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Will Senate Approve Ban on Gay Marriage?

Aired July 13, 2004 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: Should the Senate say I do to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a critical issue for the future of the country.

ANNOUNCER: Critical or political?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk about your misplaced priorities. It's almost -- it's worse than "Alice in Wonderland." You have to pinch yourself.



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Bob Novak.


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

More than eight million people are out of work in America. More than 40 million of us are without health insurance. More than 800 Americans have been killed in Iraq; 5,000 have been wounded. But rather than attack America's problems, President Bush is attacking Americans, gay Americans who want to get married. Is Mr. Bush using our Constitution as an election-year prop?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: And where will Senators John Edwards and John Kerry be when it's time to stand up and be counted on one of the defining issues of our time? I'll bet they'll be playing election- year politics.

Before our guests take their stands, you get to sit through the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

The Democrats today announced their national convention speakers. On the first night, the theme will be the Kerry-Edwards plan for America's future, the speakers, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. How's that for looking to the future? The rest of the convention has the usual list of Kerry rally performers, Teddy Kennedy, Max Cleland, and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

But where is Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Howard Dean? Where's the fun? And please notice that, although there are lots of pro-choice, pro-gay speakers listed for the Republican Convention, there are no pro-life or pro-marriage amendment Democrats listed for Boston. Now, really, which party has the big tent and which has the little tent?

BEGALA: Well, let me issue a few facts here. Now, first, all of Senator Kerry's opponents, including Al Sharpton and Howard Dean, will be speaking. And I'll bet you a nickel a whole lot of pro-life Democrats will be speaking. There's only so much room, only three hours, that the networks are giving us in prime time. You're right. We do have a surplus of revered former presidents, like Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Prize winner, like Presidential Clinton, who actually balanced the budget, something Republicans talk about.



BEGALA: But we'll have pro-life speakers at my party.

NOVAK: I mentioned the prime-time speakers, though, didn't I? They're not on prime time.

BEGALA: There's only enough room for a couple speakers in prime time, Bob.

But one of the things I actually like is President Bush is that, like me, he's an avid hunter and fisherman. But, unlike me, he has his own private 1,600-acre ranch with his own private waterfall and his own private pond fully stocked with Mr. Bush's own private bass. So he doesn't need to hunt and fish on public land. Perhaps that's why he has repealed President Clinton's rules that protected millions and millions of acres for hunters and fishermen to enjoy.

He's now opening them up to loggers and to timber companies. President Bush has chosen to side with giant conglomerates that want to log the national forests and mine the national parks and drill in the national wilderness, while John Kerry actually supports his fellow hunters and fishermen. Fishing group Trout Unlimited is said to be upset with the new Bush ruling. Here's hoping that everyone who loves to hunt and fish sends Mr. Bush back to his private pond permanently.


NOVAK: Paul, let me try to explain to you what's going on. This, sir, is a badly needed reform that governors want. It gives the governors more power for providing for logging contracts. Democrats and Republican governors alike like it. And, you know, it's nice to have you hunters and fishermen. But if you want to have jobs for ordinary Americans that your heart always goes out to...


NOVAK: ... we've got to have some logging in this area.

BEGALA: For un-American, non-American, foreign timber companies. I don't like it.

NOVAK: All but the most vicious Bush bashers should know Michael Moore is an unscrupulous left-wing propagandist who hates America, hates capitalism, and has no use for the truth.


NOVAK: But now we learn that Moore included in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" footage of the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery of Iraqi war casualty Major Gregory Stone, obtained without his family's permission.

The major's aunt, Candy Gallagher (ph), told "Washington Times" reporter Audrey Hudson -- quote -- "It's been a big shock and we're not very happy about it, to say the least" -- end quote. She called her nephew a totally conservative Republican who would have found Moore's left-wing propaganda film to be putrid. Now will John Kerry finally repudiate Michael Moore?

BEGALA: Well, I don't know if he's seen the movie. I have, and I think all Americans ought to see the movie and judge for themselves.

If it's true that he didn't have that family's permission, he should have had it. And you make a good point. But I wonder if you can concede to me that I have a good point that President Bush should allow Americans to see the flag-draped caskets of our heroes who are giving their lives in his war in Iraq.



NOVAK: I don't believe so. I believe that should be up to the families. And I don't think that the -- I don't believe that the funerals should be a matter of propaganda, of anti-war propaganda.


BEGALA: But it's not up the families now. It's up to Mr. Bush.

Well, anyway, "The Washington Post" today printed the salaries of top officials in the Bush White House. You might be surprised to learn that President Bush pays Mr. John M. Currin $52,200 a year to be his director of fact checking. Get that. Mr. Currin is obviously overwhelmed in his job.

After all, President Bush misled the country in his State of the Union address when he falsely said Iraq tried to buy uranium for a bomb. Mr. Bush falsely claimed that an international agency reported Iraq was six months away from a nuke. He stood on that aircraft carrier and said Saddam was -- quote -- "an ally of al Qaeda" -- unquote. And in his letter to Congress formally justifying his war on Iraq, Mr. Bush specifically and falsely linked Iraq to the attacks on September 11.

Checking facts for a full-time fibber like Mr. Bush, I'll tell you, Mr. Currin must be busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.



NOVAK: You know, Paul, with all due respect, maybe you need a fact checker as well. The Senate -- a bipartisan unanimous report of the Senate Intelligence Committee this last week said -- quote -- "Iraq was attempting" -- that the U.S. intelligence found that -- quote -- "Iraq was attempting to procure uranium for Africa" -- unquote.


NOVAK: In addition, the 9/11 Commission had said there were connections between al Qaeda and Iraq, not with the 9/11 case.

Will John Kerry and John Edwards dodge the vote when the Senate considers a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Who's the political winner on this issue? We'll debate that next.

And, later, what do John Edwards and Dick Cheney have in common in the way they were selected and why they were selected to run for vice president?


ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.



NOVAK: The U.S. Senate is slowly moving towards some kind of definitive vote over a constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage. For a while, this issue looked like it might even tempt Senator Kerry to come back to his day job.

But with the amendment backers conceding they're far short of the 67 votes they need for final passage, perhaps Senator Kerry won't have to go to work after all. He sure doesn't want to.

Our guests have no such qualms about taking the stand. In the CROSSFIRE, Cheryl Jacques, president and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, and one-time Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who currently serves as president of American Values.

BEGALA: Good to see you both again.



BEGALA: Thanks. And, Gary, thanks for coming.

BAUER: My pleasure.

BEGALA: One of the things I've always liked about you is, you had the good sense to warn us about George W. Bush. You ran against him when he first ran in 2000.

BAUER: Did you vote for me, Paul?


BEGALA: You know what? You'd be surprised.

BAUER: Yes, I would.

BEGALA: One of things that president -- one of things that my governor then, George W. Bush, was asked about in that campaign of 2000 was this question of gay marriage. He actually took the same position that John Kerry, which is, he personally believes that a marriage should be between one man and one woman, but that states should be able to decide it.

Here's George W. Bush taking John Kerry's position with Larry King in a South Carolina debate. Here's Larry's question, Bush's answer.


LARRY KING, MODERATOR: So, therefore, if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest that that state not to approve it.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me into a states issue, like you're trying to get me in to.



BEGALA: Our audience could hear that. You could not. So let me give you what he said. What he said was, I think it's a states issue. States should decide for themselves, a position he took consistently through the campaign.

BAUER: Right.

BEGALA: This is the mother of all flip-flops for George W. Bush, isn't it?

BAUER: Well, Paul, you're a bright guy. And you know that the reason George Bush is supporting a constitutional amendment is because states aren't going to be allowed to decide.

The gay rights movement has a very clear legal strategy. They've got gay marriage in Massachusetts. Couples are marrying, going back to their home states, where they're filing suits, demanding under the Constitution full faith and credit clause that those marriages be recognized. The issue is not going to be decided state by state. There will be one standard of one marriage in America, and it ought to be between one man and one woman.


BEGALA: But, Gary, if that's your position, or, more importantly, if that's our president's position, then he's being disingenuous, because, if his position is states should decide, he could write a constitutional amendment that says states decide. He's not. He's writing a constitutional amendment that says gay Americans are not full Americans. And that's bigotry, right? That's the Bush position.


BAUER: The reason -- the reason that the amendment takes the approach it has, Paul, is that you can't have marriage in one state that ends up being different than marriage in another state. You could have same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, but in the state across the border, it's man and a woman. At some state down the road, it's one man and three women. There will be one standard of marriage in America. It ought to be the standard that's been there not only for the beginning of this country, but for 4,000 years of Western civilization.

NOVAK: Ms. Jacques, I want to play for you -- I hope people can hear this time -- something that the majority leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, said the other day. Let's listen to him.


SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: Marriage and families stand as a bedrock, as the bedrock for our society. We're kidding ourselves if we try to deny that children do best with a mom and a dad or a man and a woman.


NOVAK: Now, are you denying that a man and a woman, that kind of marriage, is best for the kid? And do you think it should be American policy to deny that?

CHERYL JACQUES, PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Here's what's best for children, loving, committed parents.


JACQUES: I'm raising two beautiful children with my partner. And I would hope that every child in this country is wanted, is loved, is cared for. This question is, how are we going to treat the gay and lesbian families that are all across this country? Over two million children are being raised in gay and lesbian households. How are we going to treat them?

Are we going to treat them fairly, like all families? Are we going to allow them to visit one another in a hospital emergency room? Are we going to allow them to receive Social Security survivor benefits that they pay in to if one of them passes away? Are we going to allow them to protect their children, yes or no? That's what this comes down to.

NOVAK: Ms. Jacques, I'm glad you got your pitch in, but I would love for you to answer my question.

JACQUES: I did answer your question.

NOVAK: I want you to really answer the question. I know you don't want to, but I want you to ask, as Senator Frist says...


NOVAK: Just let me ask the question -- deny that the children do best with a man and a woman as their parents. Do you deny that?

JACQUES: Bob, families come in all sizes, all shapes, all colors. I have two beautiful, wonderful parents.


JACQUES: My children have two wonderful parents. The American Psychiatric, the American Pediatric...

NOVAK: So I take that as a yes.

JACQUES: The American Medical Association all say what kids need is loving, committed parents.

NOVAK: I will take that as a yes. OK.

JACQUES: And they don't say who has got a better house or a worse house. Let's just have loving, committed parents. That's what matters.

BEGALA: Gary, I think one person we would all agree is a loving and committed parent is Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, before that, the host of CROSSFIRE on the right on the weekends. She was asked about this on CNN just the other day, just on Sunday. And, again, she took the John Kerry position, not the George W. Bush position. Here's Mrs. Cheney.


LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: People should be free to enter into the relationships that they choose, and, secondly to recognize what has historically been the situation, that, when it comes to conferring legal status on relationships, that's a matter left to the states. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Now, what could be worse than dividing families, husband against wife? Here's Dick Cheney, who is now pitted against his own wife by the president's political election year thing. That is really an attack on marriage, isn't it, Gary?

BAUER: And I'm sure you lost sleep last night over that, didn't you, Paul?

BEGALA: I'm heartbroken about it.


BAUER: Look, Paul, when you said that Mrs. Cheney is now taking Senator Kerry's position, you've bested me, because I can't figure out Senator Kerry's position.


BEGALA: Mrs. Cheney just stated it.

BAUER: Well, Senator Kerry -- Senator Kerry was one of only 15 senators in the United States Senate to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill that would have guaranteed that marriage would be defined by each state, and one state like Massachusetts wouldn't have been able to force their definition on everyone else.

He called the Defense of Marriage Act an exercise in bigotry; 85 of his colleagues voted for it. That bigoted president you worked for, Bill Clinton, signed it. Come on, bigotry?


BEGALA: Big mistake. Big mistake that Clinton signed it. I love Bill Clinton.


BAUER: You say it was a big mistake for Bill Clinton to sign the Defense of Marriage Act?

BEGALA: Absolutely.


BAUER: So you think 85 senators, including the majority of senators in your party were wrong?

BEGALA: Absolutely.

NOVAK: Mrs. Jacques...


NOVAK: Dave Noble is the executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, which I believe is a gay group. And he told "The Boston Globe' the other day this, a fascinating quote.

He said -- quote -- "John Kerry is the most pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender candidate of any Democrat or Republican who has ever run for president. We want to celebrate gay marriage during the convention in Boston."

Well, I'm going to be in Boston for the convention, along with everybody with CROSSFIRE. Can you tell me more about this celebration? I anticipate it greatly.


BEGALA: He wants to be invited.


JACQUES: Unfortunately, you'll have to have Dave on your show, because I actually don't know what he's talking about.

NOVAK: You don't.


JACQUES: Here's what I do know. I do know that John Kerry and John Edwards are candidates who will unite this country, who will bring this country together, who will treat all Americans equally under our lawyer, which is what our Constitution says, by the way, rather than use an election year to divide the country and pit us all against one another.


NOVAK: So when Senator Kerry says -- I'm a little confused by his position, as well as Gary is. So, when he says that he is against gay marriage, you think he's got his fingers crossed? Is that right?

JACQUES: No, not at all.

I think that's disappointing, because I'm for gay marriage, but I think President Kerry -- or -- good flip.


JACQUES: I think Senator Kerry is where the majority of Americans are. They're trying to figure out how they feel about the gay and lesbian couple next door and their children, but they don't want to discriminate. They don't want to see our precious United States Constitution used like a political football, cheapened with discrimination.


NOVAK: Gary, Bob is interested in the gay rights celebration of the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party Convention is going to be a celebration of gay rights. Here are the prime-time program. Earlier in the program, Bob correctly chided the Democrats and me for not having pro-life speakers at my party. Here are the big speakers, prime-time speakers in your party. They are John McCain, pro-gay rights, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

NOVAK: No, no, no, no, no, no.

BEGALA: Is McCain not?

NOVAK: No. He's not, no.

BEGALA: Forgive me. He's anti-Bush. That's for sure. He's against the amendment, though. He's voting against the amendment.


BEGALA: Arnold Schwarzenegger, against the amendment, Rudy Giuliani, against the amendment, George Pataki, the governor of New York, against the amendment. Where's Gary Bauer? How come you're not speaking here? Why are they discriminating against the conservatives?

BAUER: Well, there are going to be two speakers in prime time that will clearly make this case at the convention. That's George Bush and the vice president of the United States.

BEGALA: Which position will position will they have, their previous position or their current position?

BAUER: They'll have the position they've had all during the time that he's been president of the United States.

Look, Paul, I have got an interesting concept on all this. If this issue is so compelling and it's a matter of discrimination, could either you or Cheryl tell me one U.S. senator that favors same-sex marriage, one governor that favors same-sex marriage?

NOVAK: We'll have to wait for Paul's answer, because we're going to take a break.

And next, in "Rapid Fire," we'll ask our guests if there's a gay litmus test for Democrats right now.

And this man has turned himself in to Saudi authorities. Will his decision deal a blow to al Qaeda? Wolf Blitzer has the real story after the break.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, reports of another hostage murdered in Iraq, this one involving a Bulgarian.

An associate of Osama bin Laden has surrendered in Saudi Arabia. We'll talk live with the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki. And he's called the intellectual father of modern conservative movements here in the United States. William F. Buckley will join us for a special interview.

Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.


BEGALA: Thank you, Wolf.

Time now for "Rapid Fire," where we ask questions even faster than President Bush can execute an election-year flip-flop on that anti-gay amendment.

Our guests, American Values president Gary Bauer, and Cheryl Jacques. She's the president and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.

NOVAK: Cheryl Jacques, is it now necessary for -- to be a good Democrat to be in favor of gay rights? Is that a litmus test for Democrats?

JACQUES: You have to be in favor of treating all Americans equally under the law. And what gay and lesbian families are saying is, we're busy living the same life as you, working hard jobs, trying to raise children, trying to make a contribution to society. Treat us fairly. Treat us equally under the law. That's the litmus test.


BEGALA: Gary, the argument conservatives make against gay civil unions or marriage is that somehow it will deteriorate straight marriage. I've been married for 15 years. And now Vermont, for a couple, or three or four years, has had civil unions.

And you're looking mighty good to me. I wonder if you're free after the show, a little dining and dancing. It's not going to make any straight guy turn gay, is it?

BAUER: I'm taken, Paul.



BEGALA: Where's the social chaos you all predicted?

BAUER: Well, look, the social chaos -- it's not an accident, Paul, that every society has marriage defined the same way. It wasn't a mistake. It wasn't a plot of the religious right.

Healthy societies all over the world have always said marriage is between a man and woman. If it's not that, then it's not only two women and two men. It's a man and two women. It's a 40-year-old father and, consensually, his 20-year-old daughter. It's either a man and a woman or it's nothing.

NOVAK: Cheryl Jacques, do you think the 65 percent of Americans who are opposed to gay marriage are all a bunch of bigots?

JACQUES: No. I think America is trying to figure out how to treat their gay and lesbian neighbors, their brothers, their colleagues, their sisters, their children.

And most Americans are good-hearted and fair-minded and they want to treat people equally. And it's why we're seeing people now support things like civil unions, which 10 years ago those same Americans weren't certain about. And they're saying, yes, let those folks take care of their children.


JACQUES: Let them make a contribution. Let them care for one another. Let the estate laws and the tax laws and the hospital emergency laws, Family and Medical Leave Act, let those all apply to those families and their children. That's fair. That's where we're seeing Americans come down on. And they're trying to figure out what they want to call that.


BEGALA: Cheryl Jacques, that will have to be the last word, from the Human Rights Campaign.

Thank you very much, Gary Bauer, my friend.

Thank you very much for joining us, both.

Now, we know why John Kerry says he chose John Edwards, energy, charisma, optimism, and a record of fighting for middle-class families. But why did George W. Bush pick Dick Cheney? Well, the vice president spills the beans on why Mr. Bush chose him next.

Stay with us.


NOVAK: Senator John Kerry and his fellow Democrats may think they've got the lock on Senator John Edwards. But as Vice President Dick Cheney proved last night, he's not the only guy who's got the look and a terrific sense of humor to go with it.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody said to me the other day that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks and charm. I said, how do you think I got this job?


CHENEY: Why is that funny?




NOVAK: Well, he's a pretty funny guy, isn't he?

BEGALA: And save that tape. I believe it's the first time I've seen him smile, other than the watching the Halliburton board meet and give him thousands of dollars.


NOVAK: You know, you have not only demonized him. You think he's a demon.

BEGALA: No, no, he's a funny guy. That was good for him.

BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

And who is next? "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" I think is next, starts right now, yes.


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