Thursday, November 20, 2008

Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell

On November 17th, Integerity President Susan Russell appears opposite Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition on the CNN Headline News program "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell." Here's the transcript...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are looking at exclusive footage shot over the weekend and sent to this show by somebody at these protests. These stunning images take you inside one of the massive protests against California`s Prop 8 that are sweeping across the nation.California`s Proposition 8, which passed on Election Day, removed the right of same-sex couples to marry. Leaders of these protests believe they can spark a nationwide push for gay rights with many calling it a civil rights issue, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s.Meantime, a shocker this weekend when comedian and actress Wanda Sykes from the hit show "The New Adventures of Old Christine" said this at one passionate rally.

WANDA SYKES, ACTRESS: I don`t really talk about my sexual orientation; I didn`t feel like I had to. I was just living my life and not necessarily in the closet. I was just living my life. Everybody that knows me personally, they know I`m gay, they know, you know. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a black woman. And I am proud to be gay.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is an issue that will not and should not go away.
Here to give their views on both sides of this issue is the Chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, the Reverend Louis Sheldon, who is also the author of the book "The Agenda: The Homosexual Plan to Change America." Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas.Both men supporters of Prop 8 and on the other side, the Reverend Susan Russell, senior associate for pastoral life at All Saints Episcopal church in Pasadena, which has performed gay marriages.

Reverend Russell, let`s start with you. Do you think Prop 8 has now backfired in that it has galvanized gay and gay-friendly Americans like never before and really unified it as a national civil rights movement?

REV. SUSAN RUSSELL, ALL SAINTS EPISCOPAL CHURCH: I think the hard truth is that many were complacent about their rights, and to see a bare majority here in California take the effort to strip away fundamental rights from Americans is just fundamentally wrong.I think the outrage you are seeing in the streets is precisely what should be happening. And I do believe, I think it`s perhaps the beginning of the end for those who want to write discrimination into our constitution and take civil rights away from gay and lesbian Americans. Its time for them to step up and speak out and that`s what we`re doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reverend Louis Sheldon, these demonstrations haven`t just gone national, they have gone global -- Canada, England, Australia, other European countries also planning demonstrations.If Prop 8 was designed to shatter the gay rights movement, hasn`t it had the opposite effect?

REV. LOUIS SHELDON, TRADITIONAL VALUES COALITION: Well, in America, you only have two states that allow gay marriage, 48 do not. I believe in the rule of law, and I believe very clearly what we have done -- we went to the Attorney General, we gave him the language we wanted, he gave us a title in summary.We went out and got the signatures and we won. Now, if these people want to be anarchists, and they want disturb --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait -- anarchists?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Demonstration is a very fundamental part --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are not rioters. These are not riots --

SHELDON: You have not seen the demonstrations that they are doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m looking right here.

SHELDON: In San Francisco, oh no that is only one example. You have not seen what happened in San Francisco --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re not participating in the demonstration.

SHELDON: May I speak? You brought me down here and now let me speak and don`t be so rude.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, finish it off, but don`t call it a riot, it isn`t.

SHELDON: But I`ll do what I will. Don`t you allow me any freedom?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m telling you not to lie.

SHELDON: Let me tell you this, that in San Francisco, there is footage, but you won`t show it, where they were beating up people because they are pro-Proposition 8. That -- these are anarchists.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, there are plenty of -- there are plenty of cases where people who happen to be gay have been beaten and even killed -- Matthew Shepherd, for example --

SHELDON: Listen, I have been under attack in that city --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I don`t think we need to go to the extreme of citing people who have broken the law, because people have broken the law on both sides.

SHELDON: But you believe in disturbing the law?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s bring in the Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas.Let me ask you this question pastor, because a lot of people who voted yes for Prop 8 say they`re not against gays, they`re just against gay marriage. What is your position on homosexuality?

PASTOR ROBERT JEFFRESS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DALLAS: Well, I preached the sermon this Sunday why gay is not ok. We had 100 protestors outside of our church. They were very peaceful. But what I said was, from the biblical viewpoint, Jesus said that marriage is between a man and a woman. God made us. God is the one who designed us. He created sex, and in his owner`s manual, the bible, he said that the way sex best works is between a man and a woman and a marriage relationship.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s kind of interesting, because Jesus Christ himself wasn`t married. Let me ask you this, Reverend Russell, if Jesus were here today, what would he say, in your opinion about this whole controversy?
RUSSELL: I think Jesus is here today, and Jesus is here in the body of Christ of those faithful Christians out in the streets saying this is wrong. If Jesus were here today, what he would say is spending $46 million to write discrimination into our constitution has nothing to do with the gospel Jesus came to teach of peace and love and caring for your neighbor. I will defend defend Louis Sheldon`s right to believe anything he wants. He doesn`t have the right to write it into our constitution, and that`s why we`re in the streets of California, and that`s why we`re going to prevail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reverend Sheldon --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I believe that gay marriage should be a right for all Americans. In other words, this should be ok across the country. You have 30 seconds. Change my mind.

SHELDON: Why did not Jerry Brown, the Attorney General for California, when we submitted the language, tell us this and say this is not constitutional material? He allowed us to go ahead. You cannot go back when the Attorney General, the law enforcement agent of the entire state of California, says green light. Go get your signatures. And when we won, it`s very clear this is nothing but sour grapes.Now, remember, when we lost in May 15th to the Supreme Court overturning Prop 22 --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, that`s it, you had your time. Guess what, you didn`t change my mind, but this is an issue that even --
SHELDON: Who can change your mind?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- a former Mormon recognizes is larger than one church`s agenda. Take a listen to this woman from our exclusive footage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- great many gay friends, and I felt as a former Mormon and a resident native of Texas, there`s a lot of people in my friendship circle that are very much on the right wing it was really important for me to speak out and make sure that that group of people heard from me as a straight person who has really nothing to gain from giving gays the right to marry, that this is an issue that`s important to everybody, not just gay people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pastor Jeffress, there you hear from somebody who is not gay but who is just an American saying, hey, this is a civil rights issue. Isn`t the mark of a movement coalescing when it`s joined by people who don`t necessarily benefit themselves?

JEFFRESS: Jane, they don`t understand the societal implications. Countries in Scandinavia that have embraced same-sex marriages have seen the rate of heterosexual marriages plummet to their lowest rates, and the result is, children are being born out of wedlock, it`s destabilizing society. Whenever you counterfeit something you devaluate and homosexual marriage is a --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I looked around the world, I don`t see the Netherlands as an example of a nation falling apart. I see, you know, there are plenty of areas in this world that are suffering crisis. In Africa, there are kids who don`t even have food to eat.

JEFFRESS: Jane, 70 percent of the prison population in America today is people who were born out of wedlock. And if marriage is whatever you say it is, if it`s not just a man and a woman, why not a man and three women or four women and a man? You devalue something when you counterfeit it, and it has great societal implications.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Reverend --
JEFFRESS: And that`s why we need to stay with the traditional definition.By the way, it`s when the Supreme Court upheld in 1885 when it said no legislation is more profitable for society than that which supports marriage between a man and a woman in Murphy versus Ramsey.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well a couple of things. Ok, I`m hearing you, but a couple things. One, I think it`s actually going to hurt California economically, and that`s what various government officials have said. Because all those gay marriages that were going to happen, --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- they`re not going to get those tax dollars in.But I want to ask Reverend Susan Russell, and I`ll get your responses all to the hypocrisy within the movement to stop gay marriage.Look at the Reverend Ted Haggard. He was absolutely adamantine about stopping gay marriage. He was speaking for 30 million Evangelical Christians as the one-time president of the National Evangelical Association. And then he was accused of having a gay relationship himself. And he resigned and he admitted sexual immorality and being a liar and a deceiver. What do you make of that?

RUSSELL: I think internalized homophobia does really dangerous things to people, and I think what we`re seeing right now, and I applaud those who are coming out of the closet as a result of this fight.I think at the end of the day, what we need to do is absolutely support the sacrament and the sanctity of marriage, but that means all marriages. And we need to look at the values that make up a marriage, not the gender that makes up the couple. And we need to stop letting religious bigots write their theology into our constitution. We need freedom of religion and freedom from religion in this country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reverend Sheldon, your response to the Haggard scandal?
SHELDON: Well, there`s no question about it. There are many people that are in the closet, and that I don`t think is the issue at all. I think the issue is that you can be redeemed. I put a word in my book --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re saying you can unlearn homosexuality, like you can go to a camp and they can make you heterosexual again?
SHELDON: I don`t know what psychological training you had at all, but let me just mention --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What psychological training have you had?
SHELDON: I`ve had an awful lot of counseling people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Were you in therapy?
SHELDON: Yes. Now may I speak?

SHELDON: You get awful sassy as a reporter who`s supposed to be a little bit neutral.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, no this is an opinion show, sir, and you`re giving your opinion and I`m giving mine.

SHELDON: Yes, so let me just mention to you very clearly that reparative therapy -- the greatest people that are persecuted are those that are delivered from gender identity conflict. It is not a gene. No one has ever found the gene, and even if they did find the gene it wouldn`t make a lot of difference.But they have never found the gene. And that gene says that, you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, guess what? I think you`ve spoken probably more than anybody else on our panel tonight, so don`t say I haven`t given you a chance to have your say.I think that gay marriage should be a right, and I think that these protests are going to get bigger and bigger. And I think this issue isn`t going anywhere.Thank you, Robert, Louis, Susan, all. Come back, we`ll argue some more in a little bit.

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