There's another Republican backing gay marriage, and it's...Ronald Reagan? (Headline hat tip to New York magazine.)
The New York Times was the first news outlet to find newsworthy remarks made by Patti Davis, the liberal activist daughter of the late president, who said her father would have surely approved of gay marriage: "Daughter Speculates on Reagan's Gay-Rights Views." Somehow this speculation merited a full "news" story in Thursday's edition.
In a phone interview with Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Davis summarized her opinion of what her father would have thought of the gay rights movement, as first revealed on a gay YouTube channel.
As Republican politicians wrestle with same-sex marriage, the daughter of a party icon -- former President Ronald Reagan -- said in an interview this week that she believes her father would have “been puzzled” by the political fuss and would have supported marriage for gay people.
Patti Davis, a Los Angeles writer and the onetime rebellious daughter of Reagan and his second wife, Nancy, said in a telephone interview that she never discussed same-sex marriage with the former president, who died in 2004 just as it was emerging as a political issue.
But Ms. Davis, now 60, offered several reasons her father, who would have been 102 this year, would have bucked his party on the issue: his distaste for government intrusion into private lives, his Hollywood acting career and close friendship with a lesbian couple who once cared for Ms. Davis and her younger brother Ron while their parents were on a Hawaiian vacation -- and slept in the Reagans’ king-size bed.
Mr. Reagan had a mixed record on gay rights. As president, he infuriated many gay people with his slow response to the AIDS epidemic, but as governor of California he joined a number of Democrats, including President Jimmy Carter, in opposing a ballot measure that would have barred gays and lesbians from working in public schools.
Ms. Davis’s comments are certain to inflame conservative admirers of her father.
Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist and gay rights opponent, said in an interview that Mr. Reagan -- who as governor signed the nation’s first “no-fault” divorce law and later told his son Michael it was his “greatest regret” -- would never have stood for same-sex marriage.