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Egg-on-Your-Face Segment: Bill O'Reilly Says Marriage is Not a Right but a Privilege - Contradicted by FOX Judicial Analyst

Reported by Marie Therese - January 24, 2006

Last night during two O'Reilly Factor segments on gay marriage,Bill O'Reilly, the Great Bloviator, invoked a wacky argument against same-sex marriage, namely, that since a marriage license is the same as a driver's license and driving is a privilege not a right, then marriage is also a privilege, not a right, and the state gets to decide exactly to whom it will extend the privilege.

Here are some excerpts from his interview with Matt Daniels, President of the Alliance for Marriage and Dan Furmansky, Executive Director of Equality Maryland, a group that has brought a suit in the state of Maryland in an attempt to change the law in that state. Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock has ruled that the law as currently practiced in Maryland is in violation of the equal rights amendment. O'Reilly has added her name to his growing hit list of judicial "activists."

Here are some excerpts from the interview. To his credit, O'Reilly did defend the American right to file a lawsuit.

DANIELS: I think the gay and lesbian community has the right to live as they choose, but they don't have a right to redefine marriage through the courts for the rest of America. They know their agenda on the subject of marriage is radically unpopular. We've seen that in spades in states all across the country. ... And so these groups take their agenda to the courts. It's an anti-democratic agenda. It's been ten years ...

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Why is it anti-democratic? If Mr. Furmansky and his group, aided by the ACLU, does the legitimate work, the paperwork, and brings it into a legitimate court, sitting judge. I mean, that's using the system, is it not?

DANIELS: Oh, sure, it's abusing - well, I'd say it's abusing the system.

O'REILLY: Well, why? Why? I mean, he disagrees with you, you disagree with him. This is America. You're both entitled to your opinion.

DANIELS: I know, but Ameri ...

O'REILLY: I don't think it's abusing the system to take it to the judge. I think the judge [Murdock] is abusing the system because there's absolutely no precedent to base this ruling on. ...

DANIELS: Well, that's a fair point. I mean, our country is supposed to be an experiment in self-government. The real issues would be decided by the American people. The American people are not stupid. They're capable of defining marriage. They know what marriage is. ... But the courts buy the arguments that this is a form of oppression and bigotry and so on and so they're striking them down ...

O'REILLY: Yeah, but I don't blame Mr. Furmansky and his group or the ACLU for bringing the suit. I blame the judge.

Mr. Furmansky went on to point out that in Maryland until recently no one could be married by the state until they had first "been married by Christian clergy."

O'REILLY: Do you have the right to drive a car in the state of Maryland?

FURMANSKY: I do. Yes.

O'REILLY: No, you don't. That is a privilege granted to you by the state and that's where your argument collapses. You have no right to drive a car ... I'm just gonna tell you why you're gonna lose in the long run. You have no right to drive a car. Blind people cannot drive a car. [Of] course that's discriminatory against blind people, but the state has a right to say who can drive a car and who doesn't because it issues a license. Same thing in marriage.

FURMANSKY: How do you account for the fact that in prison somebody can be denied the right to vote but not the right to get married? Marriage is one of the most fundamental rights.

O'REILLY: It's not a fundamental right in our Constitution. There is no right to be married in the United States Constitution.

Later during another segment on this topic Judge Napolitano corrected O'Reilly saying "The Supreme Court of the United States in a case involving interracial marriage said the right to marry is a fundamental liberty. It was 1948. There was no pressure for gay marriage at the time."

Napolitano went on to say "That's what the [Supreme] Court will decide. If it's a right, the Legislature can't take it away. If it's a privilege, the Legislature can regulate it."

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