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Ariz. congressman’s gay son defends father

U.S. Rep. Matt J. Salmon stressed opposition to same-sex marriage during interview with a Phoenix television station.

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Matt Salmon, gay news, Washington Blade
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.”

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. JCF

    April 3, 2013 at 4:33 am

    Stockholm Syndrome.

    • brian

      April 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      … and a river in Egypt.

  2. Shane B Johnson

    April 3, 2013 at 11:26 am

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

    • Melissa Dunivant

      April 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      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.

  3. David Grossman

    April 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    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.

  4. Kevin Petrocelli

    April 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    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.

    • Nate Cox

      May 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      That just goes to show how much love there really is in that family!

  5. Virginia Stephenson

    April 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

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

  6. Adam Sanford

    April 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    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.

  7. Olivia Page

    April 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm

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

  8. Andreas Andrea

    April 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    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.

    • Luis R. Padilla

      April 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      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!

    • Andreas Andrea

      April 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      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.

    • Jay Sitlani

      April 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      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.

    • Andreas Andrea

      April 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      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

      April 7, 2013 at 5:09 am

      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.

  9. Sam

    April 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    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.

  10. Michael E. Terry

    April 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

    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.

  11. Randy Petersen

    April 4, 2013 at 5:52 am

    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.

  12. Jacek Krawczyk

    April 4, 2013 at 6:22 am

    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.

  13. Brian C. Bock

    April 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

    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.

  14. Jd Overton

    April 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

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

  15. Pony Lewis

    April 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    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.

  16. Art Reyes

    April 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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

  17. Efrem Capers

    April 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

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

  18. Jim Hopkins

    April 5, 2013 at 2:32 am

    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.

  19. Marco Luxe

    April 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    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.

  20. Tim Warner

    April 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

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

  21. David Hearne

    April 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    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.

  22. Mike Ketterman

    April 9, 2013 at 2:45 am

    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.

    • Nate Cox

      May 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      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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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Washington Blade file photo)

Appearing remotely on MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace’s politics program Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the attack on his parental leave.

“This attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, ” Buttigieg said.

During his Thursday evening program Carlson said, “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child—paternity leave, they call it—trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went. But now he’s back in office as the transportation secretary and he’s deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can’t get into this country.”

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National

Biden recognizes National Coming Out Day as time to honor LGBTQ people

White House statement denounces ‘bullying and harassment’

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President Biden recognized Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day in a statement on Monday calling the occasion a time to celebrate the “courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self.”

Biden ticked off in the statement the achievements on LGBTQ policy, including signing an executive order on his first day in his office ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year against anti-LGBTQ discrimination to the furthest extent possible.

“Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures,” Biden said. “Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on National Coming Out Day

Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self. Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.

My Administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people can live openly, proudly, and freely in every corner of our nation. I am proud to lead an Administration with LGBTQ+ officials serving openly at the highest levels of government — and prouder that together we have made historic progress advancing protections and equal opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. From acting on Day One to prevent and combat discrimination, to enabling all qualified Americans – including transgender Americans – to serve their country in uniform, to defending the human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world, my Administration has been clear that we will continue to champion the dignity, equality, and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. From defeating discriminatory bills to passing the Equality Act, we have more work to do to ensure that every American can live free of fear, harassment, and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.

To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you. My Administration will always have your back, and we will continue fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect you deserve.

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News

Senators to Rachel Levine: Issue guidance on mental health for trans youth

New instructions sought as more than half of trans youth contemplate suicide

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Sen. Chris Murphy (left) is leading the call on Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine to offer guidance on trans health care.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is leading a group of senators who are urging Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to win Senate confirmation as a presidential appointee, to issue new guidance on mental health care needs for trans youth.

In a letter dated Sept. 30 and obtained Tuesday by the Washington Blade, the senators make the case current standards are insufficient for trans and gender expansive, or TGE, adolescents, including exploring, non-binary, agender, genderfluid and queer youth.

“Our goal is to help mental health providers offer the best care they can to the nation’s TGE youth without a delay in treatment,” the letter says. “The focus of this request is for the pressing needs of hospital or residential care even as we recognize the need for guidance across all settings of mental health care.”

Specifically, the senators call on the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, or BHCC, and experts in the field of adolescent trans care to offer guidance on best practices for inpatient mental health care among these youth.

The senators address the letter to Levine, who in addition to being trans has a background in care for adolescent youth, and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use.

Cited in the letter are findings from the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth, which determined more than half of trans and non-binary youth seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020.

“While behavioral health and pediatric organizations have published resources regarding TGE health care, we have heard from hospital providers they are seeking guidance on best practices for serving gender diverse youth in community residential and inpatient mental health settings,” the letter says.

The seven senators who signed the letter along with Murphy are Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

An HHS spokesperson for Levine’s office, in response to the letter, told the Blade: “We have received the letter and will be reviewing it.”

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