Friday, June 6, 2008

Where Do the Candidates Stand on Gay Rights/Marriage?

At the time this article is being written, the likely major party candidates for President are Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.  Rather than generalize about each candidate, here are some actual statements, quotes and votes by each on the topic at hand.  Then we’ll generalize about and analyze the candidates!

John McCain: On a recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, McCain politely noted his opposition to treating homosexuals as if they were entitled to equal rights, if one can do such a thing politely.  Without explaining why, he said he opposes gay marriage and believes in "the unique status of marriage between and man and a woman... and I know that we have a respectful disagreement on that issue.”

McCain, who, somewhat surprisingly for a conservative Republican, also opposes an amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex unions, and voted against such an amendment, and claims that this issue should be left in the hands of states, told the DeGeneres audience that people should be encouraged to enter into legal agreements, particularly for insurance and other areas where decisions need to be made.  Note that such agreements would do nothing to help gay couples gain the rights that married couples possess due to Federal Law.

The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for equality for homosexuals, gave a 33% rating to McCain in 2006.

Here is a quick summary of the McCain position from his website:

“The family represents the foundation of Western Civilization and civil society and John McCain believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman.  It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation.

As with most issues vital to the preservation and health of civil society, the basic responsibility for preserving and strengthening the family should reside at the level of government closest to the people.  In their wisdom, the Founding Fathers reserved for the States the authority and responsibility to protect and strengthen the vital institutions of our civil society.  They did so to ensure that the voices of America's families could not be ignored by an indifferent national government or suffocated through filibusters and clever legislative maneuvering in Congress.”  (Go to http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/95b18512-d5b6-456e-90a2-12028d71df58.htm)

Analysis: Although McCain did not say as much, his non-explanation for his oppositionto same-sex marriage speaks volumes.  It is undeniable that not all children will be raised by a mother and a father; divorce, as John McCain knows, is rampant, and all too often one parent or the other is absent; yet he is not demanding an end to divorce!  Far more children are affected by heterosexual divorce than would ever be affected by gay marriage.

McCain’s real motivation, other than appeasing the Religious Right, lies in religious taboo; like many (not all) religious persons, he believes that God would prefer that gays not lead happy lives and denying them equal marriage rights would add to their unhappiness.  If his God wanted gays to have happier and better lives, wouldn’t he support equal rights for them even as gays continue to sin?  They’d sin either way, no?  Why not have some legal benefits in the meantime?

This one issue displays all that is wrong with religious morality; numerous people are convinced to behave in a manner that makes life WORSE for others with no benefit to anyone; and all because of a religious taboo.

Barack Obama: (From About.com) Barack Obama supported gay rights during his Illinois Senate tenure.  He sponsored legislation in Illinois that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the United States Senate: Every two years the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay and lesbian organization, issues a scorecard for members of the Senate based on their sponsorship and voting on key issues of importance to gay and lesbian citizens.  Barack Obama scored 89 out of 100% in the 2006 scorecard.

Here's how HRC rated Barack Obama:

Hate Crimes: Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to expand federal hate crimes laws to include crimes perpetrated because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employment Non-Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes it should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell - Gays in the Military: Barack Obama believes we need to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.  His campaign literature says, "The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve."

Gay & Lesbian Adoption: Barack Obama believes gays and lesbians should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexuals.

Gay Marriage/ Civil Unions: Although Barack Obama has said that he supports civil unions, he is against gay marriage.  In an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, Obama said, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

Barack Obama did vote against a Federal Marriage Amendment and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 both of which opposed gay marriage.

He said he would support civil unions between gay and lesbian couples, as well as letting individual states determine if marriage between gay and lesbian couples should be legalized.

"Giving them a set of basic rights would allow them to experience their relationship and live their lives in a way that doesn't cause discrimination," Obama said.  "I think it is the right balance to strike in this society."  Sources: Chicago Daily Tribune, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force” (Go to http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/lesbianactivism/p/BarackObama.htm)

Analysis: Obama certainly has dealt with more detail on the issues than has Senator McCain and iscompletely supportive of gay rights with one exception.  Once again, however, this candidate, for religious reasons (supposedly) and a belief that God wants gays to suffer or be stigmatized, has not been able to bring himself to support gay marriage, although as John McCain also did, he voted against a Constitutional Amendment that would have banned it.

It may seem harsh to accuse the religious who oppose equal rights for gays of desiring misery for them.  But how else can it be explained?  Can it be described as the “collateral damage” of not wanting to legitimize stable and committed homosexual relationships?  What would be the difference?  Wouldn’t opposition of gay marriage be an encouragement of unstable and uncommitted homosexual relationships?

Once again, if God existed and truly cared about the homosexuals he supposedly created in his image, then why would he promote lesser treatment of gays among his followers, since we’re all “sinners” anyway?  There is no escape; making the lives of homosexuals worse seems to be the mandate from God to his followers.  That’s what BELIEVERS are saying.

There is one other possibility regarding Obama’s position on gay marriage; his opposition to gay marriage may be entirely political; it may still be too toxic to openly support equal rights for everyone in a country as religious as theUS and have any chance of becoming president.

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