2012 / Politics
When Do We Get to Meet Elizabeth Santorum's Imaginary Gay Friends?
by Dan Savage
on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Originally posted early this AM, moved it up because I can.
Yesterday the Huffington Post profiled Elizabeth Santorum, Rick's 20-year-old daughter and a big piece of his "campaign infrastructure." Two items of interest:
It is tough, after all, being a young surrogate for a candidate/father clinging to an older worldview. Her father's stance on same-sex marriage and gay rights, in particular, has caused some friction from non-supporters. "It's a policy thing, he thinks this is the right thing for America and the foundations of our country," she said of gay marriage.... Opposed to same-sex marriage herself, Elizabeth said she has gay friends who support her father's candidacy based on his economic and family platforms. But her father's doctrinaire opposition to change on these fronts has made her the occasional target at school and on the trail—"never aggressively," she said, though "obviously, there are certain people that aren't [respectful]."
Yeah, Elizabeth, it's tough out there for a 'phobe. You know what else is tough? Losing your home after the death of your spouse because your marriage isn't recognized by the federal government. Seeing your husband deported because your marriage isn't recognized by the federal government.
What really interests me about the HuffPo interview, however, is Elizabeth's claim to have gay friends. Elizabeth Santorum—follow her on Twitter @esantorum2012—has gay friends. Just like her father. And Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and Donny Osmond and Sarah Palin. All the high-profile homophobes seem to have gay friends. Or at least they claim to have gay friends. No one has ever met—and no reporter has ever asked to verify the existence of—one of Rick Santorum or Elizabeth Santorum or Rick Warren or Joel Osteen's gay friends.
Um... political reporters? Stop accepting homophobes' claims of gay friendship at face value. Elizabeth Santorum says she has gay friends who support her dad based on his family platform? That is an astonishing assertion. Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his having compared sex between consenting adults of the same sex to child rape and dog fucking? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his having asserted that gay relationships are a threat to "homeland security"? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his opposition not just to gay marriage, but to any legal recognition of same-sex relationships at all (no civil unions, no domestic partnerships)? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his promise to write anti-gay bigotry into the US Constitution, forcibly divorce every same-sex couple that has gotten legally married in the US over the last decade, and reinstate DADT? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum for president despite his opposition to adoptions by same-sex couples?
Who are these faggots?
Political reporters? When Elizabeth Santorum says, "I have gay friends and they support my dad because they agree with him about family issues," i.e. her dad's opposition to gay people having a families of their own, your immediate response should be a request for the names and phone numbers of some of these gay friends. Because that claim requires checking out before you put it in print or pixels. Reassure Elizabeth you'll quote her friends anonymously to protect them from potty-mouthed gay bloggers, they can talk to you on background or whatever, but tell her that you're going to need to verify the existence of these gay friends. Because you're a journalist, not a stenographer. You'll either catch Elizabeth Santorum in a revealing lie—what does it tell us about this moment in the struggle for LGBT equality that even homophobes like Elizabeth and her dad perceive a political risk in being perceived as homophobic?—or you'll land a fascinating interview.
And then there's this:
She is aware of her father's so-called "Google problem," part of a campaign by columnist Dan Savage to redefine the candidate's last name after he compared same-sex relationships to bigamy, polygamy and incest. "Savage and his perverted sense of humor is the reason why my children cannot Google their father's name," Rick Santorum wrote in a letter to supporters earlier this year. "That just makes me sad. It's disappointing that people can be that mean," she said,
I'm sorry I gave Elizabeth Santorum a sad. You know what gives me a sad? This does:
Ed Watson wasn't a "policy thing." He was a human being. And he died in December, still waiting for the Prop 8 decision to come down, still denied the right to legally marry the love of his life.
And you know what, Elizabeth? Making a dirty joke at the expense of a politically powerful elected official with designs on the White House—a man who has pledged to do everything in his power to make sure that gay people continue to lose their homes, see their spouses deported, and watch their partners die while waiting for their full civil equality to be recognized—is whole lot less mean than attacking a minority group and pledging to strip members of that minority group of the few rights they have secured.