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.