Candidates Face Off

Wonder where the presidential hopefuls stand on gay issues? Look no further.

BY Emmet Sullivan

October 07 2008 11:00 PM ET

Halfway through
his acceptance speech August 28 at the Democratic
National Convention, presidential nominee Barack Obama
called for unity despite Americans’
disagreements over hot-button social issues. “I know
there are differences on same-sex marriage,” he said,
“but surely we can agree that our gay and
lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the
person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of
discrimination.”

What a difference
an election cycle makes. In 2004 the issue of gay
marriage was largely ignored by Democrats and embraced as a
call to arms by the GOP. This year both Obama and
Republican nominee John McCain have gay friends and
coworkers, and both oppose a Federal Marriage Amendment
that would write a definition of marriage as a union of one
man and one woman into the U.S. Constitution (although
neither is sold on the idea of marriage equality).

But that’s
the big picture. On issues like “don’t ask,
don’t tell” or the federal Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, the two White House contenders
are very different. Haven’t decided whom to vote for
on November 4? Take a look at where they stand on the
issues.

GAY MARRIAGEObama Supports civil unions and voted against
the Federal Marriage Amendment. Supports repealing the
Defense of Marriage Act. Opposes Proposition 8, a
ballot initiative that would amend California’s
constitution to undo marriage equality.

McCain Voted for DOMA in 1996. Believes
“marriage is a union between one man and one
woman,” but opposed the FMA, saying marriage
laws should be left up to the states. Supports
Proposition 8 and Proposition 102, which would amend
Arizona’s constitution to limit marriage to
opposite-sex couples.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATIONObama Cosponsored a bill in Illinois to
prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity. Supports a
transgender-inclusive federal ENDA.

McCain Voted against ENDA in 1996; it failed by
one vote in the Senate. Originally said, “I
don’t believe that [gay people] belong in a
special category.” In a later interview with the
Washington Blade, he changed his stance, saying,
"Gay and lesbian people should not face discrimination
in the workplace. I’ve always practiced that in
my hiring. I select the best people, regardless of
their sexual orientation. I support the concept of
non-discrimination in hiring for gay and lesbian
people."

Tags: Politics

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