Bush 41 Witnesses Same-Sex Marriage

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara not only attended a same-sex wedding in their famous summer home of Kennebunkport, Maine, they acted as witnesses for the couple and signed the marriage license. The couple owns a general store in that town and have known the Bushes for years.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo on Facebook of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”

No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the Kennebunkport wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”

In an email from their honeymoon in London, Clement told us they’ve known the former first couple for years and were thrilled they accepted the wedding invitation. Thinking about “how monumental this time is in our lives” and “how blessed we are to be in their lives,” they decided to ask them “to really personalize it for us” as witnesses.

Good for them and kudos to the Bushes for displaying decency and humanity here rather than bigotry. I don’t think they’ve ever had a problem with gay people or equal rights, nor do I think George W. Bush ever did. But wouldn’t it have been far better for them to make their views known long before now, during the political battles? Having the senior Bush, one of the grand old men of the Republican party, take a stand for equality could have been a big help five or ten years ago.

But the fact is that the elder Bush chose to stay silent and the younger Bush cynically used anti-gay politics to win reelection in 2004 (which explains why the elder Bush kept his mouth shut). Just like the Cheneys did even while knowing that their daughter was being demonized and tangibly harmed by it. The very fact that they all do — genuinely, I think — support equality is all the more reason why I don’t know how they can live with themselves now. They sold out an entire group of people whose humanity they recognize for political power.

20 comments on this post.
  1. criticaldragon1177:

    Ed Brayton,

    I’m glad they did this as well. I can just imagine the far right homophobes attacking the Bush family now.

  2. Modusoperandi:

    “They sold out an entire group of people whose humanity they recognize for political power.”

    EXACTLY. DARN THE GAYS FOR BEING SO DIVISIVE! WHY CANT THEY JUST SETTLE FOR BEING TRAPPED IN NORMAL NONHOMOGAYMARRIAGES UNHAPPY AND DEAD INSIDE LIKE THE REST OF US?

  3. sathyalacey:

    Was I the only one to misread “Bush 41 Witnesses Same-Sex Marriage” as “Bush Witnesses 41 Same-Sex Marriages”?

  4. dingojack:

    I’m sure Mrs Modus also fully endorses that message.
    :) Dingo

  5. Modusoperandi:

    dingojack “I’m sure Mrs Modus also fully endorses that message.”
    She’s got no choice. It’s a Green Card marriage. It’s the perfect arrangement; a product of her terrible desperation and my deep moral degeneracy.

  6. grumpyoldfart:

    I wonder what sort of payoff the Bush tribe are expecting for such un-Christian behaviour?

  7. left0ver1under:

    Good for them and kudos to the Bushes for displaying decency and humanity here rather than bigotry.

    I don’t know how others feel, but to me this sounds like Ronald Reagan trying to take credit for Ryan White in 1990, after his policies which punished and harmed HIV/AIDS victims. Where was their support when Reagan and Bush were in office, when they had the power to help people, to change the law and public opinion?

  8. Dr X:

    leftOver1under:

    “I don’t know how others feel, but to me this sounds like Ronald Reagan trying to take credit for Ryan White in 1990, after his policies which punished and harmed HIV/AIDS victims. Where was their support when Reagan and Bush were in office, when they had the power to help people, to change the law and public opinion?”

    I doubt they’re trying to “take credit” for anything. Like many people who aren’t butt-hurt christianist wingnuts, they’ve evolved in their views and were probably helped along by getting to know and like gays and lesbian individuals and couples. In any case, I believe the Bushes are in their late 80s, bucking the views of a sizable proportion of their contemparies and their party.

    One rule I try to follow: when people give you what you want, don’t belittle them. Be gracious and show appreciation. Worse than giving credit for good acts with possibly tainted motives would be failure to give credit where it’s actually due.

  9. Pierce R. Butler:

    … I don’t know how they can live with themselves …

    I would have to ask the same question to Clement & Thorgalsen. They could have done better, morally, by recruiting witnesses from the nearest crackhouse.

  10. Childermass:

    Do we have any evidence that Bush Sr. did not do what tens of millions of other people have done on this issue: changed their minds?

  11. bad Jim:

    The least generous opinion would be that the Bushes are merely conformists, doing what’s now expected of them. While that, perhaps unfairly, wouldn’t say anything nice about them, it says very good things about everyone else.

  12. katkinkate:

    It’s pretty much irrelevant really. If they’ve changed their views since being president then good on them. If they held those views while in Govt, expressing them would have just destroyed their political career and they would have never made it to President and thus would have had little power to effect change in Govt policy.

  13. shripathikamath:

    Excellent! Ed gets it right by acknowledging that the Bushes did a good thing but that it does not wipe out the copious bigotry that flowed from them over the years.

    That is balance

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!:

    Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara not only attended a same-sex wedding in their famous summer home of Kennebunkport, Maine, they acted as witnesses for the couple and signed the marriage license. The couple owns a general store in that town and have known the Bushes for years.

    Good for them well done to both couples here.

  15. colnago80:

    Let’s be fair about this. The Clintons and Obama also have changed their position on this issue. Let’s remember that ole slick Willie signed DOMA and that his wife and Obama both said that they opposed same sex marriage during the 2008 campaign.

  16. anubisprime:

    Politics and religion stem from the same root of unbridled ambition that allows, or in fact mandates that they must lie and lie and lie again to maintain the policy line…regardless of reality, decency, integrity, and personal thoughts.

    Funny how when some folks leave religion…it is reported that they never really believed in the tale, they were just one of the bodies that were counted.

    Politics has a similar post-mayhem malady.

    If the Bush legacy is a change of mind on this subject, then that is to be at least applauded, but the damage and sheer ignorance they and their ilk have done and fostered over the years far outweighs the act.

    For that they will never be able to make amends in this life! and probably not in the next assuming they buy into that codswollop.

  17. Modusoperandi:

    You do know this means that GWB will rush in in a decade and screw it all up, right?

  18. johnmarley:

    @Modusoperandi –
    Please use emoticons or a sarcasm tag. I want to believe your comments are meant to be funny, but I really can’t tell.

  19. Michael Heath:

    johnmarley,

    Merely hanging out here, if only to figure out where modusoperandi’s coming from, is easily worth the time.

  20. Crudely Wrott:

    A recent NBC article noted that peeking out from under GHWB’s pant cuffs while he signed wedding documents were a blue sock and a red sock. I amused myself by imagining that he was wearing white shorts.

    Being in a less than flag waving frame of mind of late due to the fluster cluck in Congress, I found both the ex-presidents choice of attire and the actions of he and his wife at Saturday’s wedding to be a moment of uplift.

    For that, I thank them both.

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