WASHINGTON — Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) says news stories about his gay son’s recent wedding were disrespectful and an invasion of privacy.
“It was wrong, it was just absolutely wrong,” Thompson told HuffPost on Wednesday. “It’s not anybody’s business — bottom line.”
The comments were Thompson’s first public remarks in response to the issue.
The wedding became national news in July because Thompson attended his son’s wedding to another man after voting against the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Democrats moved the bill after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that created a federal right to abortion nationwide. Just as abortion did, federal recognition of state-approved same-sex marriages hinges on precedent rather than federal law.
Democrats wanted to pass new legislation so that if the Supreme Court does overturn its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — as one conservative justice has already said it should — same-sex marriage would remain the law of the land.
More than 40 other House Republicans voted for the bill, but Thompson said he has no regrets about opposing it, because he doesn’t believe the Supreme Court would actually go there.
“It was the right vote because it was a political bill that was put on the floor by the Democrats for the purposes of … getting political leverage, inappropriately, for this next election,” Thompson said, referring to the November midterms. “No one’s looking to step in the way of people choosing who they’re going to marry. It was ridiculous.”
After news broke of Thompson’s attendance, a wedding guest provided BuzzFeed News with the congressman’s father-of-the-groom toast, telling the outlet that “politicians need to be exposed for who they really are” — in Thompson’s case, a loving father who does not personally oppose gay marriage.
The lawmaker described the coverage of the wedding as “pretty disrespectful, actually, in terms of the kind of invasion of his privacy.”
Thompson is a conservative Republican, but he’s more of a genial policy wonk than a loudmouthed right-winger. He’s the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. On Tuesday, he co-chaired a hearing about soil health.
Thompson could get another chance to vote on same-sex marriage. A small bipartisan group of senators is working on changes to the House bill that would win over the 10 Republicans needed to get the legislation through their chamber.
One Senate Republican who previously left the door open to supporting a same-sex marriage bill told HuffPost last week that he doesn’t think the Supreme Court would upend couples’ lives by overturning its decision on the issue — even though that’s exactly what it did on abortion. (Public opinion polling had also consistently showed that the majority of the country never believed the Supreme Court would overturn abortion rights, either.)
“It seems like it’s completely unnecessary,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said of the legislation. “It’s just divisive. Democrats are using this — they won’t let the wound heal. They’ve got to pick every scab to create a divisive issue.”
If the Senate made changes to the bill and passed it, the measure would return to the House for another vote. Thompson said he’d wait and see the changes before taking a position.
As for his son, he said he only wants the best for him, the way any parent would.
“From the time they’re born, we have all kinds of hopes and aspirations for them,” Thompson said. “One of them is that they find that person that they want to grow old with and spend the rest of their life.”