In his most exhaustive interview yet on
gay issues, Republican presidential nominee John McCain answered
questions from the gay media on Wednesday. At the same time, his
running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, stumbled with gay voters
when she said being gay was a “choice,” ahead of her vice
presidential debate with Democratic challenger Senator Joe Biden.
McCain submitted written answers to
questions by gay weekly The Washington Blade.
While McCain was given ample
opportunity to speak directly to gay voters on issues relevant to
them, his answers rarely veered far from previously stated positions.
As president, McCain said he would
consider qualifications over sexual preference when deciding on
Supreme Court justice nominations, cabinet members or other appointed
“I have always hired the most
qualified and competent people – regardless of their political
party, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” McCain said.
Earlier in the year, however, McCain
made statements to the contrary, when he said New York City Mayor
Michael Bloomberg's pro-choice, pro gay positions made him an
unacceptable running mate. If support for gay issues is a
disqualifier in a McCain administration, then it would be safe to conclude
openly gay candidates would not fair well either.
McCain reiterated his position that a
ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military was working,
that marriage should be reserved as an institution between a man and
a woman, and that no state should be compelled to recognize gay
marriages performed in another state.
The Blade asked the Senator his
position on a federal constitutional ban on gay marriage, and he
answered predictably: “I voted against the Federal Marriage
Amendment in 2004 and 2006. I continue to oppose such an amendment
today, because, as I've explained, this should be a state matter, and
not one for the federal government – as long as no state is forced
to adopt some other state's standard.”
Log Cabin Republicans – the gay
Republicans – have praised McCain as an inclusive Republican,
holding up his vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment as proof
that he is moving towards the acceptance of gay relationships.
In an opinion piece titled McCain is
the right choice published in New England's gay weekly Bay
Windows, Log Cabin Republican member Matthew Tsien repeated the
misconception that McCain believes in recognition of gay unions: “It
would be fair to say that McCain probably supports some form of a
McCain, however, clearly does not favor
any recognition of gay and lesbian unions; this is made clear in the
subtext of his remarks. While he did vote against the constitutional
gay marriage ban, he makes it clear he believes states should forbid
gay marriages and keeps open the possibility of reversing his
decision should the need arise.
With those answers, McCain asked for
gays and lesbians to vote for him, “I hope gay and lesbian
Americans will give full consideration to supporting me. The stakes
are high in this election. I will have an inclusive administration
and I will be a president for all Americans.”
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President
Joe Solmonese was cynical about the interview, calling McCain's reach
for the gay vote “double speak” that fools no one. HRC, a group
that advocates for gay civil rights, has endorsed Democratic Senator
Barack Obama for president.
“It's 2008, 'some of my best friend
are gay' doesn't work anymore,” Solmonese said.
Meanwhile, Republican running mate
Sarah Palin uncorked a firestorm of criticism when she called being
gay a choice in a CBS interview with Katie Couric released Wednesday.
“I have one of my absolute best
friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her
dearly,” Palin told Couric. “And she is not my 'gay friend', she
is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that
isn't a choice that I have made. But I am not going to judge
“While it is encouraging that Palin
has a gay friend, we are still disturbed that a person on the cusp of
enormous power could hold such backward and unscientific views,”
said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a group
dedicated to ending the ex-gay movement. “We hope Palin will
choose to educate herself so she will learn that being gay is not a
Pro-gay group Parents, Families and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Director of Communications Steve
Ralls also disagreed with Palin's statement: “While Palin says she
does not judge LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people,
she certainly judged them unworthy of benefits during her time as
Alaska's governor. Why, if she will not judge and will not
discriminate, did she campaign for a costly ballot measure that
sought to single out lesbian and gay Alaskans as second-class
“When it came to making choices,
Governor Palin chose a path of prejudice against her gay friends,”
Voters, however, are likely to judge
Palin on a number of issues tonight as she debates her Democratic
rival, Senator Joe Biden.
On the net: Washington Blade website is