This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, February 19, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the Personal Story segment tonight, may remember couple of weeks ago the president of the National Organization for Women strenuously objected to a new federal program that would encourage poor Americans to marry.  She did that right here on The Factor.

President Bush wants $100 million to for that program, and his point man on the issue is Dr. Wade Horn, the assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Horn joins us now from Washington.

All right, Miss Gandy's point was that she believes by offering women money incentives to marry, and some states might do that, women are going to have sham marriages, marry bad people just to get on the gravy train.  How do you reply?

WADE HORN, PH.D., ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES:  Well, if, in fact, this money was going to be used for those purposes, I would be against it too.  The fact of the matter is that none of this money will be used to pay women to get married.  I mean, this money is not about mandating that anybody get married, it's not about coercing anyone to get married, it's not about me setting up a federal dating service to get people hooked up.

It's certainly not about trapping people in abusive relationship, and it's not about withdrawing supports for single moms.

What it is about is helping those couples who choose marriage for themselves develop the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage.

O'REILLY:  All right, so you're basically going to set up counseling classes?  That's the main thrust of the $100 million?

HORN:  Well, that's certainly one possibility.  There's lots of different possibilities.  One could do a public education campaign, for example, to talk about the importance of marriage to the well-being of children, to adults, and to communities.  One could offer vouchers, for example, to low-income couples who are thinking about getting married so they can access premarital education services.  For those couples who are already married, perhaps some marriage enrichment.  Or if they're in a troubled marriage, marital therapy.

You know, the reason we're interested in doing this is because we care about kids.  And we know -- this is not just a belief, it's not just, you know, ideology, the empirical literature is quite clear that kids do best when they grow up within the context of a healthy...

O'REILLY:  No, there's no question about it.

HORN:  ... two-parent married household.

O'REILLY:  Right, no question about that.

HORN:  And all we're trying to do is get more kids in that situation.

O'REILLY:  Now, why do you think NOW and other feminists are attacking this program?  And again, I'm coming back to the fact that Miss Gandy is thoroughly convinced that you're going to -- some states, anyway -- are going to give $5,000 to poor women if they get married.  And you're saying that's not going to happen.

HORN:  Well, I don't know why they're so upset with this.  What I'm trying to do is alleviate their fears and anxieties about it.  In fact, I met some months ago with the president of the NOW Legal Defense Fund.  We had a very nice conversation.  I offered to have her come back in my office, bring coalition of her groups, and have a chat with me, and she in fact just recently wrote me a letter saying she'd like to take me up on that offer.  So...

O'REILLY:  But why do you think that they're so against it publicly, then?

HORN:  I don't know.   You're going to have to ask them.  But possibly it's because they misunderstand what it is we want to do...

O'REILLY:  Naah, they don't misunderstand...

HORN:  ... at this point.

O'REILLY:  ... it.  And I did ask them.  You know, you saw the interview.  I said, hey, and then they kept coming back this, the government's trying to force people to get married.  I -- you know what I think it is, I just think it's they don't want the Bush administration to be telling women what to do at all, under any circumstances, not one thing, or even suggest to women they should --  They don't want that.

And then on the right you have people say, Hey, we don't want the government giving counseling lessons and all of that, that's not the government's responsibility.  So you're kind of taking it on both the left and the right.

HORN:  Which means we're in the -- occupying the broad middle, which is a pretty good place to be in politics these days, as well as a goody place -- a good place to be in terms of the American people.

Look, 90 percent of Americans are either married, will be married, or have been married in the past, and almost every parent I know wishes a healthy marriage for their children.  What we're trying to do is just trying to help couples who choose marriage to have a healthy marriage.

And we don't have to sell marriage to the American people.  Again, you know, most Americans value marriage as an ideal and want to work for that for themselves, work -- and work toward that for their kids.  So...

O'REILLY:  Yes, but certainly peer pressure in some of the poorer neighborhoods do not encourage marriage...

HORN:  Well, that's what...

O'REILLY:  ... they just say, Have the kid, and, you know, the government will help you out.

HORN:  Well, that's one of the reasons why we think this is an important piece of our initiative when it comes to welfare reauthorization.

O'REILLY:  All right.

HORN:  We think it's important that we get a different message into communities that says that marriage is important, and, in fact, we're going to help you if you make that choice.

O'REILLY:  All right.

HORN:  It's not about...

O'REILLY:  Listen, I...

(CROSSTALK)

HORN:  ... handing anything...

O'REILLY:  ... I think that you try anything, because with 70 percent of African-American babies being born out of wedlock, anything you should try.

Hey, doctor, pleasure having you on the program.  Thank you.

HORN:  My pleasure.

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