When working on his piece on presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s letter supporting Proposition 8 which would enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the California constitution, LA Weekly writer Patrick Range McDonald contacted me for a comment on this decision.
As I considered my response, I came up with something a little longer than the sound-byte he may have sought. Given the time I took to craft the statement, I decided to include it below, but first wanted to comment on some of the things McDonald said in his article. Even though I don’t agree with everything he has to say (indeed take issue with the general thrust of his argument), I recommend you read in its entirety. He makes some good points and does so in a civil manner.
It’s nice to see a gay writer take on a Republican without the bile we are accustomed to see in such opinion pieces.
McCain may well, as McDonald puts it, be “making a national political play for fundamentalist Christians,” but the Arizona Senator has hardly blown any opportunity on the marriage issue, as McDonald suggests. Many people oppose gay marriage without harboring animosity toward gay people. The Hartford Courant noted as much in its article on gay marriage as the Connecticut legislature considered the state’s landmark civil unions legislation.
Simpy put, many people understand marriage as it has long been understood as the union of one man and one woman. And John McCain has been very clear to say he supports the traditional definition. In doing so, the presumptive Repubican nominee has also made clear his support of federalism and has refrained from attacking gay people as have all too many advocates of traditional marriage.
I focused on that in the statement I sent to McDonald (which I reprint here because he could not possibly have included all my thoughts in his post):
Obviously, I’d rather McCain had remained silent on the California ballot initiative on marriage. While he has shown a willingness to meet with gay people and showed some sensitivity to our concerns, he is not perfect on issues of concern to the gay community.
Remember, this is a man who attended the funeral of Mark Bingham, a gay man and hero of United Flight 93, and who wished Ellen DeGeneres “every happiness” in her relationship with Portia de Rossi. Indeed, in that interview, he, unlike some opponents of gay marriage, showed an understanding some of the basic issues involved in state recognition of marriage.
While, I — and many other gay Americans — applaud Senator McCain for leading the fight against a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage, we have long known he does not support state recognition of gay marriage. In 2006, he backed the Arizona ballot initiative which would not only have prevented the state from recognizing gay marriage, but would have also barred civil unions, a measure far more draconian than the one on this fall’s Golden State ballot limiting marriage to its traditional definition.
Support for such a measure is not inconsistent with opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. He had opposed the latter because it would bar states from defining marriage. John McCain believes states should decide these issues. Right now, he’s just saying he believe the people of California should decide this issue — and not the courts.