In a statement sent to Andrew Sullivan, the McCain campaign is backing away from the radical stance on gay adoption that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) endorsed in a weekend interview with the New York Times. “McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue,” said spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker.
Here’s how Hazelbaker explains McCain’s position:
McCain’s expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible. However, as an adoptive father himself, McCain believes children deserve loving and caring home environments, and he recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.
In his initial interview with the New York Times, McCain stated straight-forwardly that, “we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.” Asked where he stood “if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents,” McCain said his “concern” was that the child be with “a traditional couple.”
Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.
Mr. McCain: 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. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.
Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple
Mr. McCain: Yes.
Critics reacted swiftly to McCain’s comments, calling them “terrible” and “thoughtless.” As Winnie Stachelberg and Robert Gordon pointed out at the Wonk Room yesterday, McCain’s stated approach ruled out “adoption by gay individuals –- even though these adoptions are permitted in every state except Florida.” McCain’s stance seems to rule out adoption by single heterosexuals as well.
Noting that about 130,000 children wait in the foster care system each year and nearly every child welfare organization in the country opposes bans on gay adoption, Stachelberg and Gordon asked if McCain really thinks that “hundreds of thousands of children should sit in foster care and orphanages while we wait for ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ families to appear?”
In an update to their Wonk Room post, Stachelberg and Gordon write that it’s hard to tell if the last sentence in Hazelbaker’s clarification means “McCain personally doesn’t agree with Florida.” They conclude that McCain owes more “straight talk” on the issue because “barring gay people from adopting is morally wrong.”
Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody says that McCain’s clarification may have opened “a can of worms” with social conservatives, writing that “this move hurts him with the Evangelical base.”