5 Surprisingly Gay-Friendly Acts by Hostile Politicians

In the game of politics, it is rarely as simple as being for or against any one issue. Gay rights has proved to be one topic that is more derisive than most, but even some of our most prominent anti-gay or gay rights hostile politicians have, for their own political and personal reasons, taken turns at being gay-friendly. Here are five gay-friendly acts from politicians that might surprise you.

1) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Presided Over Gay Marriages

During Schwarzenegger’s time as California Governor, he earned a reputation as being hostile to gay marriage, though it would be a stretch to label him anti-gay, because he vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in 2005 and again in 2007.

What is interesting is that in a recent interview with CNN, Schwarzenegger spoke about how he in fact presided over two gay marriage ceremonies during his time as Governor, one for his chief of staff Susan Kennedy, and another for a former aid, both of them at the governor’s house.

Here’s what Schwarzenegger said in an un-aired segment posted on the show’s official site:

“I always said that I have nothing against people doing what they want to do. If couple wants to get married, they should get married. I personally always said that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I would never enforce my will on people. I always want people to make that decision. If they want to get married, let them get married.”


“I don’t have to be for gay marriage. I’m for that she gets the kind of wedding and the kind of ceremony that I had when I got married with (sic) Maria (Shriver). That she happens to love a woman, and I am – a guy that loves a woman, that is two different things. It doesn’t make any difference. She should still have her ceremony.”

This might not be that surprising, however. Schwarzenegger was by most standards a moderate and he famously refused to defend California’s Proposition 8 in court, saying he believed it unconstitutional.

2) Paul Ryan Supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Since becoming a prospective VP to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan has certainly made it a mission to cement his religious conservative credentials. He had no trouble convincing us he was anti-gay, though.

In 2004, he supported a federal amendment against gay marriage, had voted against expanding hate crimes laws, and most recently voted against a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Interestingly, though, Ryan in 2007 voted along with 34 other House Republicans for the gay rights employment bill the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill traditionally opposed by religious conservatives.

This vote was used by Republican gay groups to hail Ryan as a progressive on gay causes (despite all the evidence to the contrary).

Sadly, the truth has a habit of undercutting things, and an investigation by several interested parties led to a closer reading of the voting record for that day. As Daily Kos points out, while it is true Ryan did vote to pass the bill, he had just five minutes earlier voted to kill the bill before a proper debate could be had.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore.

3) John McCain Voted Against a Federal Marriage Amendment

We know how aggressively anti-gay Senator John McCain has been, from writing to support California’s Proposition 8, to opposing hate crimes legislation and ENDA, and throwing everything into derailing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Also, McCain has been consistent on his stance on gay marriage: he opposes same-sex unions but believes that it is a state rights issue.

Indeed, in 2006 McCain supported a (failed) initiative in Arizona to amend the state constitution and ban same-sex marriage.

But, following through on his own (faulty but at least consistent) logic that voters at state level should decide the marriage issue, John McCain in 2004 decided to break with his more conservative colleagues and voted against President Bush’s constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage at the federal level.

A polite thanks, but probably don’t bother putting him on your holiday card list just yet.

Image credit: Soggydan.


4) Mitt Romney Once Wanted to be An “Aggressive” Gay Rights Advocate

We all know Mitt Romney has gone to great lengths to let us know he is anti-gay, abandoning his once more moderate leanings to appeal to religious conservatives that he is the man to, for instance, finally enact a federal marriage amendment.

However, it may surprise you to learn that Romney, during his unsuccessful 1994 bid for a place in the US Senate, wrote to the gay Republican group the Log Cabin Republicans saying he supported “full equality” for gay and lesbian citizens and that he would be a more aggressive supporter than his Democratic rival.

Now, it would be incorrect to suggest that Romney would have considered marriage as part of that package. Romney does, however, have a history (convoluted as it is) of supporting some form of domestic partnerships, so this is likely to be what he envisioned.

Romney, in case you were wondering, has always said he does not support civil unions because, by design, they are like marriage.

Except that one time when he did support civil unions…

Image credit: davelawrence8


5) Mitt Romney Once Supported Civil Unions

Yes, Mitt appears twice. But he’s positively gymnastic when it comes to policy, so you’ll forgive me.

And it’s true. Mitt once supported civil unions — but only as a means to stop marriage equality in Massachusetts.

As Governor of Massachusetts, almost a decade on from that 1994 letter, and already eyeing national ambitions, Romney would set about trying to dismantle and block the state supreme court’s 2003 ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage.

Crucially, Romney was on record as opposing civil unions by that time but, under pressure from conservatives to block the court ruling from going into effect, he reneged on an earlier promise to follow the ruling and attempted to push through the state legislature an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage but that would have allowed for civil unions.

Romney quickly abandoned that bid — it wasn’t popular with mostly anyone — in order to pursue other avenues, including trying to resurrect a law that had been used to prevent states having to recognize interracial marriages that were enacted in other states. All unsuccessful but still, quite telling.

Related Reading:

For Your Debate-Watching Pleasure: Romney Bingo

Debate Preview: The Good, The Bad and The Expected

More Americans Think Torture Is Okay

Image credit: WEBN-TV.

Top image credit: Gage Skidmore.


Tamara r Pearlman
Tamara R P5 years ago

A surprising read and eye opening. Where do these politicians really stand? With their parties or do they actually have opinions of their own that they could be exercising and utilizing to bring about tolerance, acceptance, awareness and more.

Lori E.
Lori E5 years ago


William and Kat Dresbach

Thank You

Sue Matheson
Sue M5 years ago


Joan E.
Joan E5 years ago

I don't think Arnold was ever gay-unfriendly. I remcalled reading he took part in gay orgies as a bodybuilder, so I did a google search with his name and the words gay and bodybuilder. Here's an exerpt from the first article that came up:

Revealing that his parents both believed he might be gay because his bedroom walls were covered with posters of scantily clad body builders, Austria-born Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled during a 60 Minutes appearance the two tried to cure him in their own ways.

Speaking of his father Gustav, who was the local police chief, Arnold Schwarzenegger said "he ran after me with a belt and beat me." His mother, Aurelia, thankfully took a softer approach, though she still had it in her head something was "wrong" with her son and she could find a way to "cure" him.

Lynn Squance
Lynn S5 years ago

I know that the law of the land is built on the Constitution. But Americans also revere the Declaration of Independence, and it embodies the basis of independence from Britain. The second sentence reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

What is so hard to understand? It does not say
- except Blacks;
- except Muslims;
- except women;
- except gays;
- except . . . etc.

It says ALL men are created equal, ... that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

The times have changed, but the values have not!

Heidi R.
Past Member 5 years ago

Politics makes strange bed fellows.

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago


Beth Wilkerson
Beth W5 years ago

politicians' opinions seem to change with the prevailing winds.

Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

"Mitt Romney once wanted to be an aggressive Gay Rights advocate."

Mitt has been aggressively anything he thought would get him what he wanted. Liberal, moderate, conservative, the right of John Birch... pro life, choice, medical fairness anti life, choice medical fairness.

You name it, he's been for it, against it but he never said that what ever it was.