John McCain the McMaverick?
John McCain the McMaverick?
by Chris Crain - SGN Contributing Writer

I understand why the gals on Grey's Anatomy call Patrick Dempsey "McDreamy," and I certainly get why Eric Dane is "McSteamy," but I don't really understand why John McCain is so attractive as the "McMaverick Republican" to GOP moderates, especially if they are Gay.

When Mitt Romney bowed to mathematical realities after Super Duper Tuesday and quit the presidential race, McCain became the presumptive nominee. Log Cabin Republicans responded with barely contained jubilance. Log Cabin's favored primary candidate was Rudy Giuliani, a relative Gay rights moderate, who bowed out even earlier. That didn't dampen Log Cabin's enthusiasm over Romney's departure.

"Governor Romney [spent] tens of millions of dollars to hide his record and to distort the record of his opponents," the Gay GOP group said in a statement. "In the end, voters did not find this version of Mitt Romney to be credible. Too many voters learned the truth about his record, and that record didn't match his new found conservative rhetoric."

While there's no question Log Cabin had a score to settle with Romney, who promised as recently as 1994 that he would be a more effective advocate for Gay rights than Ted Kennedy. But is it really the Log Cabin view that Romney's pro-Gay past is inconsistent with being a true conservative, and his anti-Gay presidential campaign reflects "newfound conservative rhetoric"?

I had thought the Gay Republican view was that individual freedom and equality of opportunity are centrals tenet of true conservatism and a founding principle of Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party.

The message from Log Cabin was also clearly directed at other Republican politicians with records supportive of Gay rights: There'll be hell to pay if you flip-flop on us.

But is that really the likely message GOP politicos will take? Or will those with aspirations to higher office (and don't they all?) shy even further away from supporting Gay rights because they know any attempt to tack back to the right later on will be met with greater acrimony than if they stuck with the safer anti-Gay party line?

It is true, of course, that Romney transparently reinvented himself for a presidential run, but LCR's fave Giuliani did so as well to some extent. Before Rudy ran for president, he said he favored repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and civil unions for Gay couples. He reversed himself on both issues, though he still marginally supported domestic partnerships.

As bad as Romney and even Rudy were, Log Cabin can't be too happy with McCain, the McMaverick Republican. The longtime senator from Arizona has certainly been more consistent on Gay issues, but he's been consistently bad. Like George Bush, McCain also says he opposes discrimination of any sort and yet (like Bush) he opposes repeal of the ban on Gays in the military and is against even basic Gay civil rights laws, whether discrimination in the workplace or tackling hate crimes.

McCain does oppose a federal marriage amendment (on federalism grounds), but the president doesn't get a vote on constitutional amendments and there's zero likelihood that a President McCain will waste an iota of political capital opposing congressional Republicans on a marriage amendment. His party maverick streak has never extended to social issues like abortion or Gay rights.

McCain also vigorously opposes any form of legal recognition whatsoever for same-sex couples. He even favored Arizona's draconian anti-Gay ballot measure in 2006, which would have prohibited not just Gay marriages and civil unions, but even basic domestic partnerships. It was so severe that it stands out as the only anti-marriage ballot initiative to be rejected by U.S. voters.

It's true that McCain doesn't pander to the right with rhetoric about "traditional family values," even last week when he was trying to win over conservatives as the presumptive GOP nominee. Many moderates and libertarians still love McCain for calling out Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance" back in 2000. But let's not forget how McCain sucked up to both of them in advance of this presidential run, even speaking at Falwell's Liberty University, which routinely expels Gay students.

What's worse, McCain is promising something much more dangerous than coded anti-Gay rhetoric: judges and justices like Bush's Supreme Court appointees who, in McCain's words, "enforce, and not make, our laws."

Ultimately the question of marriage will reach the Supreme Court, when some states refuse to recognize Gay marriages from other states, and justices insistent on divining "original intent" - as opposed to the plain meaning of the Constitution - will no doubt rule the wrong way.

The year is 2008, not 1992, and it is long past time for social moderates and Gay Republicans to expect more of the GOP standard bearer than John McCain offers.

Chris Crain is former editor of the Washington Blade and five other Gay publications and now edits He can be reached via his blog at