SAN FRANCISCO—After several weeks of silence on the issue of same-sex marriage, Sen. John McCain has made it official. The presumptive Republican nominee for president has endorsed efforts to ban gay marriage in California.
McCain sent this short statement to the Protect Marriage campaign, one of the conservative groups spearheading an effort to amend the state Constitution in November and define marriage as between a man and a woman:
"I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions."
McCain's stance on same-sex marriage comes as no surprise to political analysts, since he has never varied widely from the mainstream of the Republican Party on the issue. While McCain voted against a federal constitutional amendment supported by President Bush in 2004, he has said he thinks states should be able to determine their own approaches to marriage—and he has repeatedly said the matter should be left to voters, not judges, to decide. In 2006, McCain supported a failed initiative in Arizona, his home state, that would have amended the state Constitution and banned same-sex marriage. Another effort to place a constitutional ban on the Arizona ballot this fall was defeated in the state Senate this week.
Many experts believe the timing of McCain's announcement is no accident. Earlier this week, James Dobson, the founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family, railed against both Barack Obama and McCain on his radio show, saying he was disappointed that the likely Republican nominee, in particular, had not been muscular enough on an issue that is dear to the hearts of evangelical Christians.
Most of Dobson's ire was directed at Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, who Dobson said was "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view." Still, Dobson had harsh words for McCain as well, complaining that the Arizona senator has not done enough in his home state to convince voters to ban same-sex marriage. "That is very disappointing," Dobson said. Neither candidate, Dobson declared, "give[s] a hoot about the family."
Obama, who does not support gay marriage but believes same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into civil unions, has not yet taken a position on the California initiative.