Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Dr. Laura to End Her Radio Show; Blagojevich Found Guilty on Only One Charge
Aired August 17, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, Dr. Laura exclusive. She shocked the country with her repeated use of the N- word on her radio show last week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO HOST: Listen to a black comic and all you hear is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Now, for the first time since then, she'll tell the world why she did it, what she was thinking. She's got a big announcement, too. It's seconds away.
And then, Kathy Griffin. Big supporters of same-sex marriage. What does she think of the fight over Proposition 8? Anything funny about that?
Find out next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Good evening.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the syndicated talk radio host, if I had to tell you that, you're on another planet. She is a "New York Times" best-selling author, and no stranger to controversy. Last week, she stirred up a storm when she used the N-word 11 times on her radio show. She was speaking with a black female caller who said she was becoming resentful of her white husband being what she called racist comments by his family and friends.
Here's a brief excerpt from that conversation and we'll get right into it with Laura. Watch.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: How about the N-word though? The N-word has been thrown around --
SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all of the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you here is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CALLER: That isn't --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't get it. If anybody -- if anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Laura, always good seeing you.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
KING: Before we get to the announcement, the one thing that you said was interesting. You said that on HBO, black comics use the N- word.
SCHLESSINGER: Rap music.
KING: But, Jewish comics can kid Jews, Hispanic comics, Josh Lopez, kids Hispanics all the time. Gay comics kid the gay situation. It's OK, isn't it? But not OK when the non-N-person uses it.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I was trying to make a point to help her about what I felt, because that -- about her hypersensitivity. And in general, in America, our hypersensitivity about race instead of us feeling more like (INAUDIBLE), and I made the poorly. And so, I upset some people. I offended some people. I hurt some people.
And within 15 minutes, which is what I had to finish the hour, I took myself off my show for the rest of the day because I was so upset because I realized I had blown it. I didn't help her by, you know, making that point.
And, you know, about 8:00 that night, I had sent an apology that I was going to do in the morning on my show to LARadio.com. So, it wasn't until 48 hours later that there was a media brouhaha about it and I had already -- I had already policed myself and apologized and said I was sorry.
KING: Do you -- do you realize that it's OK if blacks want to kid blacks or make fun of themselves, but it's not OK for this lady to have a white person use the word?
SCHLESSINGER: I'm sorry if, you know -- I always tell people on my show to do the right thing. I thought I was trying to be helpful. I was trying to make a philosophical point.
But I was wrong. I apologized.
And there are people who won't accept my apology. And they have their own reasons for that. I feel bad for that. But, my listeners heard my being contrite, being remorseful, being sincerely apologetic because it's not my nature to go out of my way to hurt people. And, you know, get on with things.
KING: So, you're still regretful?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, of course. Any time you do something wrong, you should be regretful.
KING: So, what are you here to tell us tonight?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I'm here to say that my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and I have made the decision not to do radio anymore. The reason is: I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.
I'm sort of done with that. I'm not retiring. I'm not quitting. I feel energized actually, stronger and freer to say the things that I believe need to be said for people in this country.
KING: So, you're giving up -- you are giving up the one area of your fame?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my dear. I write books. I have blogs. I have my Web site.
KING: But people think Dr. Laura, they think her radio talk show.
SCHLESSINGER: This is the area -- this is the era of the Internet.
KING: So, you are going to do Internet stuff?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes, I am now.
KING: Why is your freedom of speech denied on radio?
KING: Because people can criticize what you say.
SCHLESSINGER: You know, when I started in radio, if you said something somebody didn't agree with and they didn't like, they argued with you. Now, they try to silence you. They try to wipe out your ability to earn a living and to have your job. They go after affiliates. They send threats to sponsors.
KING: That's their right, too.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, but I don't hatch the right to say what I need to say. My First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate. They want to eliminate.
So, that's why I decided it was time to move on to other venues where I could say my piece and not have to live in fear anymore that sponsors and their families are going to be upset, radio stations are going to be upset, my peeps, as I call them, are going to be upset. KING: Did you tell your syndicate today? The people who syndicate you?
SCHLESSINGER: Ten minutes before I came on.
KING: This show?
KING: You just told them?
KING: What did they say?
SCHLESSINGER: That there was absolutely no need to do this.
KING: Who syndicates you? What radio?
SCHLESSINGER: TRN, and (ph) Masters, and I said, this isn't a matter of need.
KING: Are you going to have a new contract?
SCHLESSINGER: This is -- yes. Yes, we've added five stations this week and we added sponsors. This is not an issue of I'm losing anything. You and I were -- anointed as, in the top seven of the most important radio hosts in America. I just got nominated for a Marconi, had great ratings.
This is not an issue of hiding, running, collapsing or quitting.
KING: So, if you've added sponsors, although we get, this group that was after you, "Media Matters" --
SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's their job in life.
KING: They said Motel 6 stopped advertising.
SCHLESSINGER: This proves my point.
KING: Netflix, OnStar, they're going to distance themselves, Advanced Auto Parts. But if you've added new sponsors --
SCHLESSINGER: And I've also added sponsors.
KING: So, where have you lost freedom of speech? You can say whatever you like and they can criticize and they can try to take you --
SCHLESSINGER: Larry, you're missing the point.
KING: I am?
SCHLESSINGER: Living with a constant fear of affiliates and sponsors being attacked is very distracting. It's -- it's -- the list that you just made. I didn't even know about that. I knew about Motel 6. I didn't know about the rest of that.
But I expected it to happen because these companies are in the business are in business. They're supporting their own families. They're supporting other families. They don't want to be in the middle of controversy. They want to be doing their business.
So, it's not a matter necessarily of them agreeing with the special interest group. It's a matter of them wanting to skirt the problems. I don't need --
KING: Who is the special interest group? SCHLESSINGER: Well, like "Media Matters" and some of the other groups that have lined up to decide that I should be silenced because they disagree with my points of view. I never called anybody a bad word. I was trying to bring -- and obviously, it has become a national discussion now -- I was trying to make a philosophical point and I made it wrong.
But I wasn't dissing anybody. I was trying to make a point. And for that to say I should be silenced is the reason that I'm saying to you, I obviously am losing First Amendment rights.
KING: You agree, though, that's a horrible word?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, and I policed my self. You know, I don't know of too many people who have apologized before they were told you better apologize. I apologized because I knew what I had done was wrong.
I didn't wait to be threatened. I took responsibility for what I did. And to imagine that there are people who refuse to accept an apology because they have an agenda and would like me silenced is -- I'm done with that. I'm just done with that.
I want my voice out there. I feel freer and stronger than ever to be doing that in all the different venues I have. I am pretty excited.
January, I'm coming out with a book called "Shark Attacks: Surviving Shark Attacks on Land." It's about betrayal and revenge. I think the whole thing is interesting.
But I got so many things upcoming. I'm not going to be silenced in this way.
KING: How many years have you done that show?
SCHLESSINGER: I've been syndicated for 17 -- 16 of those, the top rated female. And I have never been out at the top five. Right now, I'm number three in most listened to talk show hosts in America. And I am -- just ready to take on the next level.
KING: Your last show is New Year's Eve?
SCHLESSINGER: December 31st. But I think I'm on vacation.
KING: When will your last show?
SCHLESSINGER: Christmas. I think just before Christmas, I guess.
KING: You'll come back?
SCHLESSINGER: Of course.
KING: Thanks, Laura.
Dr. Schlessinger is chucking it. Good way to put it.
Next, we've got the latest on the Blagojevich case.
And Kathy Griffin is ahead. She's here to talk about Proposition 8. Something tells me she probably has something to say about Dr. Laura.
KING: Former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, was found guilty this afternoon of making false statements or representations to the FBI. The jury was hung on 23 counts against him and his brother Robert.
After the verdict, an impassioned Blagojevich talked to reporters outside the courthouse in Chicago. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER ILLINOS GOVERNOR: From the very beginning when all this happened, I told them that I did not let them down, I didn't break any laws, I didn't do anything wrong. The government -- the federal government, and this particular prosecutor did everything he could to target me and prosecute me, persecute me, put pressure on my family, try to take our home, take me away from our kids, arrest me. In the early morning hours on December 9th, with Patti and me in our bedroom, and our little Annie in bed with us, a sitting governor, and that very prosecutor said that he was stopping a crime spree before it happened.
Well, this jury shows you -- notwithstanding the fact that this government and the power and resources that they bring to bear -- this jury just showed you that, notwithstanding the fact that the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me, that on every count, except for one, and every charge except for one, they could not prove that I did anything wrong that I did break, that I did break any laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: WGN's Julie Unruh on joins us from Chicago. Julie was in the courtroom throughout the trial and was there to day for the verdict. Surprised? JULIE UNRUH, REPORTER, WGN: I think everyone was a little surprised, Larry. You know, there have been so months that we followed this case. The prosecution has been screaming for months, if not more than a year and a half, that they had the strong case based largely on all these secretly recorded FBI tapes and then slowly -- through deliberations -- we were getting hints that this jury, while they may have been playing nice with one another, was not necessarily getting to the root of the issues and not able to come to a consensus on much at all.
Late last week, we learned they only agreed on two charges of all 24 against the ex-governor and his brother -- and today, only one.
KING: Well, what happened to that second one?
UNRUH: The second one, which second one are you referring to? There was one lying to the FBI.
KING: There was supposed to be two -- there was one, supposed to be two results, right?
UNRUH: Well, he actually was just found guilty on lying to the FBI and really, there's two parts to it --
UNRUH: -- if that's what you're referring to. Excuse me.
One part was: was there a fire wall between politics and fund- raising? And the other was: was he keeping track of all this stuff?
They decided to commit on one and not the other. And that's where we sit. The bigger news, of course, is that all the other charges, whether it's bribery, extortion, racketeering -- all went by the wayside. And that means he wasn't acquitted on these, of course. It means he could potentially and will most likely face all of them again, or some of them again, in a reconfigured form in a retrial.
KING: Blagojevich also strongly denied that he lied to the FBI. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: I want the people of Illinois to know: I did not lie to the FBI. I have told the truth from the very beginning. This is a persecution.
We have police officers who are being gunned down on the streets. We have children who can't play in front of their homes in the summertime because they might get gunned down. And we have a prosecutor who has wasted and wants to spend tens of millions of taxpayer money to keep persecuting me, persecuting my family take me away from my little girls as well as take my home away from us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Has the jury been polled and questioned by reporters, or the lawyers, Julie, to your knowledge?
UNRUH: We're just getting some of the information. Right now, the people who get to the jurors first are typically the media, folks like us. And we are getting little tidbits starting to roll in now. It was sort of the last phase of the day.
And we've learned actually quite a bit. We learned that on the issue of selling the U.S. Senate seat, which has been the one that got so much play, starting back in December of 2009, I think we learned today that there was -- there were deadlocked, but 11-1 in favor of convicting Rod Blagojevich on trying to sell or trade Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. That's what the foreman told us -- that was at one point during deliberations.
It sounds to me like they were 11-1 to convict. They couldn't convict -- one person, he apparently convicted or convinced everyone else to go his way. They couldn't decide. They dropped it. They decided they were hung on that one.
KING: Huh. Thanks so much, Julie. We'll be checking with you a lot.
And as this retrial comes, that should be coming I guess in a few -- it takes a while to retry.
Kathy Griffin is an actress and best-selling author, Emmy-winning star of Bravo's "My Life on The D-List." She joins us now here in Los Angeles.
First, a couple opinions on what's been going on.
KATHY GRIFFIN, ACTRESS: First of all, how am I most the sane person on this entire show. Look at this lineup. This is a comedienne's dream. You got Dr. Laura, who I believe is a botanist. I'm not sure what kind of doctor.
And then you got Blagojevich who I really enjoyed on the "Celebrity Apprentice." But how's just on tape trying to sell that seat.
And how do I get that one guy to convince the other 11 that the tapes weren't real.
GRIFFIN: OK. So, I'm sorry. We're here about Prop 8. But let's admit this is an action-packed show.
KING: All right. I got to take a break. But, quickly, what do you think of Laura's leaving radio?
GRIFFIN: Fantastic, it's about time.
KING: What do you think of the Blagojevich verdict?
GRIFFIN: It's hung in a way that is suspicious to me. And I'm from Chicago. And I say that with love and sense of humor.
KING: Suspicious in what way, Kathy?
GRIFFIN: Really. There's a tape of the guy trying to sell the seat. And the jury is hung?
KING: Do you suspect something?
GRIFFIN: I think I know what I know, and I know a guy who called a guy who might talk to a guy -- if you know what I am saying.
GRIFFIN: I'm from Chicago. What's the problem?
: We'll be back to talk about same-sex marriage. Next.
KING: We return with Kathy Griffin, who is the comic, actress and best-selling author and Emmy-winning star of Bravo's "My Life on the D-List." By the way, that's up for an Emmy which we congratulate you, end of the month.
GRIFFIN: And, in fact, the episode deals with Prop 8.
KING: That's right. That's the "Norma Gay" episode involving your opposition to Prop 8. During that episode you visited an LGBT center for teens. Here's an expert -- here's an excerpt, rather. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: If you could, each one of you say one thing to that person who voted for Prop 8, meaning, against gay marriage -- what would you say to that person?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'd say to them, well, thank you for denying me the ability to live where I love now. Thank you.
GRIFFIN: Yes, you're taking away my civil rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean -- yes, thank you for taking away that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to say, who are you to deny somebody their happiness?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Why are you so strong on this topic?
GRIFFIN: Because I think it's a civil rights issue, you know, and it was interesting when -- I am not going to call her Dr. Laura because I don't have proof. I'm just going to say Laurie. When Laurie Schlessinger was here and she was talking special interest groups, which I believe she meant the entire African-American community, but that's another story.
To me, this is a civil rights issue. And even though I'm a heterosexual, you know, female, I am kind of immersed in the gay community. And I tour this country all the time. And I meet many, many, you know, gay couples, straight couples, and I think it's honestly no different than interracial marriage.
And it's shocking because people forget that within my lifetime, in my generation, you know, it was illegal to have a mixed race marriage. And when I think about that, I think, oh, that must have been a century ago. Well, it was 1967.
GRIFFIN: So, I think that the ruling yesterday will prove to be on the wrong side of history. On the other -- on the other hand, I think it's probably good it's going to go to the Supreme Court because I get nervous with this let's "let the states decide," because then if you are married legally in California, but you cross the border, then you lose your rights.
KING: But this is a conservative court, the Supreme Court.
GRIFFIN: Yes. Well, that makes me very nervous. I mean, I'm not a fan of the Supreme Court. I don't trust them. I didn't enjoy the last president.
KING: How about those who say marriage is a sacred thing for man and woman, about procreation?
GRIFFIN: Well, it's not because, first of all, the divorce rate is high. And I say that as a bitter divorcee. Because, you know I have a very unusual stance which is that I am pro-gay marriage, but I believe that heterosexual marriage should be a criminal offense because I'm divorced and a little bitter.
KING: That's Proposition 9.
GRIFFIN: Proposition 9.
KING: Ban heterosexual.
GRIFFIN: But the point is, we've learned that, you know, when it became legal in Massachusetts, the sky didn't fall down, everybody is fine, everyone is fine in Iowa. And so, I think, you know, just like Brown versus Board of Education, people were scared about the ruling. Nothing bad happened. In fact, good things happened.
So, we've learned that historically, some times, public opinion can, you know, take a little time to catch up with quite simply what is right. And I think that this is just an issue of right/wrong. I think it's pretty simple.
KING: And we will debate that issue coming up in a little while. Some more moments with Kathy after this.
KING: We're back with Kathy Griffin.
What is this symbolism here in that picture, what is that?
GRIFFIN: That means that gay people should not be silenced. It also means, of course, I won an Emmy. But more importantly, the symbolism is: lots of people are doing them, it's the duct tape which is that, obviously, a ruling like yesterday's ruling is a way to silence the gay community, put them on hold, well, we have to think about this more, let's decide in December. And so, the duct tape just simply represents the gay community and not really having a voice.
And that's really what this debate is about. Is Prop 8 is about gay marriage being equal for everyone as opposed to civil unions? Or, well, we're going to give you some rights and the 14th Amendment isn't about some rights or some equality. We don't get to pick and choose. We have to be equal.
KING: What is the essential difference between a civil union and marriage?
GRIFFIN: Well, what I didn't understand is that civil unions and marriage, there's 1,100 different rights that you don't get under a civil union, and that if you cross state lines, that's what makes me nervous. So, let's say that it's legal in Massachusetts, but then you cross state lines and then you're not recognized and then your partner -- God forbid -- goes to the hospital and then you can't visit them because they say, well, in this state, we don't recognize you as being married.
The bottom line is: I really think most Americans, especially younger Americans who are voting, need to know that they should go to Congress.org, which is a nonpartisan site, and let their representatives know that this is an important issue to them. And basically, you're not going to get my vote unless you're on the right side of this issue.
KING: A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll shows there's a big difference how younger and older Americans regard same sex marriage: 58 percent of those under 50 think it's OK. Only 38 percent over 50 think it's all right.
GRIFFIN: Right. Well, but that -- what's different about that? I mean, that happened with race relations and every kind of civil rights. And you know, one person who really, I thought, articulated it well was -- when we did the Prop 8 episode on "My Life on the D- List," there are some things I learned that were really great.
Number one, I met with Al Sharpton, who, you know, people you know, he's quite an out there character, but he's a very bright guy. You know him very well.
When he was able to articulate so well how it is a civil rights issue, then I was able to go back to my heterosexual friends and say, you know, this isn't really such a gay thing. I know you think it is just that I know a bunch of gay people, but it is really a civil rights issue.
Also, when I interviewed, as you saw in the clip there, 18, 19- year-old LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender kids who had been kicked out of their homes just because they came out to their families -- so they didn't have a roof over their head just because they said I'm gay; I'm bisexual; I'm lesbian.
So they weren't aware of Stonewall or Matthew Shepard. They were just frying to keep a roof over their heads. So getting them to go to their first rally in Sacramento was a really big deal, because these younger people need to know they do have a voice and a vote. And it will be heard.
KING: Were you surprised that the three-judge panel didn't allow the marriages to take place?
GRIFFIN: Yes, I was disappointed. I think -- like I said -- I think that Judge Walker will reflect upon this and see that he was on the wrong side of history. But I also like to think that there is optimism and then, when it goes to the Supreme Court, obviously that's going to be quite a debate.
KING: Is it?
GRIFFIN: It's not the Jimmy Carter years anymore. So things are very different now. And also, obviously those of us immersed in the gay community and believe in civil rights of all kind, we are really hoping and pulling for President Obama to do the right thing. And I think it is obviously, he is under a lot of political pressure that this could be considered political napalm. Yet I think your own polls show I don't think President Obama is going to lose an election over this.
I am actually kind of optimistic that a lot of people -- it's sort of not on their radar, as opposed to maybe 20 years ago, where they thought that you could catch gay all that stuff.
KING: He could sign an executive order and throw out Don't Ask Don't Tell. He wants Congress to do that. You think it is a cop out.
GRIFFIN: Yes, it is a cop out. He knows it. They know it. They all know it.
KING: Couple other things before you leave us?
KING: Are you broken hearted over the fact that first Levi and Bristol got together?
GRIFFIN: Wow, you are really going there. If you are going to pull a Diane Sawyer, I would like the fuzzy lighting, because I didn't know you were going to just cut my heart open on this show.
KING: When he announced he was back with her -- GRIFFIN: I'm glad that you can't even say her name because I can't either. I know it's something like a vacuum cleaner brand. Yes, I have been dumped. It hurts.
KING: He is not with her now.
GRIFFIN: Don't play games with my heart. As the Backstreet Boys would say, if I can quote them again, "stop playing game with my hearts."
KING: But it changed. Now he is not with her. He fathered a child with someone else.
GRIFFIN: OK, you don't get me.
KING: I don't.
GRIFFIN: All right, Levi Johnson ripped my heart in pieces. You are just sitting there cold as ice. I was this close to living in the White House. If I had been First Lady or whatever I would have been if I had kept, you know, sleeping with Levi Johnston, I would have made gay marriage legal.
KING: But --
GRIFFIN: Let me tell you, gay guys like him because he is hot.
KING: You could have been the First Lady of the mayor of a city.
GRIFFIN: I think that could still happen. Let me tell you, we are going to gay up Wasilla. It is going to be literally one endless stream of me officiating gay weddings. By the way, I was supposed to go officiate a gay wedding after this. So I am disappointed. Gays have to wait, once again.
KING: One other thing on Levi, have you called him?
GRIFFIN: I'm doing something called the rules. I think Dr. Laura or whatever she is now, big Internet book writer, would agree that there is a lot of possibilities out there for me.
KING: You've don't think she is a doctor?
GRIFFIN: I wouldn't go to her for a pap smear.
KING: On that note --
KING: Thank you for joining us again.
GRIFFIN: Always a pleasure.
KING: Always funny, Kathy griffin.
GRIFFIN: Don't look at me suspicious like you regret this booking.
KING: We'll debate Proposition 8 next.
KING: Welcome back. Stephanie Miller is a progressive talk radio host of her own radio show. She came out as a lesbian last week on her program, and she supports, of course, same sex marriage. Bishop Harry Jackson joins us from London, senior pastor of the Hope Christian Church. He is the chairman of Stand for Marriage D.C. And he opposes same sex marriage. Dennis Prager is the nationally syndicated talk radio host of his own program. He's a best-selling author and he opposes same sex marriage. And Kamala Harris, the San Francisco District Attorney. She is the Democratic nominee for attorney general of California, and she supports same sex marriage.
Stephanie, quickly, why did you come out?
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Why do you assume I am for gay marriage? I might be afraid of commitment. You don't know. I think everybody knows, Larry, that Rush Limbaugh married another woman finally, a little while ago. And if I could not have the one man that could complete me, there really was no other choice.
KING: So you finally decided to.
KING: Good choice.
Dennis, why are you opposed to two people who want to share a life together being together?
DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not. I'm opposed to one thing and only one thing. That is the redefinition of marriage. I don't think that every society in history, including ours, every religion, every secular society was evil and hate filled and had it wrong when they defined marriage as a man and a woman. That's all that any of us are opposed to.
We want gays to be happy. We don't want them ever harassed. They are created in God's image just like a heterosexual is. However, redefining marriage means that from now on, gender doesn't matter. It does -- man, woman, who ever you marry, it doesn't matter. That has never been the case. No one ever advocated it prior to now. And all we ask is to keep marriage as it is, male/female.
KING: Camilla, what's wrong with that argument?
KAMALA HARRIS, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Because it just belies the very fundamental basis of the founding of this country, which we said in 1776; we are going to assume and treat all people as equals. It's a fundamental American value.
And it its about fairness. It's about fairness under the law and under the Constitution of the United States. KING: Bishop Jackson, why isn't marriage a religious issue? Why shouldn't marriage take place in a church or a synagogue and everything else be a union. Why is the state involved in marriage?
BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, SR. PASTOR, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: I think it's an historic issue, Larry. I wish the state weren't in it. But the reality is that the state is in it. Therefore, there are sociological ramifications that we have to take into account. And I believe that Kamala is dead wrong, that there is no place in the Constitution that says that something like marriage is a foundational right. It is something that society has always decided that she had the right to determine what is best for the long term on-going nature of our society.
KING: All right, Stephanie, what's wrong with that argument?
MILLER: Well, quite seriously, Larry, this was a very personal decision for me. I have been out to my friends and family for many years. I just hadn't talked about it on the radio. I'm a very private person.
But, as you know, my dad ran for vice president with Barry Goldwater. Very conservative family, Republican, Catholic. Part of my message is I spent so many years thinking they would judge me that I judged them. When I came out to them, they couldn't have been more loving and supportive.
It is a critical time, Larry, in a critical civil rights struggle I think in our country, where it is incumbent upon me or anybody else to put a human face to it, to say it is your sister; it is your favorite radio host; it's your brother. I was inspired by Shelly Wright, my friend who is the country singer, who just came out. That takes courage.
I think it is a time when you need to say, I am not going to keep cheering gay rights from the side lines. I'm going to step down on the battlefield and be part of it.
KING: Dennis, frankly, do you think you are fighting windmills? Do you think it is coming, because interracial marriage was the law until 1967. A black couldn't marry a white, and they made similar arguments to what you make?
PRAGER: No, not at all.
KING: They did.
PRAGER: I know -- no, no, no. I know. But they're not similar. I will tell you why they're not similar. There is nothing in common between race and gender. This is a massive confusion of all advocates of same sex marriage. I respect them. Some of them I actually love personally. I know they're in my family. But it is dishonest to compare race and gender. No one of different races is different. I am identical to a black to a yellow to a red. I am not identical to a woman. There is no comparison. We have men's rooms and women's rooms. We do not have black rooms and white rooms. We once did. And that was evil. It is not evil to separate sexes. It is evil to separate races. This is a massive act of confusion that is sown, not deliberately -- I think people believe it, but it is wrong. Race and gender have nothing in common.
KING: Kamala, how do you answer that?
HARRIS: I just think that it -- it is absolutely getting around the very, very fundamental and basic point, which is that we have a country that we believe in based on everything that we said we are when we were founded,. which included that all people are equal and should receive equal protection under the law. And that is what is so fundamentally important about the ruling by Judge Walker, which its that the Constitution of the United States says that people should not be treated differently because of sexual orientation, essentially.
The Constitution of the United States says explicitly that we are entitled to equal protection. Let all people be free to marry. It does not -- it does not have anything to do with the differences in the sexes. Of course, there are many books that have been written about that. Of course there are differences between the sexes.
HARRIS: The point is that people should not be deprived of their basic constitutional rights because of their sexual orientation. It's a very simple point. Don't take rights from people.
MILLER: It is -- Dennis, it is the same in the sense that it is separate but equal. I don't understand how you cannot say that is the same thing. To say we are -- you know, like when we let black people marry white people -- we're not going to call it marriage like you are real people. It is separate but equal. It is not American. And it is not constitutional.
PRAGER: Are you saying then that since the inception of the United States or the Constitution we have done something evil by having marriages man/woman.
MILLER: This is like any other civil rights battle. We did not used to let women vote. We didn't used to let black people marry white people. There are a lot of things we didn't use to do.
PRAGER: But we have always recognized racism is wrong.
MILLER: If you look at a poll out here in California, if you want to go to polling, people in California are for gay marriage now. You are going to be on the wrong side of history, Dennis.
KING: Let me get a break in.
PRAGER: Let people vote. Why have a judge do it? MILLER: We don't use mob rule. We don't put people's rights to mob rule.
KING: Let me get a break.
KING: Hold on. Let me get a break and I will ask Bishop Jackson how society would be harmed if gays could marry everywhere. Quick correction, by the way, Kathy Griffin just realized she misspoke during her segment. She said Judge Walker was on the wrong side of marriage. He is the judge who ruled in favor of same sex marriage. Kathy says she meant to say he is on the right side of history. More debate after this.
KING: Bishop Jackson, how would society be harmed? Is society harmed in Massachusetts because gay people can marry there?
JACKSON: I think so. First of all, the right to vote is an essential civil rights. My father was threatened at gun point by an out-of-control state trooper because he weighed in on this issue of voting. So we're trumping one group's civil rights in the name of civil rights. There is something backwards there.
Number two, I think it its about the kids. You are not just changing marriage; you are changing everything that relates to marriage. And therefore "Heather Has Two Mommies" is being taught in schools around the nation, and it will fundamentally change how we view the world. And I think that some parents don't want their kids to know these things at such young ages.
In Washington, D.C., thirdly, on the gay and lesbian agenda right now is a desire to legalize prostitution in our city because they say that gays, lesbian, transgender kids are going to be discriminated against. Where will it end? So when we say yes to same sex marriage, we have all these unintended consequences that come behind it. I think this is a case, Larry, of a minority impressing and imposing its will upon a majority. I have had death had death threats. There have been all kind of crazy things. I just don't think it's fair. What happened today with Laura --
MILLER: Larry, Larry --
KING: I don't want -- I want everyone to get the same time. Kamala, you answer this one.
HARRIS: It is a mistake to suggest that when you give rights to one group, you are taking rights from another. It is not a zero sum game. The reality of it is that we have said as a country that we believe in fundamental fairness, which means equal rights for all. To take -- to give rights to this group of people who want to marry is not to take rights from anyone else. It's just to do the fundamentally fair and right thing.
And it's the thing that's based -- is the basic principle that was the foundation of our country: fairness.
JACKSON: But it fundamentally changes the institution. It's not giving rights. It destroys marriage as we know it.
HARRIS: It doesn't take anything away from the institution. We know that.
JACKSON: It does. No, no, you don't know that. I disagree with you.
HARRIS: It gives other people the protection of that institution. It gives other people the ability to have a legally recognized bond where they --
KING: one at a time, reverend.
JACKSON: -- commitment with each other. And there should be room in our country for the belief that people do fall in love and want to create a commitment between themselves that is recognized by the law. When they want to do that, we should give them that right.
KING: You are the same -- bishop -- rather, Dennis, you're the same gender as a gay man.
PRAGER: That's entirely right. But that's not the issue here. Let me ask a question to the two women.
PRAGER: With same-sex marriage -- by the way, I'll ask a question to the women. Let me answer you about Massachusetts. You asked what's happened. I'll tell you what has happened. The largest single institution in adoption in Massachusetts history has been the Catholic church, Catholic charities. They are now out of it. They have been kicked out because they prefer a married man and a woman to be an adoptive couple to two men or two women.
I ask the women a question. Do you believe that there is any difference in having a father, or not having a mother, or not having a mother? Is it identical to you, two mothers as a mother and a father, or two men and a mother and a father? Is it identical? You have to say it's identical or you agree with me.
MILLER: Most kids end up in foster care because some straight couple screwed up somewhere, Dennis.
PRAGER: It doesn't answer my question.
(CROSSTALK) HARRIS: I'll answer the question. I'm happy to answer the question.
PRAGER: I want an answer to my question. Is Catholic Charities -- Catholic Charities was kicked out of Massachusetts in the adoption industry because they prefer a man and a woman as parents. Do the two women --
HARRIS: The call of your question --
KING: Kamala, go ahead.
HARRIS: There's a point that has to be made here. And I am a career prosecutor. I specialized for a long time in child sexual assault and child abuse cases. I created the first child abuse unit of my office in the history of the office.
I'm going to tell you something. What's most important -- what is fundamentally most important for a child to become a healthy and productive adult is that they are raised by loving parents. And whatever --
PRAGER: So it doesn't matter?
HARRIS: Whatever role they take on, I'm supporting that. I'm supporting that.
PRAGER: So it doesn't matter, having no father or --
HARRIS: In the foster care system, in the juvenile delinquency system, who had a heterosexual parent and a couple -- married couple who were heterosexual who could not take care of their child.
MILLER: One of the other main reasons I did this, a dear friend of mine was the homecoming queen in high school, came out, lost all her friends. She works on the Trevor Project now, on the suicide hotline for gay kids. There is a gay kid somewhere tonight watching in Iowa that thinks -- that's going to kill himself because he thinks there's no one else is like him. There's a teacher somewhere who takes Pepto-Bismol because she's afraid someone is going to ask her what she did that weekend. There are kids at risk. There are kids killing themselves in this country. And it's important, you know, to step forward and tell them that they're not alone.
PRAGER: -- announcing that it doesn't matter if you have a mother.
HARRIS: I have a question for you. What's more important, if a child in a way that is with love or not?
KING: We'll take a break and come right back and have you answer. (CROSSTALK)
KING: Kamala Harris, what was your question, again, for Dennis?
HARRIS: Whether he believes that it is -- that the issue for a child is more important whether the parents are a heterosexual or homosexual couple versus whether the child is being raised in a loving home, where they are being supported and nurtured, so they can become the productive human being and adult we want them to become? If you have to take it on balance, I think most reasonable people would agree what is most important is that that child -- if the focus is truly on the child, that that child is raised in a family where they are loved.
KING: Dennis, what is --
PRAGER: I fully agree. Now I'll ask you a question.
PRAGER: You have a loving male/female and you have a loving male/male or female/female, you have a child to give for adoption. Would you flip a coin or would you prefer the male/female? All of them are loving, kind and good.
HARRIS: I would never engage in that simplistic an assessment when you're talking about if --
PRAGER: You asked me a question and I answered. Why is that simplistic?
HARRIS: Because I would need to know more. I would need to know more. Any person who deals with children -- I would want to know if there are other siblings in the home, I would want to know whether --
KING: Can I get another word in?
KING: Bishop Jackson, do you think it is coming anyway? Do you think you're going to lose this fight?
JACKSON: No, I don't think it's inevitable. I think the issue that we're dealing with is because it's not inevitable, these guys are yelling, screaming, fighting. They know that in the next two and a half years, I believe this issue will be decided at the highest court. And what we need for those who believe in traditional marriage is to stand up, let their voices be heard, and make sure we don't just let this thing be swept away by a whim of a few people.
MILLER: Every little girl has a dream, Larry. I have a new one. I want to be gay married by Kathy Griffin. I want to marry a black woman. I want Laura Schlessinger to be my maid of honor at a mosque, so that every right-wing head will implode simultaneously. That's my dream.
KING: Tomorrow night, we'll discuss the mosque situation.
We not with sadness the passing of Bobby Thompson today. Sad because Bobby Thompson provided the saddest moment in my life, October 3rd, 1951; he hit the shot heard around the world. Willy Mays was on deck, about to go into military service, and the Dodgers lost the pennant after leading by 13 and a half games in August.
PRAGER: They got the signal.
KING: It's OK, bobby. They were signaled. That's right. It's -- but I knew Bobby Thompson and like him very much. But he still hurt me. It's time now for John Roberts -- goodbye, Bobby. Rest well.
Time now for John Roberts and "AC 360."