Did McCain Endorse Gay Marriage?
No, he did not, but I could easily see this clip becoming McCain's drag video:
The full context of the quote is up on Drudge, and it is pretty clear that McCain misspoke. But good luck stopping anyone who wants to use this at an opportune moment. This is exactly the kind of neatly packaged clip that gains insider notoriety now, is quickly forgotten, and returns to surprise people later. McCain will have to spend time beating it back, and it will be a distraction from his efforts at mollifying the Christian Right.
McCain's support for gay marriage may be more apocryphal than real, but this is not all that different from the urban myth that Rudy Giuliani supports gay marriage. He does not, but some people assume that because he had gay friends, he does. Likewise, some people will now assume that because McCain once uttered the words, he does too. Rudy's opponents are banking on perpetuating this myth, but now they have this shadow to contend with. McCain's ability to wage a sub-rosa whispering campaign on the issue of gay marriage is seriously compromised.
Stuff like this must give heartburn to McCain supporters who are counting on his pro-life voting record to drag him over the finish line. But the gay tolerance implicit in McCain's substantive point about "commitment ceremonies" as well as his opposition to a Constitutional amendment and support for stem cell research are part of a broader pattern. McCain may cast some right votes, but he is not intensely committed on the values issues in the same way that Mike Huckabee is, or Sam Brownback is, or even George W. Bush is.
The contrast may not be as clear as McCain would like, and clips like this illustrate why.