This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: We’re starting a new feature this week called Beyond the Beltway. Each week, we’ll spotlight an issue that’s red hot outside Washington.

This week’s focus is the backlash against gay marriage (search). Strategists on both sides of the aisle say gay marriage was one of the crystallizing issues of the campaign, driving evangelicals and also swing voters to the polls. Eleven states voted for amendments banning gay marriage and White House adviser Karl Rove says that the president will still push hard for a constitutional amendment.

Here he is on "FOX News Sunday" from last weekend, Nov. 7.


KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Without the protection of that amendment, we are at the mercy of activist federal judges or activist state judges who could, without the involvement of the people, determine, as the Massachusetts Supreme Court did, that marriage no longer consists of a union between a man and a woman.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST OF “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: So the president intends to go ahead and push for the constitutional amendment.

ROVE: Absolutely.


KONDRACKE: But Rove also said that President Bush does want some sort of civil unions at the state level. Watch.


ROVE: He believes that there are ways that states can deal with some of the issues that have been raised, for example, visitation rights in hospitals or the right to inherit or benefit rights, property rights. But these can all be dealt with in, at the state level, without, without...

WALLACE: But explain to me then, why...

ROVE: ... without, without...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... why can...

ROVE: ... overturning the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes, I’m a little vague, Mort, I don’t know whether you are or not, but I’m a little vague about the president has actually used the phrase "civil unions," and, and Rove describes what the president’s for as a sort of individual things providing benefits here for gay partners and so on. So we’ll have to wait and see.

But I do not think that the gay marriage amendment is going to be a top priority for the president, unless one of, one of two things happens. One is, if a lot of state judges or federal judges strike down some of these referenda that have passed, 11, well, now 13 states, more coming up, or if the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed, well, Bill Clinton (search) signed it when he was president, that would allow states to not honor marriages or anything else that has been legislated or created in other states.

Until those happen, I don’t think the amendment will get anywhere. But then it might.

Now. You know, the other thing about this issue is, this is a grassroots issue. All those referenda got on the ballots because the little people went and signed up names and got them on the ballot. It wasn’t, I mean, in Ohio, the Republican governor, the two Republican senators opposed it. There was no help from the White House in any of these states. This was really grassroots America responding to Massachusetts and the San Francisco governor, who was, you know, allowing gay marriages.

KONDRACKE: Yes, yes. Look, I think that the gay rights movement itself is reconsidering its legal strategy on pushing this. They realize that they created a mighty backlash by having the Massachusetts Supreme Court jump the democratic process here. So I’m not sure that it’s going to get pushed that hard.

Now, as to a United States constitutional amendment, it’s very hard to get two-thirds of, of both houses and, and I doubt that the president is going to spend a lot of political capital trying to force that through.

You know what I would hope that he would push, put some capital behind is an amendment to the Defense of Marriage Act (search) which was, which would allow gay couples to get Social Security benefits.


KONDRACKE: Now, that, that is something that’s denied under the Defense of Marriage Act, federal benefits, it would great.

BARNES: Yes, you’re way ahead of things here, Mort and besides, enough of that new segment Beyond the Beltway.

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