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John Edwards on Meet the Press

At least Tim Russert brought up tough and relevant questions for the 2008 prez candidate (transcript here).  John Edwards is still struggling for answers on the marriage equality issue.

MR. RUSSERT: …Gay marriage. You said this: ” It is [a hard issue] … because I’m 53 years old. I grew up in a small town in the rural south. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and so I have a belief system that arises from that. It’s part of who I am. I can’t make it disappear. … I personally feel great conflict about that. I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. I think from my perspective it’s very easy for me to say, gay civil unions, yes, partnership benefits, yes, but it is something that I struggle with. Do I believe they should have the right to marry? I’m just not there yet.” 

RUSSERT: Why not?

SEN. EDWARDS: I think it’s from my own personal culture and faith belief. And I think, if you had gone on in that same quote, that I, I have-I, I struggle myself with imposing my faiths-my faith belief. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist church, my dad was a deacon. In fact, I was there just a couple weeks ago to see my father get an award. It’s, it’s just part of who I am. And the question is whether I, as president of the United States, should impose on the United States of America my views on gay marriage because I know where it comes from. I’m aware of why I believe what I believe. And I think there is consensus around this idea of no discrimination, partnership benefits, civil unions. I think that, that certainly a president who’s willing to lead could lead the country in the right direction on that. [And that would be how???]

OK. This is the same basic answer as Clinton, with an additional amount of angst thrown in to help those on the fence who are in the same boat feel for him. They all need schooling that saying “no discrimination” doesn’t cut it in the implementation; any solution to make the civil unions remotely on par with marriage requires jumping a lot of legal hurdles. Even in a time-limited venue such as MTP, a simple statement acknowledging that the repeal or change in the federal DOMA is required for any semblance of equality needs to be occur.

He ran into a bit of trouble and stumbled on the next question. It’s as if he (or his advisors) didn’t brief him on the fact that this surely would come up. Edwards is clearly uncomfortable, but to his credit, he did answer Russert’s question.

Read it after the flip.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe you’re born gay?

SEN. EDWARDS: I, I, I think that-I, I, first of all, sexual-I’m not an expert on sexual orientation. I, I think that, that, there’s a real possibility that people are born gay, yes.

MR. RUSSERT: You don’t believe-do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?

SEN. EDWARDS: No.

This is bound to raise some fundie ire, since Edwards acknowledged his Southern Baptist upbringing just moments before, but it draws a line in the sand.

Edwards had no problem on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though this doesn’t really set him apart from the others in the field. As Steve notes over at The Frontlines, Senator Hillary Clinton, former Senator Mike Gravel and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have called for an end to DADT, and Edwards himself did so back in 2004.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that openly gay men and women should be able to serve in the military.

SEN. EDWARDS: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: And you would do that as president?

SEN. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

I’m not aware of any other Dems candidates so far that have expressed that DADT should remain in place; on the other side of the aisle I don’t know if any candidate who has actually called for repeal. McCain, for instance, thinks the system is just fine the way it is.

[Steve reminds me that there is one GOP candidate who is for the repeal — Rudy Giuliani.]

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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