The daughter of the late former President Ronald Reagan says that she knows “the heart of the man who raised me as my father,” and were he alive today he would support same-sex marriage. Patti Davis, who, like her father, is a former actor, recently published a book, Till Human Voices Wake Us.
“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,” the New York Times reports:
“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.”
Once when she and her father were watching a Rock Hudson movie, Ms. Davis said, she remarked that the actor “looked weird” kissing his female co-star. She said her father explained that Mr. Hudson “would rather be kissing a man,” and conveyed, without using the words homosexual or gay, the idea that “some men are born wanting to love another man.” Years later, in 1985, Mr. Hudson died of AIDS.
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 said her father “did not believe that gayness was a choice,” although “as a straight man and an old-fashioned man, it’s not like he understood it.”
Ms. Davis’ brother, Michael Reagan, made news — and waves — this week by writing an op-ed demanding people and churches march in the streets against marriage equality, and likening same-sex marriages to “polygamy, bestiality, and perhaps even murder.” He was later forced to “apologize” for the “murder” mention.
Ronald Reagan, revered by the Christian right and the GOP in general, is reviled by some in the LGBT community for his silence and inaction during the AIDS crisis that began during his presidency. Others point to his support of gay and lesbian teachers, opposing a bill that would have banned them from employment in public schools.
Image: Reagan family portrait, 1967 — Ronald, Ron, Nancy, Patti
Hat tip: Talking Points Memo
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