George H.W. Bush has ruffled more than a few Republican feathers. Bucking the anti-gay trend among his peers, the former U.S. president and his wife, Barbara, served as witnesses at a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple who are close friends with him and his family. It is welcome news for wedding officiants in churches like the ULC that believe in both traditional and same-sex marriage. The Republican Party in general still has a long way to go before it catches up with Mr. and Mrs. Bush.
A Logical Step for the Bushes
The Bushes served as witnesses in the ceremony of friends Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen on Saturday, 21 September, in Kennebunk, Maine. Clement told The Washington Post, “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world” revealing, “[w]hen they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being real and normal”. Clement also said she and Thorgalsen had been together for twelve years, during which time they raised Thorgalsen’s daughters together.
Bush’s stance on the practice remains vague. His gesture has been called quiet endorsement by some in the media, although Bush spokesman Jim McGrath told the press only that the Bushes attended a ceremony of close friends as private citizens. Despite his son’s support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Barbara, Laura, and Barbara Pierce Bush have all explicitly endorsed it, and on her Facebook page Thorgalsen posted a picture of him signing the certificate.
Black Sheep of a Republican Flock
The news out of Maine sounds promising for supporters of marriage equality, but most of the Bushes’ peers still frown upon the practice. According to a Gallup poll conducted in July, 66% of Republicans still opposed legalizing same-sex marriage in all fifty U.S. states. Additionally, many prominent Republican families are split on the matter. Just as Bush Jr. differs from many of his family members, Elizabeth Cheney has diverged from her father Dick Cheney and lesbian sister Mary, and John McCain opposes it while wife Cindy and daughter Meghan support it. If signing a marriage certificate can be taken as evidence, George Bush Sr. appears to have joined the ranks of marriage equality supporters.