(photo: Mark Van-S)
I recently interviewed political columnist Dan Savage, author of The Kid : What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant, for my Rolling Stone piece on gay marriage. Here are some choice outtakes:
Rolling Stone: Why are Bush & Co. bringing this up again now?
Dan Savage: Most Americans don’t care about gay marriage. But it matters very much to the knuckle-draggers and Christianists and whack jobs in Bush’s ever smaller base. The politics are transparent. They’re trying to rally their base.
RS: Do you take this anti-gay grandstanding personally?
DS: It sucks to be scapegoated and it’s painful and embarrassing for this to unfold on the world stage. Canada approves gay marriage and they’re just fine, a Catholic country like Spain does it. They survive. And straights continue to thrive in Spain and Canada. We’re living through an age of irrationality and religious “fervor” I would call it religious idiocy. It’s exhausting to year after year be on the receiving end of this demagoguery.
And I hope Mary Cheney is paying attention. She stood on stage in 2004 when George W. Bush was re-elected and shared that stage with Heather Poe, her lesbian lover, while he was giving his acceptance speech. And I hope she’s fucking proud of herself. I hope she can sleep at night. I think she’s scum.
Once upon a time you could be a Log Cabin Republican; there was a moment perhaps in the’70s and’80s and early’90s where you could be an ethical gay Republican. That moment is Over.
RS: As a gay father, how do you respond to the claim that gay marriage will destroy the family?
DS: I believe it’s in the best interests of a child to be in a stable environment. Like it or not children are being raised by gay and lesbian parents all over America —as many as 10 million children. And it does nothing to make their lives more stable and secure to attack their families, to attack their parents to prevent us from marrying each other. They should want those of us who are gay to make those kind of commitments —particularly if we have children. And so all of their screwy fucking statements about protecting children are transparent lies. They know that there are gay and lesbian parents with children. They showed up at the White House Easter egg roll this year.
What they won’t admit is that a lot of this has to do with paranoia and fear. Fear of their own children. Not fear that their own children will be seduced away by the gays, but that a certain number of everyone is gay. A certain tiny percentage of everyone is gay. And religious conservatives live in terror that their children may pull a Maya Keyes —Alan Keyes’ daughter, a lesbian. We happen in all the best families. Including conservative families —just look at Mary Cheney. And I’m sure her father wouldn’t be nearly as good on gay issues if his own daughter wasn’t a lesbian. In much the same way that Rush Limbaugh is suddenly very good on drug issues. When it touches them personally they’re filled with compassion but until that happens they’re hateful motherfuckers.
Bill Bennett admitted this in one of his books. They believe that the world should be made a very very uncomfortable place for gays and lesbians so that we don’t come out. Not so that we don’t exist, but so that we don’t come out as gay or lesbian —because that makes them uncomfortable. They would rather their children live loveless cramped lives than come out.
RS: Are you confident that gay marriage proponents are on the right side of history?
DS: I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to look back and we’ll look at Bush like Bull Connor, and look at folks like Gary Bauer the same way we look at photos of white people screaming at African Americans attempting to integrate the schools. And just feel revulsion and shame. You look at those pictures of people who were opposed to racial integration today and you think: How was it possible to feel that way? Much less to feel so confident that everyone on earth shared your point of view that you would turn up in a newspaper photo, or sick a police dog, or turn a fire hose on peaceful protestors. I hope one day we look back and that’s how we’ll regard Bush’s press conference. But you know it was illegal to kill Jews in Germany in the’20s and it wasn’t in the’30s. Shit can get much much worse before it gets better.
RS: Does it strike you as ironic that Bush is promoting this gay marriage ban the same week Batwoman came out of the closet.
DS: I think one of the reasons you’re seeing so much Sturm und Drang from the conservatives is that they know that they’re losing the debate. The polls on gay people, gay marriage, gay adoption track more and more favorably with every passing year. And they want to lock in their bigotry in now while they have what they perceive to be a majority. But you can’t have Rosie on The View and Elton John packing Mom and Pop in at Caesars Palace and gay people all over television, and then have these politicians run out there with a straight face and say that gay and lesbian relationships are a threat to the family. We are winning in the culture —which is why we’ll ultimately win the political war.
RS: Do you see parallels between the struggle for gay marriage and interracial marriage?
DS: When is some enterprising reporter going to ask the president if he feels that Loving v. Virginia was correctly decided? That was imposed on the country by an “activist judge” and the majority of Americans were against it at the time. So, I guess he’s against that decision. I guess he’s against interracial marriage. Does he spit on justice Thomas and his wife when they stop by the White House?
RS: Do you find it offensive that Bush doesn’t even seem to believe what he’s saying about gay marriage?
DS: “Believe it or not?” is a game the Bushies have played for years. with the first George Bush it was him being against abortion, sort of, and Barbara Bush letting out that she was for abortion rights. And they sort of get the credit with the religious right for carrying the antiabortion water but then they get off the hook with sensible people because they’re clearly not Kool Aid drinkers. Now you have George W Bush —who clearly doesn’t have a problem with gay people, who hangs out with Mary Cheney, and sort of getting the credit for beating the fuck out of us, but his heart’s not in it. Well that doesn’t feel any better —to be bashed by someone whose heart’s not in it.
It’s insulting and it’s corrupt and I wish the media would stop playing along.