McCain talks to gay paper, but doesn't say much

The Republican nominee kept his answers vague in a historic interview with the Washington Blade.

Published October 1, 2008 11:15PM (EDT)

Hot-button social issues have never been John McCain's favorite topic, so he deserves some credit for apparently becoming the first Republican presidential nominee to do an interview with a gay publication, knowing those issues would come up. (Actually, as Marc Ambinder points out, it's a quasi interview, conducted by e-mail, with answers drafted by the McCain campaign with the candidate’s assent.)

Still, it should come as no particular surprise that McCain's responses to the Washington Blade don't seem to really say much of anything.

Though there's the occasional concrete reply hidden among the generalities, nearly everything McCain says is either blindingly vague, an attempt to hide behind an appeal to federalism or some version of "I'll get back to ya." After a while, this stops looking like federalism and starts looking like just plain not wanting to talk about it. For example:

On appointing a White House LGBT liaison: "This discussion is somewhat premature given that I have not been elected [yet]."

On working with gay leaders: "I am always willing to listen to all viewpoints and that will continue if I become President."

On gay and lesbian adoption: "At the end of the day, this isn't an issue the president deals with."

On eventual federal recognition of civil unions: "I honestly don't know."

On anti-discrimination law: "What I can say now is I will give careful consideration to any legislation that reaches my desk, and confer with Congress before making decisions."

On gay marriage: "I believe that issues regarding marriage and family laws are best decided by the states and not the federal government."

On discrimination by the Boy Scouts and the Salvation Army: "The Boy Scouts are an important institution in our society and they should decide this issue on their own."

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

MORE FROM Gabriel Winant

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2008 Elections Gay Marriage John Mccain R-ariz. Lgbt