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Special Report

All-Star Panel: The president's evolution on same-sex marriage

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama's evolution on gay marriage this week telling New Yorker, quote, "In this piece he told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same sex marriage, an argument that his administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court," quote, "Ultimately, I think the equal protection clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all 50 states." We're back with the panel. Charles? 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, once you constitutional right, defense of gay marriage, which is not necessary, it's one way to argue, then I think you are likely to infringe on the religious rights. There is a case I think we are going to talk about. 

BAIER: In Idaho. Ordained ministers who refused to marry gay couples and they may be breaking the city's antidiscrimination law. 

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. And that is going to happen inevitably if it's a constitutional right. In one of the early decisions – the one that overturned Prop 8, one of the early pro-gay marriage decisions, it said the only reason to oppose it was prejudice.  Whereas I think there were a lot of religious folks for whom it's a belief system, it's a tradition, and it's religious obligation, one woman and one woman. 

Once you define it as a right and once you say anybody who is against it is acting only out of bias or prejudice, then you are going to trampling on the religious rights of a whole lot of people. And that I think is where this thing is going. And that's why I think the president is imprudent in talking about it as a right. It is should be something that the society decides, perhaps ought to be allowed. But once you define it as a right you have overridden a long tradition and many millions of people who believe otherwise. 

BAIER:  It's clear that the issue has involved. As the president has evolved, he may have evolved faster than America is evolving.  But it is changing in polls and perceptions. But as far as the Constitution, and how you read that on this issue, I think that that is pretty interesting. 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I think it raises a lot of questions.  Why now?  He is not running for office again.  This is not going to galvanize a big teaming mass of voters on November 4th for the Democrats. It's just so interesting that he was, you know, really a student the Constitution himself, a professor, would come out now and say he believes now, suddenly, that he has a new interpretation of the Constitution and it's a right. It's just very interesting on the timing and what he is aiming at. 

BAIER:  You know, you talked about earlier he is making all these calls to African-American radio stations and African-American groups. There are a lot of African-American communities who have a real problem with the gay marriage issue overall. So it's almost like he is fighting between two -- 

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Toggling between interest groups. That's basically in short the summation of the modern Democratic Party, right? 

I think Charles is right on what this might do to popular opinion on gay marriage. I don't think it's wise if you are a gay marriage proponent, the fight that you don't want at this point as gay marriage seems to be gaining acceptance across the country is a fight about government compulsion of, you know, private, you know, churches or privately held corporations or businesses to perform marriage ceremonies. That's not a winning argument I think if you are a gay marriage proponent. 

But I do think that there are people who can make the argument, have made the argument that the equal protection clause, that you can be -- that you can basically say the equal protection clause provides the right for people, for gays to marry, but also doesn't require the government to compel others to perform the ceremony. Ilya Shapiro at the Cato Institute and others make that argument. 

BAIER:  But it's heading to the Supreme Court. 

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. And it will be their decision as to where it's a right or not, and I think it would be a big mistake to go ahead and to be that sweeping and uncompromising. 

BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some All-Star predictions for this big game that starts tonight.

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