Ronald Reagan, gay marriage hero?

Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, told the NYT’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg that that her dad would have been in favor of gay marriage.

It’s sure to be a polemical topic in the gay community, as Ronald Reagan is hardly revered. In part because 70+% of gays are Democrats, but more importantly – and related – Ronald Reagan is roundly reviled for ignoring the AIDS crisis throughout his eight year presidency, which coincided with the entire beginning of the crisis.  AIDS was basically considered a joke:

Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine, by Jon Cohen, a reporter for the journal Science, offers perhaps the best answer on Page 1. The book opens with a transcript of a White House press conference that took place on Oct. 15, 1982. In it, a reporter asks about AIDS, which had cropped up in 600 people, killing a third of them. “What’s AIDS?” asked Reagan press secretary Larry Speakes, as the briefing room dissolved in laughter.

Actions like Reagan’s are the reason that three-quarters of gay voters vote Democratic.

Source: Donald Moffett: He Kills Me, 1987, poster. From a touring art exhibit Act-Up New York.

Anti-Reagan AIDS poster, 1987. Source: Donald Moffett: He Kills Me, 1987, poster. From a touring art exhibit Act-Up New York.

I grew up Republican, and the party’s intolerance shoved me into the hands of the Democrats over two decades ago.

That intolerance, and the GOP’s larger neanderthal ethic (the disdain for science and learning comes to mind) have served increasingly as a gateway drug for young voters to embrace Democrats and never look back.  And Republicans know it – and they’re desperately trying to figure out how to woo the youth vote back.

Of course, the funnier question isn’t whether Ronald Reagan would have supported gay marriage.  It’s whether  Ronald Reagan would could even win a Republican primary outside of Massachusetts.

Ronald Reagan opposed tax loopholes that let millionaires and billionaires pay less in taxes than bus drivers and teachers.  GOP opposition to closing those loopholes is the main reason the budget sequester went into place, and elderly Medicare cancer patients are losing their chemotherapy in the thousands.

Ronald Reagan also raised taxes 11 times, and pushed the country into massive deficit.

Nonetheless, I dont’ think we’re ready yet to make the man an honorary gay.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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