A Rare Victory for Christians

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, December 8, 2003.

Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the Unresolved Problems segment tonight, Pioneer High School (search) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, held a discussion about homosexuality and religion.  In  that discussion, five Christian ministers and a rabbi put forth that homosexuality was not immoral.  A student at the school, Betsy Hansen, wanted to state an opposing point of view, but the school wouldn't allow it.  Betsy and her mother sued.  And last Friday, [they] won as a federal court ruled Pioneer High School had violated Betsy's freedom of speech and the establishment clause in the Constitution.

Joining us now from Ann Arbor is Robert Muise, from the Thomas More Law Center (search).  He represented the Hansens and Connie Hansen, Betsy's mom.

All right, Ms. Hansen, we'll begin with you.  Betsy is now a sophomore at the University of Florida.  How did she react to the verdict?

CONNIE HANSEN, SUED ANN ARBOR SCHOOL DISTRICT:  She said she was really tickled and she wishes she was up here being able to do the show.  She's very pleased.

O'REILLY:  Now why did she do this crusade in the first place?

HANSEN:  Well, she had known that this panel was going to be happening.  And in particular, that the student body was going to be addressed by this panel of clergymen.  And she felt very strongly that there ought to be more than one viewpoint presented to the student body.

O'REILLY:  What is her viewpoint on homosexuality?

HANSEN:  Her viewpoint is the Catholic viewpoint that you don't discriminate against individuals, you don't be mean or nasty, but that homosexuality is immoral and it's not okay.

O'REILLY:  Now she was going to make a judgment that people who practice homosexuality are sinners?  Was she going to do that?

HANSEN:  Well, she would say that it's not right.  It's not part of the Catholic teaching.  She was not going to stare someone down and harass them or something, which is how it's being portrayed.  She was going to try and defend it the same way the speakers on the panel defended it, with her - with scripture, with her beliefs, with teaching that she's had.  So she wasn't going to do anything other than what the panelists were doing, only from a different viewpoint.

O'REILLY:  Okay.  Now counselor, you won this because - and you know, basically, I understand the freedom of speech, but explain the separation of  church and state.  The establishment clause, how the court ruled on that?

ROBERT MUISE, BETSY HANSEN'S ATTORNEY:  Right.  Under the establishment clause, you can't endorse or promote a particular religious belief, nor can you demonstrate hostility towards a particular religion belief.  And in this particular case, they discriminated against Betsy Hansen because of her particular religious belief.  And by having this panel of adult religious leaders who were going to proclaim a particular religious belief regarding homosexuality, use sacred scripture to do so, that they were in fact endorsing and promoting that  particular religious view.  And they were no longer neutral on the matter.


MUISE:  And in particular when they prohibited...

O'REILLY: ...They were showing hostility toward Betsy's point of view.  Now...

MUISE:  Absolutely.  In fact, they described it as a negative point of view.  And they said it was going to water down the positive point of view that they wanted to...

O'REILLY:  Right, I mean, I was going to just say that.  But the school said, look, they want to welcome and affirm gay rights.  So they -- the school was basically in this corner.

Now I don't believe, counselor, if this case were held here in New York City or in San Francisco, that you would have prevailed here, that I think that those judges, those social activist judges would have found a way to say that Betsy's point of view would have been discriminatory.

MUISE:  You know, Bill, the judge's opinion was a 70 page opinion.  It was well reasoned.  It was a terrific opinion.  And I think you might be right in many respects.  In fact, there was a case out of California, out of the Ninth Circuit of all places, where they labeled speech that was opposing homosexuality as homophobic.


MUISE:  And so you have this tendency to label it as hate speech, or homophobic.  And then that way, they can remove it.

O'REILLY:  Right, if you don't support homosexuality, if you say it's immoral, than you're anti-gay.  If you don't support abortion, you are anti-woman.  That kind of thing.  They do it all the time.

MUISE:  Right.

O'REILLY:  What is the wider repercussion here?  Or is there any, counselor?

MUISE:  Well, certainly, you know, you have a federal judge stating unequivocally, and those who will read the opinion, he was very critical of the school's treatment of Betsy Hansen and the way they promoted diversity week.  And I think this will be a warning to school officials across the country that those who want to suppress religious speech, particularly in this context, that they could run afoul of the constitution.  So...

O'REILLY:  Yes, well, it has to.  And I want to point out that it has to be in context.  The school will put this together, religion and homosexuality, so certainly.

Very interesting case, Mrs. Hansen.  Tell Betsy, you know, she's very feisty and we appreciate that.  And counselor, thanks very much.  We appreciate it.

MUISE:  All right, thank you, Bill.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.