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July 15, 2008

Don't You Wingnuts Care About This?!? It's Gay! (Updated)

The McCain campaign sent out a clarification of his position on gays and adoption. It sounds a lot like what several of you wrote after my original post:

McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue. He was not endorsing any federal legislation.

McCain’s expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible. However, as an adoptive father himself, McCain believes children deserve loving and caring home environments, and he recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.

Thanks to DrewM., who also notes that this is not high on the list of things people care about.

Original Post:
The McCain on gay adoption story hasn't penetrated the dextrosphere much, though it's been tearing up the in-the-out-door-sphere since Saturday evening. The usually thoughtful Marc Ambinder writes:

Curious as to why cultural conservatives haven't picked up on this. Maybe because it was in the New York Times?
Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

Mr. McCain: 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.

Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple

Mr. McCain: Yes.

As with the New Yorker story that Dave talks about below, Ambinder seems to be looking for the strawconservative lurking just out of sight with his guns and his churches and his conspiracy theories about black presidential candidates and his well-known dislike for the gays. The simple answer is that conservatives are not eagerly watching the news just for an excuse to talk about gay stuff. They're just not.

More than that, the things that get people excited are not present in this story. What McCain said is not controversial for conservatives. That's why you see this story in the gay blogs and on some liberal blogs. It's a big deal to them. Conservatives, not so much. Nor does the particular issue of gay adoption impact all that many lives. Contrast: marriage, where nearly everyone has some stake, to adoption, which impacts relatively few individuals and families. Finally, there's no sudden scandal here, just a single question and follow-up in a N.Y. Times interview so lengthy that I fell asleep before I reached the end.

Which leads me to an observation of my own: there's no meat here. I mean, I would have commented about this earlier if I knew just what McCain was talking about. I think when he says "both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption" he means "both genders are important in the success of a family." If that's the case, the real story here is that McCain opposes adoption by unmarried individuals, which is legal (and not uncommon) in 49 states. The gay thing is just incidental to his preference that children stay in an orphanage rather than be adopted by anyone other than a "traditional couple." On the other hand, I don't know just how much emphasis was placed on the word "couples" in the question, so McCain may just be going along with the usual "Gays? No, I am pro-family values" shtick.

That's the problem. McCain gave an ambiguous answer and then said "yes" to an uncompleted question. You don't get anything from the story except that he is not a big fan of gays, but that he is pro-adoption and pro-family. All of which, we already knew. So the gays can go ahead and get huffy, the dems can go ahead and get snooty, and the rest of everybody can go ahead and think about stuff that actually matters to them. That's why "cultural conservatives" haven't picked up on this.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 07:57 PM

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