Apparently not. Last week or thereabouts, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) told a local television station that, despite the fact that he has a gay son, he did not support marriage equality. The next day, Salmon’s son gave an interview wherein he defended his father against accusations that he was anti-gay, or a bigot:
“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,” the son told The Washington Blade. “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.”
The younger Salmon said his father’s views were not a surprise to him as they were nothing he “didn’t already know.” He also had no doubt about his father’s love and respect for him.
I took a bit of flak on my Facebook page when I posted the article and said that, in essence, I heard the dogwhistles of gay conservative self-hatred in the younger Matt’s interview. But heard them, I did. Perhaps I’m just particularly attuned to this brand of Less Than that comes from gay conservatives (and the younger Matt is a gay conservative).
I was thus not surprised to see this video interview with Matt, where he again defends his dad and then reveals that he used to be in fraudulent “ex-gay” therapy, and that the “hardest moment” in his relationship with his father came when he decided to stop undergoing the abusive treatment.
It is a truism in life that we only put up with that which we believe we deserve. I don’t want to wade too far into the family dynamics of the situation, because we honestly don’t know what has gone down in that household.
What I do know is this. I know that the younger Salmon’s comments above could be roughly and literally translated as:
He doesn’t see it as not allowing his son to be with the person he loves. He just doesn’t think our relationship should be treated with full respect. He just doesn’t think we’re entitled to the dignity that comes with the full exercising of our Constitutional rights. He just doesn’t think our kids should be protected the way I was, having been brought up by an opposite-sex couple. He just doesn’t think I should automatically be able to visit my husband in the hospital without having to undergo questioning, if he gets sick. To him, none of these things are as important as his opinion on what marriage is. And I’m okay with that.
We put up with what we think we deserve. I’m not attacking this kid, at all. I find the video above to be extremely sad. Many parents, upon learning their kid is LGBT, take several years to come around, so to speak, and that’s understandable. Sometimes they haven’t been exposed to the correct information. Sometimes they have to take some time to reform preconceived notions about what it means to have a gay child, or to be gay. That’s all normal. Matt R. Salmon’s father is a U.S. Congressman with all the correct information at his fingertips, and moreover the firsthand experience, for years now, with a gay child who can explain why things like marriage equality are so important. But the elder Salmon apparently isn’t listening to his son, and the sad voice above is saying that that’s okay.
It’s not okay.
At the internet home for Homocons, they’re defending this Less Than mentality:
Maybe we’re not as polarized on gay marriage as the sensationalist coverage of the issue makes it appear.
Actually there is a story here, one to which our friends in the media (and on the gay left) seem oblivious, that (most) opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in hate and that an opponent of gay marriage can love a gay child. And that child can love his parents even when disagreeing with their views on social issues.
It’s that whole “they’re not beating us to a bloody pulp at the moment, they must not hate us anymore!” song and dance. The writer goes on to ask how many of us have family we disagree with over politics but still would do anything for. Interesting question, but not at all relevant, because this isn’t about politics. This is about self esteem in the LGBT community and what we’re willing to put up with. Your parents can be global warming denialists for all I care. Argue with them about it or don’t argue, but at the end of the conversation, no one’s inherent dignity as a human being is being infringed upon. No one is being reminded that, in the eyes of the people they love and respect the most, they’re on a lower rung in the human hierarchy. That’s not political.
I for one am not willing to put up with people in my life who don’t want everything for me that they would want for themselves, based on who I am as a human being. No one needs or wants Matt R. Salmon to attack his dad on the public airwaves, because this is not political. It’s personal.
I just wish he had been willing to at least say, “I love my Dad, but I think he’s wrong.”