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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Dr. Laura Responds to Racial Slur Controversy; Kathy Griffin on Fight over Prop 8
Aired August 21, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Dr. Laura exclusive. She shocked the country with her repeated use of the "N" word on her radio show last week.
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: ... listen to a black comic and all you hear is [bleep], [bleep], [bleep].
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 supporter 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good evening. Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the syndicated talk radio show 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)
NITA "JADE" HANSON, CALLED DR. LAURA FOR ADVICE: How about the "N" word, though? The "N" word's been thrown around -
SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you hear is [bleep]. I don't get it. If anybody - if anybody without enough melanin says it, it is a horrible thing but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Doctor, always good seeing you.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
KING: Before we get to the announcement, the one thing you said that was interesting, you said that on HBO black comics use the "N" word.
SCHLESSINGER: Rap music.
KING: But - but, Jewish comics can kid Jews. Hispanic comics -- George 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, e pluribus unum, and I made it 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 - I didn't help her by, you know, making that point. And, you know, that - 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 realize that it's OK if blacks want to kid blacks or make fun of themselves but it's not OK for this lady, a white person -
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I'm always sorry if -
KING: -- use the word?
SCHLESSINGER: 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 and I apologized. And there are people who wouldn't accept my apology, and they have their own reasons for that and 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. Anytime 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've 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 and 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: But you're giving up - you're giving up the one area of your fame? I mean, you've written --
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, my dear. I write books. I have blogs. I - I have my website. I have speaking engagements.
KING: But people think Dr. Laura, they think radio talk host, right?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, this is the area of the - this is the era of the internet.
KING: So you're going to do internet stuff?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes. I am now.
KING: Why is your freedom of speech denied on radio?
SCHLESSINGER: Because if any special -
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, that 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: But that's their right, too.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, but I don't have 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 -
KING: Did you -
SCHLESSINGER: -- 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, and I -
KING: Who syndicates you? What radio?
SCHLESSINGER: TRN. Mark Masters. And I said this isn't a matter of need.
KING: Were you going to have a new contract?
SCHLESSINGER: This is - yes. Yes. We've added five stations this week and 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 - of hiding, running or collapsing or quitting. This is an issue -
KING: So if you have all this -- if you've added sponsors, although we got this group that was after you, Media Matters -
SCHLESSINGER: Well, that's their job in life.
KING: They said Motel 6 stop advertising -
SCHLESSINGER: This proves my point -
KING: Netflix, OnStar, they're going to distance themselves, Advanced Auto Parts. But if you added new sponsors.
SCHLESSINGER: And I've also added new 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 your -
SCHLESSINGER: God, you're - you're missing the point.
KING: I am?
SCHLESSINGER: Living with the constant fear of affiliates and sponsors being attacked is very distracting. It's - it's - the - what - the list you just made, I didn't even know about that. I knew about Motel 6. I didn't even know about the rest of that, but I expected it to happen because these companies are in the business - are a 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 this 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 - I policed myself.
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've got so many things upcoming. I've - 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. Sixteen of those, the top-rated female, and I've never been out of the top five. Right now I'm number three in most listened-to talk show hosts in America. And I'm 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 be?
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.
KING: Nita Hanson. She's with us from Denver, Colorado. It was during her phone call to the "Dr. Laura Show" last week that the radio host used the "N" word 11 times. Nita, referred to as "Jade" by Dr. Laura, called and asked for advice about dealing with resentment she felt about comments made by her white husband's friends and family.
Listen to some of what happened, then we'll talk with Nita.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HANSON: How about the "N" word, though? The "N" word's been thrown around -
SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you hear is [bleep]. 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: Nita, thanks for joining us. What's - what's gone on with you since all of this ruckus? How have you reacted?
HANSON: It has been really crazy, but I have been getting a lot of support, and I want to thank everyone who has spoken up and just supported me through all of this. It's just been amazing. The feedback I've gotten has been very positive, so thanks. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.
KING: The point that Dr. Laura was trying to make that blacks use the word, comedians use the word on HBO, that did not resonate with you at all?
HANSON: No, because I was calling to get advice about my relationship. I - I don't care - you know, it's - it's not OK to use the word, period. But I was calling Dr. Laura to get advice on my relationship.
KING: Why didn't you just hang up?
HANSON: That would have been rude. I - honest - my mother taught me better than that, and I - that would have been rude.
KING: Are you - were you a Dr. Laura fan? Are you a regular listener?
HANSON: I was a regular listener for - for a while, for about five, 10 years. I would listen to her every day in the car, you know, to and from wherever I was going. But I was a huge fan.
KING: Why did she call you Jade?
HANSON: I liked the name Jade. I - I didn't want to call and give my real name. I - I mean, that's something I - I just - I wanted a little privacy. I didn't think that this would blow up like it did, but I liked the name Jade, and I'd used it before when I'd called.
KING: Oh, you'd called before?
HANSON: Yes, sir, I have.
KING: In the past had she been helpful?
HANSON: She was helpful. I mean, there were some things I didn't agree with, but I still listened to her.
KING: Now, let's listen to more of last week's on-air call between Nita and Dr. Laura. This excerpt comes in the end of the conversation. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)
HANSON: I can't believe someone like you is on the radio, spewing out the [bleep] word, and I hope everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: I didn't spew out the [bleep] word.
HANSON: You said, [bleep], [bleep], [bleep].
SCHLESSINGER: Right. I said that's what you hear.
HANSON: Everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.
HANSON: I hope everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: They did, and I'll say it again -
HANSON: So what makes it OK for you to say the word?
SCHLESSINGER: -- [bleep], [bleep], [bleep] is what you hear on HB --
HANSON: What makes it --
SCHLESSINGER: Why don't you let me finish a sentence?
SCHLESSINGER: Don't take things out of context. Don't double N - NAACP me.
HANSON: I know what the -
SCHLESSINGER: Leave them in context.
HANSON: I know what the "N" word means and I know it came from a white person, and I know the white person made it bad.
SCHLESSINGER: All right, thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can't have this argument.
You know what? If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race.
(END AUDIO TAPE)
KING: What did you make of that, Nita?
HANSON: Every time I hear it, I - I'm shocked. I'm stunned, I'm confused, I'm hurt.
Listen, I was a longtime listener, and I did not expect to hear that at all. I called for advice about my relationship with my husband, and that was it. And, as you could tell by the tape, she was very angry. I couldn't get a word in edgewise, and I just - I was embarrassed. I - and I was - I was a fan, and I just, like -
I was hurt. I was really hurt.
KING: Now you're married to a Caucasian, and his friends would - what was the problem you were having? What did - what did he or his friends say that - that bothered you that you felt the need to call in?
HANSON: You know, it was the stereotypes, and I'm the type of person that it takes a lot for me to get mad. I have been putting up with the stereotypes for a long time, and finally you - you get tired of it, and then you think, OK, is there another motive? The questions keep getting - they're worse, and I'm just sick and tired of the stereotypes.
And the "N" word happened - not in that particular --
KING: Well, friends might say what?
HANSON: Why do black people act the way they do. Why do you talk the way you do? Stuff like that. why -why do you sag your pants? I - and I didn't do - I don't do any of that.
So, I just, the generalization of -
KING: What does your husband - I get it. They generalize.
What does your husband say about all of this fuss?
HANSON: He has been very supportive. He loves me very much, and I love him. He's been very supportive through this whole thing. He cannot believe this happened as well, too, because I didn't even tell him I'd called Dr. Laura.
HANSON: I wanted to try to fix the problem and, you know, call her to get the advice and then try to fix it myself. But he had no idea -
KING: What about -
HANSON: -- that I had even called the show.
KING: Now, what about his friends and family, those who you had said had been making these kind of remarks? Have you heard from them?
HANSON: No, I have not. I have not.
However, the neighbor did - I take that back. The neighbor did apologize. He apologized the next day, and I accepted his apology.
KING: As we said, Dr. Laura was a guest on this show last Tuesday. We asked her back tonight. She declined, but she did issue this statement. "I'd like to tell Jade I'm sorry. She called me to ask for my advice and help. In giving my answer, I not only didn't help her, I used words that offended her and others, and I'd like to say again, I'm sorry."
Nita, are you - are you do you accept that apology?
HANSON: This was from last night? She said this last night?
KING: She - I think she said it today. We - we - she said it (ph) today.
HANSON: You know, the incident happened last Tuesday. I - I think if she were really sincere about that, she wouldn't have waited 10 days to nine days later to apologize. And I will still say if she were not caught, she probably would have gone on like it never even happened.
And Media Matters, when they reported the story - because what originally happened , when I went back to listen to the tape to make sure that I was hearing what I heard, it was gone. The tape was gone. And this is a live streaming system - website, and it was completely gone. And then I started trying to figure out where is this tape, and that's when I found out that it surfaced on Friday.
But I don't accept her apology, because she still thinks it's OK to use the "N" word. She said things about interracial relationships -
KING: Nita, thanks for appearing with us. We appreciate you taking the time.
HANSON: Thank you very much.
KING: Nita Hanson.
HANSON: Thank you, sir.
KING: She made the phone call.
Kathy Griffin is ahead. She's here to talk about Proposition 8. Something tells me she probably has something to say about Dr. Laura. Stick around.
KING: We return with Kathy Griffin, who is the comic actress and best-selling author, 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, the end of the month. You submitted -
KATHY GRIFFIN, COMIC ACTRESS AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR: And in fact the - the episode deals with Prop 8.
KING: That's right. You - 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 love whoever I love now. Thank you. I mean -
GRIFFIN: Yes, for taking away my civil liberty (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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'm 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 about 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 the cross - 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, it's 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'm pro-gay marriage, but I believe that heterosexual marriage should be a criminal offense, because I'm divorced. I'm a little bitter.
KING: That's Proposition 9.
GRIFFIN: Proposition 9. But the point is --
KING: Ban heterosexual --
GRIFFIN: -- we -we've learned that, you know, when it became legal in Massachusetts, the sky didn't fall down. Everybody's fine. Everyone's fine in Iowa.
And so, I think, you know, just like Brown versus Board of Education. People were scared about that 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 and 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 - 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... *
GRIFFIN: ... 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. Fifty-eight 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. And when he was able to articulate so well how it's 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. And I know you think it's just that I know a bunch of gay people, but it is really a civil rights issue.
And 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 had 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. And so they weren't even aware of Stonewall or Matthew Shepard. They were just trying to keep a roof over their heads.
And so getting them to go to their first rally in Sacramento was a really big deal, because these younger people need to know that 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's optimism. And then, when it goes to the Supreme Court, obviously that's going to be quite a debate. And --
KING: Is it?
GRIFFIN: Well, it's not the Jimmy Carter years anymore. So things are very different now.
And also, obviously, those of us that are immersed in the gay community and believe in civil rights of all kind, you know, we're really hoping and pulling for President Obama to do the right thing. And I think it's obvious he's under a lot of political pressure, that this could be considered political napalm. And yet I think that your own polls show - I don't think President Obama is going to lose an election over this.
I'm 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 (ph) an executive order and throw out Don't Ask Don't Tell --
GRIFFIN: Yes. He needs to do that. KING: -- but he wants Congress to do it.
GRIFFIN: I know, but he should do that.
KING: You think it's a cop out?
GRIFFIN: Yes, it's a cop out. He knows it. They know it. They all know it.
KING: A couple other things before you leave us.
KING: Are you broken hearted over the fact that - first, that Levi and Bristol got together?
GRIFFIN: Wow, you're really going there. If you're going to pull a Diane Sawyer, I'd like the - 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 - a vacuum cleaner brand. Yes, I've been dumped.
KING: OK. But -
GRIFFIN: And it hurts.
KING: But he's not with her now.
GRIFFIN: Don't - don't play games with my heart. As the Backstreet Boys would say, if I can quote them again, "Stop playing game with my heart."
KING: But it changed. Now he's not with her.
GRIFFIN: You know what?
KING: He fathered a child with someone else.
GRIFFIN: OK, you don't get me. All right?
KING: I don't -
GRIFFIN: Levi Johnson ripped my heart in pieces, and you're just sitting there, cold as ice. I was this close to living in the White House. And if I had been First Lady or whatever I would have been if I would had kept, you know, sleeping with Levi Johnston, I would have made gay marriage legal.
KING: But -
GRIFFIN: Because, let me tell you, gay guys like him because he's hot.
KING: You could have been the First Lady of the mayor of a city.
GRIFFIN: I think that could still happen. And, let me tell you, we are going to gay up Wasilla, if I'm the First Lady. It is going to be literally just one endless stream of me officiating gay weddings.
By the way, I was supposed to go officiate a gay wedding after this.
KING: I know. I heard.
GRIFFIN: So I'm disappointed. I know. Gays have to wait, once again.
KING: By the way, 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's a lot of possibilities out there for me.
KING: You don't think she's 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. We will debate -
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'm 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, and 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, whoever 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: Kamala, 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's 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. And, 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's something that society has always decided that she had the right to determine what's 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've 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.
And it is a critical time, Larry, in a - 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's your favorite radio host; it's your brother. It's -
I was inspired by Shelly Wright, my friend, who's the country singer who just take - came out. And 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're fighting windmills? Do you think it's coming? Because interracial marriage was the law (ph) until 1967. A black couldn't marry a white, and they made similar arguments to what you make.
PRAGER: No, not at all. I mean, this is the key --
KING: They did.
PRAGER: No - I know they - no, no, no.
KING: I was there.
PRAGER: I know. But they're not similar, and I'll 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 - 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 - that 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 Ron Walker, which is 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 to - anything to do with the differences in -in the sexes. Of course, there - there are many books that have been written about that. Of course there are differences between the sexes.
This is not that -
HARRIS: The point is that - 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's the same thing. To say we are - oh, you know, like when we let black people marry white people. Oh, we're going to - we're not going to call it marriage like you're real people.
It is separate but equal. It's not American. And it is not constitutional.
PRAGER: No, and - are you saying then that since the inception of the United States or the - of the Constitution, we have done something evil by having marriages man/woman?
MILLER: I'm not - 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 the 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: All right, let me get a - let me get a break -
PRAGER: Let people vote. Why have a judge do it?
MILLER: We don't - we don't use mob rule. We don't put people's rights to mob rule.
PRAGER: That was (ph) a mob?
KING: Let me get a break and I'll - hold it, guys. Hold it.
Let me get a break and I'll 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's the judge who ruled in favor of same sex marriage. Kathy says she meant to say he's on the right side of history.
More debate after this.
KING: How would society be harmed? Is - 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 gunpoint 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's something backwards there.
Number two, I think its about the kids. You're not just changing marriage, you're 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. And I think this is a case, Larry, of a minority impressing and imposing its will upon a majority. I've had death threats. There've been all kind of crazy things, and I just get - think it's fair. And what happened today with Laura -
MILLER: Larry, Larry -- (CROSSTALK)
KING: I don't want - don't dominate. I don't want - I want everyone to get same time. Kamala, you answer this one.
HARRIS: It - 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.
HARRIS: 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 is based - is the basic principle that was the foundation of our country - fairness, equal rights -
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.
HARRIS: It does not.
JACKSON: No, no. You don't know that. I disagree with you, vehemently.
HARRIS: It gives other people the protection of that institution. It gives other people the ability to have a legally recognized bond where they have a little (INAUDIBLE) --
KING: One at a time, Reverend.
HARRIS: -- 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
HARRIS: And it doesn't take rights from us.
KING: You - bishop - rather, Dennis, you're the same gender as a gay man.
PRAGER: That's - that's entirely right. Well - that's - 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 just 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.
So I ask the women a question. Do you believe that there is any difference in having a father, or not having a father, or having a mother, 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.
HARRIS: And I'm - I'm happy to answer that -
MILLER: Most kids end up in foster care because -
KING: Hold it. Let Stephanie - go ahead.
PRAGER: It doesn't answer my question. They are out of the adoption business.
MILLER: Most kids end up in foster care because some straight couple somewhere screwed up, Dennis.
PRAGER: OK. It doesn't answer my question.
MILLER: So, you know -
PRAGER: There are - there are
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 -
PRAGER: -- disagree with that?
HARRIS: The call of your question - KING: All right. Kamala, go ahead.
HARRIS: The call of your question - I think 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 - in the history of the office.
And 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: -- form that loving caring parent take on -
PRAGER: OK. Fair enough.
HARRIS: I'm supporting that. I'm supporting that.
PRAGER: So it doesn't matter, having no father or -
HARRIS: In the - 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. The issue is not -
MILLER: Let me - let me jump in and say what else is - is hurting kids, Larry. And the other - 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 at 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 that no one else is like him. You know, there's a teacher somewhere that 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: -- and announcing that it doesn't matter if you have a mother.
KING: I got to get a break. We'll come - we'll come right back.
HARRIS: I have a question for you.
KING: Hold it. I'll come right back. HARRIS: What's more important, if a child is raised in a way that is with love or not?
KING: All right. We'll take a break and come right back and we'll have you answer.
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 - 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 that 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 that what is most important is that that child -- if he focus is truly on the child -
KING: Let him answer.
HARRIS: -- that that child is raised in a family where they are loved.
KING: Dennis, what is --
PRAGER: I fully agree. So now I'll ask you a question.
PRAGER: You have a loving male/female and you have a loving - 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: Wait a minute. You asked me a question and I answered. But why is that simplistic? I'm asking you -
HARRIS: Because I would need to know more. I would need to know more. Any person who deals with children - I'd 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: All right, hold it, Kamala. 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 that 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, and 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 - at a mosque.