Matt Salmon, an anti-gay Republican congressman from Arizona, recently acknowledged that his son, Matt, is gay.
Rep. Salmon insisted that this wouldn’t change his view on gay marriage, he’s still opposed.
Yesterday, Matt Jr. defended his father against criticism from the gay community.
Matt said his dad is “incredibly tolerant.” He also seemed to try to excuse his father’s opposition to gay marriage:
“He doesn’t see it as not allowing his son to be with the person he loves because he knows that regardless of where marriage is, I’m going to be with the person that I love,” he said. “Whether I can legally marry in Arizona or not, it’s not going to change that fact and my father knows that and he accepts my desire to be with the man that I love. As far as it goes with marriage for him it’s a matter of what marriage means to him — to him marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. It has nothing to do with the way he views a person’s relationship, and that’s the thing that I think is hard for people to understand.”
First, it’s important to get a few key points out of the way:
1. It can take the best of parents a long time to come to terms with having gay kids. Even if they’re “good” with it, they still might not be on board with gay marriage, not right away. My friend Sean Bugg, the editor of Metro Weekly, mentioned this on Facebook recently, in response to those who were critical of GOP Senator Rob Portman, who recently acknowledged his son was gay and that Portman was now in favor of gay marriage:
For those who think Sen. Portman is too little, too late, I’d point out this personal bit of information: Portman has known his son is gay for two years, and now supports marriage equality. My father has known I’m gay for about 25 years, yet didn’t come to my wedding because he just doesn’t “believe in that.” I’m cutting Portman a little slack.
Now, having said that, Sean’s dad doesn’t vote in the US Congress on our civil rights. So, we can afford to cut him some slack.
2. Gay kids aren’t always the most clued-in people to the gay civil rights cause either. Heck, even some gay adults don’t quite understand or appreciate their humanity. It’s worse when you’re 22 and a young Republican. Of course he’s not thinking of marriage. More and more people today aren’t thinking of marriage at the ripe young age of 22. But as you get older, and your biological clock starts ticking, and you start thinking of kids, and your health care, and your taxes, among other things, and marriage starts becoming more interesting.
It also doesn’t help when dad and son are both brought up Mormon, and mom’s worked as an anti-gay ringleader trying to pass a constitutional amendment in the state banning gay marriage. That’s not a recipe for a well-adjusted coming out by anyone in that family.
As for Matt Jr’s assessment that dad’s opposition to gay marriage has nothing to do with how he views a person’s relationship, sorry, it has everything to do with what he thinks of your relationships. Yes, dad views marriage as only a man and a woman. So he doesn’t see your relationship with a guy as the same thing as his relationship with your mom.
That’s the essence of the gay marriage debate. Your father doesn’t see you or your relationship as equal.