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CNN NEWSROOM

California Fires: High Winds Fuel Dangerous Blazes; Gay Activists Hold Nationwide Rallies; World Financial Summit; New Members of Obama Administration Named Today

Aired November 15, 2008 - 23:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a brand-new question facing rescuers in those ravaging wildfires out west. Who got out and who did not. The fears that morning light could reveal bodies in the devastated mobile home park, housing many senior citizens.
Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon. As we come to you live tonight from the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we're going to show you these live pictures from Los Angeles. Our affiliate KCAL.

Thousands of Southern Californians are on the run tonight pursued by wind-driven wildfires eating up everything in their path, outside of Los Angeles. North of the city, the blaze is still burning around Montecito and Sylmar. And to the south, the flames have engulfed entire subdivisions.

Our Chris Lawrence is in Yorba Linda in Orange County. And meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is in the CNN severe weather center. But we begin tonight with Kara Finnstrom. She is in Sylmar -- the site of the devastated mobile home park where police are very worried that not everyone made it out alive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AUGUSTINE REYES, FIRE VICTIM: This is all that's left of my house. This is it.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Augustine Reyes says his family lost everything they own. So did his neighbors in home after home. The fire blasting through Oakridge Park decimated about 500 mobile homes.

CHIEF MICHAEL BOWMAN, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPT.: That's exactly what they were dealing with. Blow torch type of effect. You've got gusts of 60 miles an hour. The fire was laying down. You had, again, zero visibility. The smoke was extremely hot.

FINNSTROM: The fear of firefighters bringing in search dogs next, not everyone may have gotten out. And emergency crews are still facing a fire out of control. A fire moving so rapidly, instead of evacuating everyone from this hospital, firefighters protected some patients inside, while structures all around burned.

(on camera): Firefighters here at stage one massive fight to beat back the flames. What you see behind me here, this is one of the child care centers on the campus of the hospital. And they have been working here to contain these flames.

(voice-over): The devastation is hard to comprehend. And even harder, Augustine Reyes says to explain to his young son.

REYES: He's 7 years old. And he's autistic. And he doesn't do well with change. So, this is going to be very hard to explain to him and bring him. It's going to be very hard.

FINNSTROM: In Sylmar, California, Kara Finnstrom, for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That is very tough to watch. And as I mentioned, our Chris Lawrence is in Yorba Linda in Orange County. Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is in the CNN severe weather center. She joins us there tonight.

But Chris, I want to start with you. This fire is spreading so quickly, some neighbors, I hear, are now taking matters into their own hands?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Don. We are here on a stretch here at Yorba Linda, where we have seen burned down home, a couple homes OK. Another burned-down home. You can take a look behind me. The L.A. County Fire Department here on the scene right now, putting a tremendous amount of water here on this home. They were not in time to save it. But the problem is, even if you can't save one home, even if it's burned down to the ground like this one was, you've still got to train a whole lot of water on it, because when these winds gust up, when the home is still burning, like we saw this one burning about an hour ago, you know, you just see a tremendous amount of embers.

And those embers get pushed right onto the neighbors' homes. Just a couple hours ago, we stopped on this street, right down the road, and we talked to a neighbor who was out with a garden hose trying to hose down what was left of his neighbor's house, so that the embers didn't get blown back onto his.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: You live right next door to this home.

KEN NEWMAN, HOMEOWNER: Yes, on the next door. I'm upwind of this house. So, what I'm trying to do is trying to protect my house. We've got some tall trees right next to the wall I'm trying to spray on. And we're worried about the embers catching that tree on fire. And then spreading down to the next three houses.

LAWRENCE: Just a second ago, we saw a couple of embers just hop over to your roof.

NEWMAN: Yes. Yes. We saw a couple, we got them out. We go douse the trees about every 10, 15 minutes, then come back and just try to see if we can knock this thing down before the wind picks back up. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: Yet again, you can see the firefighters here, you know, having to pick and choose. There had been just so many homes going up here. At the last count, from what we got from officials, there may be somewhere in the neighborhood of about 30 homes burned just in this area alone.

Don?

LEMON: And Chris, you mentioned those embers. And earlier, we saw you out there as this flame started to spread. I want to bring Jacqui Jeras in. Jacqui, live on our air, we could see the fire spreading, fanned by those Santa Ana winds earlier today.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They have really been incredible today, Don. In fact, this is really unusually strong Santa Ana event. You know, we get Santa Anas this time of year. That's not unusual. But we're talking about wind gusts between 70 and 85 miles per hour. Those embers that Chris was talking about just become projectiles. And those winds at that strength have stayed really steady throughout the day today. And now, we're starting to see them come down just a notch at this time. But, still, at a critical level.

This animation really gives you a better idea of what those strong winds do. When they're at that level, not only does it make the fire line itself advance at a much faster pace, so it's harder to keep up with these fires. Sometimes you have difficulties with your airplanes and helicopters, trying to do those aerial assaults.

But then those winds push those embers out ahead of the main line and they can ignite spot fires all over the place. Or altogether, they could create a new line of fire. And another area that firefighters need to worry about. So, really critical situation, a very extreme event happening in Southern California today.

LEMON: And Jacqui, stand by, because I want to bring Chris back in. We're getting some late word here into the CNN NEWSROOM.

Chris, we're getting word that in some areas, firefighters may be having trouble getting to some neighborhoods in your area?

LAWRENCE: Let me ask. Let me just walk over here. I don't know if they would know exactly all of that.

Excuse me, sir, I was wondering if -- have you guys had any trouble getting into certain areas? Just with the terrain and everything else?

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: I can't speak with you right now. I've got to get these guys water.

LAWRENCE: OK. All right. Yes, Don, it's tough, tough spot there in the middle of trying to just keep water on this home right here. But I can tell you, you know, just from driving around here, this is a very tough terrain in certain parts, because you've got some very, very steep hillsides out here. And a lot of these roads are very twisty, very turny -- turn very quickly and very sharply.

So, what you have at certain points is, you have a fire that doesn't really move in a very linear fashion. It goes down the hill, it zigzags. That can present a lot of problems for the fire department, because they're in these big rigs, and you've got this fire that's jumping from one side of the road to the other. It can make it very tough to maneuver in to where you need to go and get some water on that area.

LEMON: All right. Chris Lawrence, we're hearing that there's possibly some trouble with the fire hydrants. We'll check on that for you. Our Chris Lawrence joining us from Yorba Linda, California. And our Jacqui Jeras, thanks to both of you as well.

Our iReporters are also out on the front lines of the fires. This pictures coming in to us from Mike Raabe. This is the tea fire in Montecito, California. Incredible images. We'll bring you more of these images throughout the hour as our iReporter send them in.

All right. Let's move on now to gay marriage. Is marriage the new civil rights issue? For many gay and lesbian couples, it is exactly that. People rallied across the U.S. today demanding the right to marry a person of the same gender. It's a hot button issue that got even hotter after the election. That's because voters in three states -- California, Arizona and Florida approved ballot initiatives that prevent same-sex marriage. Right now, only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow it.

The passage of Proposition 8 in California stirred up passions on both sides. And as CNN's Susan Candiotti reports from New York, the backlash is being felt coast-to-coast.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Same- sex marriage supporters in New York vowed to keep their movement alive, despite California's vote to outlaw gay marriage.

CHRISTINE QUINN, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: We will keep going and fighting until we have full equality. Again, in California, in New York and in every state in our great union.

CANDIOTTI: About 4,000 people showed up for a peaceful, yet loud rally. Among them, this couple, who married in California last summer, and now wonder whether their marriage license will remain valid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all have the same rights. And there's no such thing as second-class citizenship. And we're not going to rest until we're all equal.

CANDIOTTI: So even if the benefits were the same, doesn't matter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we want marriage. Marriage now. CANDIOTTI: Same-sex marriages are legal only in Connecticut and Massachusetts. New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire have civil unions. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner says it's time to address the issue on Capitol Hill to ensure the same benefits for gay and straight couples.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: This is a place the federal government has to get involved. We have to say this notion of letting every state decide basic rights, probably has to give way to the federal government saying, you know what, there are certain basic rights that people are entitled to.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Some groups oppose to same-sex marriage argue equal benefits are one thing, but the definition of marriage is another.

(voice-over): William Walker and Jeffrey Drablock say Saturday's rally probably won't be their last. Not until marriage is treated as a civil right. Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And hundreds turned out for a rally here in downtown Atlanta on the steps of the state capital. We set up an iReport station so people could share their thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout the day, protesting Prop 8 out in California. We're not asking for special rights. We're just asking for equal rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Don, from Atlanta, Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the same road, the civil rights movement first started. And it's sad that this is still a problem today that was eating in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a straight black female. And I oppose Proposition 8.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right to deny a certain minority, their civil rights is basically and fundamentally unconstitutional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight is hate. No to hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, one person -- one person supporting Prop 8 says people are losing their jobs because they voted for the controversial issue. And one person who opposes it says, that's the price you pay for supporting a discriminatory ballot issue. They face off right here on CNN in just a few minutes.

We want to know what's on your mind tonight. Make sure you logon to any one of those platforms you see there, twitter.com/donlemoncnn, or Facebook, MySpace, iReport, and tell us what you're thinking. We will get them on the air.

Let's head to the nation's capitol now. And the financial crisis that's spreading worldwide. The leaders of 20 countries today wrapped up their two-day summit and unveiled plans to fight the global slowdown. The question now, will their best efforts be enough. Our Richard Quest is in Washington tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scoop of the crisis, massive. The task at hand for these world leaders, critical. A point underscored by President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of you who have followed my career know that I'm a free market person. Until you're told that if you don't take decisive measures, then it's conceivable that our country could go into depression greater than the Great Depression.

QUEST: So, around the table, they debated how to restore global growth, calling on some members to increase government spending to a rapid effect. And where appropriate, cut interest rates further.

PRES. NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRANCE (through translator): We all agreed in the necessity of a revival of coordinated and concerted economic action by all countries.

QUEST: The ten-page declaration set out an ambitious four-month action plan. To introduce new rules for markets, targeting complex financial assets. It was the failure of these which were partly responsible for the extent of this current crisis.

In the future, no market, it seems, shall be allowed to go unsupervised. Also, the IMF and World Bank are to be comprehensively reformed, reflecting the changing economic strengths in the world. And giving the developing nations a greater voice.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think the important thing to realize is that the institutions built in 1945 are not necessarily best equipped to deal with the problems of 2008.

QUEST: The G-20 have said they will meet again to review progress in April of next year. Possibly in London.

(on camera): Few of us had expected a document quite so detailed, setting out more than just lofty goals. But in this paper, regulators have been told they must do better. Markets have been warned to expect further regulations. And those suffering from recession are given hope that more help is on the way. Now the G-20 leaders have to deliver.

Richard Quest, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, the pictures are simply heart breaking to watch. Take a look at this. Homes in Southern California up in flames. The man behind the camera shares his incredible stories with us, live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Live pictures now from Los Angeles, California. If you're out there, you know what it looks like. And you can probably feel the heat. KCAL, Los Angeles, pictures on our left. KABC, Los Angeles, pictures on our right. Those are our affiliates. That is how they are covering the news. They are getting their pictures from their choppers, and we are bringing them here to you.

South California, up in flames tonight. None of it is under control. We are following this developing story. As a matter of fact, we want to talk to someone who has seen these fires up close all day long. He has been shooting video. His name is Bennett -- Brentt, I should say, Sporn. He's up on scene video and he joins me now by phone. He is in Yorba Linda, California with us tonight.

We saw some of your video earlier. You got really close to homes there. Tell us what you're seeing, Mr. Sporn.

VOICE OF BRENTT SPORN, ON SCENE VIDEO: All I can say is multi- million-dollar homes just fully engulfed with fire, as you can see right there. The crazy thing was, on most of the -- on the streets, there was a lot of fire hydrants, but the fire hydrants weren't working. So these guys that were trying to put out the fire had to work even harder to shuttle water and foam back and forth to these burning homes.

LEMON: And we've been trying to get a response from Los Angeles County Fire Department about these, you know, alleged incidents of hydrants that weren't working. And so far, they have not talked about it. And you're saying that you have been seeing this as you are traveling and shooting video throughout this area?

SPORN: Yes, that's correct. I was in a very upscale area of Yorba Linda area, which is Hidden Hills Road and Sky Ridge Drive. And you would think they would have working fire hydrants with these multi-million-dollar homes, but that wasn't the case. We had 60 to 70 mile an hour winds. It was just -- a lot of these guys couldn't do anything. They were just overrun by the fire and they couldn't do anything.

LEMON: Mr. Sporn, we saw this. We were on the air earlier, about 5:00 Eastern Time, just after this fire started in Yorba Linda. And we could see it spreading from home to home to home.

We talked to our Chris Lawrence, who said that there were people out. He had a gentleman who was out trying to fight the fire with a water hose in his yard. People were caught off guard in this area by this fire.

SPORN: Yes, that's correct. It was just very wind driven. A lot of these people couldn't get their belongings as they had to get out quick. The California Highway Patrol, L.A. County and -- different agencies in the area tried to get these people out as quick as they could. And that was the hardest part. And, you know, I feel bad for a lot of these people just because of the sense they couldn't get a lot of their belongings. These homes just went up and there was nothing they could do.

LEMON: Yes. Brentt Sporn of on scene video. One of the resources we used here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Also, Brentt, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Stay safe, OK.

SPORN: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

LEMON: Also KCAL and KABC, our affiliates, out in Los Angles, out in the Southern California area. Another two other resources we use here on CNN. The worldwide resources here we're on top of this story. Any development, we'll bring it to you live here this evening.

Other news to tell you about -- more pictures of the historic puzzle. They are falling into place. New members of the Obama administration named today. We'll show you their resumes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We are following breaking news on CNN tonight. See those pictures on your screen? Wildfires out of control in Southern California. These pictures coming to us live from Los Angeles. Our affiliates KCAL and KABC providing these pictures from a helicopter. They had been covering this story all day and we have as well. We'll bring you the very latest developments here as firefighters battle to get this fire under control in Southern California. Three fires, as a matter of fact. One of them started late this evening, and is raging there.

Meantime, three more people are headed to Washington with President-elect Obama. Close friend and confidante Valerie Jarrett has officially been named as senior adviser. She's co-chair of the Obama-Biden transition team and was a senior adviser to the campaign. She's also president and CEO of the Habitat Company.

Ron Klain will serve as chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joe Biden. He did the same for former Vice President Gore from 1995 to 1999. And in 2000, he served as General Counsel to the Gore- Lieberman Florida recount legal team. And he was also chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno.

And Greg Craig, a Democratic source tell CNN will serve as White House Counsel. In 2000, Craig represented the father of Elian Gonzalez during the custody dispute. And in 1998, he was Special Counsel for President Bill Clinton during the impeachment proceedings.

We went inside the inner circle of President-elect Barack Obama. I talked to some -- some people who knew him long before his run for the White House. One close friend and colleague is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. The son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Representative Jackson's name is being tossed around as a potential for Obama's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. And speaking of names, I asked Jesse Jr. about his famous last name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you ever think of changing your name? Honestly, I just thought of that. Because you've got a congressman, you've got reverend. Do you ever think of changing your name?

REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: No. No. There are times newspaper articles are written that say Reverend Jesse Jackson said, when actually Rep. Jesse Jackson said. There are times when he says things where people say Rep. Jesse Jackson said. And maybe the only way to change my name is to change my title. Senator Jesse Jackson said. Then, there's a difference between the reverend.

LEMON: And Rep. -- Rev and Rep.

JACKSON: Correct.

LEMON: And less confusion.

JACKSON: That's correct. So, I would welcome the new title.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, just a subtle hint of his interest in a seat in the Senate. More on my conversation with Representative Jackson in just a moment.

Well, we know this is an explosive issue, and it sent thousands into the streets today. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

PROTESTERS: Equal rights!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want them?

PROTESTERS: Now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A debate over gay rights and Proposition 8. Live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Keeping an eye on some breaking news happening in Southern California. Look at that. Los Angeles on fire tonight, as well as a number of communities in that area. We have seen three fires going today. One, there were two earlier, and one sparked up as we were going on the air at about 5:00 Eastern this evening.

We want to get now to our Chris Lawrence. Our Chris Lawrence has been there. He is in Yorba Linda.

Chris, there are some concern tonight for people who are in that area. One, that there may not be enough water, especially in respect to those hydrants. And also in an area near you, a mobile home -- a motor home where senior citizens are housed. They're not sure if everyone got out.

VOICE OF LAWRENCE: Yes. Let me tackle the first point right off the bat. The issue of water. I have asked several firefighters if they have had a problem with the water pressure here -- some of the water pressure. A couple of the firefighters told me they individually did not have a problem with that. But that doesn't mean that other units did not have that trouble.

At one point when we were driving through some of these areas, we did see some water department personnel at one of the water station. And I stopped and I asked him, and I said, you know, how much water are you able to get up to these higher elevations. And he said, well, we're doing the best we can. We're getting as much as possible. And I said, well, as much as possible -- does that mean you're getting full water pressure up there? And he said, well, it's as much as we possibly can. He did say, although, it is harder, it takes more generator, or more power to push that water up to some of these higher elevations.

LEMON: Hey, real quickly, I want to ask you about that. Because I hear they're still searching it, because it's dark, they may be going back tomorrow, sadly, with dogs in order to search for people in some areas?

LAWRENCE: Yes, that's right. And the thing about the dogs is you have to let the ground cool down some. You know, the dogs can't walk on those burning embers and they're really hot. They have to let the ground cool off. And then they send the dogs in. And of course, the dogs, you know, with their very acute sense of smell will be able to try to find things that maybe some of the firefighters and investigators wouldn't be able to do on their own.

LEMON: Chris Lawrence on top of our breaking news tonight. He is joining us by phone from Yorba Linda, California, joining us earlier. And because of the problems there, we're having a bit of a transmission problem because of all the smoke and hazardous conditions in the area.

We want to go to Jacqui Jeras now.

Jacqui, we saw Chris earlier in our broadcast. And then we saw him in a previous broadcast. And the winds were moving, moving, moving. But there are other things in play besides the winds for these fires.

Yes, absolutely. You know, the relative humidity has been extremely low, Don. The critical conditions between 5 percent and 15 percent. You know, that's just extremely low. We would consider low, very low, at like 35 percent. So just to put that into perspective for you.

In addition to that, you know, we've been into a severe to moderate drought in this area across Southern California for a couple of years. So the vegetation is all very dried out. And that doesn't take very much to cause conditions. On top of that, record temperatures today. We had record highs well into the 90s. 94 degrees in Santa Ana itself. And so, you put all those factors together, you put the strong winds which also cause additional drying and lower humidity. And it just smells a real mess and a real disaster, and that's exactly what we've been dealing here with today.

LEMON: All right. Well, we hope it gets better for them. Jacqui, we appreciate it. We also appreciate our Chris Lawrence as well.

Also out west, you know, there had been protest. All over the country, really. Thousands rally across the U.S. today demanding the right to marry a person of the same gender. It is a hot-button issue that got hotter after the election. That took us voters in three states -- California, Arizona and Florida. They approved ballot initiatives that prevent same-sex marriage. Now, right now, only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow it. Several other states allow civil unions.

Our guests tonight are passionately outspoken on both sides of this issue. Maggie Gallagher is president of the National Organization for Marriage. She is a strong supporter of the ban on same-sex marriage. And Michelangelo Signorile is a gay writer and talk show host who's been a long-time champion of same-sex marriage. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

OK. Maggie, why oppose anyone getting married, whether it's two men or two women or a man and a woman?

MAGGIE GALLAGHER, OPPOSES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: What I oppose is the right of the people of California and the other states to protect the definition of marriage as the union of husband and wife. Listen, people have a right to marry. They don't have a right to decide, to redefine marriage for the entire state of California, or the entire country.

Unions of husband and wife, really, are different. These are the only kind of unions that can make new life and connect those children in love to their own mother and father. And this is a really important social ideal to millions of Californians and to Americans -- to have exercised their civil rights to peacefully organize, vote and donate, and are now facing an extraordinary campaign...

LEMON: Not every married...

GALLAGHER: ...and intimidation against them here in California. It's very serious.

LEMON: Not every married couple, though, procreates.

GALLAGHER: Every unions of husband and wife have this capacity, and every man and woman who marries can give every child that they have, a mother and father. No other union can do this.

LEMON: All right. GALLAGHER: And very man and woman who marries is not going to be producing fatherless children across multiple households. So, they deserve this ideal.

LEMON: Michael is being very respectful here. And I'm surprised, because, you know, I hear him on the radio and I've seen him on other programs. Not that he's not a respectful guy. But usually he's chomping at the bit to get in.

OK. She says that it is something that is special between a man and a woman that they can procreate in a married relationship.

MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE, SUPPORTS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Well, as you pointed out, Don, not only are there many heterosexual couples who do not procreate and cannot procreate, but many gay and lesbian couples procreate. There are thousands and thousands of gay and lesbian couples across this country who have children. Many of them had them naturally. Many of these women, certainly, lesbians have them naturally. Many of them have adopted children.

Every study has shown that they do great. The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, all talk about how there's absolutely no study that shows that these children do any worse. Some studies even show lesbian parents have children who do even better. So, we're talking about an issue that doesn't really wash here. Of course, children are in heterosexual families as well as gay and lesbian families.

LEMON: OK. Here to both of you. Here's what's surprising to me that I heard from Maggie that I hadn't heard. Won't you listen to this, Michael? She's saying that people who supported Prop 8 are being fired, and they're being intimidated by these protesters.

Maggie, is that so? Yes or no?

GALLAGHER: Well, yes. But not necessarily by these protesters.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Hold that thought.

GALLAGHER: Listen, what is happening is that the names and addresses and the employers of people who donated to Prop 8 are being put up on the Internet. People are being told to go after their employees. They're required to --

LEMON: OK, Maggie, hold that thought. I want to let Michelangelo get in on this after we take a quick break. This debate is from over. We're back seconds away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. Maggie Gallagher and Michelangelo Signorile - I just want to say Signorile, it's Signorile, both join us now. OK. You heard that. She's saying that the name and phone numbers of the people who supported Prop 8 and businesses who support it, their information is being given out, they're being harassed. In many cases, people are losing business and some people are getting fired, Michael.

SIGNORILE: Well, look, I've heard from people on my radio program who've been fired from their jobs because they voted against these ballot measures. We also had a ballot measure in Arizona as well, Proposition 102, that the voters passed banning marriage. I've had people whose bosses overheard them say that they voted for it and they got fired.

But look, with Proposition 8 in California, it is the public record. If you put money down to take away people's rights, and this was a right that was already given, unlike in Arizona and elsewhere. This was a right that people enjoyed since June that the California Supreme Court said this constitution held for gays and lesbians.

If you take away someone's right and your name is up there, it is public record and you better put your money where your mouth is. You better be proud to sing it loud if that is what you believe.

GALLAGHER: In other words, what you're hearing is that there is no shame about this. Michelangelo is endorsing this. There's no marriage advocates putting up the names and addresses of people who voted no and anything.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGNORILE: Maggie, the names and addresses are public record.

(CROSSTALK)

GALLAGHER: Go dig up, go dig up dirt on this. Don't attack these people. Don't take away their livelihood. Let's blacklist artists who disagree with you on gay marriages, too.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGNORILE: They are public record. Look, it's one thing if you...

GALLAGHER: This is happening and it's one-sided right now, Michelangelo.

SIGNORILE: It's one thing if you speak out.

GALLAGHER: I don't think it should happen to you if you disagree with me.

LEMON: I beg you, I have to say, though, I have to say that there are...

(CROSSTALK)

GALLAGHER: ...civil rights to organize, to donate without threats and intimidation as a result of doing so. LEMON: Maggie, there are gay, lesbian and transgender people who say the same thing that you're saying now, that they're being fired for their jobs just because of who they are. What is the difference?

GALLAGHER: I would -- first of all, I would certainly repudiate that. The difference is that it's a tactic. I mean, it was the "No on Prop 8" people who put up an ad going after the Mormons. It's an ad we would never. If someone who were holding up signs saying that Jews...

(CROSSTALK)

SIGNORILE: Maggie, there are 18,000 couples who have had their rights taken away.

(CROSSTALK)

GALLAGHER: ...that Jews have donated too much money on this. And therefore, let's go and put -- hold up signs in front of them, attack their places of worship, hold up signs saying dumb and moron, too.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGNORILE: Can I get a word in here, please?

LEMON: Stand by. Maggie, let him get a word in. Go ahead. Go ahead, Michael.

(CROSSTALK)

SIGNORILE: Can I get a word in here? Maggie, can I get a word in here? Are you going to allow me to talk?

GALLAGHER: Yes.

SIGNORILE: 18,000 couples have their rights taken away.

GALLAGHER: Absolutely, that is wrong.

SIGNORILE: Can I finish my point, please, Maggie?

GALLAGHER: Well, you've been talking over me, Michelangelo.

SIGNORILE: 18,000 couples...

LEMON: Yes, this isn't doing anyone any good. You guys talking over each other. Hey, Maggie and Michael, it's not doing any good, you guys talking over each other, but hang on. I'm just going to stay with this a little bit longer.

Maggie, let him make his point, so he can get it out. And then I'll give you one as well.

SIGNORILE: Thank you. 18,000 couples have had their rights taken away from them. They enjoyed these rights. They were given to them by the Constitution of California. The Supreme Court read that in the constitution.

Now, these people who voted against them decided to act and take away their rights. It's different from saying you're opposed to marriage.

LEMON: OK, Michael, finish it.

SIGNORILE: You now voted against people and took away their rights.

LEMON: OK, Maggie, real quick. Because I only have a few seconds.

GALLAGHER: The Constitution of California gives people the right to organize, to vote and donate. And we should do so, each our side, without this atmosphere of intimidation.

LEMON: All right. Both of you, thank you very much. And both of you have a good evening.

SIGNORILE: Thank you.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.

LEMON: We want to know what you're thinking. I want to read one real quick. I wanted to get this to our guests, but I couldn't.

It says -- one person wrote to me and said, "What would happen in the 1960s if the civil rights legislation had been put up for a popular vote." That one is from Facebook. Thank you very much for that. Justjim73.

Make sure you log on to any of those platforms and send us your responses. We will get them on the air for you tonight.

Homes up in flames. People fleeing. And the devastation is far from over. More harrowing images. And our I-reporters from the California fires, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Our breaking news on CNN tonight. The wildfires out in California. You're looking at pictures from our affiliates there. We appreciate those images. This is live. We want to take you to some pictures as well from our stringer Brentt Sporn. They were taken in Yorba Linda, California just a short while ago.

Fires getting really close to homes and in many cases, getting right on top of those homes. And you can see that is the effect when those embers fly into the homes. They are sparked, they go up, and people have lost everything they own.

Also, our iReporters are on the front lines of these fires as well. Check out this amazing video, sent to us by Chris Andersen. This is the tea fire in Montecito. That's near Santa Barbara, north of Los Angeles. Keep the iReports coming. We appreciate them. So, with Barack Obama headed to the White House, someone has to replace him in the Senate. I'll talk to one of the potential candidates. He's got a familiar name.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Last week we took you inside President-elect Barack Obama's inner circle. Tonight, an extension of that circle includes Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who also served as Obama's campaign co-chair. And with a brand-new vacancy in the Senate, he may be poised to fill the rather large shoes of his friend and colleague. Here's some of my conversation with Congressman Jackson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, you have known him since he moved to Chicago or when?

REP. JESSE JACKSON, JR. (D), ILLINOIS: Since the first day he stepped in the city. I've known Barack Obama. I've known Michelle Obama since she was in high school. I attended Barack Obama's wedding. Barack Obama attended my wedding. We've got an extraordinary history.

LEMON: Would you say that you're good friends, friends, acquaintances now?

JACKSON: I'd say we're good friends. And I'm very proud of his accomplishments. We're going to be professional friends, obviously, as a member of Congress and President of the United States. Great friends.

LEMON: OK, so you're good friends. Is there -- do you understand and -- you know, correct me if I'm wrong on this, the position that he's in. You know, Jesse Jackson, your dad is a controversial figure in many ways -- that he wants to either be friendly, or keep his distance or what have you. Does that impact your relationship at all?

JACKSON: Barack and I have had honest conversations about that relationship. In 2004, when Barack was wrestling with the idea of running for the United States Senate, he approached me first and said, Congressman, if you're running for the United States Senate, I'm not going to run.

I said, listen, my father today is in Decatur, Illinois involved in a big protest over students. It's very difficult for me to go to Decatur and ask Decatur to vote for me for the United States Senate.

I defer, Barack, you run for the United States Senate. Barack did. He was successful. I was a participant in that campaign. In fact, his Senate office in the south suburbs was Jackson/Obama for the United States Senate. I've been with him at every step of his career.

LEMON: Do you remember when he met Michelle?

JACKSON: I don't remember when he met Michelle. LEMON: Do you remember them dating?

JACKSON: I remember partially of them dating. I remember -- obviously, if I attended their wedding, they weren't married until that point. So I had some knowledge of their relationship. Barack was a ballplayer. He's a community organizer, kind of hang out with a lot of people. But I knew them very, very well.

I knew Michelle especially well because there were times when she would come and actually serve as a babysitter for my brothers and I because she was my sister's classmate.

LEMON: And your sister's friend as well.

JACKSON: Absolutely.

LEMON: So you remember this guy when he comes to Chicago. You help him, you know, run for the Senate. You attend his wedding. He attends your wedding. All of these things. Now he's a president- elect.

JACKSON: And I'm a member of Congress on a very important Appropriations Committee. And we'll be relating professionally and also personally because of that unique relationship. It's mind- boggling. But here we are.

LEMON: Mind-boggling. But on a personal level, I mean, just sitting here watching, do you go, oh, my gosh, or -- I don't know, for you, is anything possible? I think anything is possible, but deep down, did I really think that I'd see an African-American president, maybe not?

JACKSON: Well, I never thought that a kid with a funny name would be president of the United States. That's his own recognition of himself. I never thought that a guy named Jesse Jackson with a controversial name could be a member of Congress. But now the ceiling because of Barack's victory has been lifted off of everyone's expectations.

And so, possibility, Barack has brought us hope. He's brought us possibility. And as a result of that, a lot of things are changing for a lot of people in this country. And that's a good thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Our conversation about the inner circle of Barack Obama. Transition to power. We want to know what's on your mind. Make sure you join us at Facebook, at MySpace. As a matter of fact, we want to put some of these folks on now.

Here's what rhodygirl1 says, "My gay and lesbian friends should have the same rights that I do."

Brookbanter says, "Prop 8 broke my heart. I am stunned at the huge step backwards. No person should get to take human rights away from another." And Sunchynemoore says, "Seems to me the $700 billion bailout to the banks was the wrong decision. We should have bailed out Big 3 to keep workers working."

Bluesgal, "I'm not gay, but I realize taking away any existing right is a very slippery slope for us all. The courts must overturn Prop 8."

Make sure you keep your comments coming. There are plenty more. If we can get them on tonight in this broadcast, we will. We appreciate your feedback.

It is called flash bang grenade and it's used by the FBI to slow down the bad guys. Well, it turns out FBI agents were the ones getting hurt. A CNN investigation, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. They're called flash-bang grenades, and they're used to disorient. But the company behind them is now the subject of a federal criminal case, alleging defective flash bangs were sold to the FBI and to other agencies, although the company denies any wrongdoing. Here's CNN's Special Investigations correspondent, Abbie Boudreau with a preview of her report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The explosion happened without warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My last memory, I was laying down on the pavement here.

BOUDREAU: It was around 4:00 a.m., in a small town outside of Philadelphia. FBI agent Donald Bain was sitting in his car in this parking lot with two other agents. He was armed, ready for anything. He wore a Kevlar vest and carried what's called a flash-bang grenade, a type of non-lethal weapon that when deployed emits a bright flash and deafening bang. Used to shock and disorient, often used on assignments just like this -- a kidnapping that had turned into a hostage stakeout.

DONALD BAIN, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: There were still three bad guys that were holding the hostage, negotiations were going on.

BOUDREAU: And the next thing he remembers, the flash bang grenade in his vest just blew up.

BAIN: Car is on fire. I was told later I was on fire. Smoke billowing the car. It was obviously chaos.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: You can see Abbie Boudreau's exclusive report on "FLASH- BANG GRENADES" tomorrow night, 11:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

When disasters strike, he's ready to roll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He pulls up to the building, lying in the middle of the road or if 20 miles is under water, how do you get all those resources to those people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We want to introduce you to tonight's CNN hero. He is a real-life action hero.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And our breaking news tonight here on CNN. You see those pictures there. Those are the fires in California. There are at least three of them are raging out of control. These are courtesy of our affiliates there and people who help us out, our resources there in California. These fires, raging out of control. This is KCAL and KABC. We'll continue to follow this developing story and bring you all the latest developments as they happen.

All right, now, let's talk about a hero. An action hero. Moving in before natural disasters strike. Tonight's CNN hero decided to make the job of first responders a little bit easier. Meet Tad Agoglia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAD AGOGLIA, TOP 10 CNN HERO FINALIST: I got this crazy idea to use one of my cranes and to respond to a disaster and just open up roads so that the real heroes have the resources they need to continue to serve.

My name is Tad Skylar Agoglia. I provide help and hope to those in their greatest hour of need.

There's people on life support, those people on oxygen, these people who are going to die if we don't get there.

I put together a crew that stays on the road 12 months out of the year, responds to disasters all over America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Recently, Tad Agoglia was in the CNN NEWSROOM and I asked him about what it felt like to be a CNN hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AGOGLIA: It's very humbling because I work with heroes all over America. And so it's very humbling for me to be the one that is called a hero. When, you know, I see every day firefighters and police officers and, you know, people running ambulances.

LEMON: I have to ask you this, and I ask -- I try to ask all of our heroes. What do you get out of this? What do you get from helping these people? Do you think you get more out of it than they do?

AGOGLIA: What I get out of this is many things. But one of them is a reminder of really what matters in life. Recently, I responded to a tornado where I was standing there with this gentleman looking at what was left of a two-story home and a four-car garage. And I looked at him and I said, is there anything I can do to help you? And he said, none of these matters to me. I don't care about my cars. I don't care about my home. All I care about is a briefcase of pictures of my mother who passed away five years ago.

And I never thought that I would put almost $600,000 of equipment on to a pile of rubble to find a briefcase of pictures, but that day I did. And it was a beautiful reminder to me of the things that matter in life. It's not necessarily the cars or the homes that are destroyed, but it's -- people matter.

And that's one thing I'm constantly reminded of. I've been to 20 disaster sites in the last 18 months, and I have yet to meet an American that has stood in the midst of what was once their lives and I've never heard them say, what a shame, I've lost everything I've worked hard for my whole life. What I've heard them say is, I'm so thankful my family is alive. I'm so thankful my friends are alive. We can rebuild this.

LEMON: We're thankful for people like you. Tad Agoglia, thank you very much.

AGOGLIA: OK. Nice to meet you.

LEMON: Nice to meet you.

AGOGLIA: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: You can go online right now and choose a hero who inspires you the most. And don't miss "CNN HEROES," all-star tribute hosted by Anderson Cooper right here on CNN, Thanksgiving night.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. I'll see you back here tomorrow night, 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern. Make sure you have a good and safe evening.

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