COOPER: Our next question is on a topic that got a lot of response from YouTube viewers. Let's watch.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Mary.
QUESTION: And my name is Jen.
QUESTION: And we're from Brooklyn, New York. If you were elected president of the United States, would you allow us to be married to each other?
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Mary and Jen, the answer to your question is yes. And let me tell you why.
KUCINICH: Because if our Constitution really means what it says, that all are created equal, if it really means what it says, that there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone else, and that includes the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony. Yes, I support you. And welcome to a better and a new America under a President Kucinich administration.
COOPER: Senator Dodd, you supported the Defense of Marriage Act. What's your position?
DODD: I've made the case, Anderson, that -- my wife and I have two young daughters, age 5 and 2.
DODD: I'd simply ask the audience to ask themselves the question that Jackie and I have asked: How would I want my two daughters treated if they grew up and had a different sexual orientation than their parents? Good jobs, equal opportunity, to be able to retire, to visit each other, to be with each other, as other people do. So I feel very strongly, if you ask yourself the question, "How would you like your children treated if they had a different sexual orientation than their parents?," the answer is yes. They ought to have that ability in civil unions.
I don't go so far as to call for marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But my state of Connecticut, the state of New Hampshire, have endorsed civil unions. I strongly support that. But I don't go so far as marriage.
COOPER: Governor Richardson?
RICHARDSON: Well, I would say to the two young women, I would level with you -- I would do what is achievable. What I think is achievable is full civil unions with full marriage rights. I would also press for you a hate crimes act in the Congress. I would eliminate "don't ask/don't tell" in the military.
If we're going to have in our military men and women that die for this country, we shouldn't give them a lecture on their sexual orientation. I would push for domestic partnership laws,
nondiscrimination in insurance and housing. I would also send a very strong message that, in my administration, I will not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
COOPER: This next question is for Senator Edwards.
QUESTION: I'm Reverend Reggie Longcrier. I'm the pastor of Exodus Mission and Outreach Church in Hickory, North Carolina.
Senator Edwards said his opposition to gay marriage is influenced by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree it was wrong and unconstitutional to use religion to justify slavery, segregation, and denying women the right to vote. So why is it still acceptable to use religion to deny gay American their full and equal rights?
EDWARDS: I think Reverend Longcrier asks a very important question, which is whether fundamentally -- whether it's right for any of our faith beliefs to be imposed on the American people when we're president of the United States. I do not believe that's right.
I feel enormous personal conflict about this issue. I want to end discrimination. I want to do some of the things that I just heard Bill Richardson talking about -- standing up for equal rights, substantive rights, civil unions, the thing that Chris Dodd just talked about. But I think that's something everybody on this stage will commit themselves to as president of the United States.
But I personally have been on a journey on this issue. I feel enormous conflict about it. As I think a lot of people know, Elizabeth spoke -- my wife Elizabeth spoke out a few weeks ago, and she actually supports gay marriage. I do not. But this is a very, very difficult issue for me. And I recognize and have enormous respect for people who have a different view of it.
COOPER: I should also point out that the reverend is actually in the audience tonight. Where is he? Right over here. Reverend, do you feel he answered your question?
QUESTION: This question was just a catalyst that promoted some other things that wrapped around that particular question, especially when it comes to fair housing practices. Also...
COOPER: Do you think he answered the question, though?
QUESTION: Not like I would like to have heard it...
COOPER: What did you not hear?
QUESTION: I didn't quite get -- some people were moving around, and I didn't quite get all of his answer. I just heard...
COOPER: All right, there's 30 seconds more. Why is it OK to quite religious beliefs when talking about why you don't support something? That's essentially what's his question.
EDWARDS: It's not. I mean, I've been asked a personal question which is, I think, what Reverend Longcrier is raising, and that personal question is, do I believe and do I personally support gay marriage?
The honest answer to that is I don't. But I think it is absolutely wrong, as president of the United States, for me to have used that faith basis as a basis for denying anybody their rights, and I will not do that when I'm president of the United States.
COOPER: Senator Obama, the laws banning interracial marriage in the United States were ruled unconstitutional in 1967. What is the difference between a ban on interracial marriage and a ban on gay marriage?
OBAMA: Well, I think that it is important to pick up on something that was said earlier by both Dennis and by Bill, and that is that we've got to make sure that everybody is equal under the law. And the civil unions that I proposed would be equivalent in terms of making sure that all the rights that are conferred by the state are equal for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples.
Now, with respect to marriage, it's my belief that it's up to the individual denominations to make a decision as to whether they want to recognize marriage or not. But in terms of, you know, the rights of people to transfer property, to have hospital visitation, all those critical civil rights that are conferred by our government, those should be equal.