done by counsel retained by the House, taking very little of legislators' time and that because DOMA passed with large bipartisan support in 1996, it deserves a strong defense in federal court.