Gay Marriage

That Time George W. Bush Offered to Officiate a Lesbian Wedding

The milestone you missed

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Lesbians. Hmm. Yeah, I could go for that.
White House

The big news about same-sex marriage this past weekend was Ireland's vote to legally recognize such unions. But while that may have been a milestone, it wasn't really a surprise; the polls predicted the outcome far in advance. The gay-marriage news that made me do a double take was buried in a parenthetical comment near the end of a Boston Globe dispatch from Kennebunkport:

Some mornings, [Jeb] Bush drops into H.B. Provisions, a cozy general store owned by Bonnie Clement and her wife, Helen Thorgalsen (George H.W. Bush made international headlines when he attended their wedding in 2013; George W. Bush offered to perform the ceremony but had a scheduling conflict).

Wait: Was this widely known? Not the part about George H.W. attending the wedding—he did indeed get the media's attention when he served as an official witness that day. I mean the part about George W. offering to officiate. If that's true, that's a milestone of another kind: not the sort that marks a social revolution, but the sort you see when a change that once sounded revolutionary doesn't feel all that radical anymore.

Just nine years before that ceremony, opposition to same-sex marriage was a central part of Bush's reelection strategy. No, it probably wasn't the issue that put him over the top; and yes, he's less constrained in private life. Still. Time, it does move quickly.

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  1. The W must stand for Womanizer, or Whore, or Wrecker.

  2. Bush lied, marriage died?

  3. A “Central Part” of his re-election strategy?

    When has gay marriage been a “central part” of anyone’s election strategy? This issue isn’t even on the radar of polls discussing major election issues.

    1. When has gay marriage been a “central part” of anyone’s election strategy?

      2013 – 9 = 2004

        1. Follow the link in the blog post, Tman. It doesn’t say most people made their presidential decisions because of gay marriage; it says Rove thought he could use gay-marriage initiatives to bring out conservative voters.

          1. Rove thought he could use gay-marriage initiatives to bring out conservative voters. =/= “a Central part of the re-election strategy”, is what I’m saying.

            That Rove tried to stir up socons to get more votes is not exactly an earth shattering conspiracy, but there were several other issues at the time that clearly were more important to conservatives than gay marriage, as the polls showed at the time. I would argue that GW’s re-election strategy had less to do with gay marriage than say, the two ongoing wars at the time and a giant recession that his tax cuts were currently working to resolve.

            1. Rove certainly talked it up as a central part of his strategy. As I said in the post, there’s reason to doubt it’s what actually put Bush over the top.

              1. I see what you mean about Rove and it doesn’t surprise me to learn that he pushed state laws to bring out socons, but Rove did anything and everything to bring out not just socons but conservatives in general to vote for GW. And he did so using every available string to pull from terrorist threats to recession scares to socon issues. To argue that Gay Marriage was a “central part” of the re-election strategy means that it was more important than the other issues which it clearly was not.

                1. I see what you mean about Rove and it doesn’t surprise me to learn that he pushed state laws to bring out socons

                  You might have missed Bush talking *frequently* about a Federal Marriage Amendment at that time. I dunno, a lot of conservative leaning gays didn’t though.

                  1. I remember there being talk about a Federal Marriage Amedment, sort of like how there is talk about that every year. But again, there is nothing that shows me that this was a “central” part of the re-election strategy for Bush or anyone else for that matter aside from the Huckabees or Santorums, neither of which are ever going to win any GOP primaries.

                    The central election strategy for Bush at the time seemed much more concerned with war, terrorism and the economy than gay marriage, and I have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.

                    1. Umm, ok. 10 years ago fiscal conservatives were upset that he was talking about gay marriage instead of the economy, but we’ll throw that in the memory hole and pretend it was just a side note when it was part of his basic election stump speech and Cheney had to tie himself in knots to avoid contradicting him on the issue.

                      Do you not remember “energizing the base” at all?

                  2. You might have missed Bush talking *frequently* about a Federal Marriage Amendment at that time. I dunno, a lot of conservative leaning gays didn’t though.

                    Jesse – you just outed yourself as a TEAM RED shill to the plug!!!

                    1. Nooooo.

                      I was a registered Republican when I came of age at the end of the Clinton era. During the Bush years I was surprised to see so many Reagan Republicans act in ways that didn’t jibe with my preference for small government/private solutions, and I moved on.

                      Maybe he isn’t here and won’t notice.

                    2. I’ll keep it on the down low.

                      Me, I’m guilty of voting for Bush over Kerry in 2004 so I have to take responsiblity for the shit hole left by him and Rove (though I liked telling my San Francisco neighbors I was voting for Bush).

                      I remember Rove got Bush to institute some steel tarriffs during the election so he could win PA, which was so obviously pandering I almost voted for Kerry. Don’t remember the gay marriage thing going on, but must have seen something, especially being on the left coast.

          2. At best that makes it a peripheral part of his strategy. IIRC, Bush distanced himself from the gay marriage debate after some (specifically his wife) expressed concern that the semantical debate over what the word “marriage” means could turn into an ugly anti-gay discrimination movement.

        2. 13% Dems and 13% Republicans 9% independents cared about “gay issues” in the 2004 election. All are much higher than I would’ve figured. Plenty high enough to have possibly had an effect on the outcome.

    2. In 2004 there were a lot of anti-gay marriage things on ballots and it did appear to be a big and effective part of the Republican strategy to get lots of conservatives to vote.

    3. When has gay marriage been a “central part” of anyone’s election strategy?

      In 2004, when Karl Rove engineered it that way.

      1. So Rove put the gay marriage issue as the central part of the re-election strategy above the two wars, terrorist threats and a recession?

        1. I don’t think anyone was saying that it was THE ONLY thing he ran on. Pretending “a central part” means “the central part” is disingenuous. Flogging the socons to the polls over the issue of gay marriage was a strategy that Bush and Rove were praised and reviled for at the time by people of all political stripes. I’m not sure why you’re so adamant that it didn’t happen.

          1. I didn’t say that it didn’t happen. I said I don’t think this was the central part of their strategy.

            1. It must be nice to be able to retcon history that easily.

              1. What does “retcon history” mean?

                1. Retroactive continuity.

                  It’s when you change a past event because it doesn’t fit your current narrative. You know like saying a plank of the Bush campaign that was considered a big deal at the time by all players, and that had significant impact in shifting the GOP away from the small government focus it had had during the Clinton years and more toward Socon-flavored Progressivism, just wasn’t a big deal.

                  1. A plank =/= the central strategy. That’s all I’m saying. There were other planks such as the war that were more influential and definitely had more influence in rallying the base. I don’t remember gay marriage being the central plank in which the entire re-election strategy was based, and I don’t see any evidence supporting this contention.

                    1. I don’t remember gay marriage being the central plank in which the entire re-election strategy was based

                      Yeah, nobody is saying THE central plank. We’re saying it was a major component.

                      I could certainly start linking more articles like the one I linked up above, but you’re clearly going to dance on the “this was A big thing” versus “this was THE big thing” and I have better things to do.

                    2. you’re clearly going to dance on the “this was A big thing” versus “this was THE big thing” and I have better things to do.

                      I get that Rove wanted to fire up the socon base, and gay marriage is definitely ONE of many issues in which to do that, abortion for instance being another, and Rove used all of them.

                      My point originally was that “gay marriage” as an issue was never and is still never the “central plank” of any presidential run.

                    3. You’ve certainly thrashed that strawman good, Tman. I feel foolish for arguing with you while you were busy giving it a thumping.

                    4. It wasn’t a strawman. That’s what Jesse wrote -“opposition to same-sex marriage was a central part of Bush’s reelection strategy”. I disagree that it was a “central part” of his reelection strategy.

              2. 1) John Kerry was a traitorous draft-dodger
                2) GWB kicked Saddam’s ass
                3) Homos are going to rape your children

                vs

                1) GWB is going to send you to death camps

                That’s how I remember the 2004 campaign.

                1. Warty’s recollection sounds about right.

        2. Yes.

        3. It was only 11 years ago. How do you not remember 11 years ago?

  4. Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…and wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…so tweasure your wuv.

    1. Zogi, the High Priest: Do you, Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe, take this Earthling Dale Arden, to be your Empress of the Hour?

      The Emperor Ming: Of the hour, yes.

      Zogi, the High Priest: Do you promise to use her as you will?

      The Emperor Ming: Certainly!

      Zogi, the High Priest: Not to blast her into space?

      [Ming glares at Zogi]

      Zogi, the High Priest: Uh, until such time as you grow weary of her.

      The Emperor Ming: I do.

      1. “Go Flash go!”

    2. Stop quoting Rob Reiner films.

      Fuck that guy.

      1. It’s a Free Country, Sonny Boy.

        1. That’s certainly debatable.

          1. I squeezed the titles of two Rob Reiner films into a response for Sudden.

      2. Butter!

  5. If that’s true, that’s a milestone of another kind: not the sort that marks a social revolution, but the sort you see when a change that once sounded revolutionary doesn’t feel all that radical anymore.

    At some point do we run out of shiny newly-minted milestones?

    Some of us got tired of throwing a parade for every meaningless new one a few decades ago.

    1. You expect stasis at some point? All milestones are is recognition that things change. I wouldn’t consider a brief mention of a slightly interesting fact on a blog “throwing a parade”.

      1. All milestones are is recognition that things change.

        Except this almost-but-not-a milestone is being erected nigh a decade post hoc, right next to the site where the former President witnessed a lesbian wedding.

        Marginally better than the “Mar.-2015, Walkerton, IN: Someone might not have been served a pizza had they requested one.” milestone.

        1. Sorry, not a decade, but was clearly not a milestone in it’s own time.

          1. I think the best way to see how far a social change has progressed is to watch what the conservatives are accepting, not what the revolutionaries are demanding. (The keep-an-eye-on-Pat-Boone-not-Elvis theory.) Bush’s offer is a “milestone” by virtue of the fact that it seems fairly normal and doesn’t set off parades, but would have felt deeply alien just a decade ago.

            1. I think the best way to see how far a social change has progressed is to watch what the conservatives are accepting, not what the revolutionaries are demanding.

              Assuming ‘revolutionaries’ haven’t been dominating or distorting the narrative for years…

          2. I think you are putting too much importance on milestones. No one is forcing you to celebrate or commemorate anything.

            1. I just think relevance is, yet again, being injected into an irrelevant situation or facet of someone’s ‘private’ life.

              Or maybe I just have the words ‘milestone’ and ‘unprecedented’ still ringing in my ears after electing the first black man in history, sorry.

  6. It’s possible Dubya doesn’t give a shit. I’d say it’s downright plausible; the only reason I give any fucks at all is because of Government’s involvement.

    But yeah, it doesn’t support the TEAM’S rhetoric, so nobody cares.

    1. I don’t think he ever gave a shit. I don’t think he ever gave a shit about most things. But to the extent that he still follows the polls, his ostensible attitude might be a meter of public opinion, which is more significant than what he thinks, anyway. But that’s if he still gave a shit about polls, which I doubt.

      1. He hired that turd Rove to give a shit about polls for him

  7. “Just nine years before that ceremony, opposition to same-sex marriage was a central part of Bush’s reelection strategy.”

    I don’t think his heart was ever in it. He defied his own party’s platform to endorse civil unions – that is, everything about marriage except the name.

    Americans are, as I’ve said, people who want to be nice, and once they get the idea that being nice to people means giving them what they want, they will probably do it. In the case of gay people, that means not only govt recognition for their unions, but forced cake-baking as well (since “fundamentalists” are considered Not Nice, so there’s no need to honor *their* lifestyle).

    I think this is the same impulse which will make pension reform and budget-cutting harder, since lots of Americans have friends or relatives who work for the government or draw large pensions for having previously worked for the government. Who would want to be so “hateful” as to take bread out of the mouths of their families and friends?

    1. There are plenty of people who learned from indulgent parents that the way to express love for someone is to give in to their demands.

      Kid points to a Shiny Thing and says he wants it, parents, hesitate, kid cries, parents buy the Shiny Thing, kid is happy for a few minutes until the next shiny thing comes along.

      These kids grow up to be voters.

  8. I blame all that time in Austin. And being around the Cheneys.

    1. I think it’s from taking Penthouse Forum at face value.

      1. Didn’t even know Penthouse had faces!

      2. Dude, those stories are real!!!

        “Yeah, man, but I did…I banged that girl in the fountain. That story was true…the hot dog, the oatmeal, everything.”

        1. “I used to read Forum and thought all of those stories were fake, until one day, when I presided over a lesbian wedding. . . .”

          1. Presode. Can’t you speak english?

            1. Shows what you know, because presode actually means presidential commode.

  9. Big deal, I took part in a lesbian wedding.

    1. Turning a gal off men by sleeping with her, does not officially make you part of a lesbo wedding Paul.

  10. What is the surprise, Bush wanted to expand government involvement in the private lives of Americans and Reason Magazine supports it.

    Government licenses for marriage, is there anything less libertarian then that?

    1. State ownership of the means of production?

    2. The only way I can comprehend Reason’s stances on Marriage, in general, is that they’re all over the age of 40.

      Because I don’t know a single person that I interact with that gives a shit about marriage; gay, legal, or otherwise.

      1. Ah, the “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon” argument. It never gets old.

      2. Or maybe they have some quaint notion that equal treatment under the law, while not a specifically libertarian principle, is nevertheless important.

    3. Yes, there are about 7 million things less libertarian than that. If a license were required to live as a married couple, that would be another matter, but that’s not what “marriage licenses” are.

    4. Not even public roads?

  11. You know who else almost presided over a same-sex wedding?

    1. Whomever presided over the Kardashian-Jenner Union?

    2. Rev. Sun-Myung Moon?

  12. If W had presided over the wedding, then the marriage would not have been legitimate, since W was never really President. Selected, not elected…

    1. Only presidents can officiate marriages?

      1. HE WAS NEVER PRESIDENT!!!!!

    2. More to the point, he wasn’t a judge or a clergyman. Or does Maine have a special law that authorizes former presidents of the United States to officiate at weddings?

      1. Anyone can get a mail-order marryin’ power. At least here in NY.

      2. I KNEW THOSE FUCKING FAGGOTS WANTED SPECIAL RIGHTS

        1. Look, the Constitution clearly states that your right to not be raped by Warty shall not be abridged. Sexual orientation, race, creed, etc shouldn’t matter.

          1. May to microaggress, dude.

            1. Don’t blame me, blame The Founders. They were smart enough to foresee your time-bending, rapesquatch ways.

  13. Is this where the Hit&Runpublicans; pretend that whipping up fears of homo pedophiles raping your children wasn’t a GOP election tactic?

    1. Yes, just like they pretend that all the state level regulations designed to make it harder to get abortions had nothing to do with the success of the War on Women narrative in 2008.

      1. Oops, I meant to type 2012.

      2. If we made just woman feel bad about aborting her mongoloid baby, it was all worth it. You Losertarians and your moral relativism make me sick.

    2. I was an apathetic idiot in 2004, and even I remember that strategy quite vividly.

  14. The big thing was ‘swiftboating’. Not gay marriage. The whole swiftboat thing was the whip that was used to get pubbies to the polls Over and over, on and on, I had to hear where Kerry got shot and about his magic hat and his purple hearts and Nixon sending him into Cambodia and blah blah blah.

    Gay marriage? Not really on the radar. Even my whacked out christian relatives were going on about Kerry’s perfidy in Vietnam and not gay marriage.

    See, they didn’t talk too much about gay marriage in the Bush admins because to do so was to invite comments about Cheney’s daughter.

    But you all go on thinking that gay marriage was something more than an aside.

  15. To their credit, today’s GOP presidential candidates are often not complete hypocrites on this issue, being genuine thumpers, just in time to lose the debate forever. Back in the Rove era, most of us recognized this tactic as not even about gay marriage or religion, but about appealing to the stupid in the electorate, those who actually believed that men who spent their adult lives in Washington, DC, were not completely surrounded by gay people and seriously wanted to curtail the rights of many of their staff, friends, and family members.

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