August 16, 2008
McCain at Saddleback Church
Posted by: Chris
I hope my gay Republican friends pay close heed to the very disturbing answer that John McCain gave tonight on marriage. Much of it was not new, including his generous willingness to allow gay Americans in relationships to enter into "legal arrangements" with each other -- at least our right to private contracts isn't at risk! But it is grossly disingenuous to say we should have "the same rights as other citizens" when he's just made clear that we can't marry -- a basic human right -- and in fact he opposes any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, whether it be civil unions, domestic partnerships or even D.P. benefits offered by public institutions like universities and hospitals.
That wasn't even the disturbing part. McCain also made much clearer than he has to date that if "any federal court" says that one state, like his home sweet home in Arizona, has to recognize gay marriages from other states, then he'll reverse his "courageous" opposition to a federal constitutional amendment banning all states from marrying same-sex couples.
It matters not to McCain, who claims to respect federalism and the role of the states to decide these questions, that the U.S. Constitution may well require each state to recognize and respect the decision other states have made on this question -- just as they do on almost every other similar decision. If some federal judge somewhere decides the notorious Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, probably because of the U.S. Constitution's "full faith and credit clause," then McCain is fully on board with George W. Bush, Rick Santorum, and other hard-right-wingers who would amend our nation's founding document to forever ban any state from deciding the issue for itself.
(Note: If this overturning DOMA is really McCain's trigger, then he ought to support a limited federal amendment that enshrines the portion of DOMA that provides one state should not have to recognize gay marriages from other states. His answer belies a political, and cynical, willingness to go much, much further.)
Perhaps even most disturbing was his list of current Supreme Court justices he believes should not have been nominated: Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Steven Breyer, appointed by President Clinton, and John Paul Stevens and David Souter, nominated by Republican Presidents Ford and Bush Sr. All four were eminently qualified and confirmed by wide Senate majorities. You don't get any clearer glimpse at the Supreme Court that a President McCain envisions.
The real irony of this clear, new statement from McCain on a federal marriage amendment is how it came only minutes after he listed Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), the black civil rights pioneer who fervently supports gay marriage, as one of the three "wise" men he would rely on as president. Then, only moments later, he offered as America's "greatest moral failure" our inability to defend the rights of those different from ourselves.
(Late-added note: Obama's answer was actually worse. In addition to his wife and 85-year-old grandmother -- really? they are the wisest people to turn to on matters of state? so much for arguing 71-year-old McCain is too old to trust! -- he offered up Sam Nunn, the former Georgia senator who is an expert on defense issues, as well as forcing the bigoted "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on a president of his own party. Is this a veep hint? Please, no!)
There's no way to square his respect for Lewis and civil rights with his complete disregard for the lives and hopes of gay Americans. His views on legal recognition of gay couples are to the right of the vast majority of Americans, and even President Bush himself -- who has spoken favorably about civil unions.
Rhetoric about civil rights is empty and hypocritical if in almost the same breath John McCain can assert such hardened views about lesbian and gay Americans.
An endorsement from Log Cabin really ought to be unthinkable now.
(Photo of John McCain and Pastor Rick Warren via Justin Sullivan/Getty)
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