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Vatican Encourages Catholic Politians To Ban Gay Marriage
Aired July 31, 2003 - 20:50 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Less than two months after the Supreme Court struck down state sodomy laws the possibility of legalizing gay marriages is under fire by both the White House and the Vatican.
First up, the world from Rome. The Catholic church has released guidelines stressing it's opposition to gay marriage and urging politicians to vote against granting legal rights to same sex unions.
I'm joined now from Rome by Vatican analyst Delia Gallagher. Welcome, Delia. First off, why is the church issuing this document now?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Paula, this document is aimed at politicians internationally. Of course, with a close eye on President Bush and Washington. And there's really nothing new in terms of church teaching in the document, but it's the Vatican's way of getting involved in the public debate, which has been resuscitated in recent months in Europe and in the U.S. and offering some of those traditional arguments for the legislators who are involved in the decision-make process.
And it's simply a way of the Vatican reiterating their thousands of year-old teaching, but bringing it into a modern context for those legislators whose have to decide on these issues.
ZAHN: So, in that it's being repeating stuff we've already heard, what is the practical application of this?
GALLAGHER: Well, it's precisely to influence policymakers. And the Vatican has always spoken out in favor of traditional marriage and now that that issue has come into modern society, with the possibility of same sex unions and the legal recognition for those unions, the Vatican has felt it necessary to attempt to give some arguements to those politicians who are defending traditional marriage.
ZAHN: Just got about ten seconds left. What is the European reaction to this announcement?
GALLAGHER: Well, it depends on the country, of course, in traditionally Catholic countries like Italy and Spain, they are more favorable to the church's teaching. But in France and Germany, for example, there are already -- there is already legislation for legalization of unions of same sex marriage. And so there you will find that it's a less favorable towards the Vatican's document.
ZAHN: Delia Gallagher, we appreciate your input tonight. Thanks so much. And the idea of a constitutional ban on gay marriage has been floated at the White House. Spokesman Scott McClellan today said such a ban is one of the options being considered by the administration to defend the sanctity of marriage.
The news comes just one day after President Bush himself addressed the topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other and we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: I'm joined now by gay activist, Candace Gringrich, she also is, you may know, the house sister of former house speaker Newt Gingrich. Welcome, always good to see you, Candace.
CANDACE GINGRICH, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: You, too, Paula.
ZAHN: Were you surprised by what the president had to say or did you expect him to push for some kind of constitutional amendment?
GINGRICH: You know, I'm not sure if I'm surprised at anything anymore, no matter what the context is. You know, I think disappointed if anything. I don't know about surprise but disappointed. To actively want to -- what he's talking about codifying is discrimination and using the constitution to do that. And the thought of that possibility is really frightening to me.
ZAHN: Do you think this was more an appeal to his base than anything else, or are you really -- I mean, I don't think anybody doubts the sincerity of how he feels about this.
GINGRICH: No, if you look at polls, if you look at the numbers, you know, half the country either accept -- either support or accept civil marriage for gays and lesbians. You know, the issue hasn't been talked about enough yet. A lot of folks, I think, have a very guttral reaction to the word marriage. They don't think about what it is, which is actually a legal contract between two people.
So when we're talking about civil marriage for gas and lesbians, while the ceremony may come to a lot of folks' minds, what we're talking about is actually thousands of rights and responsibilities that married couples get to take for granted. That's what we're seeking.
ZAHN: That would be what the piece of paper would mean to you?
GINGRICH: Absolutely. Certainly, if I were a member of a church that recognized my relationship and we were able to have a ceremony there, we would. But really it's about the -- over 1,000 rights and responsibilities and privileges that come with that legal recognition. ZAHN: In closing, your half brother does not support gay rights, Newt Gingrich, but he actually said he's more offended that you are a Democrat than you are gay. How does he feel about you approaching and pressing gay marriage?
GINGRICH: You know, you think that as long as I'm involved in active -- he supports my right to be able to do that. And, you know, certainly, anyone whose enjoys the ability to get married, you know, and be married even more than once should allow the rest of us to be able to have the same opportunity to have our relationships recognized and respected.
ZAHN: So you told him if he had a couple of chances, you should have at least one? Is that your message to the half brother there?
GINGRICH: I think so, shoot. If heterosexual people can go to Los Vegas and have Elvis marry them, I think I should have the ability to visit my partner in the hospital if I have to and have inheritance and Social Security benefits all of that, I think we should have a chance at that.
ZAHN: Candace Gingrich, thank you for joining us tonight.
GINGRICH: Thank you, Paula.
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