(Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty)

President Obama is backing a bill sponsored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein called the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 15-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA, signed by President Clinton, defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman — and denied federal benefits for same-sex couples. We take up the debate over the bill.

Guests:
Jerrold Nadler, U.S. congressman (D, NY) and co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act
Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a proponent of the Respect for Marriage Act
Bill May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good and an opponent of the Respect for Marriage Act

  • Jsamc1967

    It is ALL about the equality and benefits being extended equally to ALL!
    “Marriage” keep it. but make the benefits federal and local EQUAL.
    Sam Campbell, RN.

  • starrbitz

    If the people who support DOMA are interested in protecting
    children and families, why are they not pursuing laws that would take the legal
    benefits away from married couples engaging in affairs/sexual relationships
    with people other than their partner?  

    • Joe

      Because they’re not actually interested in protecting children/families. And it turns out they’re really narrow-minded bigots who are scared.

      Just like a bunch of anti-abortion folks are against birth control. If everyone were fully educated about and had access to condoms, there wouldn’t be as great of a need for abortion.  

    • Operationido

      that’s why we’re against same sex unions because they’re the ones
      who engaged in sexual affairs, not to mention the source of AIDS….

  • Amy

    Bill May continually refers to marriage as between a man and a woman (’till death) who bear children.  Does he also fight to deny Social Security benefits for divorced couples and childless couples? 

    • Joenueva

      you said what you said just because you support gay marriage…you’re not looking at the bigger picture. You know why
      politicians are supporting this …they’re selling their soul for a stinky position….

  • Jsamc1967

    If marriage was such a “stable” institution why are there such a LARGE number divorces, and it isn’t the Church that separates them, but a lawyer and judge!  Separation of Church and State.  

  • kelly

    As a gay man, it is fairly telling to me (always has been) that President Clinton signed DOMA into law while he was committing adultery. Enough said.

  • Caleb

    So, the Catholic guest suggests in part that the federal government’s interest in marriage is that it’s about the children born of heterosexual marriage.  

    Should heterosexual couples that are sterile then be denied federal benefits?

    Clearly, this is a religious argument and has nothing to do with the social implications of homosexual marriage.

    • Joe

      Uh, no sorry dude, the country was built on Catholic principles by Catholics who came over from Catholiclandia in 1200 AD, and it’s even in the first amendment. 
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion other than Catholicism…”

      Sorry Caleb, you’re wrong, the Catholics are correct.  If you would just open your eyes and see how great every other country with religion closely tied into the government is prospering and treating their citizens.  All of those countries are prizes and testaments to human achievement, and are on the cutting edge of technology and progression of the human race.  

      Further, I contend that all good things in the world come from Catholicism and all bad things come from other religions.

      Puppies: Catholics
      Famine: Other religions (upset rain god)
      Rainbows: Catholics (maybe Jews too)
      Starvation: Other religions (again, rain god)
      Love/Joy: Catholics
      Molesting 300 deaf kids: Other religions

    • Jeff

      Caleb:  The Federal Gov. should take a lesson from Californias’ state law.  Heterosexual unions are called “Marriage” and Homesexual unions are called “Domestic Partnership”.  Both are legally equal. It is the “nature” of a homosexual unions “disabilty” to procreate that make the use of the word “Marriage” an encroachment, of the use of the word. 
      Heterosexual unions that do not procreate, i.e. adopt, artificial insemination, etc. have the same status as Homosexual unions that do the same.

  • Anna S.

    To say that this is based in historical social context is ridiculous.  Marriage has been changing for centuries.  Just last century people of different races could not get married.  Marriage is always changing, how it looks today is not how it looked 200 years ago and it most likely look different 200 years from now.

  • Anon

    “Marriage unites a man and a woman and any common children in a union”…WE GET IT!  Put the card back in the deck dude!

  • Holly

    People talk about “protecting the sanctity of marriage”, yet a man and woman who have just met each other in Las Vegas can get married the same night, yet two women who have been lovingly devoted to each other for 10 years cannot… tell me DOMA supporters, how is that “protecting the sanctity of marriage?”

  • S in SF

    If Mr. May supports DOMA based on supporting the bearing of children, then logic would dictate he support marriage for any couples rearing children, and not support marriage for any couples choosing not to rear children. Sorry, there is no logic, only prejudice, in his argument

  • It seems to me there is confusion between “government marriage” and “marriage.” One is a package of benefits associated with a legal status while the other is whatever the heck you want to define it as. Maybe we should aleviate the confusion by doing a big search a replace on US law to rename “marriage” “formation of a fiscal unit” or some other bureaucratic phrase. Then, you can get married at church or with friends or with whatever the heck you want and you just file some paperwork for the formation of a fiscal unit with whomever you so please as long as you meet certain basic requirements. (I would say commingling of assets should be enough) You don’t have to be “married” with the other members of your fiscal unit. You don’t have to be part of a fiscal unit to be married. Then, maybe the likes of Bill May will stop complaining about marriage being denatured and we can all move on with our lives.

    • Operationido

      I don’t think that’s the issue here. I don’t think the benefits part you were mentioning is not  the issue at all. The state of california is already giving the same benefits to same sex unions. I think
      the issue here is the same sex union proponents wants more than just the benefits. They are using the word right to prove a point that they are powerful in the society. They’re using the politicians (who in turn are having a ball) as their instrument to attain their goal. I would say that maybe 90% of these proponents don’t belong to any religious
      church or group. They wanted to see churches fall so they can do all
      the immoral activities they want. Freedom and rights are good but as we all heard from a famous quotation, anything that is too much is a cancer. I think that’s what this is all about…. 

  • Nate

    Your Catholic guest sounds like an ignorant, one-minded robot who believes that civil rights are fine for some but not others. I agree with one of your callers in that this argument about civil rights and equal protection/application of the law. Granting the rights that legally married couples deserve to anyone “legally married” does not affect the social fabric of heterosexual couples nor degrade the quality or validity of heterosexual marriages. DOMA is about bigotry and the denial of civil rights to those who deserve their equal application of the law. The church (or any religion for that matter) has no business lobbying or being allowed to have any affect on the equal application of the law.

    Marriage can mean whatever Mr. May wants it to in his church, but his idea of reality being that ignorant definition of a marriage as he defines it, is simply an intolerant one and is not true reality but the fabricated reality that Mr. May wants to create for himself to feel better about denying rights to those who deserve them.

    • Operationido

      I think you’re the one who’s ignorant. People like you are using the words right and freedom as a passport. Before you and I were born, before our forefathers were born, before a state was even a word, 
      marriage was and is always been between a man and a woman. State of california would allow unions of the same sex and benefits would be equal to that of a married couple. Now, why would we have to adhere
      to the likes or wants of the same sex unions…why do we have to redefine the word marriage? they can call it whatever they want, they can still have the same benefits like a married couple, but why do we have to redefine the word marriage? don’t we have the right as well?
      I have a brother and a nephew who are homosexuals and I love them so dearly. I just don’t like what they do. I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.
      If your parents were same sex individuals and got united as one, I won’t be writing this letter……you know what I mean? you dont exist!!!

  • Jennifer

     I am a married heterosexual woman with to children from my first marriage and two stepchildren from my current marriage. My marriage (and millions of other heterosexual remarriages) doesn’t meet Mr. May’s definition, but it is recognized in every state and by the federal government. Mr. May, could you please tell me whether my current marriage is valid? Or was my first marriage the only valid one?

    • Joe

      Sorry Jennifer, because you were divorced you are no longer welcome at the Catholic church and may not take the Eucharist.  Again, we have to do everything that the “correct” religion says because it’s the most reasonable thing to do.

  • frustrated listener

    There will be a day — and I think it will be within my lifetime (I’m 30) — when it will seem obvious to the majority of our society that marriage between two people who love one another, homosexual or heterosexual, is fair and right.  The rational and loving argument is so clearly on the side of those supporting gay marriage that those on the right end up talking in circles, and as Bill May did this morning, pulling out identical lines of rhetoric multiple times within minutes in an attempt to defend his position.

    I would actually encourage Forum not to invite guests from groups like Catholics for the Common Good onto the program.  First, they don’t contribute to the conversation — they just don’t engage with the other guests because they stick to non-arguments that fail to grapple with the real issues.  Their “argument” will ultimately die, as a result, but it also makes for a pretty flat Forum segment.  The other issue is that NPR, which I listen to religiously (no pun intended), has such a love for making Catholics look bad that it makes me, a lapsed Catholic who rejects much of what the church teaches, want to stop listening.  The liberal media knows that the views represented by guests such as Bill May constitute only a minority of the American Catholic viewpoint, and yet having “Catholic” in the name of the organization announced at the top of the hour very uninterestingly pits one extreme camp against another.  There are other groups who hold (again, what I perceive to be incorrect) views like those of Bill May, but they’re not all Catholic.  

    So really — far right and Forum, do stop the hate and please open yourselves up to some real conversation. 

  • gil patchett

    If Congress is successful in greatly reducing our debt and budget, what will they do about all the extra unemployment this will cause? As we bring back our troops from foreign soil and discharge them, how will they be employed? I say we need to find a way to become fully employed as well as in a sustainable way. … An Idea. … Put our efforts into restoring the health of the Earth and all of it’s creatures.

    • Operationido

      while the nation is suffering from unemployment, economic downfall, here we are talking about the least or shall i say unimportant issue that would solve our current crisis. The officials on the other hand are
      raising this issue at this early stage to protect their seat once again even if it meant they have to sell their soul. what a country! I could sense that with immorality creeping rapidly through the nation, God will take away all the Blessings he has given to this country and to our forefathers. Watch the economy, watch the unemployment and yet
      we are closing our eyes and let these immorality blind us. Then, we say; God is not Loving after all if he would punish us…..there’s always a an ultimatum to everything….remember Sodom and Gomorrah?
      I guess most people in this nation had changed their definition of God….to them it means money, rights, freedom, and self satisfaction.

  • Cathy

    Wow-that looks like a balanced group.  God Bless you Bill May–you were in the belly of the beast!

  • Bob from Los Gatos

    While listening to this interview while driving to work I heard the following from Bill May.
       In a family wtih adopted children the children don’t have their mother and
       father and other people stand in and stand in and represent them and
       assume the responsibilities they couldn’t discharge.

    This made me cut over three lanes of traffic and try to call in before the end of the segment.   As an adopted child of a loving family, I have always considered my Mother and my Father, who raised me from as long as I can remember, as their son.   I’ve always known that my Mother was unable to have children and that I was adopted, but we have always been a family. 

    Bill May’s comments were ignorant, hurtful, hateful, and places the Catholic Church in a dark light.   Never before have I nearly caused an accident to want to call in to express outrage (and quite likely many terms the KQED would have to bleep out) at any of their guests, no matter how much I may have disagreed with their stance.   Congratulations Bill May, you’ve made a lasting impression of yourself and your organization.  

  • Mark, East Bay

    The moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church in failing to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to the pedophiliac abuse scandal once again rears its ugly head in the gay marriage issue.  I am thankful my wife has disassociated herself from this archaic and repressive institution.  Our heterosexual relationship and household with two children is quite fine and unthreatened by gays and lesbians who get married, but our sense of humanity is affronted by the ilks of your Catholic guest.

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