Ups and Downs for the Week of February 16 - 20

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", February 21, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Time for this week's ups and downs.

DOWN: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

He may be getting headlines and scoring points with a key constituency, but Newsom's decision to issue marriage licenses to gay couples clearly runs afoul of an initiative approved in 2000 by California voters, which explicitly forbids same-sex marriage.

But Newsom says that the law violates the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. Listen.


MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: Read the constitution, the state constitution, and look at the equal protection clause (search). And I think any objective analysis will determine that the rights and privileges and obligations that my wife and I two years ago committed to are not necessarily extended, in fact, are quite contrary, not extended at all to same-sex couples.


KONDRACKE: Look, look, a mayor is an elected official ... he's sworn to uphold the law. He's not, he's not supposed to be, be interpreting the constitution.

FRED BARNES: Of course.

KONDRACKE: So what he is doing is, is completely wrong.


KONDRACKE: Now, last week, you promised that you were going to explain why ... you think civil unions are wrong ... and I want you to explain how...


KONDRACKE: ... you can justify discrimination in hospital visitations and adoptions and...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... such, such things by people who are willing to commit themselves to each other for life.

BARNES: OK. Well, I'll tell you why civil unions are wrong. They are different. Civil unions are different from gay marriage, mostly in name only and not in substance, and I think it's clear, and I think you would even agree with this, Mort, that civil unions lead logically to gay marriage.

And, in fact, I think the legal logic underpinning both of them would lead to things like group marriage and beyond.

But, OK, that's debatable.

As a Christian and a believer in Western civilization, I believe that it's clear that the only allowable definition of marriage is for a man and a woman. That's what it's always been. It's worked. We have families that are built around that. It won't work any other way.

I think that's God's law, and that is the conclusion of almost all religions and all civilizations for thousands and thousands of years.

Now, if a majority of voters, not a majority of judges, but a majority of voters want to create civil unions, they have a right to do that by enacting that through referendum or through their elected representatives.

But to have judges, like four of the seven judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court, try to dream up new interpretations of the state constitution, or the national Constitution, and impose these civil unions by judicial degree, I think we should disallow that.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, look, the ...

BARNES: ... but next week, next week I will allow you time to state why civil unions are right and why I'm wrong and it won't lead to all these things, and why it fits right in with Western civilization and Christianity.

KONDRACKE: OK, you're on for next week.

BARNES: All right.


UP: Newly Elected Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky.

BARNES: Chandler's special election this week over Republican Alice Kerr not only gives Democrats a pickup of a formerly Republican seat, it also gives the party some much-needed bragging rights in the South, and indeed it does. I mean, this is the best news they've gotten in the South in years and years, except for the election of a Democrat as governor of Louisiana.

Now, there is a lesson here for Democrats. Chandler lost the governor's race last November to Ernie Fletcher by campaigning as the anti- Bush liberal candidate criticizing Bush's economic policies. He lost overwhelmingly. Now, running for the House, he ran as a conservative Democrat, and it worked.

It'll work elsewhere ... if Democrats run as conservatives. Ask Zell Miller.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, it does raise questions about whether realignment is here, or whether it's, it's something theoretical that may happen.

Anyway, look, Alice Kerr ran as Bush's best buddy, and, you know, as a total supporter of hers ... in a district that Ernie Fletcher had previously carried in the governor's race, this district, he carried by 55-45 ... and was the former congressman there. So this suggests, once again...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... that the Bush campaign has got to get moving, because in this little test of power between these two people ... Bush lost.

BARNES: Right.

UP: Iraq Civil Administrator Paul Bremer

KONDRACKE: The U.N. reaffirms Bremer's deadline of June 30 to return power to the Iraqi people, even if it's not possible for direct elections to be held on that day, by that date. Here's Bremer on Thursday.


L. PAUL BREMER, CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: There are 133 days before sovereignty returns to an Iraqi government on June 30. Changes in the mechanism for forming an interim government are possible, but the date holds. And hold it should.


KONDRACKE: Well, I think the Bush administration has scored a couple by getting the U.N. involved in this. This is what the whole world wants.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: And by getting the U.N. to go to Ayatollah Sistani (search) and say, Look ... we shouldn't, you shouldn't have elections before June 30th because it's not possible to do it fairly, on the other hand, Bremer has not, you know, has had to drop his caucus system for choosing an interim government, and it's still very much up in the air how, how this is going to off.

BARNES: Yes, I think they can work out with Sistani some sort of a deal where you have a new, larger interim government and an election later this year. Sistani does not want to be an Iranian-type ayatollah.

UP: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Never mind California's strict smoking bans in offices, bars, and restaurants and everywhere else they can think of, Schwarzenegger, who loves his stogies, is making plans to create a smokers' plaza on the state capitol grounds so he and other lawmakers can smoke and shmooze.

You know, one of the most appealing things about Arnold Schwarzenegger is his streak of political incorrectness. But you can imagine why he's out there smoking in this plaza, and the health police raid. It, it, it'll be silliness completely. And I say this as a nonsmoker.

KONDRACKE: Right. Well, I, you know, I think that, as I read in The Weekly Standard ... Schwarzenegger is a, is a shmoozer unlike his predecessor ... Gray Davis ...


KONDRACKE: ... who, who was a recluse. Right. I'm going out to California this coming week, and I will report back when we get back.

BARNES: All right, good, look forward to it next week.

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