Preacher, Teacher, Nag: Dr. Laura Speaks Her Mind

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TIME: If a married man realizes he is homosexual, should he stay in his marriage?

A: I have had calls like that, and I come down hard on people, the same way I come down hard on the guy who says he has the hots for the neighbor next door who wears short shorts. To me, it's the same thing. You made a vow. You have children. They deserve your sacrifice so they can have what they need to grow up because you made your choices already. So, for straight or gay, I would say the exact same thing.

TIME: But living that kind of double life surely cannot be good for children, can it?

A: It's not bad for children when someone does it for honor. There is always something more out there...but to just abandon and neglect your obligations and responsibilities--I can't go there.

TIME: Do you really believe everything you say, or do you just think it makes great talk radio?

A: That's insulting. The reason people like my show is they know there is no shtick. What I say, I mean deeply. I could not invoke the name of God or Scriptures if I was shticking. That's even awful to hear.

TIME: Has Paramount asked you to tone down your television show?

A: No. They hired me because I'm outgoing and direct. What's unique about this show is that the host will have a point of view.

TIME: What will your show be like?

A: The basic format of the TV show is completely different from the radio show...The thrust will be about things that impact you at home--as a mother, as a wife, as a citizen, as a child in the family--and things happening in the world that you may feel helpless to do anything about. The way the show is structured is that there will be a lot of people who have passion about an issue, whatever it is. And ultimately it will be a call to action. So at the end of each show, we will tell people what they can do, what Senator to write, how they can make things change.

TIME: Why did you write Parenthood by Proxy?

A: As a wake-up call for folks who are way off track. Moms and dads need to work together like a well-oiled machine to make sure the family's material needs are being met while still putting the kids first.

TIME: Over the past two years, on your radio show and in your new book, you seem angrier. Why?

A: The level of irresponsibility and selfishness, the degree to which people defend their own imagined rights and don't look at their responsibilities as the flip side of that, the impact that it's having on their children. You bet I've become more ferocious in response to what I see as society's giving up self-evident truths of goodness and kindness, compassion, caring and selflessness, the needs of children for nurturance, attention and support. The more those are disassembling, the more ferocious I'm getting in banging the pot to get people to realize what's happening.

TIME: How do you reconcile your harshness toward listeners over their moral lapses with your own, some of which have come out in the press?

A: I can extrapolate that no mathematician working at NASA should ever have got a C on a math test when he was learning. So what? I never said I was divine.

TIME: What's been the toll the controversy with the gay community has taken?

A: I've cried more at times than I would like to admit because to see my name, my character, my person come under attack...It's astonishing to have your name smeared with such vitriol. I wouldn't wish it on people I dislike. It's been agonizing.

TIME: Where would you like to be in 10 years?

A: Doing this 10-year anniversary interview because I'm still here and still cooking. I've found my place.

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