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WASHINGTON — Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller gave some of his most extensive comments on gay rights in an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, with his views often confusing and contradictory. He came out in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage while extolling the virtues of issues being handled at the state level and said that being gay was an individual’s choice.
Maddow’s Tuesday show aired from Alaska, where she was able to secure a brief interview with Miller (after weeks of e-mails, phone calls, and in-person requests) while they walked, as she recounted, “from a roof, through a lobby, down another escalator, through another lobby, out a door, into an SUV and then it was over.”
Miller has generally avoided talking about LGBT issues, but his campaign did pay veteran anti-gay activist Terry Moffitt as a consultant. Moffitt runs a website called HopeForHomosexuals.com, which argues that gay men and women can be “cured.”
When Maddow asked whether he agrees with this belief, Miller replied, “Our perspective — we’ve answered this question before — is it really a state issue as to how those issues want be resolved. It should be handled at the state level.” He refused to comment specifically on Moffitt’s site.
Miller tried to avoid saying whether he believes homosexuality is a choice, confusingly stating, “I think that’s up to the individual. The individual has to make that decision.”
“About whether or not they’re gay, or about whether or not they believe that?” Maddow asked. Miller followed-up with a long pause, and then responded, “I’m not going to intrude upon an individual’s decision as to what he or she does. The fact of the matter is it’s a state issue. That’s our position in the campaign. That’s our answer to your question. We’re increasingly a diverse country. I want to be straight with you. And as a diverse country, I think it’s important that we recognize that there are different approaches to different values. And I think it’s best for states to be able to make those choices.”
Just a few moments later, however, Miller made clear that he’s completely fine with the federal government being allowed to “intrude upon an individual’s decision as to what he or she does,” saying he would back a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:
MADDOW: Is there a federal role in banning gay marriage?
MILLER: Well, I think there’s the Defense of Marriage Act, which I support. But again —
MADDOW: But why should there be a federal role there if it should be a state issue otherwise?
MILLER: Well, my perspective is it is, at the core, a state issue. But there are federal issues obviously intertwined. You’ve got taxation policy and otherwise that depends upon certain status. And as a consequence of the taxation structure of the federal government, there clearly is a role. But I think that ultimately, as the country becomes more diverse, those decisions have got to be decided at the state level. …
MADDOW: But you do want a federal role in restricting the states’ ability to legalize gay marriage? But at the state level —
MILLER: That’s not what I said. I said that there is a federal role, there are obviously federal decisions made based upon the status of marriage.
MADDOW: Do you think there should be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?
MILLER: That’s up to the people. If you got a 3/4 vote ratified, I’d vote for it.
MADDOW: You would vote for it?
MILLER: I would, yeah.
The fact that Maddow was able to get the interview at all was quite impressive, considering Miller has made it a policy to generally avoid any media except Fox News — especially outlets that try to ask him about “personal issues” (and who consequently may get handcuffed to a chair by his personal security detail).
As David Corn of Mother Jones recently noted, in a July letter to voters, Miller noted that “the traditional Christian view” is that “homosexuality is a sin, and therefore immoral.”