The new face of gay conservatives

Republicans control the White House, the House of Representatives, and a majority of governorships. Now a new wave of openly gay conservatives wants to put gay rights on the agenda in George Bush’s America

BY Chris Bull

April 02 2002 12:00 AM ET

Despite
Guerriero’s candidacy and the state’s liberal
drift, his champion Swift has equivocated on gay
issues. In a bow to conservatives shortly after she
assumed the governorship in spring 2001, when President Bush
appointed Governor Cellucci ambassador to Canada, she
endorsed a proposed state constitutional amendment
that would ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Her
stance was immediately denounced by gay activists as
well as by a surprising source—her gay stepson, Brian
Hunt, the son of Swift’s husband, Chuck Hunt.

Guerriero, who
served as Swift’s deputy chief of staff before
joining the campaign, declines to comment on what he
calls a “private family matter” between
Swift and her stepson. “Let me just say the governor
and her husband care very much about [Swift’s]
stepson,” he says. “I’m going to
leave it at that.”

And he insists
his disagreement with Swift on same-sex marriage was
“largely a matter of semantics. There are fundamental
rights that we agree upon. Whether you call it
marriage or civil union or domestic partnership, we
both believe that same-sex couples in loving, taxpaying
relationships can and should be given the same rights and
responsibilities as all other families.”

Guerriero notes
that the election will not turn on same-sex marriage.
“To be frank, most voters are more concerned
about other issues,” he says.

Nevertheless,
politicos say Guerriero’s appeal could become even
more crucial with the moderate Swift out of the race.
“Patrick is the perfect choice as Mitt
Romney’s running mate,” Mason says. “As
a conservative and a Mormon in a liberal state, Romney
needs to show that he can work well with the gay
community.”

As for his
newfound status as the state’s golden-boy politico,
Guerriero, who is single, has bigger things on his
mind. “I find the attention flattering,”
he says. “But I think people are really looking for
new energy and passion, and I think I bring that to
the ticket. That has more to do with having a message
and being able to articulate it than about pure
attractiveness, whatever that is. I spend a lot more time
polishing my position on taxes than deciding what
shirt I’m going to wear in the morning.”

Tags: Commentary

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