Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
5-4 Majority Rules Same-Sex Marriage Is Right; Law Enforcement Source: Authorities Believe Sweat Is Contained; President Obama Delivers Eulogy For Reverend. Aired 9:00-10:00p ET.
Aired June 26, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: It's not just for decades -- it's generations of gay...
EVAN WOLFSON, FREEDOMTOMARRY.ORG FOUNDER: Yeah.
COOPER: ... and lesbian people in this country who never were able to live the full life that they deserve, that there are other fellow citizens were able to.
COOPER: The people fought in World War I and World War II who died in the battlefield, no one ever knowing who they really were.
WOLFSON: That's exactly right, and you know, we can celebrate today and it is a triumph and it is so much joy and there's an ocean of joy. I saw a couple who've been together 55 years, because the first couple to marry in Texas today.
So we can celebrate that, but you know, at 55 years you don't have that much more time, so you think of all the people who didn't live to see this day. And then you look at what the descent said in this opinion that somehow the constitution still should not have been applied to gay people. We should have left it to time and our hard work and people's votes and you really have to appreciate the fact that five justices of the Supreme Court understood that the constitution's command is not something we put up to a vote and it's not something we pick and choose. It belongs to all of us.
COOPER: Frank, I was thinking, I grew up there. Friends or families, a guy named Chris Alexander (ph) (inaudible) who worked for the New York City ballet (inaudible). They were together pretty much their entire life. They used to come to our house for dinner when I was a kid. My mom say, you know, we're sitting them together, they're like a married couple.
FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Like a married couple.
COOPER: They're like a married couple, and -- and now there's not that like a married couple. They've now both passed away and they passed away very short time ago in very close proximity to each other. But they would be a married couple.
BRUNI: They would be.
COOPER: And that is a huge shift.
BRUNI: Yeah. No, I mean it's why as happy as we all are today, as incredible as this day is, it's also a day when I find myself dealing in a surprising amount of sadness because of all the people who didn't get to have the kind of laws that a 20 something will get now. I'm so excited that a kid growing up today is going to see a signal from the highest court in the land, from the most authoritative place in our country, that there's nothing wrong with him or her, and there's nothing unequal about him or her but I'm very sad for all those people who got us to this point and are not living to see the freaks of these.
COOPER: I was thinking, I remember your book by Paul Monette, a writer, a gay writer who wrote -- the subtitle of this book was "Half a Life Story", and that's what always stuck me that give of living half life. You wrote something Frank that I want to leave to people. You said in the New York Times, "The Supreme Court's decision wasn't simply about weddings. It was about worth. From the highest of this nation's purchase and the most authoritative of these nation's voices, and majority of justice has told the minority of Americans that they're normal and that they belong fully joyously and with cake." It is about worth.
BRUNI: Well, and there's some kid in Mississippi, right, whose family may not be where the rest of the country is and those community may not be there but he or she is going to see this decision, read that into it, and is going to go off into the world with a kind of confidence and the kind of self assurance and kind of love that generations of men and women were denied, and that's enormous.
COOPER: And the message to that kid in Mississippi is also, you don't just have to go to New York and San Francisco which was the message of both, you know, for our generations.
BRUNI: This is national. This is the principle of our country.
COOPER: Right, but you can stay if you want in Mississippi and you know what, Mississippi is going to come around.
BRUNI: That's right.
WOLFSON: Well, and the power of this moment and this decision that it's not only about that kid in Mississippi. This is a clear message from the Supreme Court to decisions makers, to law, to the judges...
WOLFSON: ... to elected officials , that the day of the gay exception is over. The constitution belongs to all of us and gay people are part of America, part of us, and it's time for the law to treat us all with the dignity and respect that every person is entitled. BRUNI: That is right. This is -- we need to make clear this is a victory for all Americans. In fact, after that column posted this morning, I heard from more mothers and fathers than I did find gay and lesbian people themselves because they care about their families. This has been an issue that's very much about families. You wisely framed it that way. There's a great moment for the American family.
COOPER: Because I mean that is the concern of so many parents that my gay child is not going to be able to live the full American experience.
BRUNI: That's right.
COOPER: And that -- I mean, look, there are still battles to be won. There are still...
COOPER: ... discrimination. You can be fired from a job for being gay in many states in this union. But this piece of it changed and for -- one thing the things Andrew Sullivan said at the top of the broadcast, I mean generations from now, they're going to be Americans who are born who are going to look back in this and it's not going to seem unusual at all. It's not going to seem surprising just as we look back at the 1967, you know, ban on -- overturning the ban on interracial marriages and think, how could that have happened?
BRUNI: Well, you corrected yourself a moment ago because you said same sex marriage or gay marriage and you just said marriage. I think 20 years from now, the phrase same sex marriage will sound like a fossil. It will sound exotic and incomprehensible.
BRUNI: It will just be marriage.
COOPER: Well, Frank, I appreciate you being here and Evan Wolfson. I mean you have worked more than anybody else on this and you are truly for so many Americans a hero in this movement. And I thank you for being with us.
WOLFSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you.
[21:05:00] We're going to have a lot more on the story throughout the hour. We're live to the 10:00 hour. We're just past the 9:00 hour here if you're just joining us in New York. And if you are just joining us, we have breaking news from Upstate New York as well where one of two escape killers is dead. The other may be cornered. Richard Matt shot dead by law enforcement, David Sweat boxed in surrounded nearly three weeks after he and Matt broke out to the Clinton Correctional Facility Dennamore in near New York's Canadian boarder New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with reporters there moment ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK: You never want to see anyone lose their life, but I would remind people that Mr. Matt was an escaped murderer from a state prison, Mr. Matt killed two people who we know about. Mr. Matt killed his boss in a dispute and dismembered him. He fled to Mexico and then he killed another person in Mexico and was imprisoned in Mexico. Mr. Sweat is also dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And he is yet. Sweat has either a yet to be taking in or taking down we're going to have a sense of coverage from our team correspondents joining us first is Sheriff David Favro of Clinton County, New York. Sheriff, what do you know about the situation with David Sweat right now?
DAVID FAVRO, SHERIFF, CLINTON COUNTY, NEW YORK: You know what, we've -- law enforcement has set up a hard perimeter and an area that were pretty confident that he has confined to. We're putting all our efforts into keeping a tight ring around that area. Aerial resources, we also have infrared night vision flare units that we've put out in mobile to try and see if we can is sun is gone down to see if we can pick up something on him and see if we can bring this to closure tonight.
COOPER: Is night a big obstacle for you? I mean is that a concern or is time -- I assume time is on your side.
FAVRO: Well, it's always been an issue what we've been battling up here for almost 21 days is the intense rains that we have seen which washes away traces of evidence, you know, there's the last three days we've had sunny clear weather dry weather, we have a fortune opportunity to be able to pick up some trace evidence including foot prints and other physical evidence, when you have extreme winds and rain makes a very difficult to get that type of evidence.
Night time compounds that little time bit of course we have to use the tools and resources that are available to us to be able to track him down which we're hoping to do this evening.
COOPER: Do you know one where or another whether or not this guys armed?
FAVRO: We can't say affirmatively but we believe that he maybe and we're certainly treating the situation as if he were armed and we certainly know that his dangerous, so we'll proceed appropriately.
COOPER: Well, you say you have this type perimeter, what do you do, I mean do you, you know, get on a bullhorn and say come on out, do you just kind of wait for movement, you try to get eyes on through you know, snipers on him, how is it perceived?
FAVRO: Well, there's multiple things but when you, when you surround a particular area, with law enforcement a very tight distance from each other, your also searching into the wooded area, you're also using your assets such as your flare infrared which is going to show any heat sensor, we're trying to use night glasses any of the technology that we have that we're be beneficial to us. The biggest thing is patience maintain -- make sure -- making sure that we maintain the perimeter and waiting until we can definitively identify where his at so we can take him into custody.
COOPER: Sheriff Favro, we wish you all a lot of luck and we hope this ends quickly and a obviously with the maximum safety for you and your officers. Thank you.
Coming up next we're going to checking with our correspondents in the search gentlemen as police try to close in on David Sweat and we'll have more on today's remarkable, historic ruling from the Supreme Court.
COOPER: Welcome back. We'll have more in today's marriage ruling from Supreme Court coming up, but first the breaking news. One fugitive killer, Richard Matt, is dead the other David Sweat maybe cornered all this happening in Upstate, New York and near the Canadian boarder.
Joining us now with more on the situation what lead authorities to Richard Matt, we got report from Pamela Brown, Gary Tuchman and Jean Casarez. Gary, first of all, you're up in the area where this perimeter now has been set up, what's the latest?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, David Sweat is now on his own because his fellow ruthless murderer Mr. Matt is dead and this is where the search is going on. This is Titus Mountain behind me. Behind Titus mountain is Elephants Head it's a park it's about 10 miles south with City of Malone, New York below New York it's about 25 miles from the Canadian boarder and right now there are hundreds of police officers on the scene, looking for David Sweat.
Now we have reported, we have been told by good law enforcement sources who have been reliable that he is contained, there's a tight perimeter, they believed they're right on top of him. But we must mention, we must be cautious about this because we just heard this during the governor's and the New York State Police Departments news conference that they haven't spotted David Sweat.
They have got to physical description of him when Matt was killed. This is fascinating and Matt was killed after they asked him to raise his hands up and surrender. He refuse to raise his hands and then he was shot and killed and he did have a shotgun on him but he never fired the shotgun. There was no fire fight. He was killed without a shot being fired by him.
But at that point they did not see David Sweat and they haven't seen David Sweat in this mountain behind me. They believe his there. They're not 100 percent sure his armed, they presumed his armed and they believe his there but they don't know 100 percent so that's why right now, Anderson, we need to be cautious. But they're optimistic they will catch him either way this guy Sweat is never going to be living in Miami Beach on the beach sipping margaritas or either kill himself be caught and that's pretty much all the options for him, Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela Brown, fascinating Gary's reporting that they, they have not got to eyes on him for, for sure.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, their saying that that they don't have visibility on him but yet they're pretty confident that they have an handle on this and that the situation is contained that they have a hard perimeter around the where he is and I think that a lot of what they're going off here, Anderson, is the fact that they know where Richard Matt is. And I think that they're -- the operating assumption theory is that the two men were together.
We know Richard Matt was shot and killed by the boarder of patrol tactical units earlier today in Malone, New York.
[21:15:03] So the thinking is that David Sweat probably isn't far from there, I don't know what else -- what other kind of information that they've been getting any tips from witnesses they didn't talk about that that in the press conference but they made it clear that they haven't actually had eyes on David Sweat and what the big concern right now is that he is armed and dangerous.
We know from officials that they smelled gun power in one of the cabins that they believed the men were hiding now then and the fact that Richard Matt had a shotgun is leading authorities to believe that David Sweat could be armed as well. And this is a man who is not afraid to shoot and kill law enforcement because the reason he was put in prison in the first place is because he shot and killed a sheriff's deputy. So the situation appears to be far from over, Anderson.
COOPER: And Jean Casarez, Upstate police headquarters a lot of activity obviously even now as darkness has come.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right and we just heard another helicopter come in but here is what learning from law enforcement. This is about the time of night. It is dusk right now and the infrared helicopters, the thermal imaging sensor helicopters will be going up and they will be critical tonight because they will be able to be the eyes for law enforcement, law enforcement on the ground that cannot see possibly David Sweat as he is those woods.
Now, we do understand law enforcement also has Tahoe four drive vehicle with that infrared sensor on it. It can go through the brush and through ATV trails a normal vehicle cannot. They will be using that vehicle to try to see anything that human eye can't see and there is that radio technology so the helicopters in the air then radio down to the people on the ground that coordination effort.
Now, earlier today, the New York state police told us that they had brought an expert to discern exactly what these two were doing. It was believed that they moved at night when they thought they were able to do that but now law enforcement is thinking that since David Sweat has had quite of day today. His adrenaline has been flowing that he may try to bog down for the night and they just hope that those infrared helicopters will be able to spot him, Anderson.
COOPER: Right. Jean Casarez, I appreciate it. I want to get some perspective now from our other guests, the man who led the hunt for Eric Robert Rudolph from FBI Assistant Director, Chris Swecker, also John Jay College of Criminal Justice Forensic Expert Lawrence Kobilinsky and survival instructor Shane Hobel.
Shane, if Sweat is in fact in this area somewhere in the woods inside this parameter. It's dark obviously it's very heavily-wooded, they apparently don't have eyes on him, how difficult would it be for him to basically hide from these infrared cameras?
SHANE HOBEL, SURVIVAL INSTRUCTOR: Well, you know, again, Anderson, this is a very interesting topography in this area. We've got a very thick canopy. There's also water down there but there's also natural outcroppings. There is over rocks. There is down trees. It's quite easy to actually find cover enough...
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Yeah, sure.
HOBEL: ... where you can actually beat that thermal imagining out there.
COOPER: Chris Swecker, joining us now, Chris, I mean Cuomo's -- As Governor Cuomo said they don't have confirmation that they know where David Sweat in. They have not actually gotten the visual on him and they're not certain that Sweat was with Matt when he was actually killed. They believe they have this parameter around him. I guess I'm curious. How can they -- why would they believe that they have a parameter around him if they haven't actually seen him and they don't know if he was with Matt?
CHRIS SWECKER, FMR. FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, they understand the topography. They've got maps. They know the terrain at this point and basically Sweat has just run out of real estate. I think they said they have about a three mile parameter around there. So they know he is somewhere inside that three-mile parameter and at this point, they've closed in their resources and they're probably pretty close to shoulder to shoulder at this point.
COOPER: Dr. Kobilinsky, if they were together at the time that Richard Matt was killed, when they were in that cabin, how quickly could do they do forensic testing to determine if in fact Sweat was there?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE FORENSIC EXPERT: Well, presumably they would be doing DNA testing. It can be done in a matter of day actually. Some samples can be -- can come back in a matter of 90 minutes. They can determine if a sample came from Matt or Sweat...
COOPER: Is that a mobile laboratory that they would have with them or... KOBILINSKY: It can be mobile. It's heavy but it's portable. It can be driven in a vehicle. As far as the I.R -- the infrared is concerned you read a dense forest it's cool under trees because there is evaporation of water from the underside of leaves. You will see a man or an individual easily with infrared technology.
COOPER: Chris -- and I guess they have to assume that Sweat, even though they haven't seen him, they have to assume he is armed. They have to assume the worst.
SWECKER: They will and they do assume that he is armed.
[21:20:00] And as I said earlier, they're really not going to give him much room to react any if they do close in on him. Any slight aggressive move on his part is going to -- is basically going to become suicide by cop.
COOPER: There is obviously a lot. We are going to be watching over the next 40 minutes as we are live on the air and probably well into the night as well as authorities believe they know the location where Sweat is. They believe they have a good perimeter in that area though they don't have a visual on him and they're not sure whether or not he is armed.
Chris Swecker, thank you. Lawrence Kobilinsky, Shane Hobel.
Up next, the lawyer for prisoner seamstress Joyce Mitchell who's charged with helping the two killers to escape and take a look celebration tonight in New York and San Francisco in the wake of a Supreme Court's ruling on marriage. It's now just marriage not heterosexual marriage and same sex marriage or gay marriage. It is now just marriage.
We'll talk in a moment with some of the people who worked very hard to make this happen and also what happens next.
COOPER: Well, the breaking news tonight one escaped killer dead another still at large. Authorities may be closing in on him, a perimeter up they believe they have a cop killer contained and as you remember prisoner worker Joyce Mitchell is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the prison.
[21:25:00] Her husband Lyle Mitchell had no idea his wife was allegedly involved in the escape according to his attorney, Peter Dumas who joins me now on the phone.
So Peter, you've been in touch with your client Lyle Mitchell. I'm wondering his reactions on the latest news that Matt is dead, the authorities are closing in on Sweat.
PETER DUMAS, ATTORNEY FOR LYLE MITCHELL: He is very excited about it obviously not that the individual was killed but that they're closing in on Sweat right now. COOPER: And has he felt endangered at all knowing that these men had been on the loose, is there any kind of added protection in his home as he been concern for his safety?
DUMAS: Well, much of the time he hasn't been at his home. He's been staying with friends and relatives just to stay out of the way. But he wasn't ever really worried that they're going to come after him. He thinks that was just a ploy.
COOPER: And he firmly believes that if his wife had gone through with the original escape plan to pick the suspects up in their jeep that he would have been killed. Is that correct? And likely she would have been killed as well?
DUMAS: He thinks that if she had gone to pick them up they would have mostly likely just killed her and taken the car. He doesn't believe that they would have come back but he was -- I mean he was shot by the (inaudible).
COOPER: Does he believe that his wife had a relationship with Matt?
DUMAS: He believes that she had a relationship. He just doesn't believe that it led through a sexual relationship.
COOPER: Has he been -- because authorities obviously as you know have said that there was in fact a sexual relationship but he is standing by his wife on that.
DUMAS: Yeah, he is. He's sure quite about it and he is still, you know, chooses to believe what he believed.
COOPER: Has he been in communication with his wife at all recently. Have you seen him spoken to her in recent days?
DUMAS: I know he spoke to her on the phone a couple of days ago but they didn't really talk of anything of substance. It was just more of an emotional call, I think.
COOPER: I mean it's got to be extraordinarily confusing and difficult for him. I mean he was obviously very confused when he gave that interview to NBC. Have things clarified in his mind at all?
DUMAS: Not really beyond that like I said he didn't really have any new information from Joyce after he spoke to her on the phone. He just really kind of kind of stay to himself, trying to get his emotions under control, trying to comfort the children, that's where he's at right now.
COOPER: Has he been question anymore by police?
DUMAS: He hasn't. They haven't called them in since we went in to the police barracks on the prior occasion.
COOPER: It's obviously an extraordinarily difficult time for him. Peter Dumas, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
DUMAS: Thank you.
COOPER: Just ahead, we're got a more reaction on today's history making decision. I'll speak with two people who devoted their lives to the cost of the equality -- actually three people coming up next.
COOPER: Welcome back because we've been reporting. History was made today. The Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a fundamental right and the right of gays and lesbians cannot be deprived off not in any state of this union, not in America anymore.
The case stemmed from an already existing marriage in a man. A man we interviewed earlier in the broadcast, James Obergefell who nearly wanted to be named on his husband's death certificate as the surviving spouse after being together for 20 years.
Writing for the court and joined by liberal justices (inaudible) Justice Anthony Kennedy who himself was a Republican appointee. He summed it up this way. He wrote, "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
Shortly after the court vindicated him, President Obama called James over the cell to congratulate him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES OBERGEFELL, MAN BEHIND SUPREME COURT CASE ON GAY MARRIAGE: Hello?
OBAMA: Hi. Is this James?
OBERGEFELL: Yes. It is Mr. President.
OBAMA: You have the -- I figured when I saw you that we're going to be hoping for some good news and we did and I just want to say congratulations.
OBERGEFELL: Thank you so much, sir. I think it was...
OBAMA: You know, your leadership on this does change the country.
OBERGEFELL: I really appreciate that, Mr. President. It's really been an honor for me to be involved in this fight and to have been able to, you know, fight for my marriage and live up to my commitments to my husband. So I appreciate everything you've done for the LGBT community and it's really an honor to have become part of that fight. OBAMA: Well, I'm really proud of you and, you know, just know that, you know, not only have you been a great example for people, but you're also going to, you know, bring about a lasting change in this country. And it's pretty rare where that happens. So I couldn't be prouder of you and your husband. God bless you.
OBERGEFELL: OK. Thank you, sir, that means and incredible amount to me, and yeah, thank you.
OBAMA: All right. Take care.
OBERGEFELL: Thanks for the call, Mr. President.
OBAMA: OK, bye-bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, a remarkable day. Here to talk about it, NYU Law Professor Kenji Yoshino, author of Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial and Sirius XM host, Michelangelo Signorile. He is the author of the new book, "It's Not Over Getting Beyond Tolerance Defeating Homophobia and Winning Through Equality", and also we're going to be joining shortly by Cleve Jones a legendary human rights activist.
Kenji, I mean this is something you have written about, fought for, fought about for a long time. What was the thought when it actually came to pass today?
[21:35:02] What was the emotion?
KENJI YOSHINO, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: It was just indescribable, Anderson. I mean the appearing was so soaring and it's rather extra (ph) that, you know, it really read like Loving versus Virginia, the 1967 opinion that struck down ban to interracial marriage because the court says there's a liberty element and some quality element to the constitution to things that I've always believe or intertwined and Kennedy explicitly said these are interlocking parts and both of them are horses running in the same direction with regard to this issue.
COOPER: Cleve Jones, a human rights activist is founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial club. He just us now.
Cleve, I mean you have devoted your life to equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans and I'm just wondering what your thoughts were when you heard the ruling today. I mean you fought with Harvey Milk in the trenches early on. Did it even seem a reality back then that this -- was this something you even discussed?
CLEVE JONES, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, I joined gay liberation when I was 17 years old and that was a long time ago and I never ever imagined that I would live to see this day, so I'm profoundly grateful. It's been a long struggle and an enormous number of people. Many of whom are no longer with us also devoted their lives to getting us to this point. And the struggle certainly isn't over but this is without a question, an amazing milestone. And when I woke up at 7:02 this morning and turned on the computer, I burst into tears.
COOPER: You're on the west coast and that's why it was 7:02.
COOPER Cleve, you know, I was thinking about you this morning because I -- and I was thinking that, I mean you mentioned that all those who are no longer here to experience this, I was thinking this morning and I've said this numerous times and maybe viewers are sick in hearing it. But of all the generations of gay and lesbian Americans who lived -- were forced to live their lives in the shadows or forced to live as Paul Monette said, a half a life story, and who had to love in the shadows and yet still found a way to love, still found a way to create communities and support and create families that they were ostracized or shun from their own families, and just generations and generations of people who were never able to take fully -- to take part fully in the American experience.
JONES: Well, many of the people from that generation were in fact my mentors. They sheltered me and taught me when I was very young, and I feel a great guy to them, people like Harvey Milk who is famous, but many others who are not famous.
I think much of this commitment to the struggle for marriage equality actually also has its roots in the AIDS pandemic after what we went through, what loving couples endured as they cared for each other, it proved that we were families, that these were marriages. And I think that was when we decided as a community to stop accepting half measures and to demand the whole thing.
I do want to make one other point which is that I think this is also a vindication of the bold and risk taking strategy that has been taken with this. And I'm sure Michaelangelo Signorile can confirm what I'm going to say, that back in 2004 when Merrick Avenue (ph) in San Francisco opened city hall to same sex marriages. That was opposed by all of the gay and lesbian national organizations. It was opposed by the Democratic Party and right up through 2009, virtually every national gay and lesbian organization and our Democratic Party allies opposed going to federal court.
Fortunately, they were ignored, that is why we are here today.
COOPER: I mean I got to say in some of the groups which are fund raising office today that back then. Micahelangelo, I mean you've written about this and I want to talk about what comes next, but first just looking back and what was achieved today? What did you think?
MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE, SIRIUS XM HOST: Yeah, I was blown away even as somebody who is in the media business and following this and knowing, you know, sort of how the court would probably rule and we saw with all the legal experts. We're saying it was an enormous moment, just like boom, right, a validation of so much work.
And getting to what Cleve was saying, a validation of a strategy that going back to act up, going back to stonewall as you were talking about earlier of confrontation of pushing people along of even with the President in recent years. Here's been an enormous advocate now but it took a lot of pushing and people forget that.
And as Cleve was talking about with groups saying, "Let's go to court. Let's do this." You have to keep pushing and that's what we need to do in moving forward.
COOPER: Kenji, in terms of moving forward, Scott Walker today said, Republican candidate, said I call for constitutional amendment allowing for states to define marriage. Is that even possible at this point now?
YOSHINO: I mean the constitution has only been a mandate 27 times. Our nation's (inaudible) the last time was on the 1970. So whenever someone says, "We should amend the constitution" I always think that that's a utopian argument that signals that they've given up.
COOPER: And you also had the governor of Texas saying that, you know, civil employees who have a religious objection to this, they don't have to actually marry people.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Yeah.
COOPER: The state itself -- that may be true for individuals but the state itself still has to marry people.
YOSHINO: Correct, yeah. So I think one of the things that was fairly clever about the Kennedy opinion has been overlooked and the commentary seen so far is that it could have gone in equality grounds but he actually primarily rested on liberty ground.
If you go on equality grounds, you can either level up or level down. So you can't say we're not issuing marriage licenses to anyone or were married issuing them to everyone. Once you say that there is a fundamental right as Kennedy did and as majority opinion, you can't level down anymore, right?
And so, all of these as jurisdictions who are saying -- I hear that there is a county in Alabama for example that's saying we're not going to issue marriages to anybody. But they can't do that. And also the issue, the idea that you could have a religious exemption simply because you believe that, you know, as religious statute, a statute like a Religious Freedom Restoration Act give you the right to exempt yourself from engaging and civil marriage ceremonies is wrong, you know, given that a statute is left supreme than a constitutional -- an interpretation of the constitution when the constitution is law.
COOPER: Michelangelo, I'm assuming you're right about in your book "It's Not Over", to you what is not over? I mean obviously the fight for equality but where do the battles now run?
SIGNORILE: Well, for example getting to this issue that Kenji is talking about, North Carolina just passed a law that allows public officials to opt out of officiating over gay weddings.
In Michigan they passed a law that allows state funded adoption agencies not to give services to gay and lesbian couples. Whether or not these issues are eventually unconstitutional, they will be just like the issue of abortion used by enemies of equality to fund raise, to keep things bottled up in the court, to make it difficult for people.
In Oklahoma, 85 percent of the counties, nobody has gotten married because if you are, you know, if you go and get married you can get fired from your job because we still have no federal civil rights. 29 states have no rights protecting people against discrimination in employment and housing and public accommodation. So there's an enormous amount to do.
COOPER: And, Cleve, you know, one of the things, I mean that's so moving -- and you mentioned this that a lot of these came out of the gay and lesbian community's reaction to the HIV/AIDS crisis early on in caring for one another when others weren't and when others were shunning gay people when public officials were remaining silent.
I mean a lot of these things are very simple that gay people have been fighting for -- the right to be by the bedside of your loved one when they're in the hospital, the right to have your name on their death certificate, the right to not be shun by their family and to actually just have visitation rights, and, you know, tax code rights.
And these are very basic things.
JONES: Yes, of course they are. Marriage is important in this country and during the AIDS pandemic, we learned that lesson quite in a very terrible way. People were denied care because they didn't have access to their partner's health insurance. That was number one.
But another thing happened. I think America came to know her gay children at the time of great suffering and I think the country was moved. There is still resistance, there is still people who hate us. But I think we've done a remarkable job of changing the hearts and minds of the American people.
And so, I give the credit to this astonishing victory today not only to my own community and the activist and the grassroots base that I feel myself to be part of, but also to the rest of the country because I've seen members of my own family change. I've seen people change all across this country and it's making us a better country and a better people.
COOPER: Well, Cleve Jones, it's an honor to have you on the broadcast. Thank you.
JONES: Thank you.
COOPER: Kenji, as well, it's always a pleasure. Michelangelo, thank you so much. And as well, the book again, "It's Not Over".
Before we go to break, I want to show you the front page of tomorrow's New York Times, "Equal Dignity" it reads, two words, it means so much to so many people tonight and for generations to come. We'll have more just ahead. A funeral in Charleston celebrating the life of Reverend Clementa Pinckney killed along with eight other people in church during Bible study, a very moving eulogy from President Obama who led the congregation in Amazing Grace.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:48:19] COOPER: The Charleston South Carolina where nine people were gun downed during a bible study nine days ago. Today there was solemnity, reflection, and a celebration, celebration of the life the Reverend Clementa Pinckney and eulogy by President Obama in a stirring speech that touched on politics and race and ended in Amazing Grace. Martin Savidge reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At Charleston Arena became a sanctuary and a crowd of 5,500 its congregation remembering those gun downed in racially motivated massacre in one of the nation's oldest black churches.
The service was more celebration than somber, many noting that the gunman's intent to divide people by race had done just the opposite.
REV. JOHN RICHARD BRYANT, AME CHURCH: Someone should have told the young man. He wanted to start a race war. But he came to the wrong place.
SAVIDGE: For the president it was personal. Reverend and State Senator Clementa Pinckney had helped Obama's 2008 campaign.
OBAMA: He embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words.
SAVIDGE: The president's eulogy quickly went beyond the victims to challenging a nation to confront the issues of race, guns, even the confederate flag.
OBAMA: Removing the flag from this state's Capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery was wrong.
SAVIDGE: But the nation's first African-American president didn't stop there. He brought up the issues of voter rights and hiring practices all seen anew in the aftermath of the killings.
OBAMA: Maybe, we now realize the way racial bias can infect us, even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal.
SAVIDGE: Also in the audience was a bipartisan group of federal and state lawmakers and at least two presidential candidates and the president seem to speak to them, warning that America cannot forget.
OBAMA: There would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believed if we allowed that ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.
SAVIDGE: The president ended by noting how the people of Charleston had reason above hate, how the victims families have forgiven the killer, all showing grace -- an Amazing Grace.
OBAMA: Amazing grace, How sweet the sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Amazing grace. Martin joins me now along CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, both where the funeral in Charleston, today when the president sang "Amazing Grace" today, I mean is not everyday you hear a president breaking to song like that I thought it's a moving how it seem like there's a kind of a gap of a few lines and then people just started to joining in one by one.
SAVIDGE: Yeah, it was amazing, I mean absolutely amazing, Anderson, because I think it was, you know, totally unscripted and the present pause quite long before it began singing and I thought maybe lost his place because you go, some using a TelePrompTer, and then he delivered the very first verse there and you could tell the audience was just first taken it back and loved every moment of it to join the president in a hymn is quite something.
COOPER: Sunny, it reminded me of the moment you and I were outside of Mother Emanuel Church last week and a bagpipe player began playing "Amazing Grace" and the entire crowd the hundreds of people just stop and just started singing it spontaneously again just one those extraordinary moments.
SUNNY HOSTN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, this experience for me was completely life altering. As you know, I've been in the law enforcement business for a pretty long time, the law and order business and I've never in my life experienced that type of faith that type of community coming together so close to such a tragic event.
Inside it was a electric it was faithful it was filled with grace. I had the opportunity to speak to so many different people. I spoke to this one women who had come, she was from South Africa she lives in Florida I asked her why she's stood on line at 6:00 this morning to go inside and she said, because she was watching what she saw as almost the fall of a part tie she saw this is so monumental so important. Another man told me that he had been to the march on Washington and he felt the same spirit that he felt in that arena calling it a sanctuary.
Again this is something that I don't think I've ever experienced and it's something I'll never experience again.
COOPER: And it was interesting, Sunny, I mean the president say talked about race something that he seems to be doing more of lately he'll also talked about the confederate flag, it was -- what's your response to that again in the auditorium.
HOSTIN: People were on their feet for most of the eulogy, people were calling him the reverend, president it really felt like we were listening to a sermon, it felt like we were in a church, anyone that has been to a black church service will tell you, it was very much like that. It was spiritual, people were crying, hugging strangers.
When he spoke about taking the flag down when he talked about the fact that in black churches, some children of color --the only places where they hear that they are smart and beautiful are in those churches. People were just astonished really telling me that they were part of history.
COOPER: And Martin, it's important to point out funerals for other members the church who were killed they continue through the weekend.
SAVIDGE: Absolutely. In fact right now there's a viewing going on inside of the Emanuel for one of the Emanuel line has been previewing just this evening, and you're right the funerals continue tomorrow and through Monday so, the heartbreaking Charleston is not over.
COOPER: And OK and not even close, Martin Savidge, thank you, Sunny Hostin as well from Charleston. Now back to Upstate, New York and that man hunt for David Sweat.
[21:55:00] I do want to give you a quick update, Gary Tuchman is right where it's happening, he joins us again bring us up to speed.
TUCHMAN: Anderson a lot people say that Matt is smart -- that Matt and Sweat have to be very smart, to get out of prison, but they're looking really stupid right now because Matt is dead and police believe their on the verge of catching Sweat behind me here. This is the mountain area with the looking for me see police cars they use in search lights right now for looking the mountains they believe that they have contained Sweat in a perimeter.
But as of now, they have not captured, they haven't seen him but they believe his close by and they believe they very well widely we'll get him soon, Anderson.
COOPER: And he's -- they're not sure if his armed or not, correct?
TUCHMAN: Their not sure because if his armed they also haven't had a siting of him but they don't have no reason to believe he wasn't with Matt and they believe they will capture him.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, I appreciate the update on that. Obviously this is something that we'll be following throughout the evening here on CNN as developments warned. We're going to take as short break, we'll be right back.
COOPER: A live picture of the White House. An extraordinary picture something that we have never seen before the rainbow -- the colors of the rainbow flag lighting up the White House and the day the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no more gay marriage there's no same-sex marriage, there's no heterosexual marriage, there is just marriage.
[22:00:03] One nation. And when marriage is concerned, all now equal in the eyes of the law. That does it for us. CNN Tonight starts now.