By Lisa Keen
Keen News Service
Adoption became an issue this week in the presidential campaign – at least for Republican nominee-apparent John McCain. The New York Times, in an interview published July 13, asked the candidate whether he agrees with President Bush’s position “that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children.”
“I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family,” said McCain, “so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption.”
The question came up in an interview conducted by Times’ political reporters Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper. The context was a discussion of what kind of conservative McCain sees himself as. The Times said McCain had worried Republican conservatives in recent weeks with remarks suggesting a willingness to address global warming and citizenship for illegal immigrants.
But when asked about gay couples adopting children, McCain showed no moderation, not even if it means leaving children in orphanages.
“I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children. I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible,” said McCain. The candidate and his wife Cindy adopted children.
“But your concern would be that the couple should be a traditional couple,” suggested one of the two Times reporters.
“Yes,” said McCain.
A Human Rights Campaign report on McCain’s positions indicates that McCain stated his opposition to gays adopting children as early as 2000.
The Times reporters did not press McCain to identify evidence that gay parents are different from heterosexual parents. But Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) issued a statement pointing to the American Academy of Pediatrics. PFLAG quoted the Pediatrics organization as saying: “A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual.”
“Senator McCain’s position is out of sync with the research and science and out of step with what is in the best interests of children waiting for a home and a family,” said Jody Huckaby, PFLAG executive director. “We implore Senator McCain to take a serious look at the overwhelming evidence and listen to the stories of the countless children raised by loving lesbian and gay couples.”
Kara Suffredini, director of public policy for the Family Equality Council, a national LGBT parent group, said her group is “disturbed and disappointed that a presidential candidate would make such a biased and ill-informed statement about the most ‘successful’ kind of family.”
“Thirty years of scientifically valid research universally demonstrates that LGBT families are just as nurturing for children’s growth and development as heterosexual families,” said Suffredini.
Suffredini said that, not only the Pediatrics group but also, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers “have all issued statement supporting same-sex parents.”
Although he did not mention gays again specifically, McCain clearly expressed support for organizations such as the Boy Scouts to discriminate against gays when saying he supports President Bush’s program to funnel federal funding to “faith-based organizations.”
“Obviously, it’s very complicated,” said McCain, “because if this is an organization that says we want people in our organization that are Baptists or vegetarians or whatever it is, they should not be required to hire someone that they don’t want to hire in my view. Listen, this is the kind of the issue that goes on with the Boy Scouts, it goes on with a number of other issues. I think the president’s faith-based organization has been successful and I support what he has done.”
A position paper on gay civil rights from the Obama campaign indicates the Democratic nominee-apparent, Barack Obama, “believes that homosexuals should have the same adoption rights as heterosexuals.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay political group in the U.S., asked presidential candidates, on a questionnaire last year, whether they would support giving appropriate judicial authorities the full authority to make decisions on adoption based on the best interests of the child, without bans based solely on sexual orientation.
McCain did not return a questionnaire. Obama said “I believe there are too many children who need loving parents to deny one group of people adoption rights. A child will benefit from a healthy, loving home whether the parents are gay or not.”
Currently, only Florida prohibits adoption of children by gay people. Michigan is currently working on passage of second-parent adoption legislation, Mississippi prohibits gay couples from doing so. Utah bans unmarried couples from adopting.
McCain and Obama also hold different positions concerning the California ballot measure that seeks to approve an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage. Obama sent a letter in June to a gay Democratic club in San Francisco, saying, “I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.” McCain announced in June that he supports Proposition 8. Both men oppose licensing same-sex marriages; Obama supports civil unions, McCain has opposed them.