And Why It May Not Matter

McCain’s Gay Flip-Flop

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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has previously insisted he supports California’s Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Then, last week, conservative group Protect Marriage said that McCain backed their unholy mission: passing an amendment again restricting nuptials to one man, one woman. McCain’s camp didn’t reply to those allegations, but the homo-politicos over at Log Cabin Republicans dug into the candidate and confirmed the flip-flop.

Let the political expediency begin!

From wonder woman Kerry Eleveld:

A statement released Tuesday by the Log Cabin Republicans read: “Late last week, the group pushing California’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment released an email from a McCain staffer saying the Senator backed the amendment. We now have confirmation that this represents the Senator’s view.”

LCR president Patrick Sammon noted in the release that supporting the amendment is inconsistent with McCain’s belief in federalism. “Unfortunately, his position on this amendment hurts gay and lesbian families. We obviously disagree with Senator McCain on this issue and do not believe he should have interjected himself into this state issue,” Sammon said in the release. “Backing California’s ban sends the wrong signal to the independents who will decide this election because it creates the impression that he’s pandering to social conservative leaders.”

McCain’s about face should come as no surprise. The Republican supported an amendment blocking gay marriage in his home state of California. Also, he’s been kissing conservative ass in an effort to shore up support among traditionally right-leaning religious types.

While McCain’s no doubt hoping this subtle shift will seduce voters, as George W. Bush once did, two recent developments threaten a nostalgic master plan.

First and foremost, there’s Barack Obama, the likely Democratic nominee who’s hoping to steal away Evangelical and other formerly faithful conservative voters. Then, of course, there’s the trouble within the increasingly fractured Evangelical movement, particularly among the youth, a staple of Obama’s campaign:

…McCain’s candidacy has tamped down [Evangelical] enthusiasm, exposing fractures that make a rallying of the troops in the pews unlikely.

Young evangelicals reflect their pastors’ diffidence. As conservative as their parents in most respects–and more conservative in opposing abortion–many young evangelicals are fatigued by the culture war (and have greater worries about $4 gas). They say they don’t want to be Republican just because that’s what’s expected. Only 40 percent of evangelicals 18 to 29 identify as Republican, down from 55 percent in 2001, according to the Pew Research Center. This slide correlates to the recent broadening of the evangelical agenda to encompass social-justice and global-poverty issues, as well as to Bush’s low popularity ratings. Alan Jacobs, 49, an English professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, says the younger evangelicals he teaches tell him, “I have a very deep and instinctive attachment to the pro-life movement, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to vote for someone who holds the views that Obama has, but I don’t see how I can vote for John McCain. So I’m kind of stuck.”

Unless McCain and his team want to blow gay marriage into a national issue – a tactic that has previously worked and has lost some of its steam – then the Senator’s switcheroo may not mean much in the long run. Except for the gays who support his candidacy. Hopefully they’re starting to learn that McCain’s “straight talk express” derailed ages ago.

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