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Posts for April, 2013

Would Reagan have supported equality?

Timothy Kincaid

April 4th, 2013

Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, is saying that she believes that her father would support marriage equality. She also filled out a bit more about her family’s relationships with gay people which has often in the press been limited to a mention of Rock Hudson.(NY Times)

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.

“I grew up in this era where your parents’ friends were all called aunt and uncle,” Ms. Davis said. “And then I had an aunt and an aunt. We saw them on holidays and other times.” She added, “We never talked about it, but I just understood that they were a couple.”

It’s impossible to know the beliefs of a man who is dead, but that doesn’t stop speculation. And those who best knew the person are most suited to make such a guess.

Nancy Reagan has not, to my knowledge, made any comments about same-sex marriage or expressed her husband’s views. But during their administration, her decorator and his partner were the first known gay couple to stay at the white house, and Nancy joined Patti in their outrage at a television depiction of Ronald Reagan which portrayed him as personally hostile to gay people.

I certainly don’t know that Reagan would have supported equality. But Patti’s voice is a welcome rebuttal to those in the Republican Party who would use the former President’s name to oppose marriage and serves as a reminder that the Party of Reagan has in many ways morphed into an entity in which he would no longer feel welcome.