dad of the day

September 20th, 2007 | Oddments

Watch the Republican mayor of San Diego explain his decision to support same-sex marriage because his daughter is a lesbian. It’s quite moving. God, I love it when people tell the truth. (Thanks to the indefatigable Rex Wockner for alerting me to this.)

Maybe all white male sixtysomething Republicans look alike, but don’t you think this guy has a strong resemblance to that other prominent GOP father of a lesbian daughter? Only human, and without the sneer?

92 Responses to “dad of the day”

  1. Robin B. says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for passing it on, Alison.

  2. Rhonda says:

    Wow. Thanks for pointing that out. Incredibly moving.

  3. Leo Orionis says:

    In this case he looks like all the other male Republicans because that’s all he is, a suit. Last mayoral race was between one honest woman, Donna Frye, and eleven count ’em ELEVEN male republicans. Donna’s the one who’s been voting against all the crap regularly for years and years, including the scheme where the city council underpaid the pension for years on end (in return for kickbacks, naturally), then it came due and SUDDENLY we have a city facing bankruptcy. So Donna got more votes than any other candidate, but unfortunately not a majority. So Sanders runs against her in the runoff, saying there’s no problem, he can fix things without rocking the vote, and all the idiots vote for him. Of course, as anyone with half a brain knew, it was all talk and he’s spent his whole term ignoring all the problems. Now we’re almost due for another mayoral election and everyone’s realizing how useless he is, and Donna will be running again. And guess what, suddenly he’s going to back the council resolution supporting gay marriage!

    Forgive me if this doesn’t strike me as “honest”. And note that he’s STILL saying he prefers “civil unions” to marriages.

  4. Juliet says:

    Like Robin, that brought tears to my eyes. I feel like I should send it to my mother who isn’t yet brave enough to change her position in order to support those she loves…

  5. Deborah says:

    Can anyone send this to Schwartzeneger, who has promised to veto the California State Legistlator’s bill to legalize gay marriage in California?

    And thanks, Leo, for some local context. I can appreciate both the sweetness and want to context of smarmy poltics at the same time.

  6. sunicarus says:

    Yes, Alison, he has a definite resemblance to Cheney.

    On the video~Sometimes change comes from the most unexpected places.
    Unlike Cheney, this man seems to have really struggled to come to where he is now. Sure, it would be great if everyone was equally evolved, but IMHO, it just doesn’t worth that way most of the time.

    And yes, I wept. *sniffle*

  7. So UN-pc says:

    Bawling. At least I know who I’m voting for in ’08 now.

  8. Ginjoint says:

    I made it to the 5-minute mark before I started to cry. Thanks, Leo Orionis, though, for some background. I only wish that it didn’t take a personal involvement in order to have some folks see the light.

  9. aerAK says:

    With the man’s political history and potential motivations, I could have viewed that cynically, but I was really moved. It was a rare slice of humanity coming out of a ‘suit.’ It really did not look like playacting to me. Thanks, Alison, for sharing that.

  10. So UN-pc says:

    to slightly expound on my comment, let me say that it is not because I support the status quo of upper middle class republican males in charge, but rather the reinsertion of the emotional factor and — dare I say it? — apparent morality winning out over political gain. In the Roman times, debate over moral issues were productive and almost spiritual explorations about the bettering of the human condition. It is modern society and our disconnection with one another that has turned the word “politician” into a curse-word.

  11. Karin says:

    Rep’s and Dem’s are both idiots in monkey suits >_>
    There both self-centered, greedy, making a crareer out of politics. The country was founded so that AVREDGE PEOPLE could run based on MORALS. And what I believe it SHOULD be. Not a popularity contest like it’s become.

    Because heaven know’s not one of them is going to do what NEED’S to be done. They’ll do “Some” things, But not what “Should” be done.

    It’s great that he supports gay-marriage because he accepts his daughter’s lifestyle, But isn’t that kind of mean to his daughter? What if her friends hate gays? Granted friends should be supportive, But maybe her friends would have reasons to hate gays. Such as a parrent beating it into them, Or being assulted by someone of the same gender. Just as some examples. It’s not unheard of.

    To me, I don’t see much of an issue behind gay-marriage because it IS legal some places, Which is why we’re saving MONEY so we can TRAVEL to go get MARRIED. It’s much more meaningful this way ^^ Because most people can’t get married on a whim. They actually have to think long and hard about it since the trip may cost them a lot.

    There’s no such thing as “Equal” rights, So pushing the issue on gay marriage is just asking for people to hate us ~.~

    And now…Because i’m a rambling idiot ^^; I shall shut up and do something else waiting for her to get home from school >.>;

  12. Mac guy says:

    Touching.

  13. jayinchicago says:

    There’s absolutely no reason to “hate gays” as you put it. In fact almost all of your post made absolutely no sense to me. Same-sex marriage may be legal in some places, but unless you live in Mass, a same-sex marriage would be nullified in your home state. I could care less about what same-sex marriage symbolizes. It’s the simple fact that couples that can get legally married here get rights and privileges that couples without the right to legal marriage do not get. That’s unjust.

  14. coolmama says:

    It IS touching. But I worry about the ways that politicians do what’s right when (only when?) they know someone who’s personally affected. It’s their job to rise above their little social/family circles & take seriously the larger population — including the kinds of people they don’t meet very often. This is why the poor get such a raw deal: our legislators just don’t know any poor people. Few white legislators really know, in a serious way, any people of color. None of them know anyone in the so-called “Third World.” And so on.

  15. Simone says:

    coolmama’s got the best take on the biger picture here, but this really got me. And I think focusing on marriage as our cause celebre is a mistake — I always have. I believe in working toward tolerance, not acceptance, because a) it will come faster, and then we can refine it; and b) I think saying “We’re normal, just like you! Please accept us!” is disrespectful to ourselves as individuals and as a community. Desensitization and visibility are my priorities: that is a faster way to get fewer people bashed, fewer kids kicked out of their parents’ homes, and fewer cases of Closet.

    But damned if this didn’t give me HOPE. It’s probably a false hope on a larger scale, but it brightened my day.

    Thanks as always for thinking of us, Alison. ((O))

  16. jayinchicago says:

    “I believe in working toward tolerance, not acceptance, because a) it will come faster, and then we can refine it; and b) I think saying “We’re normal, just like you! Please accept us!” is disrespectful to ourselves as individuals and as a community.”

    I agree that focusing on same-sex marriage as if that’s the only thing we have left for full equality is a mistake. Of course it calls for a repackaging of LGBT/queer lives in the most bougie way possible. But I also think that legal same-sex marriage shouldn’t be glossed over as a goal. Either get rid of any legal marriage or allow two adults regardless of sex to opt for it.

    Acceptance should come because “we” are just like “them”–human. Tolerance to me is a tainted word, really close to “tolerate”. Same-sex marriage as an issue if presented correctly forces people to think about why some conceptualize heterosexual pairings as have more intrinsic value–given that that’s exactly the message of extending this legal contract to some couples but not to all.

  17. The AstroDyke says:

    Anyone who wants to write to Governor Schwartzenegger to tell him to watch the Sanders video and sign AB 43 (gender-neutral marriage) into law, here’s the link:
    http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email
    Especially important for us Californians.

  18. Train says:

    I live in Toronto, and work at a church in which many same-sex marriages have taken place since it became legal in Canada. This change in Canadian law took a combination of staunch activism on the part of same-sex marriage proponents, and the kind of sea-change in attitudes on the part of politicians and lawmakers that one can see has taken place in the mayor of San Diego. It is indeed a very moving thing to witness, and Canadians can attest that these kind of public testimonies can – and will – become part of a shift in values, opinions and attitudes. American friends – hang in there! it’s going to happen.

  19. Duncan says:

    so unPC: “rather the reinsertion of the emotional factor and — dare I say it? — apparent morality winning out over political gain.”

    That’s two counts against him, then. First: the “reinsertion [?] of the emotional factor” doesn’t win me over, since of course “the emotional factor” is just as likely to be used against us, and generally has been. (Homosexuals running wild and having sex in front of your children! Lesbian fisting on Sesame Street! Live Sex Shows in Kindergarten! Saddam Hussein weds Satan on the Internet!) This guy seems to be a cynical, amoral sleaze, just the kind of pol who’d campaign on emotions. Emotion is important, but only once you’ve sorted out facts and issues rationally.

    Second, “apparent morality” is probably not quite what you meant, but it works better than you realized. “Apparent” is definitely what the “morality” is here. Human connection is very important, but real morality goes beyond “I want it because it will benefit my family member”, which is basically Mafia morality. Also, I do not consider marriage to be more “moral” than “living in sin.”

    I’m sorry, Alison, but decades of cynical politicians have made me wary. Especially since it’s likely that this Kodak moment probably got tried out on focus groups before it was slathered onto the rest of us.

  20. jayinchicago says:

    not to be obnoxious, but i hope my comments made a little sense. i should really stop myself from being on the internet–and commenting–while stoned.

  21. Robbie says:

    My $0.02 says that when a politician does ANYTHING right, it’s a big deal. Yes, when someone is personally affected it has a bigger impact on them & they’re more likely to respond positively. Isn’t that part of why national Coming Out Day is important? It’s a big deal to reverse course and admit when you’re wrong, or have had a change of mind / heart. Imagine doing it in front of the media. I’m not sure I could. Cudos to the Mayor!

  22. Andrew B says:

    Duncan, surely truth-telling is a universal moral value of the kind you describe. There is a long history of people lying about their family members in order to “protect” them (and protect themselves, of course). In telling the truth about his daughter, this guy is obeying a universal moral imperative and one that is at least as likely to hurt him politically as to help him. I don’t know how the voters of San Diego will see the issue, but a politician who places himself in opposition to his own party’s positions will suffer some negative consequences — e.g. when it comes to financial support or alliance-building. And San Diego is generally pretty right-wing. So I disagree that the moral value here is only apparent.

  23. LM says:

    I bow to no one in the depth, or at least length, of my cynicism, but I was obviously deluded. The Mayor’s performance was simply a sleezy, self-serving, focusgroup-driven exercise. Right.

    By the way, my State’s recently passed Civil Union law has an interesting, uh, wrinkle. An elder can CU, so as not to endanger certain pension rights. Thus, I could theoretically unite with any gender of any age above consent. Damn, I just caught a glimpe of my gravity-ridden reflection and realized how theoretical this all was.

  24. Aunt Soozie says:

    That was clearly authentic and very moving. You go Mayor Dad! I’d say it is our responsibility to make others feel comfortable with us… to explain ourselves… show our humanity. It’s a gift to ourselves, our children and other deviant folk. This video demonstrates what happens when someone has to merge myth with their actual experience of homos. So what I’m saying is…when you’re out there you gotta represent.

    Causing discomfort in others is never a “fringe benefit”. It comes back in more negativity and justification for hatred/violence. I’m not saying we should be passive or that I’m not a sinner. I’m talking values in a pure sense…when we rise above the ugliness and stand our ground; solid, peaceful, loving, understanding, certain …we do our most effective work as activists.

  25. kate says:

    can i be the slightly cynical one? why didn’t he support it two years ago–surely he knew about his daughter then? after reading leo’s entry, it’s possible he thinks he’s going to lose, so now he decides to make peace with his daughter. i guess i’ll take it any way i can get it but still. i’m glad he loves his daughter enough to openly support and love her.

    i do, though, think no matter his motives, it’s very evident this was a struggle for him to say. that other man controlling the white house just dosen’t have the balls to do this. for that, i agree with aunt soozie–go mayor dad!

  26. LondonBoy says:

    You know, as I watched this I felt the strangest feeling: this is a battle we’re going to win. There’s a long, long way to go – not least here in London, where we’re currently settling for “separate but equal” – but when guys like this are changing sides I reckon that enough of the Republican Party will change, in time, to make equal marriage a reality. This isn’t a libertarian Andrew Sullivan-type Republican we’re talking about: he’s the real deal. He’s a normal guy who’s been a Republican for years, and he’s making his choice. Sure, the extreme right-wing and the religious nutters will never change, but they’re a minority of the US population, however loud they shout. The majority is coming to our side, not because of the politics, but because it’s the right thing to do.

    I’m calling this a tipping-point: the tide has turned.

  27. Maggie Jochild says:

    Depends on definition of “causing discomfort”. The Right Wing says my being openly Lesbian is offensive and causes them discomfort, and I believe them. I think it upsets them no end. But did I “cause” that discomfort? No, it’s a result of their conditioning.

    If I vote to wage war on a blameless country, or to deny children healthcare, etc., I am actually causing discomfort, at the very least. I distinguish between behavior that does harm and behavior that others perceive as setting off an emotional reaction within them. I’m not responsible for the latter; I can’t help how they feel.

    And, for myself — those in my past who confronted my seeking “comfort”, who asked that I place myself in situations where I was extremely uncomfortable, such as the only white woman in a roomful of black women, the only gentile on a committee of Jewish dykes — that discomfort WAS beneficial. Inordinately so. Staying in our comfort zones, and allowing others to choose that over movement, is never going to create the contradiction which leads to growth.

    Finally, the justifications for hatred and violence have nothing at all to do with our behavior or our identities. These are lies tacked on after the fact. Oppression precedes all rationalizations for it. Basic liberation theory: We can act in ways that may assist them to see us as human beings instead of target group members, but if they fail to do so, it’s not because we did something wrong. It’s because they are just that damaged. Trying to fix what isn’t ours to fix is internalized oppression.

  28. Maggie Jochild says:

    And before people start trying to argue apples and oranges: Discomfort caused by me stepping outside of the comfort zone of being non-target is not the same as me being a woman in a roomful of men who think feminism means dykes like blow-jobs. Trace the power dynamic and contradict it directly — no playing around with subverting the paradigm, just stand up and contradict it. You’ll sweat buckets and you’ll MOVE.

    Free the Jena 6.

  29. So UN-pc says:

    my points were simply thus: that made news because of his reversal of position, that is clear in his explanation. However, I think the real story was the emotional and moral compass that guided his decision (however late-coming), his political future be damned. Adn there is no indication that he did, in fact, know his daughter was gay two years ago. It is entirely possible that she came out to him within that time frame and that was the catalyst that really “brought the issue into his living room,” so to speak. I think that (pre-tested on focus groups or not) in an age where many politicians are cretins in choir-boy’s clothing, it is not only refreshing but heartening to see someone’s heart winning out.

  30. So UN-pc says:

    And incidentally, if I am ever UNaffected by such a spectacle, shoot me.

  31. dykegrrl says:

    Train and Londonboy, thanks for your comments.

    While I appreciate both the local context and cynicism others have shared, all I could think about while trying to watch this through my tears was *my* Dad, and wishing he could have such a conversion. He’s also a white, life-long Republican… and still doesn’t get why I am so hurt by his “separate-but-equal” stance on marriage and civil unions. In this age of Larry Craig, I can’t imagine a Republican politician pulling this is a “stunt” – especially with the painfully awkward display of emotion. Regardless of how slow, of how myopic the “has to personally affect me for it to matter” conversion process may be, at least it is *happening*.

    Now if only I could be brave enough to send this to my Dad to watch…..

  32. Grisha says:

    LondonBoy –

    I agree we’re going to win, and I’m not sure it’ll be all that long. Attitudes are changing rapidly and the pace of change is acellerating. The other side knows that, which is why they’re rushing to amend the Constitution.

  33. Wendy says:

    I found this man very moving. It brought tears to my eyes. It reminds me of what we feminists used to say all the time – the personal is political. I am glad that he has figured out how to lead with his heart in this case. I hope he can keep it up.

  34. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I’m with Mo on this issue- namely that I think marriage is heteronormative bullshit and that if we all had universal healthcare and equal rights to visitation, inheretence, etc., it wouldn’t matter anyway-
    But I was blown away by this. I’ma gonna go write him a letter. 🙂

  35. Anna Nimity says:

    I loved the video of the sixtysomething Republican dad o’dyke crying. The really, really moving thing about men my dad’s age crying is how hard they try NOT to… it’s so touching. All that emotion bottled up inside, and all that hetero male repression (boys don’t cry, walk it off, suck it up, be a man…) It’s like they try so hard not to cry because if they started, they just couldn’t stop. Sixty years of tears would be quite something.

    And for something completely different (dry those tears with a few laughs) here’s a link courtesy of Kate on the Comics Curmudgeon site. The tampon crafts gals are definitely dykes to watch out for!

    http://www.tamponcrafts.com/flute.html

  36. jayinchicago says:

    “I’m with Mo on this issue- namely that I think marriage is heteronormative bullshit and that if we all had universal healthcare and equal rights to visitation, inheretence, etc., it wouldn’t matter anyway-”

    I see your point, and if this were just an issue without a human face, I would very much agree with you. Frankly, marriage is an outdated legal contract that should probably go the way of, you know, CRT computer monitors. But I remember the line is there’s something like over 1000 assorted rights associated with legal marriage, and until I can be assured that I can access those rights, it’s inequality. Or until we can convince all opposite-sex marrying folks to stop.

  37. ES says:

    I started to cry too, this looks to me like one brave, authentic moment in usually banal politik… in front of the lights and lenses yet. And this is the guy really talking to his own kind I think. Then when he says “Lisa” he really can’t help but let some of that emotion out. (Wonder whom he’s looking at when he flashes that smile midway.)

  38. Josiah says:

    I had tears in my eyes too. Even if there are political factors involved in this change of heart, the emotion and love in that man’s voice were clearly genuine. Sure, he probably has flaws, like most all politicians, but viewing this moment alone it’s clear that he was speaking from the heart.

    I didn’t understand all of Karin’s comment, but I would assume that the mayor didn’t “out” his daughter without her permission, which seems to be one of Karin’s concerns.

    As for marriage: I believe that within a generation this will be as much of an issue as integration of public schools is now. That is, there will still be work to be done, but the legal rights will be there, and the people who want them to be rolled back will be excluded from the public debate, as not worth listening to.

  39. oceans 111 says:

    Let’s not forget that the Supremes just decided the lastest public school integration case by basically saying that integration is unconstitutional.

  40. Josiah says:

    Oof. We can quibble about the details of the decision in question (as I understand it, the decision was about a method for integration, rather than integration per se) but your point stands and does rather take the wind out of my analogy.

  41. Ducky says:

    LondonBoy, this is a fight that *absolutely* we are going to win. I remember after the disastrous Knight Initiative campaign in California (which we lost), I told people that I was absolutely certain that I would see marriage equality in my lifetime. They were skeptical, to say the least.

    Why was I so sure? Because when we went out to malls and set up tables to talk to voters about the issue, teenagers would come up to us and ask us in all seriousness and earnestness why anybody would be against marriage equality. They just could not fathom what motivated the people against marriage equality.

    Some one else summed it up really well: “Death is on our side.” Young people are with us.

    And indeed, in 2001, the Netherlands recognized marriage equality. “Yeah”, people would say, “but that’s the Netherlands. It would never happen in the US.” Then Belgium! Then Canada! Then South Africa! (SOUTH AFRICA!) Then Spain! (SPAIN!)

    And then in 2004, Massachusetts did it in the US! “Yeah, but that’s just one state.” But then Iowa. (IOWA!)

    People thought that I was wildly optimistic, but I now think I was wildly pessimistic. We *are* going to win this one.

    We are going to win because everybody knows someone who is gay or lesbian. While almost no white families had black relatives and few black friends, every family has someone who is gay or lesbian. Everybody has a friend who is queer. Like the mayor, straight people cannot go through life saying that the gay and lesbian people they love are second-class citizens.

  42. Suz says:

    Call me cynical, but is he crying because he’s so moved by his change in belief, or because that speech ends his electability and thus his 30-year career in elected politics? There are places in the country where a Republican candidate can support a more liberal social agenda and retain support and backing of the local party machinery, but it seems to me that San Diego isn’t one of those places.

  43. Aunt Soozie says:

    Wow…Londonboy, you started it…and then the rest of you bein’ all we shall overcome. Now I’m crying. You warm the cockles of my heart and I don’t even know what heart cockles are!

  44. So UN-pc says:

    Aunt soozie – heart cockles are the oft-sought-after, difficult-to-find pear-shaped regions of the figurative heart that cause a welling up of tears when presented with stimuli such as puppies and kittens, snuggly older pets, sleeping newborns, elderly PDA, children acting selflessly and emotionally overcome politicians.

  45. Lisa (Calico) says:

    I read this yesterday and said “Oh, no, I’m not gonna weep when I watch this” – well, by jiminy, I was totally wrong.
    Very loving and heartfelt speech by Dad. Bravo!

  46. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Jay in Chicago-

    Who says we need to “convince” hets not to be married to each other anymore? Judging by the divorce rates, they are doing a heckuva job at it themselves. 🙂 (It’s also interesting that some of the states that have constitutional bans against gay marriage have some of the highest divorce rates in the nation, like Mississippi and Arkansas.)
    Anyway, I owe a lot of my thinking on this topic to http://www.beyondmarriage.org and to Lisa Duggan- this is definately worth checking out.

  47. B says:

    That was beautiful. An inspiring example of the personal shaping the political from what is seemingly the most unlikely of sources.

    Incidentally, for readable, learned, and fascinating discussion of same-sex and cross-sex marriage traditions, I highly recommend “Love’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West” by Ruth Vanita.

  48. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Remember when Pat Schroeder was lampooned for crying in 1987 when she withdrew her candidacy for president? When women cry, we consider them weak and too emotional. When men cry, we honor them for having feelings at all. Strange world.

    I’m glad he changed his mind, but I wasn’t particularly moved by his performance. Frankly, I’m don’t really understand why he was crying anyway, except possibly he was moved by his love for his daughter. As a parent, I understand that. As a voter, not so much.

  49. advo-runner-mom says:

    Why is this man crying? There are a million different ways to stand and deliver a message, even one that completely reverses one’s deeply entrenched political position.

    He comes across as terrified of having to come out publicly.

    he’s a brave guy for choking back the emotion and getting on with it, I’ll give him that.

  50. Olivier says:

    I’m with Duncan and Liza on this. I think those who responded positively were taken in by the feeling of immediacy, of witnessing a live event that video or film so effortlessly contrives. But think about it: you weren’t there; rather you saw it because someone decided to upload a video of it to YouBoob, i.e., because that man wants all and sundry to have chance to have watch him, from the comfort of their home, having a good cry. Apparently he even made a decision to make the video in the first place, i.e., it wasn’t an incidental record of a live event but something expressly made for the purpose of uploading it. Either this is just political calculation or else it is intensely weird.

  51. LondonBoy says:

    I’m not sure that Duncan, Liza and Olivier ( to name a few cynics ) are being entirely fair.

    Pretty much everyone here is more or less at home with the idea of equal marriage, and indeed equal rights and fair treatment for all, irrespective of sex or sexuality. It’s thus very easy for us to forget how hard it is for someone who starts from a different place to reach our point of view. I think it’s fairly clear that what we see here is a guy who is taking not the last, but the first, steps towards our position. He’s faced an issue that challenges many of his basic beliefs and preconceptions, and sets them up against his basic senses of truth and fairness. It’s been tough for him to overcome his old mindset, and he’s scared of what may follow, but he’s brave enough to do it anyway.

    Remember when you first came out ? First you came out to yourself, in the privacy of your own mind, and them some time later you came out to someone else, and then another and another. You didn’t reach your current position overnight: if you’re anything like me it took years, as you tried on different ways of thinking and acting and living, like theatrical costumes, until you found one that wasn’t just a costume, but was your real set of clothes. For me, and I suspect for many, the act of first coming out was a beginning. I took many more steps to come to terms with being gay, and I’m still taking steps on my journey. Here is a man starting a journey.

    And why is it on video ? Not, I suspect, to win votes. Rather, he was elected on an anti-marriage platform, and he quite rightly needs to explain himself to his electorate, so he has to make a public statement. Some voters he will bring with him, and some will take more time to follow. Some, of course, will never come with him. He knows that he’s doing the right thing, but it’s tough for him to take the step he’s taking: he’s jeopardising his job, his ability to provide for his family, his position among his friends as a “respectable Republican”. And why ? Partly for his daughter, and partly to do what he hopes is right. I cried when I came out, out of fear and uncertainty and risk and hope, and I think that’s what he’s doing here: he’s coming out.

  52. aerAK says:

    Thanks, Londonboy, for your thoughtful and optimistic analysis. Politicians so often disappoint us, they are easy to vilify, particularly on this issue. We don’t want to be taken in by a political ploy regarding something so visceral, so important. I am still willing to hope for the best out of people and to see genuine generosity of spirit from the most unlikely of places. Although I share the cynicism of some the group here, I am willing to wait and see what happens.

  53. Aunt Soozie says:

    Suz,
    I think he was crying because of multiple internal conflicts around this announcement…having run on one thing and now delivering another, knowing the change of stance could damage his career, coming out and stating publicly that his daughter is a lesbian, struggling to reconcile himself with polar compelling forces…

    you could sense some relief in his new found authenticity but he appeared to be deeply grieving all he’d need leave behind.

  54. Jaibe says:

    I think he’s crying for somewhat the same reason I am — because when someone does what’s right instead of what they need to do for their career, when someone admits they are wrong and came to understand that out of love, it’s beautiful.

  55. Lisa S says:

    I think those tears are the bubbling up of his love for his little girl, and I think they are lovely and honest. Those were probably the five most courageous minutes of his life.

  56. Olivier says:

    LondonBoy, it’s not so much cynism as disgust and incredulity. I am willing to entertain the thought that he had a (reluctant) epiphany that shook him to the core or something to that effect, hence the tears, and I also grok that this is something that calls for an explanation given the political context and finally I am willing to countenance that in this day and age a video statement is probably as natural as a written one. I will also admit to being biased againt him since I find crying in public unbecoming conduct but obvioulsy I am in the minority and his own political instinct is clearly better than mine in this respect.

    The thing that sticks in my throat is the YouTube bit. This is politics as entertainment, politics as “Hey, I put this video on YouBoob: go watch it! It’s fun! It’s moving! It will make you cry! Oh boy!” Frankly, call me a repressed arctic male if you will but this is borderline repugnant. When you are a public person you need to have a web site (I sure hope he has one) and a statement (video or otherwise) to your constituency, esp. such a serious one, belongs there, not on YouBoob. I cannot for the life of me fathom what he was thinking when he uploaded that thing to YouBoob or what he is driving at. I can see his move is popular but if I lived in his district it would totally backfire with me: that’s decidedly not how I like my politicos.

  57. Josiah says:

    I don’t know if it makes a difference, Oliver, but as far as I can tell the mayor didn’t upload this to YouTube. The video Alison linked to was on the news site of the local CBS station. Of course, in this day and age it goes without saying that any remotely interesting video will end up on YouTube sooner or later, probably sooner; but it doesn’t look to me as if the mayor put the video there himself. (One of the people who did upload the video to YouTube is clearly a gay marriage opponent, for what it’s worth: they’re spinning it as a “flip-flop”.)

    I’m fine with seeing someone cry when they’re dealing with matters of deep and genuine emotion; but then, I grew up listening to Rosey Grier sing “It’s All Right to Cry” on Free to Be You and Me.

  58. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh my gosh Olivier,
    Crying in public is no different than laughing in public. Crying is a healthy, natural expression of human emotion. Why repress it? public or private?

    I’d rather have authenticity in my politicos than a polished polite performance. Unfortunately I’m not gonna get it…even too vigorous a “woo-hoo!” makes you unelectable in this country.

    My mom used to say, “don’t horse laugh so loud like that. it’s not ladylike”. But, I didn’t listen. Still laugh from the gut when I’m really tickled.

  59. Ellen O. says:

    If I’m remembering this right, Edward Muskie was pushed out from the 1972 presidential race because he cried during the New Hampshire primary. I don’t think it is only women who can be hurt by crying in public. I think it matters it one is crying for ones’ own hurt or that of others.

    Personally, I was moved by Jerry Sander’s announcement. It seemed too unpolished to be an act. What does he have to gain by supporting gay marriage? Aren’t the progressive Democrats going to stick with Democratic candidate anyway?

    By the way, didn’t his wife seemed totally freaked? Deer in headlights, big time.

    Thanks for posting this Alison. Nice to see people speaking truth to power.

  60. Hariette says:

    Aunt Soozie writes:
    “I’d say it is our responsibility to make others feel comfortable with us… to explain ourselves… show our humanity. It’s a gift to ourselves, our children and other deviant folk. This video demonstrates what happens when someone has to merge myth with their actual experience of homos. So what I’m saying is…when you’re out there you gotta represent.”

    At the risk of sounding like I’m on an Aunt Soozie suck up, I totally agree with you. My big secret is I have dwarfism and people notice (and comment on) this aspect of me way before anything else is. When we don’t speak out in defense of ourselves we allow the others to define what we are. We allow them to believe we are lesser. It’s not always comfortable to have to speak out for ourselves but when we do, we plant the seeds. Yes, it is sad that we have to remind others of our own humanity but better to remind them of it than let them continue to believe we are lesser.

    Now, if all of us deviant folks could recognize the humanity in one another and speak up for each other that would lessen each other’s burdens. Sadly, one aspect about being human is we do forget this lesson and sometimes don’t see another’s humanity. But nobody said we were aiming for perfection, right?

  61. Maggie Jochild says:

    I hear ya, Hariette. I am surprised, though, to hear that people comment on your dwarfism, since my experience with physical difference is that people freeze up and feel like they can’t say anything at all — vestiges of how we are shushed as children when we see a visible disability, I always thought. And if you’re in a wheelchair, it’s like a cloak of invisibility.

    If it’s all right to ask, what do they say to you? I get lots of comments and questions from kids (and answer them honestly, before their horrified parents can shut them up), but only my close adult friends usually feel “safe” to ask things. And if you won’t want to discuss at this forum, I understand. One option: Over at Maoist Orange Cake, most if not all of us have disabilities and/or physical differences, we discovered after we began talking. Probably part of why we’ve overcome any reluctance to speak out.

  62. LM says:

    Maggie J. If I must cross in front of a person being assisted in a wheelchair, I excuse myself first to the pushee not the pusher.

  63. Suzanonymous says:

    If you want to send a message of support (counter those who may send hate messages), contact info:

    Mayor Jerry Sanders
    City Administration Building
    11th Floor, 202 C Street
    San Diego, CA 92101

    JerrySanders@sandiego.gov

    I think he was crying for a number of reasons, as others have said.

  64. Jana C.H. says:

    Hariette, may I ask a question with child-like honesty? You don’t have to answer, of course. Feel free to shush me.

    How short does a woman have to be to be “officially” considered a little person? I’ve researched it on the web, and all I’ve ever found is that the limit is 4’11”. But that has to be for men, not women. I’m 4’10”, having shrunk from 4’11”, and although I’m short I’m not a little person. This is honest curiosity on my part. It’s something I’ve wondered about for years, but I’ve never had the opportunity to ask anyone before. If you find my curiosity offensive, I ask forgiveness.

    And hey, Maggie, my “disabilities” are merely an inconvenience to me. Except for the whacked-off tit (which I wasn’t using anyway, except to make my t-shirts fit), no one can know about them just by looking. No one gives me funny looks or treats me like I’m invisible. I cannot claim disability as a “target” category for purposes of oppression.

    On the other hand, tall people on average earn $800 per year per inch of height above average. I wonder if that’s men’s average (5’9″) or women’s average (5’4″).

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: Anyone over five feet is TOO TALL.

  65. ksbel6 says:

    That must apply to men. I’m positive that being 5’7″ doesn’t earn me a penny more!

  66. judybusy says:

    I, too, found this really moving for several reasons. First, my own father has refused to speak to me for the last four years–since I came out. So I always find it touching when I see parents so supportive of their gay children. Also, this comes at a time when my partner of eight years and I are deciding whether to get married in Montreal when we are vacationing there later this year. So, all the political analysis aside, I decided I am just going to enjoy this guy’s change of heart, and take it as a perhaps small sign of progress! Thanks, Alison!

  67. Ian says:

    Can anyone tell me where Barack Obama stands on gay marriage? I know Hilary Clinton favours civil unions/partnerships.

    Here in Britain we have civil unions that offer pretty much the same benefits as straight civil partnerships – personally I think it’s up to the churches to decide whether they want to marry same sex couples or not. But civil weddings should be the minimum aim.

    Whether this guy’s genuine or cynical, does it matter if you get a Republican to support gay marriage?

  68. Butch Fatale says:

    Ah Hariette, I agree with you — but I don’t think that speaking up for oneself is the same as making other people comfortable. In fact, I’d say that it’s the opposite. If people are more comfortable treating someone as invisible or less than human, that person speaking up for herself is going to cause the people ignoring her to feel uncomfortable. And that’s good! Because it makes them question their behavior and assumptions, and it is a dignifying thing to not allow people to ignore you or mistreat you. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I am interested in allowing people to treat me poorly. I’ve been known to wave and smile at people who stare at me (something I learned from a fantastic femme I used to date). A sort of “I can see you”. It makes them uncomfortable, and reminds them that I’m a person, not an anthropological exhibit. Hopefully. At the very least, it shows them that their boorish behavior will not be ignored by everyone. But my time is precious and I’m not going to pause a date to give a “if you cut us, do we not bleed?” speech. They’re trying to make me uncomfortable for daring to be deviant in public, and I show them that I’m totally fine with it and go about my evening. Even if I’m seething inside.

    Maybe we’re (including Aunt Soozie’s comment) talking about different kinds of comfortable. I’m talking about in the immediate sense: I’d rather someone be confronted with their own bias than made to feel “okay”. In the long run, I’d like people to be comfortable with difference. I believe the latter can (at least mostly) only follow the former.

  69. Olivier says:

    Josiah, thanks for setting me right. I did not follow the link because I was sure to find a man crying extremely embarassing but if it is something that CBS cameramen captured during a public event and he did not stage the whole video thing, then I am OK with it. Next time I’ll do my homework and I’ll watch the unpleasant video or at least I’ll examine the link before commenting.

  70. Olivier says:

    Aunt Soozie, there is a big difference between, on the one hand, crying by accident while making an emotional speech and having someone capture it, after which it is out of your control, and, on the other hand, planning to cry in public or at least deliberately arranging the release of a video of your public crying. I mistakenly thought he was doing the latter.

  71. Louise says:

    Ian,
    Obama supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, but not gay marriage. I found this at: http://www.ontheissues.org/Barack_Obama.htm
    …and I’m sure you can find more detailed info elsewhere on the web if you’re interested.

  72. Cyn Stern says:

    I’ve given this subject a great deal of thought, and I’d actually take a position that is the opposite of the mayor’s, chiefly because I’d prefer to see all couples being granted benefits, rights and responsibilities on a equal basis, while rendering “marriage”–with its long history of male-dominant, anti-woman customs, religious bigotry, and other negative connotations–purely optional and of little-to-no legal consequence.

    I’ve blogged about it here, if anyone’s interested:
    http://pissycat.multiply.com/journal/item/335

  73. Maggie Jochild says:

    Thanks for your post, Cyn. I went and read your blog, and
    gotta say, I agree with you on this, Cyn. (I didn’t post there because I have to register to post.) The confusion of a legal contract and set of responsibilities (which are not equal for both parties) with an emotional and/or spiritual commitment is a mess that no longer really works for anybody. Including the Christian Right, if they think allowing others to “marry” somehow detracts from their own status. As a Lesbian-feminist who has no interest at all in trying to be “just like everybody else”, I’d love to see our movement begin demanding this separation for ALL civil unions — separation of church and state, at its most basic — instead of clamoring to be “included” in “their” club.

  74. Aunt Soozie says:

    Olivier, I hear you. Thanks for clarifying.
    Probably better to watch with you own eyes before judging the guy based on other’s comments. Many of us said WE cried while watching it but the Mayor himself was holding back (as best he could). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he also thinks crying in public is behavior unbecoming. Go on…click the link and check it out…he’s not sobbing all over the place…it’s safe, I promise!

  75. Aunt Soozie says:

    And yeah, Ellen O…the wife looked like she was in shock.

  76. Silvio Soprani says:

    It took me this long to watch the Jerry Sanders clip because the update of flash would not load in Firefox, and I got so frustrated I put off solving the problem for a few days. I finally got it to work in Explorer.

    He seemed totally sincere to me (I was terrified he was going to blow his nose and was relieved when he was only raching for the glass of water.)

    Ellen O, I totally agree that his wife has the “deer in the headlights” look. She never smiled encouragingly at him or took his hand or anything (until his exit when she pretty much steered him off the podium.) Yes, I think she had major stagefright. Can’t blame either one of them really. While he may have been a public servant for 30 years, he probably never did anything that required that much personal committment.

    I am wondering who he grinned for that one moment in the middle of his speech.

    Regardless of how you feel about the relative merits of civil unions vs marriage, I wonder how many of us have ever had a parent who made a public act in our defense that cost so much or required such courage? Someone here said his daughter did not know he was going to out her in this speech; I suppose that was a bit of a jolt (I agree with LondonBoy that we all come out in our own time and it is not necessarily helpful to have someone else speed up the process–although sometimes it is), but after that shock subsides, what an amazing legacy from her father! Something to tell those grandchildren someday when they are “legal” children of two parents.

  77. Silvio Soprani says:

    oops…
    “he was only REACHING for…”

    and

    “who he grinned AT for that one moment…”

  78. Tanya M says:

    Thanks, Suzanonymous, for the e-mail address – I just sent off an electronic letter of encouragement.

    While I would agree with Maggie and Cyn (that civil unions for all with marriage as a religious or spiritual option is ideal), I would caution that civil unions are being used by some politicians as a way to make some concessions while not pushing for full equality of rights, and by others as a way to be “separate but equal”, which is inherently unjust (as says the Mayor). Civil marriage can of course be separate from religious ceremonies, and as long as there is any difference between civil unions and civil marriage, I support the latter (if there is no difference, I would prefer the former’s name, for some of the reasons you cite).

  79. Revcat says:

    Yesterday I officiated at the wedding of two women (a coming out moment of sorts here – I am an ordained pastor). Among the many wonderful moments of the day were the seating of the grandparents, who were proud and happy to be there, and that both partners were each walked down the aisle by both their parents. NY Italian Catholic and Midwestern Protestant family members from both sides were there in abundance, and everyone enjoyed what was in many ways a very traditional church wedding and reception. I think one of the most moving moments of the day for me was talking with L’s grandfather, who was so grateful and pleased that his grandaughter had found someone to share her life with, as he had only recently lost his wife of over 60 years. That he could make that equation so clearly was not only beautiful and moving, but a real sign of hope to me.

    Whatever the political behind the scenes stuff going on, I appreciate and was moved by the raw struggle and honest tears of the dad in this video. May more minds and hearts be changed!

    And, just to agree with another poster above…as I talk to youth in the wider church, there is *definitely* hope for the future when they are the ones making decisions…

  80. --MC says:

    I’m late to this discussion. Ellen, yeah, Muskie teared up badly in a campaign speech and lost his numbers. (I recently watched a documentary on Shirley Chisholm that includes this moment.)
    Off topic, a segment of “Fun Home” is included in this year’s “Best American Comics” book.

  81. Ian says:

    Thanks for the info Louise!

  82. Grisha says:

    Theoretically, there could be a “Great Compromise” with Civil Unions for same gender couples and civil marriage for opposite gender couples. All public benefits conferred on marriage, including federal ones would apply to both institutions. As now, religions could do what they want.n

    The reason this won’t work, aside from gay people, thier families and friends, feeling the separate but equal is insulting, is that the other side won’t stand for it. Their goal is not to “defend marriage” but rather to push gay people as far back into the closet as they can manage. Most of their ballot initiatives would prevent both marriage and any recognition of civil unions, domestic partnerships etc.

    In the end, I believe we’ll end up with the choice of wether to recognize gay marriages being left to the states with the federal government recognizing them. Thus Massachusetts and my own state of California and others will allow them. Others .. Mississippi comes to mind …will take a little longer. I’m heartened by what my 96 year old friend Jack says when he encounters social homophobia; “Oh that kind of thinking went out with high button shoes.”

  83. Jana C.H. says:

    Personally, I’m just fine with Grisha’s Great Compromise, as long as all the rights were truly equal. If it’s a question of the full rights without the name or inadequate rights, also without the name, I go for the substance, and worry about the name later. No matter what legal term is used for the contract, people can call it whatever they like.

    My notion is to give the straight folks their lousy legislated definition. Marriage can be a contract between two members of opposite sexes, and an identical contract between two members of the same sex would be called narriage. Let them have their letter “M” if they think it’s so important.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: It is a legal fiction, and legal fictions are solemn things.

  84. Kat says:

    heehee,
    I like Jana’s narriage/marriage solution, as well as Maggie’s “get church out of the government” one…..

    how ’bout “church-age” and “court-age.”

  85. zeitgeist says:

    I was glad to see the guy was brought to tears, about time one of those republicans showed any humanity, of course i know nothing else about the gentleman. He could be scum the rest of the time.

    Here in Massachusetts, gay marriage is here, the sky did not fall, and life goes on. Just patiently waiting for the rest of the country to catch up.

  86. lt says:

    anyone know what his email/comment information is – regardless of the resrvations – he went out on a limb for his daughter to do the right thing – would be nice if we could give him some positive support. We need more people willing to take a chance these days :).

  87. Aunt Soozie says:

    Mayor Jerry Sanders
    City Administration Building
    11th Floor, 202 C Street
    San Diego, CA 92101

    JerrySanders@sandiego.gov
    Suzanon had posted it above but here it is again.

  88. Angie says:

    This is the text of the speech given by our then Prime Minister Paul Martin as he presented the first reading of the gay marriage bill in Canada. Its a similar conversion – he’s a Catholic man, and was initially against gay marriage. But his reasons weren’t personal, they really come across as serving the greater good. My husband and I were able to be in Ottawa for the final vote, and yep, we’re straight. There’s lots of us out here rooting for equal rights.

    http://www.yawningbread.org/apdx_2005/imp-176.htm

  89. hyla says:

    A truly cool parent (although the young woman in the story comments on the article and clarifies a few things), and a truly uncool principal:

    http://www.theithacajournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007709220345

    in case that article goes away, there’s also info here:
    http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2007/09/27/2

  90. Roz Warren says:

    Every time a straight person finally “gets it” I feel a little bit better about being a straight person.

  91. Aunt Soozie says:

    Saw a great t-shirt for our youth at NC Pride this weekend.
    It said,
    “Homophobia is so gay.”

  92. Iseph says:

    Well,
    It is good to see a Republican politition doing somthing for the people… It is a rare case to see that party stand up for anything other than big military spending. Although I will say this is not my struggle I am happy to see people granted the right to live how they choose. I bet good ole George W loves this latest move. He must be ravinous over the way nobody will play the party line with him anymore…. Congrats…