Candace Gingrich-Jones: Newt Hasn't Changed

BY Julie Bolcer

December 16 2011 2:10 PM ET

Differences in age and geography prevent Gingrich-Jones from
extrapolating from her own experience to gain insight into the formation
of her brother’s views. She cannot presume that he was raised aware of
gay people, for instance, just because their mother and sisters readily
accepted her coming-out. “When I came out to my mom in 1987, one of the
things that she said to me was, ‘When we were growing up, we didn’t have
gay people.’ I’m not sure how far into her life that kind of idea that
‘we don’t have gay people’ extended.”

Still, Gingrich-Jones says she and
her brother share “some similarities” in their military brat
upbringings, which meant both moved from place to place, albeit never together,
and adapted by diving into their new climates. Her brother lived in France and
Germany at points. “I think that both Newt and I, and our two sisters to
an extent, took the perspective that it was better to be proactive and
to be extroverted and to make friends, to be proactive. That’s something
that was kind of similar in our growing up.”

Compared to her youth, when “years would go by” before she saw her brother, in the
past decade, since he married his third wife, Callista, their families have
made “somewhat more of an effort” to see each other “a couple, three,
four, depending, times a year,” for holidays or special events.
Recently, Gingrich-Jones and her spouse, Rebecca, a playwright she married in 2009, went to
hear Callista sing with the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Her brother also
attended a play, She Said/She Said, based on a real-life lesbian child
custody battle, that was the MFA thesis project of Rebecca, a
“fairly progressive, liberal person.” Political
differences get checked at the door on such occasions. (Newt Gingrich, however, did not attend Gingrich-Jones’s wedding.)

“The times
that the family is all together are so few and far in between,” says
Gingrich-Jones, noting that the upcoming Iowa caucus makes the timing of
this year’s holiday gathering uncertain. “None of us usually talk too
deeply about anything political. We stick to the things that we can
converse about,” like football and beer.

“I know that he likes
Guinness,” she says. “Not many people have probably got to see Newt
giggle about something that’s funny, and I’ve gotten to see that. We’ve
all really got good senses of humor. Sometimes it tends to be on the
drier, sarcastic side. But when the family gets together, there’s a lot
of laughter and there’s a lot of joking. He can be a fun and silly kind
of person just like the rest of us.”

Her brother
treats her and Rebecca the same as everyone else, she says: “What I’ve experienced
as far as the changes in him have occurred more on a personal level than
on a political level. When it’s personal and when it’s family I don’t
feel any different than my sister and her husband or my other sister.”

For
instance, she and Rebecca just received copies of Callista’s book
Sweet Land of Liberty, one of many titles published by Gingrich
Productions, that they plan to give to Rebecca’s new niece. Not an avid
reader of her brother’s work, she concedes, “I might read Ellis the
Elephant,
” referring to the star character of the children’s book.

As
for whether this behavior suggests that Gingrich campaigns against
equality for political reasons rather than personal convictions, she
says, “That’s a question I think that only he could ever answer.”

The
truce at family gatherings aside, Gingrich-Jones, who found it “kind of
funny” when a gay rights activist glitter-bombed her brother in
Minnesota this year, has committed to back President Obama’s reelection bid. HRC endorsed the president in May, but she says
she would have supported him regardless of what the organization did.















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