Rob Reiner: Meathead could help get Archie Bunker to back gay marriage

Rick Klein, Terry Moran, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players

Top Line

Meathead says even his bigoted, cantankerous father-in-law Archie Bunker would be on the side of gay marriage if the sitcom All in the Family were still on the air today.

“Oh absolutely, and I think we'd be screaming at each other pretty good,” says actor and film director Rob Reiner, who played the role of Michael "Meathead" Stivic. “I would think Archie would be convinced if one of his friends or one of his daughters, not the daughter I was married to, but if he had a child who was gay, I think he might be convinced, yes.”

Reiner spoke to Top Line on the steps of the Supreme Court after the Court heard oral arguments on the case weighing California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Reiner has been a key player in fighting Proposition 8 ever since it passed in the 2008 election. He co-founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that has steered the legal battle against the ballot initiative all the way to the nation’s highest court.

Reiner, who characterizes gay rights as “the last civil rights issue of our time,” says gay marriage is a constitutional right.

“When it comes to a civil right, it is not up to an individual to decide who should and should not have a civil right,” says Reiner. “If that were the case, you might still have slavery; you might still have women not able to vote. These are fundamental rights that need to be looked at in terms of our Constitution.”

Reiner says the tide of public opinion has shifted since the initial passage of Proposition 8, pointing to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that shows 58 percent of Americans believe gay couples should be allowed to marry—a dramatic rise from 32 percent in 2004.

"We were definitely hitting critical mass and the handwriting is on the wall, we're not going to turn back now," says Reiner.

Reiner believes that one of the contributing factors to the public’s rapid evolution on gay marriage is related to personal connections to gay people.

“There’s nobody, nobody in this country that doesn't have either a gay family member, a gay friend, a gay colleague in the workplace, and once you understand what's at stake here you start shifting your attitudes,” says Reiner.

To hear more about Reiner’s reasons for supporting gay marriage, check out this edition of Top Line.

ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, Hank Brown, and Gary Rosenberg contributed to this episode.