Republican candidates highlight opposition to gay adoption
With Florida’s primary less than a week away, the already heated race between the two leading Republican candidates for their party’s gubernatorial nomination has intensified as Attorney General Bill McCollum faces criticism for anti-gay adoption comments he made to a Baptist newspaper.
"I don’t believe in gay adoption. I don’t believe in involving the government in enforcing or encouraging the lifestyle of gays and homosexuals," McCollum told the Florida Baptist Witness in an interview published on Aug. 9. "I really do not think that we should have homosexuals guiding our children. I think that it’s a lifestyle that I don’t agree with... It’s not a natural thing. You need a mother and a father. You need a man and a woman. That’s what God intended."
At a Tampa news conference the following day, however, McCollum said he could not recall his specific comments on the topic-the state’s ban on gay adoption but allowance of LGBT foster parents was "inconsistent", lending it "advisable" to broaden the adoption ban to disallow same-sex couples from taking in foster children.
And while McCollum faced widespread criticism-including a scathing editorial cartoon the Pensacola News Journal published-the recent controversy is only the latest in a series of bizarre gay-centric jabs between McCollum and opponent Rick Scott. As both candidates attempt to out-gay bait the other, Scott has released flyers linking McCollum to "ex-gay expert" George Rekers. McCollum paid the Focus on the Family co-founder $120,000 to serve as an expert witness in defending the state’s gay adoption ban.
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said McCollum’s statements have been seen by many as contradictory given one of his head political consultants is himself a gay man with children. Smith described the comments as "the desperate pandering of a frightened politician".
"When people hear [McCollum] saying these things, they’ll think here’s a guy that will say anything if he thinks there’s a vote in it for him," Smith told EDGE.
Ultimately, Smith said she was confident McCollum and Scott’s spars could spell good news for leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, who has expressed support for striking down the adoption ban. Recent polls indicate Sink is tied or ahead of either Republican candidate.
"Should McCollum survive the primary, I don’t think these ideas will go over with the general voting population," added Smith. "I think most Floridians believe in taking politics out of adoption and foster parenting and the candidates who stand up for those true family values will be rewarded at the polls."
Candidates in Ga., Nev., stress opposition to gay adoption
The Florida controversy reveals anti-gay adoption and other anti-LGBT sentiments still resonates among some GOP circles.
In Georgia, Sarah Palin-backed Republican gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel last week conceded to opponent Nathan Deal. Her decision came shortly after she told an Atlanta television news program gay parenting is "not in the best interest of the child".
While Handel faced criticism from LGBT activists over her comment, Deal also attacked her for holding a "record of gay activism" for allegedly supporting the LGBT group YouthPride while she served on the Fulton County Commission. Handel’s opponent further accused her of being out of step with the state’s Republicans.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said Deal’s attacks on Handel were overblown, but somewhat successful. Handel has never had a strong record on LGBT issues and did not support YouthPride. Graham described Deal as even more socially conservative-among the most anti-gay gubernatorial candidates Georgia has ever seen-than Handel. And he hopes LGBT Georgians would remain engaged in the race in spite of a lack of a strongly pro-gay gubernatorial contender in the GOP-dominated state.
"It will be interesting to see if Deal continues to use the argument that anybody who has ever associated with members of the LGBT community are undeserving of the support of voters in Georgia," said Graham. "What he would love more than anything else is to convince LGBT voters to stay home on Election Day but we need to make sure his outrageous behaviors are not rewarded at the ballot box."
In Nevada, Sharron Angle has also said she favors making LGBT adoption illegal as she attempts to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Derek Washington, chair of the Stonewall Democrats’ Southern Nevada chapter, said he doubts Angle’s anti-LGBT sentiments and other conservative views would help her in her campaign.
"I refuse to believe people are going to see Angle as the type of extremism they would like to see replacing Reid of all people," Washington told EDGE. "She feels she is on a mission from God to run and that there is nothing wrong with her positions. I’m hoping that people will open their eyes and see her as the extreme lunatic that she really is."
At press time, the most recent Rasmussen Report poll of likely Nevada voters showed Angle tied with Reid at 47 percent of the vote each. Only two percent of voters remain undecided.