McDonald spoke with Playbill.com June 26, just hours following the Supreme Court's landmark decision that ruled American LGBTQ citizens were free to marry in all 50 states.
How did you find out about the ruling today?
Audra McDonald: I'm in Utah with Will [Swenson]. We're visiting his family here. We're in a hotel room and we got in really late last night. I woke up really early and was nervous, because I knew today was likely the day. I started reading Twitter and looking online to see if it had come down yet and I started tweeting about it a little bit prior to the ruling being read. When it happened I thought, I should let Will sleep, we got in so late and I knew he was tired. But finally, I couldn't help myself and I shook [him] up awake and was like, "Baby wake up! It happened! It happened! Marriage Equality is here! Marriage Equality is here!" And he was like, "Oh, that's great...," still trying to wake up. And I was still just so excited and trembling and crying a little bit, and he was like, "Do you want to turn on the TV?" So we sat up and watched and started texting with our family and friends and cried and celebrated with our friends. It's a beautiful day.
You had some amazing tweets this morning. The one about Justice Ginsberg on a rainbow clad motorcycle was hilarious.
AM: People started making all these incredible GIFS for me. [Laughs.] I'm thankful for Justice Kennedy for that beautiful, beautiful ruling and I'm thankful to Justice Ginsberg. I know she's spoken about wanting to retire, but she's held on and obviously, I would assume that this was just one of the reasons, her doing her part to make sure that this went through. So now, I feel like, if she needs to retire, "Go on out there girl! Ride your rainbow-clad motorcycle into the sunset! And thank you for everything!"
I feel like any second we are gonna see Justice Ginsburg come out of the building on a rainbow clad motorcycle & ride into the sunset.
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) June 26, 2015
— Playbill (@playbill) June 26, 2015
It's also an incredible time in our nation's history, certainly under the Obama presidency. We've seen so much progress. I was especially moved when the President said, "And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them." How did you feel watching it and seeing the various responses to the ruling?
AM: There's been some wildly angry dissent from Scalia and certainly [Rick] Santorum who basically said, "Let's see what the people have to say." First of all, it's the law of the land because the Supreme Court has ruled it so, but second of all, the majority of the people in this land agree with it. But, if we had left it up to popular vote, like with Loving v. Virginia, it would be illegal for me to be married to Will in certain Southern states, you know? We have to bring people forward and bring them to a more evolved place. This isn't evolution, this is, you have those rights, why am I not allowed to have those rights? It doesn't even seem all that evolved to me, it just seems like common sense.
We sat down with the kids and we read them the last paragraph of Kennedy's beautiful ruling and said, "This is a day that will go down in the history books. This will be in your American history books by the time you get to high school. And you were here for it, you got to see this happen, you got to see the evolution of this happening and this is a big day." We made sure that they understood what Kennedy's words meant and how important it is.
Kennedy's final words in the ruling can be read below:
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. 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."