EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a special series of stories focusing on the election that Baptist Press will run between now and Nov. 4. Stories will run on Wednesdays and Fridays.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–This is the sixth in a series of stories focusing on one specific national issue and detailing where the two major presidential candidates stand. Called “In Their Own Words,” the stories avoid commentary and instead present the candidates’ views as they have stated them in the past — either in interviews, speeches, debates or on their campaign websites.
Today, BP takes a look at the candidates’ positions on “gay rights.”
— McCain on the definition of marriage: “The family represents the foundation of Western Civilization and civil society and John McCain believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation” (JohnMcCain.com).
— McCain on the California Supreme Court’s May ruling legalizing “gay marriage”: “I believe they were wrong, and I strongly support preserving the unique status of marriage between man and woman. And I’m a federalist. I believe that states should make those decisions” (Saddleback presidential forum, Aug. 16, 2008).
— McCain on the proposed California marriage amendment (Proposition 8), which would overturn the state Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing “gay marriage”: “I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions” (McCain statement to ProtectMarriage.com).
— McCain on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s “gay marriage” licenses and prevents the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage”: “I supported the Defense of Marriage Act adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. DOMA provides states an exemption from the ‘full faith and credit’ clause so that each state would be able to decide for itself whether to recognize same-sex marriage. The law neither compels a state to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state, nor does it prohibit states from recognizing such marriages. It simply protects each state’s right to choose how it will define marriage…. I think the Defense of Marriage Act represents the quintessentially federalist and Republican approach to this issue” (Senate floor speech, July 2004).
— McCain on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevents homosexuals from serving openly: “I recently had a conversation with some other military leaders on this issue and their point to me was ‘It’s working, so leave it alone. Generally, overall, it’s working.’ I don’t think there’s any doubt that there are evolving attitudes in America about many issues, including this one, but every military leader that I talk to, I say ‘Should we change it?’ They say, ‘It’s working.’ And right now we’ve got the best military we’ve ever had — the most professional, best trained, equipped and the bravest. And so I think it’s logical to leave this issue alone. I really do” (New York forum, March 8, 2007, quoted in The New York Times).
— McCain on gay adoption: “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” (interview, The New York Times, July 13, 2008).
— Obama on the definition of marriage: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian … for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union” (Saddleback presidential forum, Aug. 16, 2008).
— Obama on the California Supreme Court’s May ruling legalizing “gay marriage”: “Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court” (statement, May 15, 2008).
— Obama on the proposed California marriage amendment (Proposition 8), which would overturn the state Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing “gay marriage”: “I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states. For too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us” (letter to Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, June 29, 2008, available at BarackObama.com).
— Obama on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s “gay marriage” licenses and prevents the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage”: “I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does” (letter to homosexual community, Feb. 2008, available at BarackObama.com). “I’m very interested in … making sure that federal benefits are available to same-sex couples who have a civil union. I think as more states sign civil union bills into law the federal government should be helping to usher in a time when there’s full equality in terms of what that means for federal benefits…. I for a very long time have been interested in repeal of DOMA…. [M]y commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality, and I think the federal government historically has led on civil rights — I’d like to see us lead here too” (interview with the Advocate, April 10, 2008).
— Obama on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevents homosexuals from serving openly: “I have … called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (letter to homosexual community, Feb. 2008, available at BarackObama.com). “I think there’s increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy — ya know, we’re spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn’t make us more safe, and what I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology” (interview with the Advocate, April 10, 2008).
— Obama on gay adoption: “As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws…. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans…. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike” (letter to homosexual community, Feb. 2008, available at BarackObama.com).
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.