Maya Marcel-Keyes, the lesbian daughter of conservative Republican Alan Keyes, who is currently featured in an exclusive interview on Advocate.com, appealed to several hundred people at a rally in Annapolis, Md., on Monday to provide more support for gay and lesbian young people who have been deserted by their families and too often wind up being victims of violence on the streets. In her first public appearance since her sexual orientation began to attract public attention, Marcel-Keyes said she was motivated to speak out because of the illness and recent death of a high school friend who was thrown out of the house by his family and by her own relationship with her parents.
At home, "things just came to a head. Liberal queer plus conservative Republican just doesn't mesh well," she said at the rally, sponsored by Equality Maryland to protest a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and support bills aimed at guaranteeing more rights for gays. "That was
making my life a little bit turbulent," she said.
After her speech, responding to questions from an interviewer for CNN, Marcel-Keyes said her parents "were not too pleased" when they learned she was a lesbian, but she said she loves them "very much, and they love me. They can't support my activities." Her father, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois last year, created a stir in August when he said during an interview in August that homosexuality is "selfish hedonism" and that Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter is a sinner.
During her speech, Marcel-Keyes contrasted the outpouring of support she received when her sexual orientation became known with that of her friend. "Like me, he grew up queer in a conservative household," she said. But where she got hundreds of e-mails, offers of a place to stay, and a college
scholarship, "he'd been out there two years and had gotten nothing. And the worst part is, he isn't the only one," Marcel-Keyes said. "We have to figure out what we can do to make sure that during those times when it seems like everything in the world is turning against them, like everyone in the world is rejecting them, that they know there are resources out there they can turn to, there are people out there who will say to them, 'I care."'
Alan Keyes released a statement Monday night saying, "My daughter is an adult and she is responsible for her own actions. What she chooses to do has nothing to do with my work or political activities."
The Equality Maryland rally came a little more than two weeks after opponents of same-sex marriage held a rally in the same location outside the statehouse to encourage lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The definition is already part of state law. Supporters of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples stood in the damp cold for an hour listening to speakers that included Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland; the 14-year-old son of two mothers; and Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was tied to a fence and fatally beaten in a highly publicized case in Wyoming in 1998.
Furmansky urged the crowd to lobby for legislation that would increase penalties for hate crimes and give gay couples the right to make medical decisions for their partners. Jake Williams, who lives with his two mothers, brother, and sister in Prince George's County, said his is "a normal family doing things just like any other family. I don't get it when some people say my moms aren't good people and shouldn't get married." (AP)