GOP Rep.'s gay son defends father's opposition to same-sex marriage

House subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Chairman Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., center, talks with Mark Feierstein, assistant administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Agency for International Development, right, and Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs , after they testified on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Recent remarks by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., saying he doesn't "support the gay marriage" was "nothing I didn't already know," the congressman's openly gay son, also named Matt, told the Washington Blade.

Rep. Salmon earlier this week told Phoenix-based TV station KTVK that he hasn't "evolved to that station" that Sen. Rob Portman, "apparently has," in light of the Ohio Republican's about-face on same-sex marriage months after his son came out to him as gay: "It doesn't mean I don't have respect; it doesn't mean I don't sympathize with some of the issues," Rep. Salmon said. "I'm just not there as far as believing in my heart that we should change 2,000 years of social policy in favor of a redefinition of the family."

The younger Matt Salmon - a former president of the Arizona Log Cabin Republicans who in 2010 was publicly dating GOP Sen. Jeff Flake's second cousin Kent Flake - defended his father from what he says has added up to "a lot of hateful comments" written by "incredibly intolerant" same-sex marriage advocates on the congressman's Facebook page since the interview.

"He doesn't see it as not allowing his son to be with the person he loves because he knows that regardless of where marriage is, I'm going to be with the person that I love," Salmon said of his father. "Whether I can legally marry in Arizona or not, it's not going to change that fact and my father knows that and he accepts my desire to be with the man that I love.

"As far as it goes with marriage for him it's a matter of what marriage means to him - to him, marriage is defined as between a man and a woman," he continued. "It has nothing to do with the way he views a person's relationship, and that's the thing that I think is hard for people to understand."

Salmon said while people try "so hard to analyze" where his dad's position comes from, "really he was quite straightforward. My father loves me very much and he supports me and he respects me. He's very much there for me as one of my closest friends. I think that was obvious in everything that he had to say."

Rep. Salmon said in the interview: "My son is one of the most important people in my life - I love him more than I can say."

In 1996 the congressman voted in favor of passing the Defense of Marriage Act, a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman that is currently being argued before the Supreme Court. His son told the Blade he believes his father will ultimately come around to backing same-sex marriage.

On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., became the second Republican in a month to come out in support of marriage for same-sex couples, offering in a statement: "Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back - government has no place in the middle."

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