What Did He Really Say?

Article excerpt

John F. Kerry was furious. A May 13 wire report had quoted the Democratic senator from Massachusetts as saying he had little patience with advocacy for same-sex marriages. Gay men and lesbians "are not parents by definition," the quote read. "They are parents by law, but they're not parents by biology. The battle in America right now is not over the nontraditional family. The battle in America right now is over whether or not we can even save the traditional family. So let's fight the real fight and not be sidetracked by these lowest-common-denominator, purposely sought-out arguments."

Charging into the office of his openly gay communications director, Jim Jones, Kerry asked him to "get Elizabeth on the line," referring to Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian political group. Birch was out of town, so Kerry asked Jones to prepare a strongly worded press release clarifying his position on gay rights.

"I have never said that gay people. cannot or should not be parents," it read. "The quotation in the story was taken wholly out of context. I have personal friends who are gay parents. I draw no distinction--as the reporter would have you believe--between people who are parents `by law' and `by biology.'" The statement pointed out that Kerry supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and was the only senator up for reelection in 1996 to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, a stand that earned Kerry the "honest man in politics award" from Time magazine. …