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RFC Chairman Appears On CNN
November 19, 2003 4:40PM EST

CNNís Paula Zahn Now - November 18, 2003

William J. Murray Speaks on Massachusetts Same Sex Marriage Ruling

Official Transcript

PAULA ZAHN: We're going to move on to some other guests now. Gay marriage is our debate tonight here in New York.

Evan Wolfson, director of the Freedom to Marry Project, and in Washington William J. Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition.

Thank you, gentlemen, for being with us, as well.


ZAHN: So, William, why are you so outraged by this decision?

WILLIAM J. MURRAY, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM COALITION: It isn't a matter of as much as being outraged as just common sense.

We've had 6,000 years of recorded history in which marriage is between a man and a woman. And now suddenly, just barely into the 21st Century, we want to redefine that. And it has some pretty big implications. Not only with adults, not only with the validity of marriage, but also the message that it sends to children.

We are telling our kids, if we validate -- if this does indeed validate homosexual marriage, we are telling children in the schools that this is just another form of behavior, and it's perfectly all right. And many parents don't want that message to go to their children. In fact most parents don't.

ZAHN: Is that the message that you think will ultimately be sent by this Massachusetts decision?

WOLFSON: I think the message that will be sent by the constitutional decision of the Massachusetts court and by the couples who will now be able to take on the protections and security for their family is that America is a country that values families and values all families.

A country where everybody has the right to be both equal and different, and nobody has to give up his or her difference in order to be treated equally.

And where we have enough marriage to share, where we can afford to give protections and responsibility to the people who want to take on the commitment and play by the same rules.

ZAHN: So, William, why is discrimination based on sex any different than discrimination based on race?

MURRAY: Well, there's a big difference. One is behavior, and the other one is the color of an individual's skin.

No one can help it if they're white or black or Chinese or Japanese. People can very definitely have different behaviors, and we cannot go around changing what it is to be in a relationship based on behavior.

There's also something else here. Look at how narrow this was. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts voted 4-3 on this. Even they were aware of the inherent difficulties of it.

And also, this is not that unsimilar from what happened in Hawaii when the Supreme Court there said that the constitution of Hawaii didn't allow discrimination in this manner. And what happened there, and what could very well happen in the state of Massachusetts, was the constitution of Hawaii was changed in order to make it very clear that marriage was between one man and one woman, because that's what the majority of the people wanted.

ZAHN: Well, what about -- Let's give Evan a chance to chime in here. What about those implications?

WOLFSON: First of all it wasn't until 1948 that the first court in the Unites States struck down the ban on race discrimination in marriage, a ban on interracial couples and marriage. And that was a 4-3 vote of the California Supreme Court.

And the court in that decision said that the essence of the freedom to marry is the freedom to marry the person that to you is irreplaceable, the person you want to make a commitment to.

And lesbians and gay men have the same mix of reasons for wanting the freedom to marry as non-gay people: to take a commitment, to take on responsibility, to build a life together, and to care for one another.

And what the court recognized is that that choice and that commitment and those responsibilities are very, very important, and the choice belongs to the couple, not to the government, not to people who may not like the couple. ZAHN: All right. Well, William, let me ask you, based on the way this is playing out in Massachusetts, do you really believe within 180 days it will be legal to get married if you're gay in Massachusetts? Is that where you definitely see it going that way?

MURRAY: If the legislators were polled tonight, probably. Tomorrow night, probably not.

ZAHN: What's the distinction there?

MURRAY: Well, the people are going to contact their legislators. And Massachusetts is a very tolerant state, but that does not mean that it is overwhelmingly in favor of having specific protections of individuals because of behavior.

And remember that there is another issue here. If we're going to allow this, then can two brothers marry? Can two sisters marry? Can we have multiple marriages?

If we -- If the state does not have the ability to draw a line and define marriage as between one man and one woman, then where can it draw the line? Already, we have a situation where individuals who have been convicted of polygamy my in Utah are going to file appeals, based on this very type of case.

ZAHN: All right. Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave the debate there, so we can go back to our previous guests. Evan Wolfson and William J. Murray, thank you for both of your perspectives.

Above is an official transcript furnished by CNN. Prior to this a lesbian "couple" and a "homosexual" couple were interviewed. Of six people in the segment on "gay marriage" five were lesbians or homosexuals and William J. Murray was the only representative of the "straight community.

Media contact:

Peggy Birchfield - (202) 543-0300

 Religious Freedom Coalition
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Washington, DC 20013

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