Monday, October 6, 2008

Talking to the Press

I seem to be on a roll here with this issue, so why fight it? Alert NQ reader, WorkingClassArtist, informed me that Senator John McCain had done an interview with the Washington Blade, a GLBT magazine. Now, some of you may recall that it was like pulling teeth to get Obama to ever talk to a gay publication, but he finally did talk to the Advocate in April of this ear. And if you are keeping score, you know that Hillary Clinton never had that problem - she has always talked to gay publications, has always marched in Pride parades (Obama: 0). And so now, Senator McCain has spoken to the Washington Blade. As the article points out, this is the FIRST time a Republican presidential candidate has agreed to do so.

All in all, it's an interesting interview, both for what it says, and for what it does not. McCain does not hedge his responses, but gives his full opinion, whether the readers will like it or not. Unlike Obama, who has consistently said one thing then said the other (I have written about this a ton, most recently "Two-fer: Faith Tour and Same Sex Marriage). McCain actually has gay associates about whom he speaks glowingly, and beside whom he has stood, unlike Obama, whose associates include Donnie McClurkin, James Meeks, Doug Kmiec, and hell - Obama himself ("Gee, sorry Mayor Newsome, I won't have my photo taken with someone who supports gay marriage!"). No wonder Obama thinks people should not look at his associates to get an idea of who he is or about his judgment (Bill Ayers, anyone?). He knows they won't like what they see. I guess he has never heard the expression, "birds of a feather flock together." Anywho, you can read the whole piece at the link below, but I have included some highlights for you here:

McCain’s gay Q&A
I hope gay and lesbian Americans will give full consideration to supporting me.'

Washington Blade
: What personal experiences or friendships in your life have shaped how you view gay issues?

John McCain: 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.

Blade: Do you have any role models who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

McCain: I had the humbling experience of speaking at Mark Bingham’s funeral after the attacks on Sept. 11. Mark had supported me during the 2000 campaign. Unfortunately, I barely knew him, but our country learned about him after 9-11. He was one of the heroes on 9-11 who tried to retake control of United Flight 93. His efforts along with the other brave patriots could have saved hundreds of lives. I honor and respect Mark. Memories of his sacrifice and the other victims from 9-11 motivate me everyday to make sure we keep our nation safe from the terrorists who want to attack our way of life because freedom is a threat to their message of hate.

Here’s what I said during his eulogy:

I love my country, and I take pride in serving her. But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did, or the other heroes on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to prevent our enemies from inflicting an even greater injury on our country. It has been my fate to witness great courage and sacrifice for America's sake, but none greater than the selfless sacrifice of Mark Bingham and those good men who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives. (The full eulogy is available at (On 9/11, I had a video from YouTube about Mark Bingham. I will put it at the bottom of this post.)

Blade: Would you decline to nominate a qualified Supreme Court justice, cabinet member or other appointed position just because the person is openly gay?

McCain: I have always hired the most qualified and competent people — regardless of their political party, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Blade: Would you decline to nominate a qualified Supreme Court justice or cabinet member who had a history of anti-gay rulings?

McCain: I will nominate judges who interpret the Constitution, not judges who legislate from the bench. Legislators pass laws; judges interpret them. Unfortunately, too many judges have become confused [about] their role.

Blade: President Bush has been praised for his AIDS relief efforts in Africa, but many domestic AIDS service providers say the U.S. focus on the epidemic abroad ignores growing infection rates here at home. How would your AIDS policies differ from President Bush? And would you put a greater focus on the domestic problem?

McCain: I’m proud to have supported President Bush’s efforts to address the international AIDS crisis. History will remember him for the PEPFAR program, which has saved millions of lives. We’ve made progress on the domestic front too, but not enough. I am committed to supporting the development of a National AIDS Strategy. Countries receiving PEPFAR aid are required to develop a national plan; but we don’t have one in our country.

It’s important to settle on a national strategy — with input from state, local and federal government officials; along with the private sector, doctors, drug companies and AIDS advocates. Let’s roll up our sleeves and put together a National AIDS Strategy for more effectively addressing the domestic challenges.

Recent CDC statistics show that gay men continue to be strongly impacted by the disease, and the disease is disproportionately affecting people of color. Our prevention and treatment efforts must be improved to address these challenges.

Blade: Important gay rights legislation unrelated to marriage has been stalled in Congress for some time. You have a reputation for having challenged your party in the past. Would you work with Congress to pass or deal with any of the following: ENDA, the hate crimes bill, repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”

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.

Blade: What is your reaction to the news that Log Cabin Republicans endorsed your campaign and will the Log Cabin Republicans be welcome in the White House if you're elected?

McCain: I appreciate Log Cabin’s support. I’ve had a friendly relationship with the organization for almost 15 years. We don’t agree on every issue, but I respect their commitment to the GOP and I thank them for their support. Our party needs to focus on what unites us and I appreciate Log Cabin’s effort to make the GOP more inclusive. I have always been willing to discuss the important issues of the day with Log Cabin members and that will continue if I am elected. This is going to be a close election and we need support from every American.

I hope gay and lesbian Americans will give full consideration to supporting me. The stakes are high in this election. I will have an inclusive administration and I will be a president for all Americans.

Blade: How would a McCain administration approach abstinence-until-marriage sex education initiatives? What is your view regarding programs that provide safe-sex messages specific to gay youth?

McCain: I have supported including abstinence as a component of sex-education programs. Decisions regarding programs targeted specifically at gay youth should be made based on a review of the scientific data to determine what works and what doesn’t, but they must encourage responsible individual behavior.

Blade: When asked last year whether condoms help stop the spread of HIV, you were uncertain. Are you confident that condoms do help stop the spread of HIV?

Of course they help, but we can’t remove responsibility from the equation. Condoms aren’t fail-proof. People must behave responsibly and make wise decisions. Government can help with prevention strategies, but all people must choose to take responsibility for their own health.

Blade: Will you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if elected president?

McCain: 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.

Blade: What are your thoughts on the Matthew Shepard Act?

McCain: I have voted against the proposal several times. Let me make it clear that no one should face violence because of who they are. It’s un-American and morally repugnant. People who commit any violent crime should face tough penalties. However, I am not convinced that this is properly a federal issue, or that criminal sentences for terrible crimes should be longer because of the views of the perpetrator or the identity of the victim.

Editor’s note: John McCain’s presidential campaign this week agreed to respond in writing to these questions, which were drafted by William R. Kapfer, co-president of Window Media, the Blade’s parent company, and Blade staff and submitted to the campaign by Kapfer.

As I said, there is much more in this article, including questions about same sex marriage, adoption, and others. I urge you to go read it all. One point McCain makes over and over is that he is a Federalist, and believes that states should be making decisions on their own without interference by the federal government. I most definitely do NOT agree with McCain's positions on some of the issues discussed in this article, but I DO appreciate that he does not pander to whoever his audience is at the moment. I far prefer to know exactly where candidates stand so I can make reasonable decisions. Otherwise, I might give my vote to someone who is unworthy of it, who will turn on me at the drop of a hat. I want to know, even if I do not agree with that person, I want to know. Don't patronize me, that's what I'm saying. Don't tell me what you think I WANT to hear (OBAMA), and tell me where you really stand (McCain). That's all I'm asking. Then I get to decide.

As promised, here's the video on Mark Bingham:


Connie said...

I am glad you're back so that I can resume my noon ritual of Lean Cuisine and RRR. I loved hearing about your trip. I am beyond envious.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL - thanks, Connie! I appreciate the support!

And it was an AWESOME trip - crystal clear waters, beautiful fish (including moray eels - did I tell you that already?), stingrays abt 4 ft across - just amazing!

And it's good to be back!