Hooray for Republican daughters - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Hooray for Republican daughters

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 4:45 pm

Why are Republican daughters so much cooler than their stuffy fathers? Of course, like all generalizations about generational differences, this one has plenty of exceptions. I'm referring to this week's revelation that Bush twin Barbara is now appearing in a new online PSA video for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.

In it she says, "I'm Barbara Bush and I'm a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality and everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us."

The video is part of a series featuring high-profile New Yorkers joining in a push to legalize same-sex marriage, which was blocked by the Legislature more than a year ago.

Bush has never come out, pun intended, on this issue before and it takes great courage on her part to do so. OK, so Dad is out of office (forever one can presume, and hope) and Mom during her book tour took a similar stance. But Uncle Jeb is seriously considering a run for president. So it can safely be assumed that this Texan-turned-New-Yorker probably got plenty of flak from the relatives for doing what she has done.

Same with former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's daughter Meghan, who crossed the aisle on this issue, well sort of, in 2009. Meghan's claim is that as one who is pro life and pro gay rights at the same time, she is the true Republican, not the Bible-clenching wing of the GOP. I wish her Godspeed in trying to make gay rights part of the Republican Party platform. I am sure one day, long after I have departed this vale of tears, the GOP will shed its "take me back to the dark ages" approach toward cultural issues. But probably not during Meghan McCain's lifetime or mine.

Still Bush's endorsement carries more weight since she was raised in the White House and Meghan McCain never had the opportunity to have her own bedroom in the family living quarters.

Not everyone sees young Bush as a heroine. Columnist LZ Granderson wrote on CNN.com: "...I am also aware that her (Bush's) little revelation follows roughly 18 months of gay rights support coming from the mouths of some fairly surprising sources. People such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain."

And it's true that young Barbara is hardly the first GOP star to take the leap, but she's doing it at a time when some other party luminaries are going in the opposite direction. Look at Mitt Romney, for instance. Romney supported gay rights as governor of Massachusetts, but he now opposes them since he's trying to appeal to the GOP base: the Bible-clutchers, who in my humble opinion see most social issues very differently than Christ would have seen them, if he were here today.

In fact, there are some who predict that if the economy is seriously on the mend and unemployment has dropped to acceptable levels by 2012, Republicans will once again use social wedge issues to try to reclaim the White House.

So I give Barbara Bush and Meghan McCain great credit for standing apart from their fathers, even if a bit late in Bush's case. It takes courage and shows a brand of independence and forward-looking thinking that their fathers were too stodgy to consider. Now, if someone could just work on these young women to become outspokenly pro-choice, I think their party could witness a huge influx of followers.

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