Debate Over Anti-Gay
Marriage Constitutional Amendment
Aired February 24,
2004 - 21:00 ET
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today I call upon
the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification
an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a
union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the president comes out hard against same-sex
marriage, and emotions are rising as the debate heats us. With us
tonight, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. He brought this issue center
stage earlier this month when he ordered the city and county to issue
same-sex marriage licenses; nationally syndicated Christian broadcaster
Pastor John MacArthur of California's Grace Community Church; Chad
Allen, the actor and producer who starred in TV hits like "My Two Dads"
and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman," became an activist after he was
outed by tabloids in 1996; and Representative Marilyn Musgrave,
Republican of Colorado. The White House says the president approves of
the broad principles in the federal marriage amendment. That's an
amendment she introduced in the House. They're all next on LARRY KING
Two quick notes. The presidential -- the Democratic presidential debate
will take place here on this -- at this time slot, Thursday night. I'll
be the moderator. It'll come from the University of Southern California,
co-sponsored by CNN and "The Los Angeles Times." It'll be 90 minutes.
And tomorrow night's a special hour with special phone calls for Sarah
Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City."
Let's begin our go-round here with Mayor Newsom. How did you react,
Mayor, to today's announcement by the president?
MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, ORDERED S.F. TO ISSUE SAME-SEX LICENSES: I was
disappointed, but I confess, Larry, I wasn't surprised. Frankly, the
president's been talking about this for some time. He certainly raised
it in terms of a national priority in his State of the Union. I
unfortunately, though, feel it's divisive, inappropriate, and frankly, I
feel it's shameful to divide this country like this at a time when we
need to unite this country. And I find it unfortunate the president's
decided to make this such a political priority.
KING: Were you challenging, Mayor, the wishes of the people of
NEWSOM: No, I was actually upholding my constitutional oath to bear full
faith and allegiance to the constitution of the state of California. And
Larry, nowhere in that constitution does it allow me to discriminate
against people. And what we were doing previous to our directive was, I
believe, discriminating people. And I find that abhorrent and I find
that inappropriate. And we wanted to stand up on principle, stand up on
a constitutional footing, and we made the appropriate action. Now
3,300-plus couples have affirmed their love, in and turn, Larry, I
believe my marriage has been affirmed.
KING: Do you still issue licenses?
NEWSOM: We're still issuing licenses. Today we issued another 70 to 80
licenses. We have people coming from all over the world, from every part
of the United States of America, and it is just exhilarating to see the
love and the bond and the commitment of faith and understanding the
responsibilities and obligations of marriage that are being executed
every single day down at City Hall.
KING: Where do we stand in the courts, Mayor?
NEWSOM: Well, we're waiting to see what happens this Friday. The
attorney general of the state of California desires this to go to the
California supreme court. We've three times been in court. Three times
we've been successful. Two different judges in those three separate
hearings have said no irreparable harm is being done. The legal process
is working. Frankly, the whole process, as it was conceived of, has been
set up and is working as we speak. And we look forward to making strong
arguments later in the next court series.
KING: John MacArthur, what is the irreparable harm of gays being
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR, OPPOSES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Well, I think there a
number of things that we need to talk about. One is it would destroy the
family. I mean, obviously, God designed the family to be a man and woman
to produce a child. It is the DNA, it's the genetic structure of
civilization. If you don't have that, you don't have civilization. So
you're striking at the very core of its existence.
KING: But what does the state have to do with that? God can do it, and
as a religious person, you can practice it, but why should the state be
involved in a marriage?
MACARTHUR: Well, typically, the state is always involved -- always been
involved in a marriage and I think -- because the state's responsibility
is to uphold what is right, to uphold righteousness. I mean, it's in the
fabric of human thinking to understand a man and a woman make a marriage
and a family. God has put that in the very thinking. It's in the heart.
It's there. The state upholds that standard, always has in every state
in every human history -- factor of human history.
KING: Do you favor civil unions?
MACARTHUR: You know, gay and...
KING: The president said that should be left up to the states.
MACARTHUR: Yes. Gay and lesbian people can do that whenever they want.
They can do that in this culture or any other culture. But they don't
have the right to determine marriage for a whole nation.
KING: So it's the marriage aspect, not the -- if the state wants to pass
civil unions are OK, to give rights...
MACARTHUR: Right. We're talking about two things, Larry.
MACARTHUR: We're talking about an issue of civil union. That's a civil
issue. If you ask me about whether it's moral or whether it's right,
then it becomes a biblical issue.
KING: That might come up later, but...