I almost lost my lunch reading this spin. You might recall from a recent post that the Log Cabin Republicans organization said it "will do its part to educate gay and lesbian voters about Sen. McCain in the weeks ahead." Are you ready for the "education"?
As a Republican organization, Log Cabin only endorses GOP candidates. While the organization has yet to decide on endorsing the Republican candidate for president, we're encouraged that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has won our party's nomination.
Sen. McCain has had a long relationship with Log Cabin Republicans dating back to the opening of our organization's national office in the mid 1990s. Log Cabin endorsed Sen. McCain's re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Log Cabin's national board of directors will soon decide whether to endorse Sen. McCain's presidential bid.
...During his previous run for the White House, McCain met with Log Cabin Republicans in 1999 during the heat of the Republican presidential primary season (which, at the time, no other Republican nominee for president had done). Eager to show his support for the gay and lesbian community, McCain told then-Log Cabin Executive Director Richard Tafel, "I just want you to know, Rich, that I am unashamed, unembarrassed and proud to work with you."
...Already, some in the LGBT community are dismissing Sen. McCain's votes against the federal marriage amendment. But this is disingenuous, to say the least. It took enormous political courage for a Republican Senator from red-state Arizona to buck his own party leadership and President Bush on this hot-button issue. And it's important to remember that Sen. McCain didn't just vote "no" on the marriage amendment. He took to the floor of the U.S. Senate and delivered one of the most impassioned speeches against the anti-gay measure, calling it "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans."
Following a recent report by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) heavily criticizing McCain's record on gay and lesbian issues, a McCain campaign spokesperson said: "Sen. McCain is seeking support from all Americans this November, based on his vision for moving America forward and his long record of treating people with respect and dignity. He was proud to receive an endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans in his 2004 re-election campaign, and we’re confident he’ll win strong support this fall.”
Are you ready to hurl yet? Halt that impulse...there's more after the jump. Here's the Real McCain, according to the LCR, the man who allegedly, quietly, secretly courts your vote.
While we respect those who believe that only traditional "scorecard" LGBT issues such as hate crimes and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) should matter to gay people, we disagree. The vast majority of LGBT Americans are not one-issue voters. Like all Americans, gays and lesbians have wide-ranging concerns—from foreign policy to the environment to soaring gas prices to the size of the federal government and more.
McCain's positions on these and many issues will attract independents, including gays and lesbians. Sen. McCain supports taking an aggressive posture against totalitarian regimes—regimes that threaten, imprison, and kill gay and lesbian people. By contrast, Sen. Obama has received harsh criticism (and even some skepticism from his fellow Democrats) for indicating he would meet with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without conditions.
Additionally, Sen. McCain's philosophy on other issues will attract gay and lesbian voters. He supports measures that will benefit gay and lesbian business people. His views on the proper role and scope of the federal government, as well as taxes and spending, energy and the environment may also have wide appeal. He also supports social security reform that may provide for private retirement accounts, which will directly benefit non-married LGBT Americans.
Sen. McCain is undoubtedly running a campaign to reach out to independent voters, including gay Americans. We believe he stands a significant chance of receiving more gay votes than George W. Bush did in 2004.
OK. Reality check time:
"I believe that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman, said Sen. McCain. The Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment would allow the people of Arizona to decide on the definition of marriage in our state. I wholeheartedly support the Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment and I hope that the voters in Arizona choose to support it as well."
-- John McCain in 2005, supporting Protect Marriage Arizona's ballot initiative (that eventually failed at the polls).
"The legislation unambiguously maintains that open homosexuality within the military services presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline."
--McCain, in an April 16 letter to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) on why DADT must remain in place.
"John McCain will be a marvelous selection as our nominee. He is with us on abortion. He is with us on the marriage issue."
-- " Rev. Lou Sheldon, of the Traditional Values Coalition
"John McCain is sort of ideal. He doesn't use social issues as wedge issues. He emphasizes the things that united all Republicans."
-- James Vaughn, the California director of the Log Cabin Republicans
It's nice to see the LCRs and the unhinged Lou Sheldon on the same page, huh?
Now, with all that said and done, I will say this -- I don't believe that John McCain is a homophobe when it comes to personal relationships; in fact a little bird told me he has high-level staff that are not only gay, but socially out of the closet. The fact of the matter is that John McCain is unwilling to challenge the far right wing of his party to ensure that good friend Rich Tafel, a man the Arizona senator says he was "unashamed, unembarrassed and proud to work with" has the same civil rights and responsibilities McCain has.
I would support a Republican who was willing to stand up for civil equality - if we were actually a demographic that was openly courted by the GOP; that would actually place more natural pressure on the Democrats to actually do something rather than show us their jellyfish spinelessness time and again. But that's not the GOP I see -- McCain had all primary season long to reject the professional fundie set and come out for fairness. If there are any "promising signs" from the McCain campaign, as the LCR calls them, they were not evident in any of the strategies the public saw.
Democrats may not be right on all the issues - I've certainly had problems with all of the candidates this year, but Barack Obama and those who ran in 2008 have been clear in their support for pro-LGBT legislation on all fronts, with marriage equality as the obvious stumbling block. That's a world of difference from McCain's public stand and all of his votes aside from FMA.
That's the bottom line - personal statements of support are not equivalent to working publicly to expand rights, not restrict them. That's my problem with the LCRs. I agree with their mission of moving the GOP toward a more inclusive view, but LGBTs have been vilified incessantly by this party for DECADES - where is the improvement? It's not a single-issue matter for gays to avoid voting for a candidate who says he would want to put another Roberts or Alito on the SCOTUS, or openly opposes hate crimes legislation or ENDA. If there isn't a candidate in favor of the most basic protections of LGBTs, I'm sorry, a promise of permanent tax cuts doesn't mean much out here in Red State America when you can be fired for being gay.
This little vignette from the LCR convention in May 2007 says it all about the mindset:
David Keeton, a small-business owner in Dallas, and his partner, Rob Schlein, said they supported Giuliani because of his record as New York mayor and his response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. "I'm an American first, then a Republican second, and gay falls in third or fourth," said Keeton, who wore a Ronald Reagan pin on his lapel.
Both said they recently met former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a fundraiser and had their picture taken with him. They were offended when Romney told the crowd that he opposed gay marriage and civil unions. "We're part of the Republican Party, but he just alienated people who had paid $1,500 for a table," Keeton said.
Well, while Keeton is ranking and voting his loyalties, it may not occur to him that there are a hell of a lot of people without the means or circumstances in Red states to place being a Republican higher over the problem of being fired from their job or worry about being gay- or trans-bashed.