Barbara Bush Endorses Marriage Equality

One of former President George W. Bush's twin daughters became the latest in a line of younger-generation Republicans to throw her support behind gay marriage in a surprise statement released on Monday night.

Barbara Bush Endorses Marriage EqualityThe Bush dynasty is no stranger to generational conflict: father and son differed over deposing Saddam Hussein, raising taxes and the role of the United Nations.

Now it is father and daughter who find themselves at odds over a weighty issue.

Barbara Bush, one of the twin daughters of George W. Bush, will endorse same-sex marriage on Tuesday, publicly breaking ranks with a father who, as president, pushed for a constitutional amendment banning such unions.

Ms. Bush, 29, has taped a video calling on New York to legalize gay marriage. A bill to do that was defeated in the state in 2009. She describes the issue as a matter of conscience and equality.

“I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality,” she says in the brief message, sponsored by an advocacy group. “New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.”

The video ends with Ms. Bush, who lives in Manhattan, imploring the state’s residents to “join us.”

Ms. Bush is the latest child of a prominent Republican leader to embrace same-sex marriage, long considered anathema to the conservative movement. Gay rights advocates have been quick to seize on the generational split as evidence that the acceptance of same-sex marriage is blind to party affiliation and family values.

Meghan McCain, the daughter of John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has become an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, despite her father’s opposition to it. And Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, has forcefully backed it as well — and is widely credited with helping to persuade her father to do the same.

In the case of Mr. McCain, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush, it is not just their children who have supported it. So, to varying degrees, have their wives. Laura Bush, in a television interview in May, said, “When couples are committed to each other and love each other” they should have “the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
Barbara Bush Endorses Marriage Equality
Ms. McCain, a blogger and author, has said it is unhealthy for members of political families to paper over disagreements on issues of social justice merely to project an image of harmony. “Wives and children should be able to speak their piece,” she said in a television interview last year. “I think it shows healthy dynamics within a family. We shouldn’t all think one way, and think one thing.”

Barbara Bush, who started a nonprofit group focused on global health, rarely speaks out on American political issues, making her foray into the same-sex marriage debate so striking. But for years, those close to her say, she has surrounded herself with gay friends — at Yale, where she was an undergraduate, and in New York City, where she worked in the design world.

C. Brian Smith, a friend from college who is gay, recalled that the Yale Ms. Bush inhabited was filled with openly gay students and unbothered by questions about sexuality. “She had that mind-set,” he said. “She was loved by the gay community at Yale.”

Members of the Bush family seemed uneager to discuss her entry into the marriage debate. Ms. Bush declined an interview request. A spokesman for Mr. Bush said he had no comment. Her sister, Jenna Bush Hager, a correspondent for “Today,” has not publicly discussed the topic.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group that made the video, plans to show it Saturday at an annual gala in New York City. Advocates said it would show elected officials and voters that, in many cases, young people are not following in their parents’ ideological footsteps.

“No matter what party they belong to, young Americans believe in basic fairness and equality,” said Brian Ellner, who is overseeing the Human Rights Campaign’s bid to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

 

 

NewYorkTimes