HANOVER, N.H. Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards said Sept. 26 they would be comfortable with teachers reading to second graders a children's book supportive of "gay marriage."
The leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, was less clear in her answer.
"Yes, absolutely," Edwards said during a debate when asked if he'd be comfortable with the homosexual-themed children's book, "King & King" being read to his children. The 29-page book tells the story of a prince who searches for a wife, only in the end to choose another prince. It ends with the two princes "marrying" and living "happily ever after," and then kissing.
"What I want is I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that they're faced with every single day of their lives," Edwards said.
Edwards added it "might be a little tough" to read such a book to second graders, although he said it's important even in that grade "to be exposed" to various beliefs.
"I don't want to impose my view," he said. "Nobody made me God."
The question at the debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire centered around a controversy last year in a second grade class in Lexington, Mass., where a teacher read the book to her students. The superintendent backed the decision, saying "gay marriage" is legal in the state.
"I feel very similar to John," Obama said. "... [T]he fact is, my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old, I think, are already aware that there are same-sex couples. And my wife and I have talked about it. And one of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, and because there have been times in our history where I was considered different, or Bill Richardson [a Democratic candidate who is Hispanic] was considered different."
Clinton, leading among Democrats in the national polls, was not as direct.
"I really respect what both John and Barack said," she said. "... With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion. I think that obviously it is better to try to work with your children, to help your children to understand the many differences that are in the world and to really respect other people and the choices that other people make, and that goes far beyond sexual orientation."
The "issue of gays and lesbians and their rights will remain an important one in our country," she added.