Just three weeks ago, presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain said in a NYTimes interview that he does not "believe in gay adoption." The Family Equality Council immediately responded, issuing a statement questioning McCain's grasp on the reality of American families.
A great deal of press ensued, including this AP article that generated interest in the issue nationwide. Even though our efforts to raise the visibility of McCain's divisive statement resulted in increased attention to LGBT family issues, we didn't think that a press statement went far enough.
On Wednesday, July 23 Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of Family Equality Council, issued identical letters to Sens. McCain and Obama, outlining the vast array of family types in this country and asking both candidates to explain how their administrations would work to recognize, respect, protect and celebrate all loving families in the US. One week later, Sen. Obama issued the following statement in response to Jennifer:
While we live in a nation that is enriched by a vast array of diverse traditions, cultures and histories, it is our commonality that most defines us. The desire to build a life with a loved one, to provide for a family and to have children who will grow and thrive -- these are desires that all people share, regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. My own experience has taught me this lesson well. I was born to a single mother, my devoted grandparents helped raise me, and then I married the woman of my dreams and had two beautiful daughters. The love that has blessed each of those households has been strong and sure, and I know that millions of families across this nation share the same blessings.
We know that the cost of the American dream must never come at the expense of the American family. For decades we've had politicians in Washington who talk about family values, but we haven't had policies that value families. Instead, it's harder for working parents to make a living while raising their kids. It's even harder to get a break.
That's why I'll double spending on quality after-school programs - so that you can know your kids are safe and secure. And that's why I'll expand the Family Medical Leave Act to include more businesses and millions more workers; to let parents participate in school activities with their kids; and to cover elderly care. And we'll finally put federal support behind state efforts to provide paid family and medical leave. We'll require employers to provide seven paid sick days each year. We'll enforce laws that prohibit caregiver discrimination. And we'll encourage flexible work schedules to better balance work and parenting for mothers and fathers. That's the change that working families need.
But we also have to do more to support and strengthen LGBT families. Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it's about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom. That's why we have to repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act. That's why we have to eliminate discrimination against LGBT families. And that's why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws.
I'll be a president that stands up for American families - all of them.
The Family Equality Council applauds Sen. Obama for his timely and thoughtful response to serious questions that define the health and safety of millions of American families. As of today, we have heard nothing in return from Sen. McCain.
For more reaction to Sen. McCain's comments on gay adoption, check out this op-ed by Alan O'Brien-Myers, a rising high school senior who lives in Holyoke, MA with his two moms and younger brother.