April 2, 2013 | 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 has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

36 Comments
  • Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Poor, dysfunctional, self-hating, homophobe. To hell with him and his daddy.

    • Melissa Dunivant

      How is he poor, dysfunctional, self-hating or a homophobe? You are far from the truth. I urge you to actually watch his "It Gets Better" video, and to maybe feel some compassion.

  • So, in other words, his father's "feelings" are more important than his own civil rights. He also doesn't seem to have a problem with the fact that his father wants him to remain a second-class citizen. Anyone that chooses their political ideology over their family *should* be condemned for it.

  • Kevin Petrocelli

    I feel for him – at the end of the day, its his father. What is he supposed to do? Blast him all over the internet? Calling his father out in a public forum will not do much to help his father evolve on his current outdated views. Besides, its not like Salmon Jr. is against same sex marriage. I read an earlier profile of Matt R. Salmon from several years ago. When he came out, his family basically ostracized him. His siblings defriended him on Facebook and his family refused to meet his boyfriend. He has been through a lot and if his family is slowly coming around, that's better than them refusing him altogether.

  • Give him a break. We all have "evolved" on some issues. Let it be.

  • Shame on both of them – and Dad, if you haven’t evolved yet and your son isn’t incentive enough to do so, then I really wonder if you love your son as much as you claim to.

  • Log Cabin Republicans make my brain hurt. The mental gymnastics done here is amazing.

  • The son is out and proud and a member of the gay community. He certainly does have a problem with the fact that his father does not endorse full equality. He doesn't say he agrees with his father and does not excuse his views. And I am sure that if you compare the language his father used 10 years ago to the language he is using today, you would see a vast improvement. There is no telling what kind of improvement the next 5 or 10 years would bring. The son's engagement with his father turned an opponent into a neutral party at best (for now). That is more progress than any person that makes nasty comments has made with a conservative Republican. Additionally, he is under no obligation to say nasty things about his father in order to be seen as ideologically and politically pure by strangers.

    • I especially liked the part when the Representative says: " It just means I haven’t evolved to that stage." Yes, he needs time to continue with his own evolution… Perhaps when he realizes the majority of votes are now on the other side of the stage now, he may speed up the evolution process and that will motivate him to "evolve to that stage" faster. He's what I call a "late-bloomer"… LOL!

    • That's a good point, Luis. Additionally, when Barack Obama says he hasn't evolved yet, he is a ally-in-waiting and then a hero. When Rob Portman and these guys have evolved or are in the "evolving stages," they are hypocrites and monsters.

    • The major difference is that Barack Obama has always been an ally of the LGBT community as State Rep. Obama, Senator Obama and President Obama w.r.t. equal rights in the workplace, service in the military, and support for civil unions back in the day when few people supported civil unions. Rob Portman and his ilk have been vehemently anti-gay on just about every issue. So spare us the false equivalence. I applaud Portman for his evolution, but Obama has always been exponential orders of magnitude better on the issue of LGBT equality than the Rob Portmans of the world.

    • I agree with you Jay, they are not equivalent. But too many in our community are eager to sweep under the rug some failings of Barack Obama (not engaging with the African-American community on our behalf during Prop 8, not signing workplace anti-discrimination laws for contractors) while also using nasty language about people such as Matt Salmon's son, gay Republicans in general or recent Republican allies. It's not about whether people like Rob Portman should have their record examined and be held to account. It's about how we do it and why we find the need to be so vicious towards some but so understanding of others, when at the end of the day they are all politicians. For example, why didn't Hillary come out sooner for marriage equality? I think the reason that she was Secretary of State is malarkey.

    • Sean Matthew Denoyer

      I don't see the failing you speak of. Obama was not President during Prop 8, but did express opposition to it during the 2008 campaign. What laws did he NOT sign? I don't recall ENDA or any other similar legislation has hit his desk and doing executive orders would have backfired. The equivalent is Bill Clinton and DOMA, who pushed for, signed in the middle of the night and ran radio campaign ads in the south hailing his support of discrimination, while getting blown in his office. Where was Hillary? To the Clinton's, it's all about triangulation, which is why I supported my Senator for President and will never support Billary.

  • This is one thing that bothers me about some in our community. We all need to realize that not everyone is ready to jump into the “I support gay marriage” boat yet, regardless if they have a gay family member. It took two years after finding out his son was gay for Ohio Senator Rob Portman to change his mind on gay marriage. Rep. Matt Salmon will need time as well to find a way to support gay marriage. He already stated that he loves his son dearly and that should be enough.

  • I appreciate the journey Matt's parents have been on towards accepting his sexuality, but feel it is important for his father to love his son enough to be willing to fight for his right to be treated equally under the law. That's what a loving father who is a member of Congress should be expected to do.

  • Be aware. The Washington Blade banned me from their Facebook page because I was critical of two of their articles, so be careful not to criticize them. I'm sure I will soon be banned from commenting here as well. And then I will take my protest more public.

  • I found this comment and I agree 100%: Matt (JR) is still young, to him marriage is all about love, he does not realize the consequences of not being able to marry. No legal protection, no legal recognition, higher taxes, no survivor benefits. When I was younger I was the same way, I didn't need a marriage license because it was just a piece of paper, it didn't affect our love. Now that I am older and I have seen what the lack of that paper can do, like my friend who had the navy and the parents of his deceased lover come in and take a lot of things that they had purchased together. And even more so after my kidneys failed, they could have kept my husband out of the hospital room if they wanted too. When he gets older he will see that his father's stance is wrong and I hope he will appreciate all that the generations before him have done to secure his rights.

  • It's interesting that he tries to give his mother a pass despite the fact that she was the head of an anti-gay group in AZ that ultimately passed an anti-gay amendment. He says that while his mother worked on the first (failed) attempt that she didn't have much to do with the second (successful) attempt. Except she did. She built the momentum for the organization to cary out her goal. She helped change minds in AZ. She is responsible for keeping gays and Lesbians in AZ as second-class citizens. Of course he loves her despite her sending him to therapy to fix him or working to curtail his right to marry. But she doesn't get a pass. I'm sure he loves her. It's a pity she doesn't love her son enough to believe he deserves equal rights.

  • Self loathing piece of shit. Fuck him AND mommy and daddy

  • This is very sad. I suppose these gay republicans have to juggle their love for money with the hatred of their party for acceptance. I have no sympathy or admiration for any of them.

  • sad that he even tries to defend his father's position…they both need help.

  • I am so over Gay republicans they're more intrested in wealth than liberty so sad

  • He says of his father: "It has nothing to do with the way he views a person’s relationship."

    Actually, it has everything to do with the way he views a person's relationship. He views straight relationships as worthy of the full slate of government benefits and other protections. And he views gay relationships as, well, not worthy.

  • The difference between Sen Portman and Rep. Salmon is the power of the LDS hierarchy over Salmon. With one word, the LDS hierarchy can derail Salmon's political career. When Rep. Salmon spoke about evolving, he was referencing the LDS hierarchy. Only when they evolve will they permit Rep Salmon to evolve. Family dynamics have very little to do with it.

  • Finally a reasonable and honest response, from both sides. Definitely LOVE supersedes politics in this case. What an admirable example, both father and son.

  • While I find both Salmon’s to be slightly more intelligent than your average bivalve, I find it interesting that so many of you are passionate about the tangential right to marriage while supporting politicians like Obama and Feinstein who have no respect for the express right to keep and bear arms and to defend yourselves on the streets of America. Shame on those of you who fit that description.

  • I have a natural distrust of Mormons, especially Mormon politicians; their loyalty is to their "Living Prophet". This kid will grow out of his current need to apologize and make excuses for his parents. He says they are not anti gay, he's still living under the brainwashing that you can do what ever you want to harm others if it's based on a god. It's not your fault, you have to do what god demands. Sorry, but they are anti gay bigots who have done, by their own choice, harm to many gay people and their friends. As of today, they are bad people, that might change down the road, but we need to judge them for who they are now, not who their son hopes they will be later. Lets see how they deal with his excommunication, if it already hasn't happened, it will if he marries.

    • Someone knows little about the Mormon church and knows little about true love within an amazing family. It saddens me that some people never grew up with family values or love within a home and therefore revert to hate in their justification of facts.

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