Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has long opposed gay rights, stating that he is in favor of the “traditional definition of marriage.” Today, however, McCain’s chief adviser Steve Schmidt addressed a luncheon for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay advocacy group. ThinkProgress attended the luncheon and captured exclusive video of the speech.
Schmidt opened by stating he has a personal connection to LGBT issues because his sister is a lesbian:
[I want to pay] my respect and the campaign’s respect to your organization. On a personal level, my sister and her partner are an important part of my life and our children’s life. I admire your group and your organization, and I encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come. You are an important part of our party.
Schmidt did not touch upon McCain’s opposition to gay rights and was cautious in expressing any support for the group’s agenda, simply saying that “over time” more equality for gays “will be reached”:
We as the Republicans are the party of freedom and as the party we strive to reach that goal and we’ll keep fighting as a party to reach it in full. And I think over time it will be reached. And you are an important part of this party.
Schmidt then changed the subject to politics and went after critics of Gov. Sarah Palin. Watch the full remarks:
Unfortunately, McCain campaign adamantly opposes the Log Cabin Republican’s agenda, which includes “equality for gay and lesbian people.” McCain said he couldn’t pick Michael Bloomberg as VP because Bloomberg is “pro-gay rights.” McCain opposes gay adoption of orphans, supports Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and opposes gay marriage and civil unions.
ThinkProgress also spoke to Jimmy LaSalvia, Director of Programs and Policy for the group, which has endorsed McCain. LaSalvia said McCain last met with the group in 2000. A McCain aide, Mike Duhaime, spoke to the group this week. LaSalvia expressed support for Gov. Sarah Palin:
Well, I think that we have a lot in common with Gov. Palin. She is a reformer who hasn’t ever been afraid to take on the party’s leadership and stand up for what’s right. And that’s what we do every day. We have taken on our party’s leadership when we felt they were going in the wrong direction, and that’s what Gov. Palin has done in Alaska.
When running for governor, Palin opposed civil unions as well as gay marriage. “I believe that honoring the family structure is that important,” Palin said in 2006.