When former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was anointed chairman of the Democratic National Committee by Barack Obama in 2009, half of our face smiled. Half frowned. That’s because Kaine, who resigned from the DNC on Tuesday and announced his bid for a Virginian U.S. Senate seat, was all nice to your face about LGBT issues, but he’s also the guy who signed into law the Marshall-Newman Amendment, which defines marriage in Virginia as being between a man and a woman. So now that he’s on the campaign trail, does he think any differently about LGBT rights?
Hard to tell. He won’t weigh on in his successor Gov. Bob McDonnell’s opposition to revising state policy that bars gay couples from adopting children. From one standpoint, that’s Kaine’s way of staying out of state politics and keeping the focus national. But the folks who are going to send him to the Senate in D.C. are the same folks who elected him governor of their state. So yes, his position on this issue matters. (As DNC chair, Kaine is also the guy who towed the line and refused to pressure Obama on repealing DADT.)
Back in 2005 when he was running for governor, Kaine declared, “No couples in Virginia can adopt other than a married couple — that’s the right policy.” Um, but? “Gay individuals should be able to adopt.” (Of course “gay couples” could still adopt under these rules, but only one parent would have legal recognition.) And while speaking to reporters this week he refused to declare whether he’s keeping it status quo, he bizarrely is trying to support the right of gay individuals to adopt — when in the past he’s been adamantly opposed to any non-couple taking on kids.
Kaine, who resigned Tuesday as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to begin his Senate campaign, said he supports a proposed regulation initiated when he was governor that would prohibit private and faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, from discriminating against gay parents. But, Kaine said, it would not allow unmarried couple to adopt, because that is barred by Virginia law.
“It was started during my time as governor without my active involvement although I definitely support it,’’ Kaine told reporters at his first news conference as a candidate this week. “I will state unequivocally I do not believe that agencies that work in adoption should discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or any other grounds other than the best interest of the child. That should the be the criteria.”
Currently, only married couples and single men and women — regardless of sexual orientation — can adopt in Virginia. The proposed regulation, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office, would require that unmarried couples — heterosexual or homosexual — be able to adopt because no agencies, including faith-based groups would be able to turn them away. But Kaine says he disagrees with that interpretation. “They did not promise to change the issue about couple or single person adoption because that’s statutory,’’ he said. “You can’t do it by regulation. It didn’t change the issue of couples versus individuals.”
Kaine is what? Less than a week into this campaign? And already he’s tripping all over himself. This is going to be messy.