McCain speaks to Washington Blade
McCain speaks to Washington Blade
HRC: McCain "insult the intelligence of the LGBT community"

by Lisa Keen - Keen News Service

Republican presidential nominee John McCain told the Washington Blade this week that he appreciates the Log Cabin endorsement and hopes that Gay voters will consider voting for him. But he also implied that he is skeptical about supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and he dodged a question about anti-Gay nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement soon after the interview appeared on the newspaper's website Thursday afternoon, saying McCain's responses "do nothing but insult the intelligence of the LGBT community."

The interview between the Washington Blade and McCain took place on paper - just as did an earlier Blade "interview" with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. News Editor Kevin Naff said the questions were submitted to the campaign on September 15 and were returned October 1. He also acknowledged there was no way to be absolutely sure the answers came from McCain himself.

In fact, an Obama staffer later clarified that the Democrat's answers, published September 10, had been prepared by someone in the campaign authorized to respond for the senator.

The Blade asked McCain all but one of the same questions as it did Obama, but, noted Naff, got back more responses from McCain. For instance, McCain said he supports the U.S. Supreme Court decision that the Boy Scouts can bar openly Gay leaders. (The paper did not ask McCain if he would support a move by the D.C. City Council to approve same-sex marriages. The District's legislation is subject to Congressional approval.)

Concerning his controversial campaign statements against Gays adopting children, McCain suggested he thinks his remarks have been "misinterpreted" and said he respects Gay people who are raising adopted children. But he repeated his belief that a heterosexual couple is "best."

"I hope my comments are not misinterpreted," wrote McCain. "I respect the hundreds of thousands of Gay and Lesbian people who are doing their best to raise the children they have adopted. As someone who adopted a child, Cindy and I know better than most couples the amazing satisfaction that comes from providing love to an unwanted child. I believe a child is best raised by a mother and father because of the unique contributions that they make together to the development of a child."

McCain dodged some questions, too. Asked whether he would nominate a Supreme Court justice who had issued anti-Gay rulings, McCain said only that he would nominate judges who interpret the Constitution, not legislate from the bench.

Like Obama, he called for a national strategy to combat HIV in the United States, but unlike Obama, seemed to put greater emphasis on abstinence. He repeated his understanding that military commanders still believe "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is working but said he is "willing to have the policy reviewed to make sure that's the case."

He said he continues to oppose an amendment to the federal constitution to ban same-sex marriage but emphasized clearly this time that he does so because "this should be a state matter, and not one for the federal government." And he reiterated an earlier campaign statement that indicated he would continue to oppose a federal amendment "as long as no state is forced to adopt some other state's standard."

McCain said he supports the "concept" of ENDA but expressed concern the legislation could "lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits or infringe on religious institutions."

"What I can say now," said McCain, "is I will give careful consideration to any legislation that reaches my desk, and confer with Congress before making decisions."

"It's interesting that John McCain thinks that being civil is going to win us over," said a statement from HRC President Joe Solmonese, "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," said Solmonese, and "'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."

Blade editor Naff acknowledged that he can't be certain McCain answered the questions himself. Some responses reflect his language and tendency toward terse replies. Others - such as when he provided a web link to the full eulogy he delivered at Gay 9-11 hero Mark Bingham's funeral - suggest he had help, given that his campaign has acknowledged he's unfamiliar with the use of Google, if not internet technology.

Interestingly, the Obama interview included a disclaimer that said Window Media co-publisher William Kapfer - who submitted the questions to both campaigns on behalf of the Blade and the company's several other papers - "is not affiliated with any campaign and has not donated money to anyone running for president." There was no similar disclaimer included with the McCain interview. But Naff said Kapfer has not given money to the campaign and is not affiliated with it.

©2008 Keen News Service