NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Sen. John McCain’s likely presidential bid figures to be hindered among conservatives because of his opposition to a federal marriage amendment, although in truth his views on the subject of traditional marriage have disappointed liberals, too.
McCain’s opposition to a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution made headlines Jan. 11 when Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said he could not support the Arizona Republican.
“Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances,” Dobson said on the Jerry Johnson Live radio program, which is hosted by Criswell College’s president. “… He’s not in favor of traditional marriage, and I pray that we won’t get stuck with him.”
McCain opposed the federal marriage amendment when it came up for a vote in 2004 and 2006, saying each time the issue should be left to the states. In each instance, though, McCain left open the possibility he could support an amendment in the future if the Defense of Marriage Act is struck down as unconstitutional or if federal appeals courts overturn state marriage amendments. (DOMA gives states the option of banning “gay marriage.”)
“We will have to wait a little longer to see if Armageddon has arrived,” he said in 2004.
While liberals were pleased with his opposition to a federal marriage amendment, they were disappointed in 2006 when he supported the proposed Arizona constitutional marriage amendment, known as Proposition 107. In fact, McCain appeared in TV commercials for the initiative. In one commercial, the viewer sees a judge’s gavel as a narrator says, “Arizona is just one court case away from having a radically new definition of marriage.” Toward the end, McCain appears, saying, “I’m John McCain. Please join me in voting yes on Proposition 107.” Arizona’s amendment would have been one of the stronger ones nationwide, banning both “gay marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions. But it narrowly lost.
Some of the conservative opposition to McCain got traction last October, when he appeared before an audience on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and said, “I think that gay marriage should be allowed if there’s a ceremony kind of thing, if you want to call it that. I don’t have any problem with that.” Although the quote made the rounds on the Internet, it is only a partial quote. In the very next sentence, McCain added, “But I do believe in preserving the sanctity of the union of a man and woman.”
McCain apparently was trying to say he opposes “gay marriage” but thinks it’s OK for same-sex couples to have private ceremonies in, for instance, churches — something that already is legal. After a commercial break, he tried to clarify what he had said, adding, “On the issue of gay marriage, I believe if people want to have private ceremonies, that’s fine. I do not believe that gay marriages should be legal.”
Even though McCain has some common ground with Christian conservatives on “gay marriage,” the two sides remain divided on embryonic stem cell research, which he supports.
MARRIAGE PROTECTION IN WYOMING? — Wyoming remains one of only a handful of states without some sort of special protection against “gay marriage” legalization, although that could change if a state senator has his way.
Republican state Sen. Gerald E. Geis has introduced a bill that would prohibit Wyoming from recognizing “gay marriages” from other states, such as Massachusetts. Geis said he simply was responding to his constituents.
“A group of people in Worland asked me to sponsor it,” Geis told the Associated Press. “They didn’t want people from other states that say [homosexual couples] can be married to come in and say they get the same status in Wyoming…. I’m just representing my district.”
More than 40 states have either a statute or a state constitutional amendment prohibiting “gay marriage.” Typically, the statutes have been referred to as mini-defense of marriage acts.
NO FEDERAL AMENDMENT THIS CONGRESS? — The Democratic takeover of Congress this year likely also ended any hope of debating a federal constitutional marriage amendment for the next two years, much less passing one. Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave — both Colorado Republicans and previous backers of an amendment — say they have no plans to re-introduce it in the new Congress, The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reported Jan. 22.
“At this time, I haven’t discussed it with anyone,” Allard told the newspaper. “If we thought there was a decent chance to bring it to the floor for debate, I would, but with the new Congress, I’m not sure we will ever have that opportunity.”
The Democratic leaders in the House and Senate opposed the amendment when it was debated in the last Congress.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage