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McCain Attempts to Clarify Gay Rights Positions

July 30, 2008

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Republican presidential candidate does not support gay adoption

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain seemed to bob and weave around his stances on gay rights in July, expressing a surprising opinion on gay adoption to The New York Times that resulted in the need for clarification.

In the interview with the Times, excerpts of which were published in an article on July 13, McCain was asked by reporters, “President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?”

McCain, an adoptive parent himself,  responded, “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption.”

The response befuddled observers in light of McCain’s previously expressed support for states to determine adoption rights as they see fit.

In a letter of clarification sent on July 15, McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker reverted to that earlier position and said, “McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue. He was not endorsing any federal legislation.”

Hazelbaker’s additional comment about where McCain stands on marriage further baffled observers, still reeling from another apparent reversal weeks earlier, when McCain said he supported the pending ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriages in California.

Initially, when the California Supreme Court announced the decision to legalize same-sex marriage on May 15, McCain invoked his long-standing view and deferred to the state’s residents to decide the issue for themselves. Weeks afterward, however, a contradictory statement from McCain appeared on the website of the group protectmarriage.com that said, “I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman.” On July 2, advocate.com reported confirmation from the Log Cabin Republicans that the statement on protectmarriage.com, though a departure from his original opinion, accurately reflected the view of McCain on the ballot’s initiative.

Then, in the interview with the Times on July 13, and as reasserted by his spokeswoman on July 15, McCain said that he respects the rights of states to make their own decisions about marriage, which would seem to contradict the support he had recently expressed for the California marriage ban.

McCain, who opposes same-sex marriage personally, has consistently opposed the federal amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution, on the grounds that states should decide for themselves. In 2006, voters in his home state of Arizona rejected an initiative to outlaw same-sex marriage, making his the only state thus far where an attempt to ban same-sex marriage has failed.

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