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: Welcome back to “The Beltway Boys.”
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: But Rove also said that President Bush does want some sort of civil unions at the state level. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
Now it’s time for an oldie but goodie, and that, of course, is the tip sheet. And Mort, it’s your turn.
KONDRACKE: I’m here, I’m ready.
BARNES: Item one, Congress returns to D.C. for a lame duck session, and John Kerry will be back too. Here he is after meeting with the Democratic leadership this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We need to be unified, and we have a very clear agenda. And I’m going to be fighting for that agenda with all of the energy that I have and all of the passion I brought to the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Well, what passion?
KONDRACKE: Right, he’s not a factor in the lame duck session.
KONDRACKE: What they’ve got to get done, basically, is pay for the federal government which they’ve neglected to do, this Republican Congress so far.
BARNES: All right. Spending bill, spending bills.
Item two, also next week on Capitol Hill, leadership elections.
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, it’s all settled, though. The Democratic leadership in the Senate, Harry Reid will, who’s a moderate from Nevada, will move up into Tom Daschle’s spot.
BARNES: Yes, yes.
KONDRACKE: Dick Durbin will move into Reid’s spot.
KONDRACKE: Debbie Stabenow will become the number three person.
BARNES: Well, that’s exciting.
KONDRACKE: From Michigan.
BARNES: That’s really exciting.
Item three, one more activity on Capitol Hill, an orientation for new members.
KONDRACKE: Well, the House tradition is to have the bipartisan meeting center. Senators Carper of Delaware and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are trying to do that in the Senate too to build some, some collegiality. It doesn’t really work in the House, I have to say.
BARNES: Yes, it actually worked in that session, well, I spoke to it last year with the new members, and it was bipartisan, it worked.
Item four, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park opens in Little Rock, Arkansas, next week. I know you’ll be there, right?
KONDRACKE: No. I cannot resist this.
KONDRACKE: I mean, who would have ever thought that the one organ in the human body that would give out...
KONDRACKE: ... in the case of Bill Clinton would be his heart?
BARNES: So I interpret that as meaning you won’t be there.
KONDRACKE: I won’t be there.
BARNES: All right.
BARNES: Item five, President Bush will attend the APEC Forum. That’s the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Mort. It’s in Santiago, Chile, next week. And that’s why you can’t be at the library, because you’ll be there?
KONDRACKE: Well, there’s a lot of Asian issues to confront.
KONDRACKE: North Korea tops the list.
BARNES: But it’s alliances with Asian countries that are so important to the U.S. and not old Europe.
KONDRACKE: The buzz is next. Don’t go away.
BARNES: What’s the buzz, Mort?
KONDRACKE: There are cheap generic drugs that could get President Bush out of the, the flu vaccine jam. Amantadine, which is actually a Parkinson’s medicine, and ramantadine, which is a, a derivation, help the flu just as well as flu shots.
BARNES: Mort, we forgot to mention Education Secretary Rod Paige (search), who is leaving the Bush administration. You know, if the president was going to push a serious education reform agenda, he’ll need somebody stronger, a stronger figure than Rod Paige, and maybe he’ll get one.
That’s all for “The Beltway Boys” this week. Watch us on "Special Report" with our buddy Brit Hume weekday evenings at 6:00.
KONDRACKE: And join us next week when “The Boys” will be back in town.
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