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Larry King Live

Should Same-Sex Couples Have the Right to Marry?

Aired March 9, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, same-sex marriages, the I do's a majority of Californians don't want to recognize. Joining us in Los Angeles, actor Dan Butler. He plays Bulldog on "Frasier." In Louisville Kentucky, R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In Detroit, Marianne Williamson, author of "Healing the Soul of America." Also in Los Angeles, the famed nationally syndicated radio host Dennis Prager, plus former TV talk show host Charles Perez. And in San Diego, the co-chair of Gays for Proposition 22, Steve Yuhas. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

This proposition passed on Tuesday, 61 percent 39 percent. It was only 14 words long. It said -- quote -- "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California" -- end quote.

What was all the hullabaloo, Dennis?

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The hullabaloo was about redefining an institution which has been defined in every society as a man, woman marrying, a man, woman, coming together, and redefining that institution is about as revolutionary an act as a society can undertake. Californians -- to my amazement, it's a pretty liberal state. A Democratic governor, two Democratic senators rejected the idea, and would have rejected it even more, because this was not even a vote on whether there should be same-sex marriage. It was a vote on a perhaps even dubious proposition. So it's a big deal.

CHARLES PEREZ, FORMER RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Larry, that's part of the problem, if I could jump in here, is that, first of all, the wording -- it was not necessarily a wording on condoning same-sex marriage or not. What it was, was sort of repeating what we already understand to be the case...

PRAGER: Was stating the facts that already is.

PEREZ: ... which is marriage is between a man and woman. So they already have sort of built-in component that lends people to vote for it. But the majority of people under the age of 30 did not support this proposition, which is very important to say.

KING: Marianne Williamson, were with you surprised at the result?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, AUTHOR, "HEALING THE SOUL OF AMERICA: No, I wasn't surprised at the result, because as Charles was just talking about, people under 30 -- the overwhelming majority that voted for it were people over 50. I think what you're seeing is a generational change in the country, and so 20 years from now -- this is like a rear-guard action of a mentality that's really on its way out on a certain level. And I think that in 20 years, it will just be very different.

KING: Albert Mohler, what is your problem with man and a man or a woman and a woman getting the benefits marriage?

R. ALBERT MOHLER JR., PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well, because their relationship is by no means a marriage. It is in no way equivalent to marriage, and it is predicated upon a rejection of what this entire civilization is based on, and that is the fidelity of heterosexual marriage. It is a direct confrontation, a revolution, indeed, that seeks to break down the most basic building block of our society.

KING: Would you favor it if it had a different term?

MOHLER: No, not at all.

KING: If gays could have a partnership sanctioned by the state?

MOHLER: No, because it would be basically the same thing, just with a different nomenclature.

KING: Dan, are you offended by the vote?

I heard Dennis the other morning wondering if gays were offended at this defeat. Were you?

DAN BUTLER, ACTOR, "FRASIER": No, I -- offended by the vote, no. I was offended more by -- I found it very interesting -- I have to take my hat off to the other side, because I thought they were very smart in the ads they ran. They could be disingenuous. My favorite was the one on radio that kept playing saying, yes, but doesn't this infringe on the civil rights of gays? But no, no, my sister happens to be lesbian, and she has hospital visitation rights -- well, the thing you neglect to say is Pete Knight, the author of this, voted against hospitalization rights.

The only thing on the books now for domestic partnership in the state of California are three rights. That's right to register as a domestic partnership, which is symbolic really, hospitalization visitation rights, and the rights for a partner of a state employee to get medical benefits. Those are three out of 1,046 rights that married couples, straight couples, get automatically when they are married and are denied to same-sex couples.

KING: Let's bring Steve in, and then we'll get into a round robin here.

Steve, you were co-chair of Gays for Proposition 22. Why?

STEVE YUHAS, CO-CHAIR, GAYS FOR PROPOSITION 22: Well, I'd to actually tip my hat to the opposition for their disingenuous ads. There is nothing disingenuous about the ads for Prop 22. We ran a positive campaign, aiming to tell Californians that it's up to you, do we close the loophole in the family code, or do leave that law open?

If you want to talk about disingenuous ads, let's look at the opposition, who said the sky was going to fall on gay rights, on gay people, and adoptions and families everywhere if this proposition passed, and the overwhelming number of Californians decided that, you know what, they are disingenuous, and it passed by an overwhelming majority.

KING: But Steve, why were you for it as a gay man?

YUHAS: Well, I am for it because, one, I agree with -- I don't know who said it earlier -- I think there are some things in this life that transcend law, and I believe marriage is one of those. And if you look at polling and you look at other data, about 17-20 percent of openly gay people who are polled in exit polls also agreed with that. The problem is that gay people aren't allowed to disagree with the self-appointed gay leadership in this world, so you don't have that many people who agree.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I want to get everybody in. Hold it. Don't interrupt. We'll try to get it around.

Dennis, what's the problem of those who favor this amendment, with the idea of two people who are, after all, in love, being in love and wanting to be sanctioned as a love relationship, and wanting the benefits that that brings -- health benefits, visitation benefits...

PRAGER: OK. Benefits is one thing, marriage is another. And this is so complex, let's try to keep it in marriage, if it's OK. I'll tell what immediately. I would like that every child that could be adopted in America be adopted by a mother and father. As soon as you would have marriage for two men or for two women, you could never discriminate on behalf of giving a child a mother and a father. A gay listener of mine called up and he said -- and wrote to me, and he was willing to have his name known even, he was so passionate, and he cried. He said, I had a mother and father. I am gay, but I had a mother and father, and I love them. I don't want to deprive kids of that just in the name of my -- quote, unquote -- civil rights.

Doesn't a baby have a civil right to a mother and father?

KING: Charles, how do you respond?

PEREZ: Absolutely, but that's not the point, OK. Babies are out there who need families, who need someone to love them and take care of them, to raise them, regardless of whether or not the parents are gay or straight. This is not a problem of whether or not we're deciding whether or not to give children to gay or straight families.

PRAGER: Well, sure it is that problem. As soon as there would be marriage, then the state could never discriminate on behalf of a man and a woman. PEREZ: No, and to back up for a second, the question here, if you want to talk about the sanctity of marriage, why is it some guy can go to Vegas, meet some woman and a half hour later get married in some chapel, and we accord all the rights of society to that person, to that relationship. There could be two people who have been together for 30 years, have shared everything in their lives, who love each other dearly, and we will not as a society acknowledge and recognize that relationship.

KING: We'll come back, we'll ask if the Bible is involved with the law, and continue this discussion among six outstanding guests.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, there is no state that permits same-sex marriages. Hawaii's supreme court raised the possibility of legalizing it in '93, but Hawaii and Alaska passed anti-gay ballot measures in 1998, and there's a 199 Federal Protection of Marriage Act. and 30 states prohibit same-sex marriages by language.

What are you worried about, Reverend Mohler? What scares you about this?

MOHLER: Well, the homosexual agenda has now progressed to the point that they are assaulting the most basic building block of society. I do have deep cultural and social concerns about this. I share Mr. Prager's concerns about the raising of children.

But my most basic concern, as a theologian, is that this is a direct rejection of God's law, the very purpose of marriage as God gave it to us. Men were created for women, women for men and a heterosexual marriage, as a holy covenant, is a place where that relationship is to be established, and where the gift of sex is to be exercised and where children are to be raised.

KING: Now, Marianne, as a minister, you have married same-sex couples, correct?

WILLIAMSON: Yes, but then I can't...

KING: How can you do that? You can't sanction...

WILLIAMSON: Right. I can perform a spiritual ceremony. I can't say by the authority vested in me "by the state of California or by the state of Michigan." But I think that's one of the reasons why we should provide homosexual couples the opportunity to marry in the eyes of the law, because that takes it into a social codification of the spiritual fact, and that spiritual fact, I don't think is determined by anyone but God, and I think people in their hearts, if they feel moved to take that next step, that that should be their right.

You know, there's a lot of conversation, even here tonight, about gay culture and straight culture, but I think we should be talking about American culture. The American dream is that everybody, if they abide by the law, has the equal right to the opportunities to weave their own dreams, and if anyone isn't given that right, then America isn't weaving our dream, and all of us should be concerned about that.

KING: I'll permit cross questioning, but wait until the sentence is finished.

And we'll go to Charles Perez, but first Dennis.

PRAGER: I'd like to ask Marianne, would you marry an adult brother and sister who loved each other?

WILLIAMSON: No, I would not.

PRAGER: Why not? Why isn't their spirituality honored by you?

WILLIAMSON: Well, I don't really know. I would have to think about how to answer that, Dennis, but I would say that you know in your heart and every viewer knows that that's a whole different kind of question.

PRAGER: Why? Why? People love each other. If the criterion is love, they can love each other or a man and two women can love each other, Would you marry man and two women? Would you marry a bisexual to a man and two women? And these are not silly questions. If lose is the criteria....

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: I have known so many very...

PRAGER: No, why is it a stretch?

WILLIAMSON: All right, well, I'll answer you as best I can, Dennis. I have known so many gay couples whose love for each other and commitment to each other was so supportive of the things that I value the most in society, whose stability, whose homes, whose contribution to the communities and societies in which they live represent everything I see as good and as meaningful. Here we look at gay culture and so many people, I suppose such as yourself, would criticize them, saying they're promiscuous, saying their...

PRAGER: No, please don't put...

WILLIAMSON: Excuse me, perhaps not you, saying that they're not respecting traditional institutions, and here they're trying to say let us be part of a traditional institution, and we're saying you can't. That just doesn't seem right to me.

KING: Hold on one second. Dan, you are in a committed relationship, am I right?

BUTLER: Six years, and we had a commitment ceremony last March 27.

KING: What happens at a commitment ceremony?

BUTLER: Well, Mel White, who I think is a spiritual guide of highest order...

KING: He married you?

BUTLER: Yes, yes.

KING: He sort of did the -- he's a former worker for Falwell, right?

BUTLER: Right, and he's met with Falwell recently. We took a long time deciding whether to commit, and we asked ourselves the question, well, why do this if it's not recognized? Is this a political statement? But we said we love each other. We want to take the relationship to a different level, and we had celebration of our union. So we formed a service with Mel's help.

KING: Why do you need more than that then?

BUTLER: Why do I need more than that? Well, it's for the -- personally, the term marriage, to have marriage -- the word doesn't mean that much to me. If I had equal civil rights, that's what I think is the most important thing.

But I've got to say, I honor and love my parents and Richard's parents so much for coming. Richard's parents are of a New Testament Christian Church that sanctions homophobic remarks from the pulpit. They came with love and support. My sister is a devout Catholic. The Catholic Church speaks against homosexuality. She was there with love and support. My father, when I came out, said the only thing worse you could have told me is that you were dead, and he has worked on that.

KING: Now, Charles, what would you -- not Charles. Steve, and then Charles. Steve, what would you say in response to what -- don't you want all the things Dan just said?

YUHAS: Well, first of all, I think that gays and lesbians enjoy a lot more rights than any of the activists are willing to say that they actually enjoy.

KING: Why shouldn't they have every right?

YUHAS: What right? Who's actually being trampled on here? Who's being intolerant?

First I want to preface this with Prop 22 is not about consensual relationships. If it were, then we'd sanction any loving relationship with adults, and we can't do that. Spirituality aside -- and I think there's a lot of room for spiritual arguments in marriage, but there is not room for the kind of hatred that's thrown from both sides.

Now as far as the rights go, gays and lesbians in this country enjoy civil rights. There are rights, however, Larry, that are not given by the state, that are not given by government. They're given through some other being, through some other power, through some civilization, which has been going on for 6,000 years. And I will say this to the people who want to argue this in a theological way, that's a good argument.

But Prop 22 was not about theology, even though some of the impetus of people voting for it was.

KING: Charles, how would you respond to that?

PEREZ: Well, first of all, Steve, I don't understand why you don't think you deserve all of the civil rights that heterosexual people in relationships do get.

YUHAS: What I think, Charles, is that I don't think that it's being unreasonable to say that marriage belongs to the heterosexual community. I don't think that's unreasonable. What I think is unreasonable is for the gay agenda, which is a leftist, radical agenda, to go in and demand of the heterosexual community that they accept anything that gays and lesbians want to throw at them.

(CROSSTALK)

No, let me finish.

PEREZ: OK.

YUHAS: The gay and lesbian community is obscenely intolerant of dissent. I was fired from a gay newspaper, and don't write a column anywhere because I didn't think the way a gay person was supposed to think. The gay community is not innocuous.

PEREZ: OK, I hear that point it. I hear that point.

YUHAS: It is dangerous for the gay community to demand tolerance.

PEREZ: I hear that point, but you're...

KING: Let me get a break, then we'll have Charles respond.

PEREZ: Yes. I've got to come back on that one.

KING: It's tough dealing with six when three are here and three are away, but we'll get through it, and we'll come back with more of Prager, Butler, Mohler, Williamson, Yuhas and Perez -- sounds like a downtown law firm in Memphis. Anyway, we'll come right back.

And here's what President Clinton had to say about Proposition 22. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This initiative will have no practical effect whatever. This is a solution in search of a problem that isn't there. So people are being asked to vote on this to get everybody in a white heat and to divide people at a time when -- you know, look around, folks. We just had this little 6-year-old girl killed in Michigan by a 6-year-old boy who got a gun that was stolen that he shouldn't have been able to get his hands on. That's a problem we ought to be working on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: If you just joined us, I'll be reintroducing our panel at the bottom of the hour.

Mr. Perez has the floor.

PEREZ: Yes, I want to go back to your gentleman, Steven.

KING: Steve Yuhas. Steve was co-chair of gays for Proposition 22.

PEREZ: Right. You know, Steve, bottom like is, in my life, in my relationship, I wanted to make sure that we each have the rights of a heterosexual couple, so we went to an attorney, and we did everything we can to draw up those rights -- bereavement rights -- or excuse me -- inheritance, power of attorneys, all kinds of things. It cost us $4,000 to $5,000, OK? There are ways to get around some of this, not all of it, but some of it and do it. And I thought to myself, what about those people? What about the people who don't have $4,000 to $5,000 to spend on an attorney? Shouldn't they get these rights? Shouldn't they protect themselves?

KING: Dennis, why shouldn't they have any right anybody has? Rights are rights.

PRAGER: Steve made a very important point that I relate to. Christmas is a national holiday. I am a Jew. I am happy Christmas is a national holiday. I think that in America today, there is a belief that everything the vast majority have created has to be torn down if there is any minority that doesn't fully relate to it. I have no problem with Hanukkah not being a national holiday. I am happy that the vast majority of citizens have Christmas to celebrate as a national holiday. I am happy that the president has a Christmas tree at the White House. I don't have a Christmas tree in my house. I have a Menorah, and that's OK with me. And for $4,000, $5,000...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMSON: That is a completely unreasonable analogy.

PRAGER: Who decides it is the majority. It's a democracy. We vote on it, and then we decide.

PEREZ: What are civil rights...

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: Marriage is not a civil right. It has never been a civil right.

KING: Hold on, Marianne. Hold on. People in Virginia once voted against interracial marriage. You're saying that's good? PRAGER: You're right. No, because it violates the Constitution. Does not marrying anybody who wants to marry violate the Constitution? No.

KING: Marianne, go.

I just think it was an unreasonable analogy. Charles was talking about equal rights under the law, and that is something -- no group of people should be criticized for having an agenda of equal rights under the law. And so the analogy of the Jew the Christian is ridiculous. Having Christmas doesn't in any way keep the Jew from having rights on Christmas day.

KING: Reverend Mohler, why shouldn't the gay have every right you have? What makes you better than them?

MOHLER: Well, that really isn't the case. It isn't me being better than they are. It is a case of my relationship, a man related to a woman, being the one that has been privileged in Western civilization and in all cultures around the world since the very beginning of time, and for very good reason.

"The San Francisco Examiner" this morning wrote an editorial lamenting what it called the romantic and religious baggage around marriage, and said we have to do away with it. Well, that isn't baggage. That's the very core of what marriage is.

What we are seeing here is the effort of the homosexual activist community to break down the very foundation of the culture, the society and to put in place an alternative understanding not only of marriage, but of life.

KING: Aside from marriage, reverend, would you favor gays having every other right -- the right to wills, the right to visit in an emergency room, the right to make decisions about a partner in right and death -- the same rights other partners would have?

MOHLER: Well, some of the issues you mentioned their are actually germane to marriage, and some have nothing to do with marriage. I would not favor in any way whatever you would call it, coming up with a parallel institution to marriage for homosexual partners.

KING: All right, an intensive care unit will only admit relatives. Should a partner of a gay person be admitted to an intensive care unit to visit his partner?

MOHLER: Well, I would say that ought to have something to do with what the patient has to say. But that relationship should not be recognized as family or as a marriage relationship.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it. Dan, and then Steve.

BUTLER: Well, that's why I think one of the heroes today in the United States is someone like Tom Little, who's the Republican head of the Judiciary Committee in Vermont that's working out the legislation, and he said, we may have disagreements, but the Constitution -- everyone should have equal protection underneath the Constitution. You cannot say what is a family. They're just as valid being same sex as two sexes, and just as some people may disagree, but the Constitution is not based on the Old Testament, and that's what I think we need to protect, the sanctity of the separation between church and state.

KING: It doesn't mention marriage, does it?

PRAGER: No, it doesn't. That's exactly my point. It doesn't. Marriage is not a right. This whole thing is really, I think, dishonest -- yes, marriage is given by society. If America votes...

KING: You can deny it?

PRAGER: That's right. And it is denied often for whatever reason, including brother-sister, including -- Utah was not allowed to be a state...

PEREZ: I am insulted by this brother-sister thing you keep bringing up.

PRAGER: I don't know why you're insulting.

PEREZ: Because you're talking about an incestual relationship. You're talking about something radically different.

PRAGER: So to you, that is ugly. To this reverend, your thing is ugly.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back, we'll come right back. We're going to include your phone calls, too.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I guess there's some amazement, Steve, as to why you apparently don't want these rights or don't see them as rights.

YUHAS: Well, Larry, it's not that I don't want basic civil rights within the United States for gays and lesbians. If Prop 22 was going to do any of the things the opponents said that Prop 22 was going to do, I wouldn't have supported it. Prop 22 didn't take away and didn't deny rights to anyone.

I will say this, though, and I think it's important. And again, to reiterate, the theological issues aside, that's not what this proposition was about. This proposition was about equalizing the family code in California. Now, I will say to -- if I can just say really quickly, that the consent -- the idea that marriage in whatever definition is going to be between consenting adults is a dangerous premise, because once you change marriage between a man and woman, and then say it's just a consensual relationship, one, you decrease the importance of the marriage between the man and the woman, because then it becomes just a consent thing, and I don't think it's farfetched to think that an adult -- or a brother and a sister who decide they love each other, and it's fully consensual, should not be married under the law, if in fact, it's a fundamental right as some are arguing; it's a privilege.

YUHAS: Does he make a good point, Charles?

PEREZ: No, he does not make a good point.

YUHAS: Of course not.

PEREZ: And I want to -- you don't. And I'll go back to the inception of this initiative, OK. This was -- Proposition 22 was introduced by a man named Pete Knight in the California state legislature. It is also no coincidence, I think, that his son is gay, his brother was gay and died of AIDS three years ago, but there's something else going on here, and I almost wish I was a psychologist...

KING: The legislature passed putting it on...

PRAGER: This sounds like when the radical right attacked Martin Luther King for adultery. What's the difference about Pete Knight's life? What do I care? Either the proposition is worthwhile or it's not worthwhile.

PEREZ: And do you what, he introduced it in the state legislature four times, and it was not accepted, so finally, he got it accepted as a...

YUHAS: So he brought it to the people of California who decided overwhelmingly that this I was good initiative, and it passed.

PEREZ: Do you know what this is, Larry? This is -- and you're going to hate this one. It's an apartheid-like initiative, in the sense...

WILLIAMSON: What?

PEREZ: ... that's it's objective...

WILLIAMSON: Oh, I see.

PEREZ: ... is to separate gay and lesbian people from the rest of Americans, even if it's just a little bit, and that's my problem.

KING: Legal separation?

PEREZ: Yes.

YUHAS: That is absolutely so far off base.

Larry, the intolerance from this entire -- from the inception of the ads and everything else -- all of the intolerance that had to do with anyone was not coming from Prop. 22. Prop 22 had positive ads. What the opponents tried to do was scare and demagogue Pete Knight, the people of California into doing something. I have never in my life felt -- really quickly -- I have never in my life felt discriminated against. I'll tell you what though, Larry...

KING: Never?

YUHAS: Never, until the gay community came along and decided that because I supported Prop 22 I am a demon. I am more villainized than Dr. Lore (ph) or Rush Limbaugh ever was.

KING: i don't think Dan believes you, right?

YUHAS: Well, Dan doesn't need to believe me. Dan wasn't on Prop 22.

PRAGER: You know, it's interesting, I've got to bring the other minority parallel in. When I say on my radio show that I have never experienced anti-Semitism in the United States -- and I am 51 -- Jews call up and tell me that I am out to lunch. What am I going to do? Make it up? I swear, I have never experienced -- I have abroad, but I have never in this country.

KING: You may have not known it.

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: I didn't know it, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

YUHAS: All gays are expected to be victims, and all gays do not subscribe to the premise that we're all victims and that we're a big minority.

KING: Steve, are you saying the playing field is level?

YUHAS: I'm saying the playing field is level. And if it's not level...

KING: It's a simple question. It is level?

YUHAS: It's not level to the people who have to put the rainbow on the back of their car and have their sexuality on their sleeve. It would be level if they...

PEREZ: You're so naive right now. You're so naive.

KING: Let me get another break. We'll come back.

YUHAS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: We'll come back, and we'll reintroduce the guests. I don't think anybody's mind is going to be changed on this panel tonight, but hopefully someone in the audience. We'll take your calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. We're discussing California Proposition 22 with a terrific panel. With me in Los Angeles, actor Dan Butler. He's no longer with "Frasier," but he's so linked to that show. He plays Bulldog Briscoe. In Louisville, Kentucky, R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In Detroit, Marianne Williamson, the bestselling author. Her newest, "Healing the soul of America." In Los Angeles, the famed nationally syndicated radio host Dennis Prager, plus former TV talk show host Charles Perez, who should be back on. And in San Diego, the co-chair of Gays for Proposition 22, Steve Yuhas.

Is there any way to change -- what happens to it now, to this challenge, Dan? Can you do anything about this, or is this locked in stone?

BUTLER: I think it's -- I mean, for what it was, it's pretty much locked in stone. And I think it -- you know...

KING: You're a long away from gays marrying in America?

BUTLER: Well, like I said, if it were equal civil rights, that would be fine for me. I am not of the feeling that if we don't have the term marriage that makes us second-class citizens. But I honor those -- I hear some people want to put it on the ballot this November to go for same-sex marriage.

PEREZ: Larry, one of the problems here is Proposition 22 challenges the full faith and credit clause, which...

KING: Of the Constitution?

PEREZ: Exactly, which asks states to honor the laws and -- and...

KING: Well, federal law counts over state law.

PEREZ: Exactly. Someone gets married in Arizona that it's recognized in California.

I mean, part of the reason this whole thing came up is because of the fear that in Hawaii they were going to accept same-sex marriages. So this is going to be challenged. It's going to be constitutionally challenged, and it's going to be decided in the courts.

Civil rights are not something that you hold up to public referendum and whatever the majority of the people want, otherwise you'd still have slavery in the South. You know, it's wrong.

YUHAS: You can't equate sexuality to race. And to do that is so disingenuous.

PEREZ: I wasn't. I was not...

YUHAS: Slavery is not race? Slavery was black...

PEREZ: No, I was talking about the right -- I was talking about whether or not the majority of the people by vote should decide what civil rights should be for one people.

YUHAS: You're right. And you compared it to race, and you cannot do that. Sexuality, being gay is not equal to being black. You cannot look at someone and say, they're gay. I can look at a black person and say they're black, and I can discriminate against them. You cannot be discriminated against as a gay person unless you beg for it.

PEREZ: It's an entirely (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're talking about a different issue here, Steve.

YUHAS: No, we're talking about the same issue. I'm challenging your premise that somehow or another that if we allow the people of California to decide what marriage that somehow that's equal to slavery.

KING: All right, Albert, what will happen if Vermont OKs it and a married couple of Vermont settles -- married gay couple from Vermont, legally married, settled -- and they haven't, of course -- settle in Kentucky?

MOHLER: Well, at this point, Kentucky has a law on the books, Defense of Marriage Act, that would prevent the recognition of that marriage: 30 states have adopted such laws. And in 1996 President Clinton himself signed the National Defense of Marriage Act, which allows the states to establish the definition of marriage and honor their own definition.

KING: So therefore one state could have it, another state could have it, and therefore, if you don't recognize one state as they would honor a driver's license?

MOHLER: That's exactly right. At this point, there is not only the allowance for that but the explicit legislation to set that particular issue at the state level for definition.

YUHAS: The hero of the -- the hero of the gay community, Bill Clinton, signed DOMA, and people forget that. Everyone that came out against Proposition 22, all the politicians, they said, we're against 22, but we're for -- for gays being together but we're not for gay marriage.

KING: What is your fear, Dennis?

PRAGER: My fear...

KING: What's your fear? What happens if this passed, if this went the other way?

PRAGER: My biggest -- I have two biggest fears. That's a very fair question. The first is about adopting children and having children generally. I think we talk about civil rights -- I think it should be a civil right, if the word has meaning, to at least start out life -- people get divorced; people die; people flee -- but at least to start out life with a mother and father. If we -- if we have same-sex marriage, we are saying this country doesn't care legally whether you start out life with a mother and father or not.

KING: I don't mean to interrupt. Gays cannot adopt now?

PRAGER: No. Gays can adopt now, but as couples it is not nearly as easy as it is for a male-female couple.

KING: Right.

PRAGER: And this would make it absolutely as easy, and no agency of the government could ever discriminate on the favor of a mother and father if you have two fathers or two mothers.

KING: And Dan, what was your fear in it not -- in it going the other way? What do you worry about? You have a committed relationship. You signed it in a ceremony of a type.

BUTLER: Right. Right.

KING: So?

BUTLER: And we also had to go to a lawyer afterwards and ensure durable power of attorney for health...

KING: So you had to pay money, and Dennis said he'd contribute to the fund.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: Right. What I was scared about, and still am, similar propositions as 22 in other states were used in courts by right-wing organizations to break apart the legitimacy of domestic partnerships. And there was a case in Idaho where...

YUHAS: A sealed case.

BUTLER: ... where two lesbians -- two lesbian mothers were banned from adopting a child because of the anti-marriage laws on -- on the books. This was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "New York Times."

YUHAS: Larry, that is -- Larry, that's not true.

KING: Albert Mohler, you said -- you said there's a gay agenda. Isn't there also a conservative right-wing agenda?

MOHLER: Well, you have to ask the question, what is change? The Christian church did not come up with our understanding of homosexuality and its sinfulness in the late 20th century. This has been our understanding all the way from biblical times. And every civilization we know has held to that same premise.

No culture in history has ever sanctioned same-sex relationships as heterosexual marriage. The late Pitering Slockan (ph)... PEREZ: Well, maybe it's time.

MOHLER: ... the great sociologist at Harvard University said in reviewing all the civilizations of the world that no culture had ever severed sex from heterosexual marriage and long survived.

PRAGER: Reverend Mohler, maybe it's time. There's an inevitability to this, and you need to realize that in the next 10 years some state somewhere in the United States is going to afford the right of marriage to gay men and women. It's going to happen. Because it hasn't happened before does not -- is not grounds for it not happening now.

PRAGER: By the way (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MOHLER: I refuse to see that as moral progress, however.

PEREZ: But it's not going to go away.

PRAGER: Let me say the other fear, because -- and it might be more controversial, but I don't mean it for that reason. So here it goes.

I believe that sexuality is much more fluid than we now believe. I think that the general belief today is you're born gay, you're born straight. I don't believe that.

KING: We don't know, though, do we?

PRAGER: We don't know. But we do know this: that society has a tremendous impact on sexual behavior. In ancient Greece, men and boys -- and it's not that -- god forbid, I'm not saying that, you know, pederasty is a big thing among gays; that's not my point. It's that in Greece you slept with your wife for children, but fun you had a male. OK?

Were they -- were they different genetically? No. It was society allowed that.

If my 7-year-old boy is asked, hey, so who do you want to marry? -- which they ask little kids -- and marriage becomes same-sex as well as opposite sex, in his little mind or her little mind, whatever the age may be, it might be, well, you know what? I don't know. Will it be a boy or will it be a girl?

KING: All right.

PRAGER: And I think that does affect the way you grow up.

KING: Suppose that it's a boy: You're going to love him less?

PRAGER: No, I'd love him every bit as much. But while he's forming his sexuality I want him to think in terms of marriage to a girl. I understand that those who are...

PEREZ: I did. PRAGER: Yes, fine.

PEREZ: Dan probably did too.

PRAGER: Right. And you guys may be hard-wired. As I may be heterosexually hard-wired, you may be hard-wired homosexually. That's fine.

KING: Everybody here is the product of a heterosexual relationship.

PRAGER: That is correct.

PEREZ: I grew up with my mother and my father in a home.

PRAGER: Already we have a vast amount of increase in lesbianism...

(CROSSTALK)

PEREZ: Your sentiments made kids like me...

KING: We've got to get a break. We'll come back.

PRAGER: It is a problem.

KING: We'll come back and we'll include your phone calls. As we go to break, here's what I guess the most famous lesbian couple in America, Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, had to say about this. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you want to marry? Is that...

ELLEN DEGENERES, ACTRESS: Yes.

KING: ... one of the things you want? To have the right to go down to city hall, as any two people...

ANNE HECHE, ACTRESS: Absolutely, as anybody else is able to do. I mean, consciously, we are married. She's my wife. I'm her wife. But that we can't go and do what every other single individual in this country and in this world can do is ludicrous to us. It's a right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Let's include some of the audience. Las Vegas, hello?

CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry, great show. I'd like to ask Reverend Mohler...

KING: Go ahead. CALLER: Is it OK for men and women to get married four, five, six times, and why isn't it OK for a gay men or women to get married only once?

MOHLER: Well, I'll tell you right off that there are a lot of heterosexuals that mess up marriage and deny God's ideal and sin even in the context of heterosexual adultery. That does not invalidate the institution of heterosexual marriage. The problem with two men or two women together is that that just isn't a marriage. It's a rejection of the very institution of marriage.

Let me say this: I love homosexuals. I want the very best for them.

(LAUGHTER)

But when you love someone, you love them, you want them to have the very best. I want them to understand God's purpose in sexuality and marriage. Just giving persons what they want is not necessarily showing your love for them.

WILLIAMSON: I'd like to say something here: I think it's important -- I hope that the reverend understands that there are millions of Americans who feel just as strongly about God as he does who do not agree with his views on this subject. There are many, many people who feel that a God of love is much more important than a God of judgment or a God of fear. This idea of legalizing shame in the name of God seems very unspiritual, even deeply unreligious to millions of Americans.

MOHLER: Well, Larry, demanding something in the name of God...

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: I would like to make a -- I would like to make a statement on behalf of the God of judgment. I actually -- if God were only loving and not judging I would have a very scary time.

There is in fact a guy -- the guy who does "Conversations With God," the bestseller, who believes Hitler went to heaven. That's because he believes in an all loving God. I actually like a judging God. I just want to be on record as saying that.

WILLIAMSON: I think that's clear that you like a judgmental God, Dennis. I don't think any of us doubt that.

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: Right, fine.

WILLIAMS: This we knew.

PRAGER: Right, OK.

KING: Dearborn, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Good evening, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Good evening to all the panelists.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I have a comment and a question. First my comment: My comment is I am very sad about what happened with Prop 22 in California. I'm a gay man. I'm in a relationship of 15 years, a very loving, committed relationship. It's makes me very sad. But on the other hand, I'm not really all that surprised. And tell you the truth, I really don't care at this point. I am so tired of -- of working for my rights with -- with -- with this country.

But the comment is -- is that, you know...

KING: That was the comment. What's your question?

CALLER: The question is -- is that basically, this -- who gives anybody -- this is people who are against Prop -- who were -- who were for Prop 22. Who gives you or anybody else in this world the right to tell people how they can love one another? You can't legislate love. And you can't take away people's rights based on who they love.

(CROSSTALK)

YUHAS: Larry, Larry, Larry, sir, Prop 22 is not about love. Prop 22 is not about consensual relationships. Prop 22 was about the people of California defining for ourselves. And who gives us that right? The Constitution of California gives citizens the right -- gives citizens of California the right to bring forward initiatives.

And you know what? There's going to be an initiative about gay marriage this November provided they can come up with the signatures. And I think that's going to go down to defeat just as much.

PEREZ: Steve, marriage in the state of California was already between a man and a woman.

YUHAS: Look, if you want to be disingenuous and deny that there's a loophole in the law, and if you want to deny the fact that Ellen DeGeneres and all the Hollywood cronies wouldn't be the first people on the planes to the first state that allowed gay marriage, then come back to California and start challenging the law by virtue of 308 in the code. You're wrong.

KING: But why does this have to be mean-spirited? Why did it have to be cronies? Why can't they just believe what they believe and you disagree with them?

WILLIAMSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Why is it a plot?

YUHAS: I'll tell you why: because I have been -- and I'll just tell you this from personal experience. I have been villainized in the gay community because of my support for 22. Prop 22 was put forward...

PEREZ: So this is a personal thing for you.

YUHAS: What do you mean it's a personal thing for me?

PEREZ: It's a personal thing with you by the way...

YUHAS: Because I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

YUHAS: It's personal ...

(CROSSTALK)

PEREZ: I'm not going to run out and get married if we...

KING: One at a time, please.

YUHAS: It's personal because I don't believe what the majority of gays believe. So what do they do? The gay people of this community, the people who are out there screaming tolerance villainize me.

So yes, I think Ellen DeGeneres is a crony of the left. And I think there's extremists in the activists. And let's be frank. These are self-appointed gay activists who pretend to speak for the entire gay community.

WILLIAMSON: See.

KING: Are the Log Cabin gays active -- they're active Republicans.

WILLIAMSON: You know this is...

YUHAS: Well, they are activists but they're self-appointed. There is no group out there that is willing to say, we're a gay organization and we do not agree with Prop 22, even though 17 to 20 percent of self-admitted gays actually voted for it.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back with Reverend Mohler and others, and more phone calls. Goes fast. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Reverend Mohler, when you said you loved gays, Charles laughed and Dan smiled. They don't believe you. How can you convince them?

MOHLER: That's because they define love as indulgence, and again, I have to define all of these issues against something else. It's not just a matter of my preference. When I hear Marianne Williamson talk about God, it's simply the God of her invention, it's not the God of scripture. The God of scripture defined himself as a God of both love and of judgment. And the right kind of love is honest, honest enough to tell people the truth, honest enough to hope and pray for them the very best. And that does not mean giving persons what they want.

And when you talk about love, you know, the caller asked the question, how can you say that one love is wrong? Every society everywhere at all times, every civilization regulates love and regulates sex in one way or another.

America in this generation is trying to see what it would be like to be a society where all the fetters are thrown off. That is not a new civilization. That's no civilization at all.

KING: Dan, do you feel different?

BUTLER: Do I feel different...

KING: Yes, in a society in which the majority is heterosexual and you are in a minority, do you feel different?

BUTLER: Yes, I don't like thinking in a divisive way like that. I mean, that's why I was against Prop 22. I like to live my life aspiring to the change I would like to have happen. I would like to live it as if it's already happened.

KING: Do you ever wish you were heterosexual?

BUTLER: No.

KING: No?

BUTLER: Well, God created me this way. I mean, this is who I am.

PRAGER: Well, wait. That is an interesting question only in this way, and I mean this only sincerely. If it's that bad, why wouldn't you wish that you were heterosexual?

BUTLER: Because I know others -- I feel very lucky that I have not experienced the discrimination that people very close to me have, and so I feel...

PRAGER: And why haven't you?

BUTLER: Why haven't I? I don't know. Luck of the draw, or it's -- I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: Maybe you don't walk around with a...

BUTLER: It may be my profession...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Charles?

WILLIAMSON: I'd like to say...

KING: Hold on, I'll get a closing comment from you in minute. But -- Charles.

PEREZ: The discrimination that you're talking about is a very subtle kind of discrimination. It's not the kind of discrimination if somebody doesn't let you into the gas station to use the bathroom. It's the kind of discrimination that causes a little kid to hide the truth from his parents and from his family about who he is. The kind that when I was -- in 1976, when I was 13 years old, there was a cover of two men holding hands on "TIME" magazine. I knew that was wrong for me to read. I knew there was part of myself I was supposed to be ashamed of, and I took it and I curled it up, and I ran in the other room, and in secret in the garage, I read it, you know, and I brought it back and I snuck it back on the coffee table. That's what we're talking about.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll have final comments from everyone. We have certainly not heard the last of this.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's get a closing thought from everyone. The question will be -- we'll start with Steve Yuhas.

Have we seen the end of this or not?

YUHAS: We've seen a closure in the loophole in the law in California, and I don't think we've seen the last, obviously, of the discussions of gay marriage or the institution as a whole. It'll go on.

KING: Albert Mohler, do you expect the battle to go on?

MOHLER: Oh, I do. And you know, it's so sad to me that so much of the conversation seems to be as if God has limited sex to heterosexual marriage in order to cut off all kinds of fun elsewhere, when actually God gave us this institution for our good, for our pleasure, for the procreation of our species. I want for homosexuals what I want for everyone else, and that is redemption in Jesus Christ, wholeness before God, and the celebration of God's good creation by his created intention.

KING: And Marianne, do you think it's over, or not over?

WILLIAMSON: No, no, it's not over, and it's a good conversation, because whenever the American Constitution is being held hostage by anybody's ideas of who God is or what God means, this brings up something in Americans. We're going to understand that God is -- says judge says, judge not, lest ye be judged, and that God is a God of love, and that that principle should be the center of all of our organization as a society. So this is a good conversation, and everybody will be freer and I think better because of it.

KING: Do you think someday gays will marry, Marianne?

WILLIAMSON: I tend to, because I think as the vote in California showed, young people have a more and more enlightened attitude about this.

KING: Dan?

BUTLER: I think it's an exciting time. I think it's a time to be vigilant, yes, but especially gays -- we've grown out of adversity, and I think to just keep the faith and be proud of who you are and that you're never a second-class citizen.

KING: Don't you have some understanding of this plight?

PRAGER: Oh, totally, absolutely, totally. Gays...

KING: Since we don't why someone is gay. We don't...

PRAGER: You know, gays call my show and have actually asked for advice on -- relationship advice, and I give it to them, no tongue in cheek. It is not an issue to me. All I am doing is preoccupying myself with marriage and adoption of children. And I want kids to have a mom and dad, and I don't think that is reactionary or judgmental or whatever.

KING: But you can commiserate with the Charles...

PRAGER: Absolutely commiserate, absolutely. There's not even a question. And I just want to say, I beg parents whose kids are gay to love them. That's an appeal from the bottom of my heart.

KING: Do you know, Charles, why you're gay?

PEREZ: No. I don't really care.

KING: Do you think it's a gene? Do you -- earliest memories?

PEREZ: You know...

KING: We don't know the answer.

PEREZ: It's always been around. There were probably gay cavemen, you know, gay cowboys and Indians. It's not going to go anywhere. It's part of the human condition. It's part of the human condition that God created. And I address...

KING: Do you think in your lifetime you'll see gay marriages?

PEREZ: Yes, I do, because...

KING: Sanctioned by the state? PEREZ: Yes, I do, because I think what happens here, and if you can look at the history of this country, the rights of people who struggle -- people who struggle to have the rights of gay -- Italian- Americans, Irish-Americans, definitely African-Americans, you know, have always been held back by people that try to stop progress. You know what, but rights and freedom are inevitable, and they come. They will come in this case.

KING: Yes. And Steve, you fear that, right?

YUHAS: Well, no. What I fear is an activist community telling everyone else, tolerate me when they don't tolerate others, and I fear forcing change that is not necessarily change for the better. And I think, yes, we do need to think as Americans, but first we need to think that we are all human beings, and we should treat each other nicely and with respect, but unfortunately, it just doesn't always happen. We disagree on this issue, and it's not going to change anytime soon. And I don't about the...

KING: Three seconds, Dennis -- we getting better or worse?

PRAGER: As a society?

KING: Yes.

PRAGER: Irrespective of this, this is not -- my answer, I am worried about America. This is not the reason, but I am worried about America.

KING: Even though we're so bountiful and...

PRAGER: Maybe because we're so bountiful...

KING: Nobody's killing people in wars, crime is down.

PRAGER: We're killing each other in many other ways. I think that there's a lot of emptiness of the soul and of the conscience out there. We have a professor at Princeton who teaches that it's OK to kill kids by parents when they're born if you consider them to be particularly retarded, and he's the professor of human values at Princeton. I am a little worried.

KING: Thank you all very much. Dan Butler, Albert Mohler, Marianne Williamson, Dennis Prager, Steve Yuhas and Charles Perez.

Tomorrow night, we'll be back. Bo Derek is the guest.

Stay tuned now as we repeat an encore performance of Christiane Amanpour going back to her native Iran. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for joining us, and good night.

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