Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?
Aired July 15, 2003 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE: The U.S. Supreme Court says, "I do" to gay sex, not that everybody likes it.
PAT ROBERTSON, "THE 700 CLUB": We ask for miracles in regard to the Supreme Court. Lord, let there be a dramatic change, we pray.
ANNOUNCER: Dramatic change? How about the legalization of gay marriage? It may be closer than you think.
Plus, a record-breaking deficit has a lot of critics seeing red -- today on CROSSFIRE.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.
Has Pat Robertson started a holy war of his own against the U.S. Supreme Court, all because he is against extending human right to human beings who happen to be gay? We'll debate gay marriage, which may be closer than you think, right after we exercise our own right to free speech with the best little political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."
The Bush administration announced today that the federal budget deficit this year alone will be at least $455 billion, 50 percent higher than the White House said it would be just five months ago. Mr. Bush, of course, inherited the largest budget surplus in history and has turned it into the largest deficit. Ain't it just like a trust fund baby to blow a huge inheritance?
Well, one sign that the Bush economy is bad is that Rush Limbaugh is now moonlighting. ESPN announced that old lard butt himself will be an announcer for its NFL pregame show. Personally, I am looking forward to watching Rush interview 350-pound linemen and calling them slim. That will be -- that's a bad economy, when Rush Limbaugh has to take two jobs.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: To compare -- no, but I'm just -- I can't really get over the idea that, A, Bush would lie about the economy, as if...
CARLSON: As if nobody would notice that the deficit is bigger than predicted. The prediction was wrong, as they often are in economics, as you know.
B, the idea that you would compare 1996 to 2000 to the present day is ludicrous. Bush inherited a country that had never been attacked by terrorists, that wasn't at war, that -- whose tech bubble had not yet burst. It was a different world, Paul.
BEGALA: He squandered $2 trillion of our money on his rich friends. And the economy is in the crapper because of it.
CARLSON: That's silly. Paul...
BEGALA: He's taken the greatest
BEGALA: And he's squandered it.
CARLSON: I totally give up. I don't think I'm going to convince you.
CARLSON: "The Washington Post" reports that, after a weekend of turmoil over what it termed cost-cutting, Senator Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign has experienced major defections, if not an outright exodus. Lieberman's top fund raiser has quit. Her deputy is also making plans to jump ship.
Further, "The Post" points out, Lieberman has yet to name a campaign chairman or even a campaign manager. Lieberman has also lost the lead he had in this year's early polls. He is now running no better than fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire. In short, the one-time front-runner has money problems, organization problems, and a message that simply is not resonating with voters. And the weird thing is, Joe Lieberman is in fact currently the sitting vice president of the United States, at least according to many Democrats. You figure it out.
Maybe he should get the Secret Service to help, Paul.
BEGALA: He certainly ought to be. I don't know why Dick Cheney is in his house. But he is, because...
CARLSON: But, seriously, why aren't Democrats supporting him, if he is really the vice president?
BEGALA: Look, I don't think you should read to much into a candidate's campaign finance director. CARLSON: He's not doing well. Come on, seriously. He's not...
BEGALA: That is really overinflating a story.
CARLSON: Look, I like Joe Lieberman. But you must admit -- I think even you would -- he's not doing very well.
BEGALA: He's underperforming. We'll have to wait and see if he continues. But I really don't care very much about staff changes. I'm interested in what they say on the stump.
CARLSON: By any measure, he's not doing well. And if he is really is the vice president, as you have said many times on this show, then why aren't Democrats supporting him? It's a real question. I'd like an answer.
BEGALA: Well, if he wants to revive his candidacy, CROSSFIRE, babe. That's where the road to the White House -- Joe, come on on. Defend yourself. Defend your campaign.
CARLSON: I think -- I think even you are glad that Al Gore lost.
BEGALA: No, not at all. No, no, no. I am not at all glad that Al Gore -- Al Gore should be our president.
Anyway, speaking of President Bush...
CARLSON: I'm reading your newsletter.
BEGALA: He, in fact, stunned the world when he declared yesterday that we went to war because he gave Saddam Hussein a chance to allow the arm inspectors in and he wouldn't let them in. In case you think I'm being unfair to our president, here is George W. Bush in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in and he wouldn't let them in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Of course, as today's "Washington Post" notes, Saddam Hussein did, in fact, let weapons inspectors in. It was Mr. Bush who opposed giving inspectors more time to search.
Here's a hint for those of you watching at home. You can always tell when George W. Bush is misleading us about Iraq. You know why? His lips move.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: I agree with you, Paul, that Bush was very, very, very mean and unfair to Saddam Hussein. And I think I and all Americans regret that.
The fact is that Saddam Hussein expelled U.N. weapons inspectors from Iraq in 1998. The previous administration made a little noise about it, fundamentally, didn't really anything about it. And you know that that is literally true.
BEGALA: You know what we didn't do? We didn't go to a war that was unjust and unjustified and drag us into a long occupation. That's the problem.
CARLSON: ... ignored it for
BEGALA: No. No. That's not true. Bush should tell the truth, at least, about why we went to war. And he won't do it.
CARLSON: Another legal setback, speaking of, for Bill and Hillary Clinton today. A federal appeals court has ruled that the Clintons will have to pay their own bills, if you can imagine the horror of that.
The Clintons, who have been incredibly rich since leaving the White House, has gone to court to demand that taxpayers, you, me, and the other guy, foot the bill for some $3.5 million in legal fees stemming from the Whitewater investigation. The appeals court pointed out that, since the investigation did unearth real wrongdoing -- there were 24 indictments, 16 convictions and a presidential impeachment case -- the Clintons should pay for their own mess, if you can even imagine.
Clinton is now making millions of dollars from speeches. His wife made millions more. They can afford to pay their bills. They just want you to pay them instead, which says it all. In an economy like this, they're trying to get the public to pay your bills.
BEGALA: Was it wrong for the public to pay Ronald Reagan's bills?
CARLSON: I don't know. It may have been. I'm actually -- I think I'm kind of against that.
(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: ... paid for Iran-Contra. And he, in fact, did sell weapons to terrorists in Iran. He was investigated for that. But because he wasn't indicted, the government paid his legal bills.
CARLSON: Paul, you undermine your...
BEGALA: If it's good for Ronald Reagan, it's good for Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: Paul, Paul, you undermine your own case with the radical rhetoric: He sold weapons to terrorists!
BEGALA: He did. Well, no, he didn't sell them. Well, he did sell them.
CARLSON: Actually, I'm not sure, if you find wrongdoing of any kind, that there ought to be reimbursement. Look, I've had lawyers come after me. So have you. You pay your own legal bills. Unfortunately, you don't make taxpayers pay.
BEGALA: No, not when the government, not when an out-of-control prosecutor runs up your legal bills. The government ought to pay the Clintons back, just like they paid the Reagans back. That's what the statute calls for. It's only fair.
CARLSON: They haven't even paid their own lawyers yet.
The Democratic presidential candidates spent today talking to the nation's largest gay civil rights organization. Meanwhile, judicial activism is alive and well. We may have gay marriage right here in America. Are you ready for it? Some are. Many aren't.
And we will debate it next.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
Any day now, the Massachusetts Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case filed by seven same-sex couples who want to marry each other. The ruling could set a national precedent. Of course, it has only been three weeks since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Texas' laws against gay sex. Some of this, of course, is just a little too much for brother Pat Robertson, who has started a prayathon in the hopes that the almighty will convince three Supreme Court justices to retire, or maybe leave by some other means.
Stepping into the CROSSFIRE are Andrea Shel -- Andrea Lafferty -- forgive me. She's executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition; and Human Rights Campaign communication director David Smith.
Thank you all -- both very much.
CARLSON: David, you just are fresh from seeing the Democratic presidential candidates, such as they are.
DAVID SMITH, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Right.
CARLSON: And so you know that none of the major ones, none of the six major ones, has come out for gay marriage.
I want to read you particularly, an unusually weaselly quote from Howard Dean, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, from "Meet the Press" June 22 -- quote -- "The position I've always taken is that it" -- gay marriage -- "is the church's business to decide who they can marry and who they can't." In other words, it's a little too hot. Let's throw it to the church.
None of the Democrats are for gay marriage. Doesn't that tell you something about where the country is on this question?
SMITH: Well, I think the candidates today really talked about recognizing relationships in a way that is treating gay and lesbian people equally under the law.
Simply, Tucker, what we're looking for, what -- gay and lesbian couples who are in lifelong, committed relationships are looking to be treated equally under the law. The candidates today spoke very, very eloquently about just that. Yes, we're disappointed that they're not supporting full civil marriage rights. But they're moving rapidly to that position, in my opinion. And this is where the country is.
According to the Gallup Poll -- it showed that 60 percent of the American public supports giving hospital visitation rights, Social Security benefits, the individual
CARLSON: Wait. You're going to let them get away with that? Wait a second.
SMITH: No, we're not letting them get away with it.
CARLSON: You're seeking equal treatment. And the Democrats come before you and say, actually, you're not going to get equal treatment, because it offends people. So maybe you can just take this and you be quiet about it, because you're an interest group that is loyal to the Democratic Party. And you just be a good little interest group. And you're going to suck it up and take that? Come on, David Smith!
SMITH: We're bipartisan. We're bipartisan. We're bipartisan, bipartisan. We're bipartisan. And you know what? No, we are going to help hold them accountable.
CARLSON: You stand up. That's the spirit. SMITH: We are going to hold them accountable. And they should support civil marriage. It's the right thing to do. And, yes, we will hold them accountable.
BEGALA: Andrea, let me ask you to stand up, then, for the values that I know...
ANDREA LAFFERTY, EXEC. DIRECTOR, TRADITIONAL VALUES COALITION: You want me to stand up?
BEGALA: Yes, the values that I know you believe in, commitment, monogamy, fidelity, stability. Aren't those all embodied in gay unions, right?
BEGALA: Aren't those the values you believe in? You don't believe in commitment, stability, monogamy, fidelity?
LAFFERTY: The Human Rights Campaign and other homosexual organizations are trying to present one face. But the truth is, there's -- actually, a study was done recently that showed the average homosexual has seven to eight partners a year.
SMITH: Oh, Andrea.
LAFFERTY: This is not -- oh, wait a minute.
BEGALA: So let them get married. Let them get married.
BEGALA: You're arguing against yourself. Why not, then, allow them to enter into committed, loving relationships, so there won't be...
LAFFERTY: You know what? My answer...
SMITH: No, I've been with my partner for 10 years. I have been with my partner for 10 years. I am in a committed, monogamous relationship. And most gay people I know are.
CARLSON: Thank you. Can I talk?
CARLSON: Even in San Francisco, when they had the opportunities to sign up for domestic partnerships, many people didn't do that.
The truth is, is, this organization is trying to promote one issue. It is the camel's nose under the tent. For a long time, they say, no, we don't want homosexual marriage. We just want to live our lives. They do want homosexual marriage. They do want to adopt kids. The government regulates behavior all the time. And they say, no, that certain things are not appropriate. You can't have sex with your child. You can't have sex with an animal. And so...
SMITH: Andrea, whoa, whoa, whoa.
LAFFERTY: Let me finish.
SMITH: Andrea, Andrea, Andrea, what does this have to with
LAFFERTY: And so the government does have a right to regulate
CARLSON: I'll tell you, David. I want to ask you. And I'm going to follow up on that. I have a serious question. And I'll hope you'll treat it seriously.
SMITH: I will.
CARLSON: Nobody has answered this question directly. And I hope you'll be the first.
CARLSON: Proponents of gay marriage say that marriage should not be defined exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. Fine. The Supreme Court, I think, will probably agree with that. Then what is the argument against allowing groups of people to marry, a marriage of three people? Don't dismiss it as a crackpot question. It's a serious question. What would be the argument against that?
SMITH: Well, marriage law in this country is about two people who love each other, who have made a commitment to one another to live their life and raise a family.
CARLSON: Let me ask you this question. But why just two? If we have decided -- no, but why. If we have decided that it is not restricted to man and woman, why restrict it to just two? Honestly, why? There's no reason.
SMITH: Yes. No, there is, Tucker.
CARLSON: There is?
SMITH: It's because marriage is two people who love each other and raise a family together.
CARLSON: By why? It was always a man and woman (CROSSTALK)
SMITH: Well, Tucker, why don't you answer that question? I know what a family is. It's two people who love each other and are raising children and helping society
CARLSON: No, but I'm saying there's no good answer. There's no reason to restrict it to two.
SMITH: There is a good answer. And it is, a family in this country is two people who love each other deeply, who want to raise a family together and contribute to society, pay their taxes.
LAFFERTY: Two people, what is two people, though? Human Rights Campaign, these homosexual organization, it is gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, she-males, which is you with breasts. Your own -- your own diversity pledge, and you have asked the Congress...
LAFFERTY: Let me finish. No, wait a second. Let me talk.
BEGALA: I'm scared to ask what you dream about, because it's sick. That's sick.
LAFFERTY: Can I talk?
BEGALA: I've let you talk.
LAFFERTY: The diversity that this organization is promoting on Capitol Hill that they want congressmen to sign includes -- it is gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders. It also includes she-males, because that is
SMITH: she-male is a superhero, right?
LAFFERTY: Are you denying that your organization has sponsored
BEGALA: Let me just call time out here for a second. Let me play you a piece of videotape...
LAFFERTY: You keep interrupting me. You've not given -- this is not fair and balanced.
SMITH: Let me address your question, Andrea. Yes, the Human Rights Campaign has gone up to Congress and asked Congress to consider signing a pledge that they vow not to discriminate against an individual based on their gender identity and expression.
LAFFERTY: And what is gender identity and expression?
SMITH: It is how you present yourself to a co-workers, a boss.
LAFFERTY: So that could be a man with breasts, she-males?
SMITH: No, Andrea.
LAFFERTY: It is a part of it.
SMITH: Would you listen to this? This is the type of animosity that we are facing. This is crazy.
LAFFERTY: This is relevant to marriage, because he was asking, well, who can get married? He says two people. Define two people.
BEGALA: What do you care if some guy wants to get a boob job? I've never heard of it before, but what the hell threat is that to you?
CARLSON: May I interject here and ask a question, David? Excuse -- excuse me.
SMITH: Please, sir.
CARLSON: I don't want to dismiss -- Andrea's point, however flamboyant it may sound, actually is a really interesting one. Paul said, oh, it's sick that a man would get dressed.
CARLSON: No, seriously.
CARLSON: Please don't interrupt me. What is sick about a man getting breast implants? I want to know -- and I'm dead serious and I want to know the answer.
SMITH: An individual that is born a physical, biological gender who feels as though that they are another gender inside...
SMITH: Wishes to change, either surgically or through the clothes that they wear, that is gender identity and expression.
CARLSON: OK. So why did Paul Begala just say it was sick?
SMITH: Well, I have no idea. I don't think he said that.
CARLSON: Then why are you calling her sick for bringing it up?
SMITH: she-male, she-male, the language that she is using is inflammatory.
LAFFERTY: It's your organization that supports this.
SMITH: No. Andrea, Andrea, let's talk about equality under the law.
LAFFERTY: Would it be transgender people that get married? Somebody that mutilates their body
SMITH: Mutilates their -- this is ridiculous, Andrea.
BEGALA: Andrea, I'm going to keep asking until you answer. Why is your organization so threatened by people who want to fall in love?
LAFFERTY: It is not my organization. It is the American people. Californians turned down homosexual marriage.
BEGALA: No, no, speak for yourself. Speak for yourself, not California or anybody else.
LAFFERTY: I am concerned...
BEGALA: Why are you threatened by two gay people who want to be in love and be left alone?
LAFFERTY: We're not talking -- but, Paul, we're not just talking about gay people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CARLSON: OK, I'm sorry...
LAFFERTY: No, let me answer.
CARLSON: I'm sorry to interrupt this, but speaking of love, speaking of love...
LAFFERTY: This is not...
CARLSON: This is -- I feel the heat rising. This is turning into a love fest. But we're going to break it off really quickly for a commercial break. We'll be directly back after a quick break -- a quick break.
CARLSON: Wolf Blitzer will have the latest headlines. And then it's "Rapid Fire," where the questions and answers come faster than the Democratic presidential candidates trying to explain themselves before special interest groups.
And Paul Begala has someone willing to defend him from the wrath of former President Bush. We'll let her fire back in just a moment.
We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
It's time for "Rapid Fire," the quickest question-and-answer session on television. We're talking about the coming legalization of gay marriage. And it's going to happen, we believe, whether Americans are ready or not.
Our guests: David Smith, the communications director for the Human Rights Campaign here in Washington; and the Traditional Value Coalition's executive director, Andrea Lafferty.
BEGALA: Andrea, why is it OK for Newt Gingrich to get married three times, but David Smith can't get married once?
LAFFERTY: Well, it's not right, but they are separate issues. But what's happening is, they're using this marriage issue to legitimize their homosexual lifestyle. And he still did not answer, what is two people getting married? It could be transgender people. It could be any kind of bizarre behavior.
CARLSON: Let me jump in here.
David, how long -- I'm assuming America will see gay marriage. How long? Give us your best estimate.
SMITH: It's hard to say, Tucker. It could be next week. It could be a year. It could be five years.
We hope it's soon, because we think it's the right thing to do. We think America is ready to support this. They're ready to support the individual components of marriage. And religious institutions will not be forced to recognize marriages they do not want to. They will be able to define marriage as they see fit. We're talking about the civil rights of marriage conferred by the state, to treat everybody equally.
BEGALA: I'm sorry to cut you off. Andrea, here is the next question. Which is worse, for a child to be raised in a series of orphanages and foster homes or in a loving family with two gay parents? Which is worse for that child?
LAFFERTY: I think both are equally difficult for a child. I have taken care of homeless children. So I understand their plight. But I do not think it is healthy. And many Americans don't think it's healthy.
CARLSON: David Smith, do you think that gay marriage is good for children?
SMITH: I think two people who love each other creating a wonderful, nourishing environment for a child to grow up in a loving home -- I think the most important commitment is love -- or excuse me -- the most important component is love. Second is commitment. And the child is raised under that environment, it's wonderful for the child.
BEGALA: David Smith from the Human Rights Campaign, thank you very much.
SMITH: Thank you.
BEGALA: Andrea Lafferty from the Traditional Values Coalition, thank you as well.
Time now to ask the audience the question. Those of you in the studio audience, take out your little voting devices there and tell us this: Should gay marriage be legal? Press one for, yes, gay marriage ought to be recognized by the law. Or press two for no. We'll have the results for you right after the break.
And then, in our "Fireback" segment, some darn good advice for President George W. Bush.
Stay with us.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for "Fireback."
But first, the results of our audience poll. Justice Scalia says this decision will pave the way for gay marriage. And it looks like he's probably right. Should gay marriage be legal? Yes, say 43 percent of Republicans -- interesting -- 85 percent of Democrats agree. No, 57 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of Democrats. Attitudes are changing.
BEGALA: That is stunning; 43 percent of Republicans think gay marriage should be legal. That's impressive. I think we know who is going to win this argument with the voters. Thomas Austin (sic) of Claremont, North Carolina writes: "I see the president is standing by the darn good advice he got on WMDs in Iraq. It matches the darn good advice he got on the economy, the environment, and world affairs. I hope he gets some darn good advice on his election bid, too."
CARLSON: All right, Paul, I will meet your North Carolina Democrat and match it: "I am a Democrat, but a firm supporter of our president. President Bush had much more to lose by going to war in Iraq than if he did nothing. With this thought in mind, why can't Americans understand and accept that he did it for the good of the country?"
I don't think there's any arguing that. This is an incredibly risky thing he did. It may destroy his presidency. But he did it because he thought it was right. I don't think there's any other explanation, agree with him or not.
BEGALA: I totally concede his motives. I think he did what he thought was best for the country, but I also think he misled the country. And I think that that's wrong. That's where I draw the line. I don't question his motives. I question his misstatements.
Rita Underhill of Vermont writes about a "Fireback" Tucker read yesterday where former President Bush said he didn't like me criticizing his son, which I don't blame him, writes: "Paul, it's too bad that Mr. Bush Sr. doesn't like what you say about his son. But please don't stop. We need someone like you to speak up for us out here who don't have a voice. We agree with everything you say and love your comebacks. Keep it up."
Rita, thank you very much.
BEGALA: Former President Bush was within his rights as a dad, though.
CARLSON: Yes, he
BEGALA: I'm just -- I'm honored that he watches.
CARLSON: Yes, he said "rabid CROSSFIRE viewer."
Pat Eden of Newark, Delaware, writes: "The Democrats need to get over it. It was an error that came from the head of the CIA, who admitted this. It's a all a political ploy anyway, trying to get more points for the DEMS" -- in all caps.
I love people who write in all caps. I couldn't agree more. And it's going to go nowhere politically.
BEGALA: Right. So, "Get over it" is the Republicans' message on everything, right?
CARLSON: Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mark Sorenson (ph), Brownsville, Texas.
Should the United States be influenced by views on gay marriage in other countries?
BEGALA: The Supreme Court was. And I found that striking. Justice Scalia found it really, really frightening in his dissent in the case out of Texas. But the majority opinion in the case, which was written by Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, said, we should look at this
CARLSON: It makes total sense. Every liberal I know takes his cultural cues from Canada.
BEGALA: Anthony Kennedy is a very conservative Republican.
CARLSON: Yes. No, he's a great guy.
BEGALA: He's a very conservative Republican.
From the left, I'm Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: He's not a very conservative Republican.
From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.
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