UPDATE: The LCRs are already pimping the interview as proof we’re just wrong about McCain. See that below the fold, as well as responses by Stonewall Dems and HRC.


Surf over, read and decide whether this interview with John McCain at the Washington Blade (by William Kapfer). It is, as far as we know, the first time a GOP presidential candidate has agreed to answer questions from a national LGBT publication. This was a written interview submitted to the McCain campaign for a response, so you know that these answers have gone through the spin cycle multiple times.

That out of the way, is there anything that represents a significant change from his rock-solid, anti-gay public policy positions? Not really.

* He said that the discriminatory position of the Boy Scouts, supported in a Supreme Court ruling, is a matter for the organization to decide;

* Marriage should be a matter left to the states, but he supports his home state’s marriage amendment (as well as measures in CA and FL) that would bar gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

* McCain indirectly states his opposition to the right of gays and lesbians to adopt (“I believe a child is best raised by a mother and father.”), and leaves it as a matter for the states to decide.

* He reiterates his opposition to the repeal of DOMA, and would consider a federal marriage amendment “as long as no state is forced to adopt some other state’s standard.”

* He gives props to the LCR, of course, saying he’s “always willing to listen to all viewpoints,” and that he appreciates the “Log Cabin’s effort to make the GOP more inclusive.”

On the latter question, it would have been interesting to follow up that one with questions about his relationshipt to conservative evangelicals in his party and what he feels he owes to that base of voters in the GOP.

There was a bit of news made. Read it below the fold.McCain stated that he supports a review of DADT (though he personally does not want it repealed).

McCain: I promise to give full consideration to any legislation that reaches my desk. On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I’m going to defer to our military commanders. So far they have told me it’s working. I’m willing to have the policy reviewed to make sure that’s the case, but at the end of the day, I’m going to rely on the commanders who will be impacted by a change in the law.

He also doesn’t support, but doesn’t outright close the door to ENDA, punting with this statement, since the cat’s out of the bag that he has no problem hiring openly gay staff.

Gay and lesbian people should not face discrimination in the workplace. I’ve always practiced that in my hiring. I select the best people, regardless of their sexual orientation. I support the concept of non-discrimination in hiring for gay and lesbian people.

However, we need to make sure legislation doesn’t lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits or infringe on religious institutions. What I can say now is I will give careful consideration to any legislation that reaches my desk, and confer with Congress before making decisions.

He also punts on this one:

Blade: Do you foresee a day when the federal government will recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships performed by states?

McCain: I honestly don’t know.

What this interview does solidify is McCain’s reputation as a professional anti-gay, private homosexualist. He readily admits to admiring out gay friends and public figures, Yet every single position he supports reflects the continuation or institutionalization of discrimination against LGBTs, including those friends.

I have known former Congressman Jim Kolbe for 25 years. We first ran for Congress in Arizona the same year – in 1982. We served together starting in 1985. He’s a great American who spent two decades serving his country in Congress. Like me, he also served in Vietnam so we have a special kinship. When he came out in 1996, there was no question that I would stand by him. He’s a friend and a patriot and has been an admirable public servant, and a good example of why someone’s sexuality should not be relevant in public life.

I have also known former Tempe Mayor [Neil] Giuliano for many years. He headed Mayors for McCain in our 2000 campaign. I stood by him when there was an effort to recall him in 2001, led by people who objected to him being an openly gay public official. He was a hard-working public servant and someone I have great respect for.

If one’s orientation or sexuality should not be relevant in public life, then what is the need for discrimination based on it? It’s the conundrum that vexes this party, and McCain simply does not know how to bridge it, given the fear of retribution by the base. Quite frankly, even the nods to tolerance in this interview are likely to give fundies agita, since they don’t trust him either.

Click over for the rest.

UPDATE: As promised, the LCR reaction to the interview. The title of the LCR release — “Sen. John McCain Outlines Inclusive Vision for Country in Interview with LGBT Newspaper

“This is a great day for everyone who cares about basic fairness for gay and lesbian Americans,” said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon.  “Sen. McCain’s outreach to gay and lesbian voters is unprecedented from a GOP presidential candidate.  That’s why Log Cabin was proud to endorse him.  We know his inclusive vision for America will draw strong support from LGBT voters.”

“The gay left has been trying to define John McCain as another George W. Bush on gay issues. His words in this interview further undermine that ridiculous argument,” said Sammon.

Reaction from Stonewall Dems:

“John McCain continues to artfully illustrate why we need a pro-equality President like Barack Obama in the White House.  Throughout his answers to the Washington Blade, Senator McCain uses flowery code words easily accepted by the anti-equality activists which continue to control his campaign and the Republican Party.  John McCain is opposed to the equal enforcement of hate crimes legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the repeal of the detrimental “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and he continues to support discriminatory ballot measures which target our families in Arizona, California and Florida.  John McCain has said that he hopes ‘gay and lesbian Americans will give full consideration’ to supporting his campaign.  We have and we don’t.  That is why the majority of our community – and the majority of Americans – continue to support the Obama/Biden ticket.”

– Jon Hoadley, Executive Director

HRC doesn’t hold back either:

“We congratulate the Washington Blade on securing a written response from Senator McCain.  Unfortunately, John McCain’s answers to those well written questions do nothing but insult the intelligence of the LGBT community. Senator McCain’s double speak fools no one.  At the end of the day, his policies haven’t changed at all.

It’s interesting that John McCain thinks that being civil is going to win us over, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he is against every single policy that would protect and promote equality for the LGBT community.

It’s 2008, ‘some of my best friends are gay’ doesn’t work anymore.  Sorry, we’ve already had one ‘compassionate conservative’ in the White House for eight years, we aren’t interested in another.”

To read a full report on Senator McCain’s stances on issues of importance to the LGBT community, please visit:  www.hrc.org/mccain

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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