Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Still Opposed: Obama and McCain's different approaches on same-sex marriage

The New York Times does a good job of tracking the differences between the positions of Barack Obama and John McCain on same-sex marriage. They both oppose it, but in different ways.

Obama's opposition comes from a religious sensibility, but one that is tempered. Still, he has opposed federal and state amendments that seek to ban same-sex marriage:

As a Christian — he is a member of the United Church of Christ — Mr. Obama believes that marriage is a sacred union, a blessing from God, and one that is intended for a man and a woman exclusively, according to these supporters and Obama campaign advisers. While he does not favor laws that ban same-sex marriage, and has said he is “open to the possibility” that his views may be “misguided,” he does not support it and is not inclined to fight for it, his advisers say.

McCain's opposition has not been stated in primarily religious terms, and while he has opposed the federal constitutional amendment, he has supported State amendments:

But Mr. McCain, reflecting his strongly held views on federalism, has also broken with many Republican senators and joined Mr. Obama and most Democrats to oppose amending the United States Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, arguing that the issue should be left to the states to decide.

The candidates have very different positions, though, when it comes to the state level. Mr. Obama opposes amending state constitutions to define marriage as a heterosexual institution, describing such proposals as discriminatory. Mr. McCain, however, has been active in such efforts: On the most expensive and heated battle to ban same-sex marriage this year, a proposed constitutional amendment in California known as Proposition 8, he has endorsed the measure and sharply criticized a State Supreme Court ruling that granted same-sex couples the right to marry.

While the GLBT community should not be satisfied with the position of either candidate, their positions are a welcome change from President Bush's efforts to stir rhetoric around a federal constitutional amendment. There is always a shift, and it's important to keep that in mind. During the 2000 Vice Presidential debate, both Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney expressed support for civil unions. In 1996, we heard open attacks on our community at the Republican National Convention. At this rate, if our community is persistent, same-sex marriage could be a non-issue by the 2016 race. It will always be an issue for some, but it is clearly losing traction.

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