Politics

Republican who voted against marriage equality gave moving speech at son’s gay wedding

Rep. Glenn Thompson
Rep. Glenn ThompsonPhoto: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

Last Tuesday, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) voted against the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), which would protect same-sex and interracial marriages in the U.S. should the Supreme Court overturn those rights.

By Friday, he was saying he was “blessed” that his son was marrying another man and that he and his wife were “rooting for” him becoming a part of their family.

Audio of Thompson’s speech at his gay son’s wedding has been leaked online. Thompson was one of 157 House Republicans to vote against the RMA, and he said that he opposed it because it was “nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats in Congress.”

His voting record showed a deeper antipathy to LGBTQ equality, getting a score of zero on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the last three sessions of Congress. He voted against the Equality Act last year as well.

But this past Friday, Thompson seemed pretty happy to be celebrating his son’s marriage.

“Parents have hopes and dreams, right, with their kids, from the time that they’re born and they’re creeping and crawling and walking and falling over and walking again, and all the things that they learn right through their teens and into becoming adults,” he said at the wedding. “It’s all about having a healthy child. But it’s about being healthy. It’s about them being healthy. We hope for safety. We’re hoping that they find their way, find opportunity, they find inspiration.”

“As they grow and as they get a little older, we also hope and pray they’re going to find that one true love so that they have the opportunity to experience that: someone to grow old with,” he said, referring to the man his son was marrying. “We love it when they find their one true love, especially when they become a part of our families then. That’s what we’re rooting for.”

“So we’re just blessed, and we just want to say thank you to everyone here as part of the celebration.”

Thompson has faced criticism online for supporting a same-sex marriage in his family while opposing protecting the right for other people’s families.

Proponents of the RMA say that it’s necessary now that the Supreme Court has shown a willingness to overturn rights based on the notions of privacy and substantive due process in overturning Roe v. Wade. LGBTQ legal victories like Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized same-sex marriage) and Lawrence v. Texas (which ended state bans on homosexuality) were cited by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion as decisions the Court should “reconsider” in light of the end of the federal right to an abortion in the U.S.

Out Democrats have been critical of Republicans who say it’s a waste of time to protect marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples.

“If it’s not necessary, then vote for it. If you’re right that we’re worried and we shouldn’t be, reaffirm it,” out Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said in his floor speech. “But don’t hide behind that to justify your refusal to vote for marriage equality in this country.”

“If they don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, they can vote ‘yes,’ and move on, and that would be really reassuring for a lot of families around America, including mine,” out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on CNN this weekend.

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