Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry, said Tuesday that she believes the country will eventually move toward acceptance of gay marriage. "I think with time and without a lot of politicization of this, we'll get there," said Heinz Kerry, who is on a three-day campaign swing through California, which holds its primary next week. "I think our country is basically a tolerant country."
Heinz Kerry was campaigning for her husband Tuesday in San Francisco, which has become the epicenter of the gay marriage debate since the city began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week. She told reporters she was "not surprised" by President Bush's support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. She said she expected that the Bush campaign would use her husband's views on the issue against him in the presidential race if Kerry became the Democratic nominee. "It's a campaign year, what can I say?" Heinz Kerry said. "They'll use everything, everything."
Her husband opposes gay marriage but supports same-sex civil unions. In 1996 he was one of just 14 U.S. senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of gay marriages licensed in individual states.
Heinz Kerry said she sees the same-sex marriage debate from the perspective of a mother because she has many friends struggling to come to terms with children who are gay. "I think, culturally, we're going through a huge change," Heinz Kerry said. "I look at it in a human context because I have friends in those situations, and it's terrible. All we owe people is dignity, respect, and civil rights. I think the country will evolve."
Heinz Kerry has three grown sons from her first marriage to the late U.S. senator John Heinz, a Pennsylvania Republican.