Is the McCain Family More Pro-Gay Than the Obamas?
Are gay voters having buyer’s remorse? The Obama administration has made some great strides toward gay rights. But Barack and wife Michele have been notably silent on the issue of gay marriage.
Not so the family of the man Obama defeated in November 2008. John McCain’s daughter and now wife are sticking their necks out to protest Proposition 8, the referendum that bans gay marriage in California.
Meghan McCain has been trying ever since the election to steer the Republican Party in a very different direction, toward acceptance of gay rights and especially marriage equality. In the process, she has made enemies of many in the party her father led. They accuse her of being the queen of the "RHINO’s," or "Republican in name only."
"A Republican who celebrates perverts and freaks. She’s no conservative," wrote one commenter on the ultra-right blog site, Free Republic. "She is even more obnoxious than that nutjob who sired her," said another,
McCain most recently caused a ruckus at George Washington University. She had been invited (and paid) to speak at an event sponsored by a gay student club. But she also was to speak at a student GOP event, "Redefining Republican: No Labels, No Boxes, No Stereotypes." The college Republicans, when they found out about the double-booking, reneged on their part.
Now her mother, Cindy, has entered the marriage fray in a big way. She has posed for the "NOH8" campaign against California’s Proposition 8. With her mouth covered with duct tape and a Photoshopped tattoo saying "NOH8," the wife of the Arizona senator took a very public stand that goes diametrically against her party’s platform.
Sen. John McCain, who may have to fight a primary against a more conservative contender, says he does not agree with his wife. But he has not silenced her, or his daughter, either, much to the chagrin of traditional marriage advocates.
The NOH8 website applauds the McCains. "The McCains are one of the most well-known Republican families in recent history, and for Mrs. McCain to have reached out to us to offer her support truly means a lot," the site says.
"Although we had worked with Meghan McCain before and were aware of her own position, we’d never really thought the cause might be something her mother would get behind. We have a huge amount of respect for both of these women for being brave enough to make it known they support equal marriage rights for all Americans."
John Henning, head of Love Honor Cherish, couldn’t suppress his delight at having such a powerful advocate come over to his side. "o have the wife of a Republican presidential candidate really turns everything upside down," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Other Republicans, especially from the younger generation, are rallying to the McCains’ side. The head of the Penn State College Republicans has said that the McCains "shows the diversity of the Republican party."
"People expect conservatives to be against same-sex marriage, and more and more conservatives are saying that they favor it," Henning said.
Meanwhile, some of those on the right are having a playful moment of tweaking gay voters. Popular right-wing blog Pajama Media headlines, "Gay voter remorse as McCains step up where Obama fails."
The blogger relays a conversation with a gay friend before the 2008 election in which he said McCain was a stodgy old man and Barack Obama a fresh face, in spite of Obama’s history of supporting civil unions and opposing gay marriage.
"That’s just something he’s gotta say to appeal to Middle America. Once he’s in office, you’ll see!" the gay friend said.
At the sensational Proposition 8 trial unfolding in federal court in San Francisco, a witness for those opposing the referendum put the case against Obama thusly: "I think President Obama is perhaps the best illustration of an ally who can’t be counted on, an ally whose rhetoric far exceeds his actions," said Stanford University’s David Segura.
As for the rest of the rank-and-file, this comment on Queerty best summarizes the way many LGBT Democrats now feel about this president.
Henry Holland cited "the despicable court brief that Obama’s administration, through the Department of Justice, filed in a DOMA case," in which Obama supported the hated Defense of Marriage Act. "Obama has a lot on his plate, you silly gays should wait your turn until sparkly ponies appear and the right wing AREN’T crazy assholes!!" he continued "Well, OK, except he has the time to sic the DOJ on us all, appear with shithead homophobes like Donnie McLurkin and so on and so forth."
Well-known gay veteran gay activist isn’t far away from that anger. On his site, he writes, "Isn’t it about time that President Obama find a way to help us instead of sitting quietly while his words are used against us time and time again?"
"Not being for marriage equality is hard enough for us to stomach," he continues. "Is he really content to allow his words to be used against us in elected bodies, in the courtroom and on the ballot? His silence is killing us."
Perhaps the notion of "conservative" needs revising. Consider the case of the founder of the modern American political conservative movement and John McCain’s predecessor as an Arizona senator and defeated GOP presidential candidate.
Barry Goldwater became a late-in-life convert to gay rights. He was a vocal opponent of the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy. "Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar," he said. "You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."