BY MICHAEL COOPER
As several gay rights groups criticized Senator John McCain for saying he opposed gay adoption, the McCain campaign issued a clarification on Tuesday saying that he believed the issue should be decided by the states, and that such adoptions should not be subject to a federal ban.
Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in an interview with The New York Times that was published Sunday that he opposed allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.
When asked in the interview if he opposed gay adoptions even if the alternative was that the child remain in an orphanage, Mr. McCain — who, with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter — said that he wanted to encourage adoption and make the process easier, but that adoptive parents should be mixed-sex, traditional couples.
On Tuesday, as his statements were criticized by a number of gay rights organizations, his campaign clarified his remarks.
“John McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue,” Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “He was not endorsing any federal legislation.”
Currently only Florida has a broad ban on gay adoptions, but Mississippi and Utah ban adoptions by same-sex couples but not necessarily by gay individuals, said Chris Edelson, the state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights group.
Mr. McCain has been trying to appeal to the conservative base of the Republican Party without turning off independent and moderate voters. And while he is personally in sync with conservatives on many social issues — he opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, for instance — he sometimes appears uncomfortable discussing such issues.
“Senator McCain’s expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible,” Mr. Bounds said in the statement. But the statement added, “He recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. John McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.”
Patrick Sammon, the president of Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group, said in a statement: “We are pleased that Senator McCain clarified the remarks, and we thank the senator for once again re-iterating his belief that issues concerning marriage and family laws should be left up to the states — not the federal government.”
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