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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Debate Over Gay Marriage

Aired January 17, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Golden Globe goes to "Brokeback Mountain."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Brokeback Mountain."

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: "Brokeback Mountain."

DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: "Brokeback Mountain."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the debate over gay love and gay marriage heats up after "Brokeback Mountain's" big night at the Golden Globes. We'll get into it with conservative radio host Janet Parshall; also joining us the openly gay actor Chad Allen; R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Guy Padgett, openly gay former mayor of Casper, Wyoming, the city where Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay and the state where "Brokeback Mountain" is set. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

An extraordinary movie opened. It dealt with gay cowboys who also got married and had children. It might be called bisexual cowboys, an intense love story based on a story originally in "The New Yorker." It is favored to win the Oscar on that heralded night.

Janet Parshall, did you see the film? If so, what did you think of it?

JANET PARSHALL, RADIO HOST "JANET PARSHALL'S AMERICA": No, I didn't see the film and I'm not at all surprised that out of seven nominations Brokeback walked away with four and some might say that's an indication of what the Oscar ceremonies might look like later on this year.

KING: Why would you comment on it if you haven't seen it?

PARSHALL: Well, I'm interested in all of the buzz around the film. I'm not the least bit surprised that we're hearing so much chatter. After all, I think what we're witnessing, Larry, is the homosexualizing of America.

We've got the Book of Daniel with a gay theme and we've got Will and Grace with a gay theme and we're trying to get people, like me, people of faith who happen to believe that any sex outside of marriage, heterosexual or homosexual marriage, is wrong to try to somehow tolerate and even more importantly accept that lifestyle.

KING: Don't you think you might learn more by looking at it rather than looking away from it?

PARSHALL: No, I don't think so. In fact, let me tell you something about Ang Lee. He's a brilliant film director. I'll bet if he found a really good property dealing with, oh let's say polygamy, I bet he could tap into the human heart. I bet he could make people cry. I bet he could pull away the kinds of emotions that people allegedly get after they walk out of this film.

And would it really be about getting us to look at polygamy and accepting it or would it really be about an effective director who knows how to use a particular art form?

KING: Chad Allen, did you see it?

CHAD ALLEN, OPENLY GAY ACTOR: I did absolutely and it's an incredible film and I think it's being criticized across the board by conservative critics and by liberal critics alike as a great film. That's exactly what it is. It's a love story.

KING: Many conservative critics love it.

ALLEN: Love it. Sometimes begrudgingly they love it because they'll say "You know what, I may not even agree that it's good for America but I think it's a great film." You know Ang Lee is not a gay director. He took this film and I read a great article where he said he took this film because he wanted to find a new angle from which to tell the love story.

It's been told so many times he wanted to find a new way to tell it. This is one way that it hadn't been told yet and he dove into it. I think it's an incredible feature.

KING: There's no explicit sex in it.

ALLEN: No.

KING: In fact, the only come on scene is between a man and a woman at the rodeo.

ALLEN: Well, I mean there is -- there is a fantastic shocking sex scene that happens right off the bat but at least you know where he takes it.

KING: Yes, but it's not explicit.

ALLEN: And in fact it took me and what happened with me was I saw it and I went, oh no, I hope they're not going to make a movie about that. And then you watch these two guys fall in love and that's where the story is.

KING: Yes. Reverend Mohler, have you seen it?

R. ALBERT MOHLER, JR., PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: I've not seen the movie, Larry, and that's a matter of decision, not just a matter of chance. Like others, I don't feel any need to see the movie. I have read the screenplay. I know the short story and, of course, I know what the movie is about because it's out there so much in the media.

That's the main issue. I am not a movie critic. I really can't speak to the cinematography. I can just speak to what the cultural meaning of this film is and why I see it as a great challenge.

KING: Didn't the short story move you at all?

MOHLER: Well, no, actually...

KING: For example, you're a reverend, didn't you have some compassion for what happened to the younger one of the two?

MOHLER: Well, absolutely. You have to feel compassion when anyone feels pain and when anyone goes through that kind of struggle. But, you know, I really am horrified to think about where that story ended.

You know my main concern, Larry, is not with the gospel of heterosexuality, even though I think that's very important. It's with the gospel of Jesus Christ and what I find lacking in the movie, the screenplay and in the short story is any resolution that really brings these persons to know why they were created and how God really intends them to live and how they would find their greatest satisfaction in living just as God had intended them for his glory.

KING: Does it disturb you that apparently there's no record of Christ having had a heterosexual relationship?

MOHLER: No, as a matter of fact, Christ was single, celibate and yet he had a lot to say about sex. He normalized marriage and said that marriage is absolutely normative and, you know, even with a woman caught in adultery he said "Go and sin no more."

And there's no doubt that the Christian gospel, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the entirety of the New Testament present a comprehensive celebration of marital sex as one of God's greatest gifts but also as a gift that has to be kept within the boundaries that God has given us and that is heterosexual marriage.

KING: Guy Padgett, have you seen the film?

GUY PADGETT, OPENLY GAY FMR. MAYOR OF CASPER, WYOMING: No, I'm afraid not. The film only just came to Casper last week, so I haven't had a chance to go see it. I've read the short story, which I found to be poignant, very touching, a very powerful story about what happens when we live in a society that demands that we deny our true selves.

I wouldn't even call it a love story so much as a story about two star-crossed lovers. It was a very touching story I thought and I've no doubt that it made a sweeping movie.

KING: It just opened in Casper?

PADGETT: Yes, I'm afraid so. It just opened here last week. We are a smaller media market, so sometimes small openings don't begin here in Casper.

KING: Did you know the young man who was murdered in Wyoming because he was gay?

PADGETT: Matt Shepard you're referring to?

KING: Matthew Shepard, yes.

PADGETT: Matt was a dear friend of mine from junior high and from high school before he moved away for school so, yes, I knew Matt. I knew Matt well.

KING: Did you know the people who killed him?

PADGETT: No, no I didn't and I'm not sure that I want to.

KING: How do you rationalize it in your own mind to know that he was killed just because he had a certain sexual feeling?

PADGETT: Well, I mean it's a weird feeling. It's disturbing. I mean, you know, I'd always felt that Wyoming wasn't that sort of place where we'd have that kind of crime based on fear and hate and to see that this sort of thing could happen here it did shake me to the bone I'll be the first to admit.

But I was also so pleased to see in the aftermath of that how the people of Wyoming really came together, really had to look at themselves, look at one another and decide that we're not that kind of place. We're not a place that's governed by hate. And, I think that in the end maybe that there was some good and some positive that came out of that horrific crime.

KING: Janet, will you say that your cause is hurt when you hear of a Matthew Shepard?

PARSHALL: Well I will say what Jonathan Dunn, the great poet said, "Every man's death diminishes me." I think his death was egregious. I think the homeless man who was beaten to death, his death is egregious. I think the Christian who was beheaded in Indonesia is an egregious death as well.

But I think it's wrong, Larry, to think that somehow one death is more problematic, more egregious than the death of another human being and I think for someone to be killed because of their sexuality, if in fact that was the case, is as wrong as killing someone because of their skin color or because of their religious belief.

KING: You don't question that's why he was killed?

PARSHALL: Well, there's a lot of questions about his background. Was he, in fact-- and this is no way, shape or form a justification of what happened because it was wrong, wrong and wrong. Let there be no ambiguity there.

But in reality I understand that Matthew was somewhat of a person who hung around some of the gay bars and was coming on to some people. So, was he looking for trouble in all the wrong places?

If I were his mom, I would have given him some counsel stay away from that kind of a lifestyle because there's a way that seems right on demand and the end therein is death and unfortunately it cost Matthew his life.

KING: Chad, do you know why you're gay?

ALLEN: I believe...

KING: This is unenviable, the question I ask forever.

ALLEN: Of course, you know, it all comes down to that basic fear. You know I'm right now in a position where I'm getting attacked a lot because of who I am as a gay man. I'm coming out in a movie called "End of the Spirit" in a story that's very dear to conservative Christians and some of the Christians don't like that idea.

KING: That a gay man is playing it?

ALLEN: A gay man is playing that character and the bottom line is always comes down to that same idea. I am afraid that if I support you and if I allow you to have your freedom that will somehow tell my children that it's okay to be gay.

KING: But did you choose it? In other words, did you sit down one day and say gay/straight, gay/straight I think I'll be gay?

ALLEN: No. Larry, this is the way it is. From as early as I can possibly remember I was attracted to men and not to women. That's just the way that it goes. I didn't have somebody like me talking on TV about it. I didn't have gay influences in my family. It just is and I have come to accept that it is goodness and it's part of who I am.

KING: We'll take a break and when we come back we'll ask Reverend Mohler when he chose to be heterosexual. We'll come right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you and me had a little ranch somewhere, a little cow and calf operation it would be a sweet life? Now (INAUDIBLE) you better give me a down payment to get lost and then he more or less already said it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I told you it ain't going to be that way. The bottom line is we're around each other and if this thing grabs a hold of us again in the wrong place and the wrong time we're dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATH LEDGER, STARS IN "BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN": For me it's a story of how love transcends all, the environment you're born in, the opinions of generations before you, i.e. your family, your parents, your father and how love is stronger than opinions that are installed in you as a child and that it can break down those barriers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Reverend Mohler, if you believe that being gay is a choice, did you choose to be heterosexual?

MOHLER: Well, in some sense yes but when I say it's a choice and I would have to go back before that to say there are desires and even what we might call a sexual or erotic profile that goes back beyond when any of us ever knew we made a choice.

I don't doubt for a minute, Larry that there are millions of people who struggle with attractions to the same sex or other kinds of attractions that they don't even know they ever chose. They may never have and as they know themselves would never have chosen them.

But the big issue for all of us is how we find out what our creation was all about and what we were made for and why this incredibly powerful thing called sex is such a big part of our lives and how we are to bring it into a right alignment.

In other words, there are heterosexuals who struggle with all kinds of desires that are just not right desires and when it comes right down to it I, as a Christian, believe that we are also deeply affected by sin that we don't even know ourselves well enough to know why we desire the things we desire.

What I hope for is that persons, heterosexual and homosexual, will come to know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, would come to know new life in him, would come to understand that sinners can find the only help that is -- that is worth finding and the only salvation and solution to our problems by coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and then understanding that God, our creator, has the right to define every aspect of our lives including our sexuality.

KING: Do you know why if it's such a beautiful thing that it's a sin to do it?

MOHLER: To do sex?

KING: Sex, why is it a sin to have sex if it's so beautiful?

MOHLER: Well, I don't think it is a sin to have sex within the confines of marriage.

KING: I mean outside of marriage, gay sex, outside of marriage sex. It's a beautiful thing. Who does it harm? MOHLER: Well, you know, that is the problem. I can't say it's a beautiful thing. It may be something the world finds attractive. There may be pleasure in it that is passing but I think the only thing that can genuinely be beautiful is that which is also good and true and that means just as the creator intended it for us.

KING: Right but that's what you think. You don't want your thoughts to be his thoughts. The creator doesn't say because I say it everyone must do it because you have free choice right?

MOHLER: Well...

KING: So you're not making a judgment are you?

MOHLER: Well I am making a judgment...

KING: You are?

MOHLER: ...in saying that what Al Mohler thinks about this really isn't all that important but what the creator thinks about it is determinative. It's absolutely important.

It's the criterion that will be used even on a day of judgment that I firmly believe is coming when heterosexuals and homosexuals will be judged for all of our sin. And, yes, God will hold us accountable. We have free choice in terms of free agency deciding whether we're going to obey or disobey but we are accountable.

KING: But it's not in the Constitution. Jesus isn't in the Constitution of the United States. So, we're going to get into laws now.

Guy Padgett, why do you want, I assume you want legalized marriage, if so why do you care?

PADGETT: Well, that's an interesting assumption on your part. I, you know, I believe that this question needs to be left up to the people, to the municipality, to the state and I think efforts to define marriage at a national level by mending the Constitution is just wrong.

I mean the Constitution of the United States of America is here to grant us rights. The constitutions of the states in response and in line with that are here to grant us rights, not to prohibit us, not to control us in that manner.

And, I think that -- I think these efforts to amend the Constitution and to take away equal protection under the law is a mistake. Now, having said that, I do believe that there's no one size fits all solution for any problem and that we need to allow the sort of flexibility that allows for local character and for local...

KING: Would you want Casper -- would you want Casper, Wyoming to have legal marriage between gays?

PADGETT: I wouldn't want Casper to do anything that's not right for Casper.

KING: No, would you want it?

PADGETT: I would want us to have...

KING: You're a former mayor.

PADGETT: Oh, me personally.

KING: Yes.

PADGETT: Well, you know, me personally I, you know, my partner Jason and I have been together for over seven years now. I would like to have some acknowledgement that our relationship is as important as other relationships but I also would be very careful to say that I would want us to have an open and frank discussion of our community about that and whether or not it's right.

KING: Why would it bother you, Janet, if they had gay marriage in Casper, Wyoming?

PARSHALL: Well, let me pick up on something that Guy said because I appreciated it and that is letting the voice of the people be heard, which is why in 2004 you had eleven states that had a referendum dealing with exactly that subject and, guess what, in all eleven states the voters said, uh uh, marriage should be defined as one man and one woman.

KING: And if they passed it, you'd have gone along with it right?

PARSHALL: Passed the idea of what defining marriage as one man and one woman?

KING: Gay marriage, yes.

PARSHALL: Well...

KING: If they said one man and one man you'd have gone along because they would have voted it that way so you would approve.

PARSHALL: Wouldn't have had much choice. Welcome to democracy, exactly.

KING: OK. All right, SO...

PARSHALL: But I have to tell you, you asked me...

KING: ...what do you have against it?

PARSHALL: What I have against it is that it's a pretend family, Larry. Let's talk about this. You talked about the law but really the genesis of this law, no pun intended, happens to be the Book of Genesis. It was God himself that defined family as one man and one union, one man, one woman in that union and everything else is a fraudulent misrepresentation. KING: But in Genesis guys had five wives.

PARSHALL: Yes, they sure did and guess what the Bible also said they had a boatload of trouble. In fact, it's interesting "USA Today" writes a piece...

KING: But still called them family.

PARSHALL: Well, that also said it was called a problem. God's plan all along was one man and one woman and when those patriarchs stepped outside that plan the rest of that book says they had a whole bunch of trouble. So, it isn't about hurting me personally, Larry. It's about hurting our culture. It's about hurting our kids.

I think when two people of the same sex get together and they decide to use the moniker of a marriage I think it's a grotesque misrepresentation and actually if that union decides that they want to then adopt children because biology says they can create children then I think what you have in many respects is state sanctioned child abuse because you have purposely taken away either a momma or a daddy and mom and dad are both necessary in a child's life.

KING: Would you agree that a homosexual union can raise a pretty good child and a heterosexual union can raise a pretty bad one?

PARSHALL: I would agree that probably we need to reform the foster care system and we need to tear down some of the encumbrances to the adoption laws in this country but I don't think it's a good idea to say to Johnny, guess what, two daddies are going to meet all your needs just like a mommy and a daddy are because that's just not true.

KING: We'll take a break and get Chad Allen's thoughts on gay marriage. We'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour, all this in connection with "Brokeback Mountain." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. I am troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage.

I have watched carefully what's happened in San Francisco where licenses were being issued even though the law states otherwise. I have consistently stated that I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman and obviously these events are influencing my decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Chad Allen do you want the right to marry?

ALLEN: Absolutely without question. I deserve it.

KING: What about what they've said it's between a man and a woman (INAUDIBLE)?

ALLEN: I understand that, you know, I recognize that. I've heard their arguments a lot. I respect them fully for it but I also think the best thing that I've heard so far came from a very conservative Catholic father who turned to me.

He said, "I've been watching this debate and I just don't understand if you're allowed the same rights that I'm allowed how that's going to affect me." It isn't.

I recognize their fear. I hear it in their arguments and the only thing I have to say is, look, I know what it's like to be a scared 13-year-old kid dealing with his sexuality, trying to hide it, trying to fight it and winding up suicidally depressed. And I know what it's like to fall in love and fully get to express my love.

And I know that the world will recognize that fully. It's only a matter of time that we will be afforded the same rights. It's a civil rights movement just like any other that's come before and it's laying itself out just like any civil rights movement that's come before.

KING: Reverend Mohler, do you have any objection to gay unions in which at least when one of the partners may die the other partner may have the full rights of what a marriage would have brought?

MOHLER: Well I think the most important thing is that we understand that marriage is an objective reality and it's been honored that way throughout human history I believe because God did give it to us explicitly even in the act of creation.

When you look at the current debate over gay marriage there are all kinds of things going on there. I fully support a federal marriage amendment because I believe as a people, as a community, we need to honor what marriage is.

I do believe that different arrangements are specific to marriage in terms of such things as parental rights and responsibilities. The covenant of marriage is honored by society and vested with certain rights.

I do understand that in our current cultural moment there can be other arrangements that can be put together, for instance in hospital visitation and other things where individuals can make decisions without regard to perhaps some issues related to marriage.

But when it comes to anything that would devalue marriage and de- normalize marriage, I have to oppose it because I think it leads to a lack of health in the society. I think it -- I think it mis-teaches, Larry.

Marriage not only protects the union of the man and the woman and their children and perpetuates the human race, it's the central molecule of our civilization. It also teaches and the fact is that the adoption of anything like same-sex marriage or even civil unions teaches the wrong thing about what sex and marriage and family is all about.

KING: But visiting someone in the hospital you couldn't care about that could you?

MOHLER: No, I raised that myself. I think there are all kinds of issues that are thrown out there that are really false. They have nothing to do particularly just with the institution of marriage but with some social customs and hospital policies that I would be glad to see revisited. But I don't want to see anything happen that would marginalize or weaken marriage as an institution.

KING: Why then aren't you outwardly opposed to all divorce?

MOHLER: Well, I absolutely am.

KING: It destroys a marriage.

MOHLER: As a matter of fact I...

KING: Oh, you are?

MOHLER: I find myself often in hot water for that because I believe the Bible is as clear about divorce as about the fact that homosexuality is a sin and I will be the first to say that the very fact that divorce is so accepted in this culture is one of the greatest threats to the family and to our civilization and our society, one of the greatest causes of pain and one of the greatest demonstrations of sin in our time.

So, I'm right there on the front lines to say that our acceptance of a divorce culture is one indication of how far we've come from God's vision of how deeply we have absorbed a deep antagonism in opposition to God's plan.

And, I think it opened the door, Larry, for the very conversation we're having about same-sex marriage. If we had held the line at divorce, I don't think we'd be having this current conversation.

KING: And so, therefore, unhappy people should stay together?

MOHLER: Unhappy people should find out how to be happy together by fulfilling their covenant promises to each other made before God. I think that's the way to find happiness.

KING: Guy Padgett, do you think, do you agree with Chad that some day gay marriage will come in this country or in many states?

PADGETT: Well, you know, I mean if you look around the world, I think there are many nations who have been open to the changing role of marriage in our society and that's exactly the point I want to make here.

I'm glad to hear that the reverend is open to the possibilities of unions or some of those benefits being conveyed but I think that we forget so often that the role of marriage in our society has changed so much over the years. I mean a particular interest of mine is Elizabethan history in England and when you look at the marriages that were made back then they were not made for the same reasons that they're made now. They were made for political gain or for jockeying with one another.

And you look further back when it was acceptable for a man to have more than one wife. I mean I'm not saying that any of these things are right or the way they should be but just to simply point out that the role of marriage in our society has evolved over the years tremendously and I believe it will continue to do so.

KING: Let's get a break, come back and I'll reintroduce the panel and we'll take your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O'DONNELL: We got married. There you go. We were both inspired to come here after the sitting president said the vile and vicious and hateful comments he did on Tuesday, with liberty and justice for all. Peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "Brokeback Mountain" has brought the gay issue foremost again and we are discussing it tonight with Janet Parshall, the host of "Janet Parshall's America," on the board of directors of the National Religious Broadcasters Association.

In Louisville, Kentucky is our R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here in Los Angeles, Chad Allen, the openly gay actor best known for his long-running role on "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and start of the movie "End of the Spear." It opens in theaters this Friday, it's a decidedly Christian movie.

And in Casper, Wyoming, is Guy Padgett, the openly gay politician. He was mayor of Casper last year and now serves on its city council. Let's go to calls. Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Mr. King?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. I'm the mother of a gay man, I'm also -- I was raised a Baptist and I consider myself a true Christian. It breaks my heart to listen to the reverend and Ms. Parshall.

I saw the agony that a young man can go through. As an adolescent until he's -- because of my husband and I accepting him, supporting him and loving him, he's been in the same relationship for 20 years. Have they -- my question is, have they ever had the privilege of having a friendship with a gay person? I hope they will so they will not speak of them as sub-human the way they are tonight. It's breaking my heart.

KING: Reverend Mohler, do you have any gay friends?

MOHLER: Yes, yes I do as a matter of fact. And I don't think it's fair to categorize anything that's been said here today as speaking of homosexuals as sub-human. As a matter of fact, I think we have learned...

KING: But you speak of them as sinners.

MOHLER: ... Well, I want to speak of myself as a sinner, Larry. It's just a matter of which kind of sin and which pattern of temptation.

KING: You don't seem as angry as yourself. Just a comment.

MOHLER: Well, I mean, we're talking about what you asked me to talk about here and I'm glad to do it.

KING: I know.

MOHLER: You know, when we talk about the issue of homosexuality I do want to say I think the Christian community, conservatives Christians have learned a lot in recent years that has corrected some of our thinking and some of the ways we've been speaking. And I think you hear a maturing there where we understand that there are choices in sexuality, we're all responsible for the choices we make, but we're also coming to an increasing understanding, consistent with our understanding of sin and our human lives, of how deeply embedded this struggle is.

I hear this mom, I love her love for her son, but you know, we have to be really careful that we don't accept the wrong things when it comes to behavior, and we don't bless the wrong hopes. And that's where -- I want to come back to say, I don't know thinking about sex that's really all that important to know, that other people haven't figured out a long time ago.

But God, our creator has something to say about sex in his word and to that, we're absolutely accountable. But beyond that, Larry, I think one of the sad things about most conversations about homosexuality and especially when you have people like I'm honored to be with on your panel tonight, I don't want for homosexuals to know less joy than they know now.

I want them to know more joy, great joy, eternal joy. And I believe that can only happen as they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ his savior and as they find out what God's perfect intention and design was for their lives all along.

KING: Janet, how would you respond to the mother? PARSHALL: Well first of all, let me tell you one mother to another mother, Chicago, I appreciate your exemplary, unconditional love for your son. I think that's our calling as moms.

But I have to tell you, that I think Al makes a very important point. And that is, if we have a child that's engaged in a wrongful behavior, not wrong because we decided to say it was wrong, but wrong because absolute transcendent eternal truth said don't engage in that behavior, because you're going to get hurt.

Then I think the loving thing to do as a parent is to say, "I love you, honey, I will love you until the day I die, but I want to encourage you to make another choice because the one you're making now, in the end, is going to be very hurtful and harmful."

KING: Chad, how have your parents dealt with it?

ALLEN: My parents, they had a hard time. We're friends again, we have a wonderful family relationship. But I have to say, if they're going to speak about absolute transcendent truth, I need to tell you, I know absolute transcendent truth.

I have a deep relationship with God and my understanding. It's very powerful, and it's taken its own shape and form. And I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love.

Listen, Larry, we are going to be different, we're going to disagree on the details of this and we probably always will. The point is and I think this is where the reverend was heading and I appreciate it.

You know, I made this movie with a group of conservative Christians who do not agree with my expression of sexuality. But we said to each other, I will walk with you accepting your differences and we can create together. I will give you your space to respect you fully. They don't need to take away from my freedom, I don't need to take away from theirs. And I am so proud to have done that. That's the kind of bridge-building I think we can get to.

KING: You have a brother who is straight, right?

ALLEN: I do, yes, I've got several brothers.

KING: Guy, how did your parents deal with it?

PADGETT: My parents were wonderful. My parents were wonderful, my family was wonderful, accepting. They knew that this was who I was. And my grandparents, from my conservative southern grandmother in South Carolina up to my go get 'em, liberal grandma up in New York, there was one thing they could agree on, and that was to love -- and to love me.

And that's really the chord here that we've struck on, maybe unknowingly. But this is about love. This is about people who love one another. This is about a society loving itself, loving its children, loving one another and coming to accept one another.

You know, that's the one thing that I think runs through everybody's statement here. I don't know about much about eternal truths, but I know about love. And you know it's a beautiful thing.

KING: Whatley, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. How are you doing tonight? I've got a question over there for Chad.

KING: Chad.

CALLER: Chad, by whose standard do you think that it's right to live the way you have chosen to live?

ALLEN: By the standard that I judge all of my actions. These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me.

You know, I had to sit down with that same God today and say, "Do you want me to go on this show? Do you want me to speak the things that are in my heart? And if not, I'm happy not to go. Do you want me to make this movie?" It's the same God that I go to for every decision.

KING: Are you pained when religious leaders or spokesman call you a sinner or criticize you?

ALLEN: You know what, here's where I'm at. It really doesn't pain me to hear them say, "We believe you're a sinner." That's OK. That's your belief, I can accept that. That's OK, I understand that. It does -- you know, I'm engaged in it right now. I'm in a week where I'm getting attacked by a lot of Christians with a lot of anger for doing this movie, for playing this part. And it does hurt, Larry. It hurts me deeply.

KING: You play a Christian, right?

ALLEN: I play a Christian, yes. And they're going to be saying, "This is the way you be Christian, there's only one way." Well you know what, there isn't. I'm a part of a wonderful community church here in Pasadena that has a very different interpretation of those same gospels that they are speaking of. There isn't just one way to do this, there are a lot of paths.

KING: We'll be right back with more and more phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there as Elton John and David Furnish were all smiles, greeting fans outside Windsor's town hall. They became one of England's first legally bound gay couples, giving a thrill to Elton John fans who turned out for the ceremony, and giving hope to those who hope to see this scene repeated more times throughout the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back to our callers. New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I have a couple of comments. One is that we live here in America, and we're talking about the separation of church and state for one thing. Civil unions should be for everybody, gay, straight, lesbian, heterosexual, everybody. As far as the government is concerned, we should all have civil unions. And if the churches and the synagogues want to have marriage, they can call it marriage. Who cares. But as far as the civil rights issue, everybody should have civil unions.

KING: Janet, what's wrong with that idea? Civil unions for everybody. You want to get married, go to the church of your denomination?

PARSHALL: Well...

CALLER: I have a second comment as well if you have time for it.

KING: OK.

CALLER: And that is that somebody on your panel talked about having a phony marriage. Well, I had a phony marriage. I was married to a gay man for 27 years when I found out. He was never interested in me. He was playing around with other men. He could have introduced illness into the family. He is much happier being with men. I am much happier not having him be with me. We're both free. And it's really nobody's business what goes on between consenting adults behind closes doors.

Luckily, I found an organization called the Straight Spouse Network, which is worldwide, but based in America, to help families that have come apart because gay people were forced to marry heterosexual people, have families, and the collateral damage is (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Let me ask you this way. Janet, why is it your business?

PARSHALL: Well, I think we are all part of this government, and we all have a voice, and I think it's important that we understand in the marketplace of ideas, all ideas should be listened to. Good ideas will last and stand; bad ideas will fall under their own weight. You know, it's interesting, Larry, in this debate -- and I think it was Chad or else it was Guy who said earlier, we're going to debate this for a long time. We are. We're going to debate this until the cows come home. And there will in the final analysis be two mutually exclusive perspectives on this. One will say, hey, anything goes, don't box me in by rules, I want to do my own thing, I want to define it any way I want to. Just give me the liberty to live as I want.

And then the other world view that says, well, you know what, I do have free will and I do have choice. But I bow in submission to a loving God -- not a cosmic bully who wants to beat me to death with his rules, but a loving God who says, here's a parameter. I've made man and I've made woman and I've made the institution of marriage. And when you step outside that institution and you engage in sexual activity, you're going to get hurt. And because our God loves us unconditional, he hates it when we get hurt. And so that's what we do, we speak out and we speak the truth. And it isn't a matter of saying, well, we're the haters and we're pointing fingers.

KING: But Janet, if you choose to do it and you don't get hurt -- some people get married and do get hurt -- something is wrong with the equation?

PARSHALL: You know what? I have to tell you, Larry, that we are all sinners. The statement that was made earlier that somehow Al and I are pointing fingers at other people -- you know, Al and I got all dressed up tonight and sat here to be with you, and we came here as sinners, but we are sinners that understand that we are loved by an unconditional God.

KING: So you're sinners with more understanding than these sinners.

PARSHALL: My...

KING: You have more understanding than your fellow sinners?

PARSHALL: No...

KING: This is a panel of sinners, but two of them have more understanding than the other two?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all sinners, but they get to get married.

KING: Well, you have more understanding than they do.

PARSHALL: Let me tell you what the difference is. Let's take another choice in behavior. Let's call it adultery. How come here in Washington, D.C., I have seen gay rights parades, but how come I haven't seen the National Association of Adulterers who come to Washington and demand all kinds of legal protections...

KING: I don't think they have a group.

PARSHALL: And if they did, you and I would be having the same discussion, because it would be another choice of sexual behavior outside the parameters of marriage. And guess what, government does have a say here. Government says that a 55-year-old teacher can't have sex or marry a 14-year-old student.

KING: But government also threw out all other adultery laws.

PARSHALL: All other adultery laws?

KING: That's right. Adultery among consenting adults, there's no such thing anymore.

PARSHALL: That's exactly right. And oh, we're so much better now. That's why one out of two marriages end in divorce.

KING: But the people decided it, Janet. Hey, what can we do? The public decided it.

PARSHALL: Or some activist judges.

KING: Activist -- I've never met an inactive judge. Most of them get up and go to work. Anyway, that's -- inactive judge would be at home sleeping.

Anyway, let's go to Anderson Cooper for the top of the hour, "360." You figure it out. What have you got coming up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, thanks a lot. Coming up tonight on "360," at the top of the hour, racial remarks by two high- profile elected officials. We're talking of course about New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who talked about New Orleans being rebuilt as a chocolate city, and Senator Clinton, who talked about the Republican leadership in Congress, comparing them to plantation owners. We're going to talk about the fallout from the remarks, and we've also assembled a panel to take your calls. Are the comments much ado about nothing, or a perfect example of what's wrong with race relations in America -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. We'll look forward to that. Problems everywhere. Top of the hour, "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Back with more with our outstanding panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Guy Padgett, before we take the next call, what do you need this for? What are you fighting for? You got a nice life. You're the former mayor. You're on the city council. What do you need to go up against this for? So that's the way it is.

PADGETT: Well, I mean, I guess the only thing I can say to that, I mean, it's never enough to simply sit back and say, good enough, let's stop now. We always have to fight for our rights, for freedom, for ourselves, for our society, for our country. And you know, it would be easy to sort of give up and sit back and go for the ride, but that's not good enough.

KING: Lexington, South Carolina, hello. CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My comment is directed to Ms. Parshall.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: How she said that it's child abuse for gay parents to have kids. Well, my dad is actually gay, and I completely disagree with what she said. Because I have had a great childhood, and I've not missed out on anything at all. In fact, I think it's -- I can honestly say, I think it's better than what other people had. Because I've not been treated any differently, and my dad loves me so much. And it's just, you can't really comment on that if you don't know the situation. And it's no different from anything else. I mean, our whole community -- our community is really very conservative, actually. And it's kind of people disagree with me, but they don't know. And (INAUDIBLE).

KING: I think she's saying, Janet, why not walk a mile in her shoes?

PARSHALL: Well, Larry, I'll tell you what, I walked a mile in my shoes, and I know what it's like when my children have a mother and a father. Listen to what South Carolina didn't say. She didn't say she had two daddies; she said she had a homosexual father. There's a lot more I would like to ask her as a follow-up question. For example, did her dad leave the relationship? Does she live with her mom? Does she visit her dad? So in other words, is she getting the benefit of both the mother and the father?

KING: But the main thing is, she's happy.

PARSHALL: Well, we hope she's happy, but I bet something...

KING: Well, she says she's happy. Are you questioning her?

PARSHALL: I heard her say she lived in a conservative community. Why do I think she's had a lot of heated discussions with a lot of people trying to defend that which may be in her heart of hearts she (INAUDIBLE)?

KING: Maybe they're ganging up on her. Why would -- you wouldn't -- conservatives don't gang up on people? OK.

PARSHALL: Only liberals gang up on conservatives.

KING: Laguna Niguel, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I just wanted to ask Mr. Mohler and Ms. Parshall, they both sound so bigoted. And since they haven't seen the movie, would they not consider opening their minds and receiving, as Judge Judy says, just receive and see if they will consider going to see the movie? Thank you. KING: I would think, Janet, or -- well, Reverend, why not go see it? I mean, why not just go see it? Just out of intellectual curiosity?

MOHLER: Well, if I had to see the movie to understand the storyline, I wouldn't have come on to speak about it. But you know, I'm going to say something that is about as countercultural as I can imagine tonight, and that is I'm actually convinced that as a Christian, there are certain things I don't need to see. And that's the reason why, as a matter of principle, I have not gone to see the movie. I wouldn't encourage anyone to go see the movie. I'm unembarrassed to say that.

I think the conversation that we're having here tonight -- and I'm honored to be with Janet Parshall, my colleague, and with Chad Allen and with Mayor Padgett -- I think you started the kind of conversation we need to have. And "Brokeback Mountain" was the catalyst. I'm happy to talk about what I know the storyline to be. But we're really not talking here tonight about cinematography. We're talking about the big questions...

KING: No, I'm not talking about cinematography. Are you, Janet, do you know the full storyline of the movie?

PARSHALL: I do. I do.

KING: All right. Do you know that it deals with heterosexual marriage much more than homosexual relationships?

PARSHALL: Right, and I also know that -- and guess what, both of those heterosexual marriages pay a big price because of the dalliances of these two men, which sort of makes my case, doesn't it?

KING: If you go see the movie, you might learn more than not seeing the movie, where you learn less.

PARSHALL: But what is it, Larry, that I -- what would be my take-away lesson? What would I have to see? For example, we heard...

(CROSSTALK)

PARSHALL: ... made earlier about star-crossed lovers. "Romeo and Juliet," "Bridges of Madison County." King Kong?" Unrequited love?

KING: Let's not see them either, right? By the way, did you see "Bridges of Madison County?"

PARSHALL: I did, and you know...

KING: Why?

PARSHALL: ... I walked away thinking, wow, the glorious joys of adultery. Didn't that relationship end well?

KING: But you learned a lot from that movie, right? PARSHALL: What, not to engage in adultery?

KING: And therefore it enhanced your (INAUDIBLE)?

PARSHALL: Not to engage in adultery.

KING: OK, Janet, let's just stay home.

We'll be right back with our -- you learn a lot that way. We'll be right back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O'DONNELL: If you were to be in another country and to say, well, we're civil unionized. What does that mean? She's in the emergency room, God forbid something happened. We have a civil union, in America it's the same thing as -- you know, I understand the reluctance of people to kind of give up that word. I understand. But all the rights and protections and privileges that go with that, you know, are entitled to every American. And that's what this country is founded on, equality and human rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Chad Allen, being honest, do you ever wish you were straight? You wish you were straight?

ALLEN: There have been times in my life when I've absolutely wished that I was straight, without question. Today in my life, the acceptance of my sexuality is a beautiful gift from God that I get to share with the world, and my partner has made me happier than anything. And I think it's so important to address, because they keep coming back and saying, if you follow this path then it's going to lead to darkness; you follow this path, and it's going to lead to dangerous...

KING: Do you ever think you're doing something wrong?

ALLEN: Listen, I question myself all the time to make sure that I'm operating in the right way and the way that I want to operate in the world. And this what I've come to, again and again and again. It's been where my heart has been brought. You are whole, perfect and complete right now, exactly as you are.

KING: Do you ever wish you were straight, Guy?

PADGETT: No. No, I don't think so. I wished that kids in junior high wouldn't tease other kids about being gay. I wish that we could view one another with love and acceptance. But no, I'm happy with who I am. I'm happy with who I am, and where I'm going with my life. And I know that I'm on the right course.

KING: Reverend Mohler, do you think that tide is turning against your opinions? MOHLER: Well, I think we're watching the breakdown of norms in this society. I don't doubt that. I sense that we have a big task as Christians to articulate what is our most basic concern, and that is, Larry, that on the cross, Christ died for sinners, heterosexual and homosexual, and the only way to be made whole is in him, and that is more important than anything else I could possibly say.

KING: And, Janet, do you think you're losing this battle?

PARSHALL: No. Truth always reigns, Larry. It will be debated for a long period of time. And you know what? Chad Allen stars in a wonderful film called "End of the Spear." He plays a fellow by the name of Nate Saint, who was macheted to death by a very, very aggressive tribe in Ecuador. And you know what, Steve, his son, is now alive today. He travels with the man who macheted his father to death.

And they didn't say to the Wadoni (ph) tribe, hey, make it up, you can find your own path to God. They told them exactly how to find God, and their whole lives and their entire culture changed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, Chad, it's a great film, and I'm going to be happy to be seeing it.

ALLEN: Thank you very much. And I appreciate that. I couldn't agree more. Steve Saint called me today, and he said, I need you to know that I'm sitting here with Mincayani. We'll be watching you tonight. We love you. We are on your side. And I know that we have those differences, but we are walking through this together. That's where we're going to go.

KING: Great to end this program on a wonderful note. And I thank you all very much.

Tomorrow night, we'll take a look at the woman who killed her father after years of abuse. She is out of prison and on this program.

Right now, we turn things over to Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360." Anderson, are you prepared for tonight's regular program?

COOPER: I'm prepared tonight...

KING: I have faith in you, Anderson.

COOPER: Tonight and every night.

KING: Go get'em.

COOPER: All right, Larry, thanks very much.

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