HOUSTON — Beau Miller and Patrick Summers have been partners for four years, but last December was the first time they spent Christmas at Miller’s parents’ home.
It seemed like a breakthrough, since the younger Miller is an HIV-positive gay activist and his father Rick is a conservative Texas state lawmaker.
But barely seven weeks later, Rick Miller filed a bill that would repeal local ordinances banning discrimination against gay and transgender people, attempting to roll back rules passed in all of Texas’ largest cities.
“We were invited to Christmas, and I thought that was a good step,” said Beau Miller, a commercial litigation and product liability attorney who works on the 41st floor of a gleaming office tower in downtown Houston. But now, “My dad wants people to be able to have the opportunity to discriminate against his own son.”
Across the country, some conservative legislators have been trying to fight back against a series of new gay-tolerant policies even as other, national Republican leaders argue it’s time for the party to abandon the issue.
Lawmakers struggled for weeks over gay-related measures in Arkansas and Indiana this spring.
A more personal side of such divides has already arisen in high-profile Republican families, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and his gay son and former Vice President Dick Cheney and his lesbian daughter. But nowhere is the human dimension now more vividly illustrated than with the Millers.
In March, the younger Miller went to the Capitol to confront his father over the proposal. They haven’t spoken since, except for exchanging text messages when each had recent birthdays.
Article continues belowAt Christmas, Beau Miller and Summers, a professional musician, brought a gift of a high-end home fragrance and sat for an hour, chatting with his parents and grandparents, who are in their 90s.
“We talked like families do,” said Beau Miller, 42. “It was just a really good moment.”
Still, 70-year-old Rick Miller could not abide measures passed by Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to their nondiscrimination codes, as hundreds of municipalities nationwide have done.