When Sen. John McCain visited the College of Charleston for a one-hour stump speech on Oct. 3, he clarified his support for how Gen. David Petraeus is conducting the war in Iraq, the present legal drinking age, and Bush’s child health insurance veto. Here for the school’s Bully Pulpit Series on Presidential Communications, McCain came across as down-to-earth and earnest. But there’s one thing that makes this noted straight-talking politician sound the same as most of his rivals; during his visit, he reiterated his stance on the importance of preserving the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman. Almost all the candidates in both major parties are dead set against gay couples tying the knot.
When it comes to the positions of GOP candidates on same-sex marriage, they’re all totally against it, except for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who has come up with a policy that would technically allow state governments to pass legislation granting same-sex marriage. However, he also wants to stop the courts from legalizing same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani has never been in favor of gay marriage — although he once lived with a gay couple — but he has in the past endorsed civil unions. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, once supported a Massachusetts constitutional amendment in favor of civil unions while he was the governor of that state, but since then, he’s stated that he opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions.
As for the Democrats, that party’s presidential hopefuls were recently asked their positions on same-same marriage during a presidential forum on gay issues broadcast on the LGBT channel Logo. Republican candidates declined the opportunity to participate in a separate Logo-sponsored forum.
While the Democratic hopefuls by and large support equal rights for gays and lesbians —all of the candidates are in favor of lifting the military ban on gays, and all but one of them wholeheartedly support same-sex adoption — they oppose same-sex marriage.
During the forum, Hillary Clinton stated her position on same-sex marriage, attempting to put a pro-gay spin on a negative answer. “I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions,” she said.
Barack Obama also spoke in favor of civil unions. As he saw it, his job as president would be to “make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day-to-day basis for loving same-sex couples all across the country ... are recognized and enforced.”
John Edwards touched on the religious connotations of marriage, but apologized for previously stating that his faith fueled his opposition to same-sex marriage. And while he proclaimed that his “campaign for the presidency is about equality across the board,” he added, perhaps for the sake of clarity, “I do not support same-sex marriage.”
These are apparently the personal positions of the hopefuls, but they’re also an attempt to avoid the kind of situation John Kerry found himself in during his 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry opposed same-sex marriage but also opposed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban it, leading to confusion about his position on the whole issue.
Long-shot Dems Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are the only hopefuls who support same-sex marriage. During the Logo forum, Gravel suggested that his peers were “playing it safe” on the subject. “Marriage is a commitment between two human beings in love,” he commented. “And if there’s anything we need in this world, it’s more love.”