April 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Ariz. congressman’s gay son defends father
Matt Salmon, gay news, Washington Blade

Matt R. Salmon (Photo courtesy of Matt R. Salmon)

The gay son of an Arizona congressman who said he remains opposed to same-sex marriage told the Washington Blade on Tuesday his father’s viewpoints did not come as a surprise.

“It’s nothing I didn’t already know,” Matt R. Salmon said.

U.S. Rep. Matt J. Salmon, who represents most of Phoenix’s eastern suburbs, said during an interview with a local television station that aired over the weekend he feels marriage is between a man and a woman. He stressed his son “is by far one of the most important people in my life.”

“I love him more than I can say,” the Republican congressman said. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have respect, it doesn’t mean that I don’t sympathize with some of the issues. It just means I haven’t evolved to that stage.”

His comments came less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases that challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Matt R. Salmon, a former president of Arizona Log Cabin Republicans who once dated the second cousin of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.,) defended his father against criticism from those within the LGBT community whom he describes as “incredibly intolerant.” He said the congressman received “a lot of hateful comments” on his Facebook page after the interview aired.

“People seem to be trying so hard to analyze where it’s coming from, but really he was quite straight-forward,” Matt R. Salmon said. “My father loves me very much and he supports me and he respects me. He’s very much there for me as one of my closest friends. I think that was obvious in everything that he had to say.”

He further discussed his father’s position on marriage.

“He doesn’t see it as not allowing his son to be with the person he loves because he knows that regardless of where marriage is, I’m going to be with the person that I love,” he said. “Whether I can legally marry in Arizona or not, it’s not going to change that fact and my father knows that and he accepts my desire to be with the man that I love. As far as it goes with marriage for him it’s a matter of what marriage means to him — to him marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. It has nothing to do with the way he views a person’s relationship, and that’s the thing that I think is hard for people to understand.”

The congressman’s comments come less than a month after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first Republican U.S. senator to publicly endorse marriage rights for same-sex couples. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday became the second GOP senator to support the issue.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll last month shows 52 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who are between 18-49 back nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Matt R. Salmon said he feels his father, who voted for DOMA in 1996, would evolve to support same-sex marriage.

The congressman’s wife in 2006 led the effort in support of an unsuccessful amendment that would have banned marriages and civil unions for gays and lesbians in Arizona. Arizona Voters in 2008 approved a constitutional same-sex marriage ban, but Matt R. Salmon said in an “It Gets Better” video he filmed two years later that his mother “really didn’t have much to do with” the campaign in support of it.

“My mom told me that she stopped being involved because of me,” he said in response to the Blade’s question about whether he thinks his parents would once again become involved in any anti-gay political efforts. “I don’t know if they would support it, but I know they wouldn’t actively do anything for the movement.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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