This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", February 9, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Massachusetts could be the next big battleground in the fight over gay marriage.
The state Supreme Court has ruled that homosexual couples have a right to the benefits of marriage, and last week they said that civil unions weren't enough. Only marriage will satisfy the state's constitution.
And the issue is taking on national proportions as the Democratic candidates explain where they stand on this controversial issue. Could gay marriage become the issue that decides the Democratic nomination and ultimately the presidential election?
Joining us now from Washington, former head of the Christian Coalition Randy Tate and Democratic consultant Richard Goodstein.
Good to see you.
RICHARD GOODSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Thanks, Sean.
HANNITY: Randy, is this going to be -- have a big impact on this race?
RANDY TATE, FORMER HEAD, CHRISTIAN COALITION: Well, I think -- I think you've got to put it into some context.
I mean, I think overwhelmingly, the American people, in poll after poll, have shown that they believe marriage provides stability to society.
Our poll last month, or two months ago by CBS and New York Times found that 61 percent of Americans believe marriage should be between a man and woman. And 55 percent of those saying in that same survey -- believe that there should be a constitutional amendment that clarifies that.
But their concern is, the concern on this issue is, you have activist judges that just sort of thwart the will of the public.
I think the Democrats do have some challenges on this issue. I think it could be an issue that ... divides its base and defines its candidates. And I think that's going to cause some problems.
HANNITY: Richard, is this a problem for Kerry at all? Does this reinforce the perception of people, considering his voting record, are even to the left of Ted Kennedy? Does this reinforce the image of a radical, Massachusetts liberal from a radical state?
GOODSTEIN: Gay marriage is not a problem the last I checked, Sean, in this country. Unemployment is a problem. The way we're mishandling Iraq is a problem. Gay marriage is not a problem.
HANNITY: It's being in touch with the mainstream of America, Richard. That's the point.
GOODSTEIN: Well, I don't think that's true. The fact is John Kerry has said, I think, what most people in mainstream America believe. Frankly, most people think that people are entitled to equal rights in this country.
HANNITY: He said civil unions.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Randy, every time I see you...
GOODSTEIN: ... entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
COLMES: Every time I see you.
GOODSTEIN: Actually -- and this is an administration that's putting money, billions, into getting marriages firmed up. Not trying to keep them from happening.
So Sean, I actually think this is something that will not be an issue at all unless, frankly, the Republicans try to make a wedge issue about it. And in that regard, they may be a little too late and be actually offering it to the very people they are trying to appeal to.
COLMES: Randy -- Let me go over to Randy, Richard and -- it's good to see you. It's Alan.
Randy, good to see you.
This is a wedge ... and what this is about, as the Times pointed out yesterday, is raising money.
Donald Weimer's American Family Association says, this issue -- they're raising money on this issue. Richard Vigory sending out 10 million flyers on it.
And here's what Paul Weyrich has to say. "Things have not gone well in the last couple of years. The movement had not been gaining numbers. It's not been winning battles. This issue has come along and it pars to be turning things around."
This is about energizing the Republican base and raising money for these groups as a wedge issue, isn't it?
TATE: Well, Alan, let's look at the facts.
The Washington Post did a story back on January 1 where the finance chairman for Howard Dean said, "The core beginning of our campaign was put together both in fundraising and organizing, because of the gay rights movement" and his efforts in Vermont to push civil unions.
That same story found that over 10 percent of all the money that comes into the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates comes from gay activists. They have a group called the Gay and Lesbian Democratic Leadership Council. It has 300 members that give $10,000 a year.
So to say this is about money -- what you have going on in Massachusetts, a groundswell of grassroots support, is in response to activist judges. They're not actively seeking to raise money, but they're responding to an activist agenda that's trying to push their issue.
COLMES: Randy, is there something wrong in a society that we can go to Las Vegas on a dare, get married, have it annulled the next day, get married on a dare. But people in decades long relationships of the same gender can't do it? They can't get married. Something wrong with that?
TATE: Once again, Alan, as I said in the last segment, I mean, the majority of American people believe and have deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
COLMES: That doesn't answer my question.
TATE: That is the bedrock foundation of our society.
And I think when candidates like John Kerry, who's running for national office, takes a position that's outside the mainstream, it becomes an issue.
I mean, he voted as one of 14 in 1996 -- one of 14, he was in a minority within his own party -- who opposed the Defense of Marriage act (search) and sent a letter last year to the Massachusetts legislature saying, look, don't pass a constitutional amendment that would declare marriage between a man and a woman. That would be a erroneous and big mistake.
COLMES: We're not attacking John Kerry. Doesn't that promote family values, allowing people to get married? Isn't that a family values issue?
TATE: I think we should encourage marriage in this country.
I think what's happening in America, I think there's sort of a concern that Americans are getting bombarded with messages on television, whether it be "Boy Meets Boy" or Madonna and Britney in a lip lock.
And they're saying, "Look, we want to raise our kids. We want values on TV and from our politicians that reinforce the values we're teaching at home."
And when marriages are strong, you know what? The civilization is strong.
HANNITY: Richard, last November, Kerry urged the state legislature to comply with the Massachusetts Supreme Court and impose civil unions. There was an opportunity for an amendment that could have taken place if he only wanted that and didn't want gay marriages.
Is he hypocritical in not fighting for that?
GOODSTEIN: I don't think he's hypocritical. And you know something, Sean? I don't think this is a question where majority rules is equal to right and wrong.
A hundred years ago, people, most people didn't think blacks should marry whites. Now you've got Clarence Thomas married to a white woman and Strom Thurmond fathering a black child.
A hundred years ago they didn't think women should vote, but now you've got George Bush forcing or pushing Middle Eastern countries to make that...
HANNITY: So support -- so you support all 50 states should allow gay marriage?
GOODSTEIN: I'm saying, this -- that first of all, Dick Cheney...
HANNITY: Yes or no. I asked you, should all 50 states support it or not, yes or no?
GOODSTEIN: We should recognize people's ability to be equal in the eye of the law.
HANNITY: Richard, should all 50 states allow gay marriage, yes or no?
GOODSTEIN: I'm saying that we should do what's right in this country...
HANNITY: Good grief.
GOODSTEIN: ... by gay people and everybody else. And Dick Cheney probably wasn't too far off.
COLMES: Thank you both very much. The answer is yes. Thank you both for being with us.
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