Gay Marriage | News | Patti Davis | Ronald Reagan

Daughter Patti Davis: Ronald Reagan Would Have Supported Marriage for Gay Couples


Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, says he would have supported marriage equality, she tells the NYT:

ReaganBut Ms. Davis, now 60, offered several reasons her father, who would have been 102 this year, would have bucked his party on the issue: his distaste for government intrusion into private lives, his Hollywood acting career and close friendship with a lesbian couple who once cared for Ms. Davis and her younger brother Ron while their parents were on a Hawaiian vacation — and slept in the Reagans’ king-size bed.

“I grew up in this era where your parents’ friends were all called aunt and uncle,” Ms. Davis said. “And then I had an aunt and an aunt. We saw them on holidays and other times.” She added, “We never talked about it, but I just understood that they were a couple.”

Once when she and her father were watching a Rock Hudson movie, Ms. Davis said, she remarked that the actor “looked weird” kissing his female co-star. She said her father explained that Mr. Hudson “would rather be kissing a man,” and conveyed, without using the words homosexual or gay, the idea that “some men are born wanting to love another man.” Years later, in 1985, Mr. Hudson died of AIDS.

Earlier this week, Reagan's son Michael wrote a column asking where the "moral outrage" over same-sex marriage was and urging churches to fight back against it. He also said it's a "slippery slope" to alternative relationships and amoral things like polygamy, murder, and sex with animals.

Watch Davis's interview with Howard Bragman in which she discusses this topic,

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  1. So Patti Davis really thinks her father - the man, the president who wouldn't utter the acronym "AIDS" (and much less acknowledge the disease or create federal efforts to address it) until late in his presidency - would be OK with SSM? Color me doubtful on her claim. I only wish it would have been true but, hey, it's a bit late now for it to make any difference.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Apr 4, 2013 8:56:14 AM

  2. Ssssshhhhhh. Hear that? That's the GOP's collective heads exploding. (if only)

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 4, 2013 8:57:44 AM

  3. Is this the same Reagan we are speaking about?

    Ronald Reagan stood idly by while the AIDS holocaust annihilated hundreds of thousands of American citizens, simply because they were gay.

    Reagan is rotting in hell for his appalling failures.

    Posted by: MaryM | Apr 4, 2013 8:59:00 AM

  4. And George Washington would have opposed slavery if he were alive today. It doesn't matter what people say we would do if we were alive. The only thing that matters is what we did while we were alive. And George sent slave hunters after his run away "property" and Ronnie couldn't even say the word AIDS for several years let alone do anything about it.

    Posted by: andrew | Apr 4, 2013 9:04:12 AM

  5. Ronnie Reagan, the guy that put A. Scalia on the Supreme Court and nominated Robert Bork to the Court (thank those Dems of the 80's he didn't get it), would have supported marriage equality ??

    You're kidding me ... Right?

    Posted by: AdamTh | Apr 4, 2013 9:13:52 AM

  6. Ronnie's idea of marriage equality for same sex couples would have mirrored arguments used against interracial marriage in the 60's. He would have said Gays & Lesbians already have the same marriage rights as everyone else - marry a person of the opposite sex.

    Posted by: AdamTh | Apr 4, 2013 9:19:01 AM

  7. I've always enjoyed the Reagan children fighting with each other in the press. Nancy and Jane's children hate each other as much as their mother's did.

    Posted by: Bart | Apr 4, 2013 9:20:26 AM

  8. Is is time for a Reagan family reunion or something? I never thought of Patti as delusional, but I guess it's true.

    Posted by: Jack M | Apr 4, 2013 9:35:45 AM

  9. Patti has suffered from revisionist history for decades now. Poor thing.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Apr 4, 2013 9:38:16 AM

  10. I'm pretty sure I remember a story about Ron and Nancy laughing their chops off when Bob Hope joked "They say the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but they don't know if she caught it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Ferry." Mitterrand and his wife, also present, were stunned. To his credit Hope did make a public service announcement for people with AIDS as part of an apology.

    Posted by: Yeek | Apr 4, 2013 9:49:03 AM

  11. I can't for the life of me understand why so many Republicans want to have sex with animals. It's just weird and disgusting.

    Posted by: Michael Heynz | Apr 4, 2013 9:57:57 AM

  12. I recall at the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty that Bob Hope said "The Statue of Liberty has AIDS but isn't sure if she got it from the Staten Island Ferry or elsewhere." (that is a paraphrase)

    Mr and Mrs Reagan laughed robustly while President Mitterand and his wife looked on quite appalled.

    I cannot believe that Ronald Reagan would be for gay marriage. I think Patty Davis has lost an honest memory of her father in the fog of time.

    Posted by: thepolarbeast | Apr 4, 2013 10:06:30 AM

  13. I continue to believe nothing that is so 'scripted' to be real or attached to the Reagan gene pool or once married to a Reagan.

    Posted by: RichB in PS | Apr 4, 2013 10:06:51 AM

  14. Wishful thinking. But it's a nice thought on her part, in any event.

    And yeah as stated above, it is great fun seeing the kids battle over their dad's legacy. An exercise the entire GOP is also engaging in.

    Posted by: Lars | Apr 4, 2013 10:13:31 AM

  15. I think the real issue is would Reagan have bucked his new found supporters in the South, or would he have stood by his California values.
    As wrong as Reagan was on AIDS, he did strongly oppose the Briggs Initiative (If you don't know of the Briggs Initiative, research your History).
    My guess is that he personally would not have had an issue with it, but would he have taken the political risk to publicly support it?

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 4, 2013 10:26:17 AM

  16. Ronald Reagan became President in no small part due to the Moral Majority, whose support Reagan heartily welcomed -- they were "conservatives," like him. The Moral Majority wanted to see gay people cease to exist, in one way or another. The head of the Moral Majority of Santa Clara County, California is on film, in a news interview, advocating executions of homosexuals.

    Patti Davis -- like Bill Clinton recently re his history with DOMA -- fails to look past homophobia and gay-bashing squarely in the eye and admit to it and own it. I find that despicable. So her dad apparently said some non-judgmental things about gay people, but he owes his very Presidency to homophobes, and he allowed himself to be controlled by them (e.g., re AIDS) when in office. A supposedly gay-friendly person who doesn't stand up for gay people isn't actually gay-friendly.

    It reminds me of the Jesse Helms Center in North Carolina trying to revise the historical reality that Jesse Helms was virulently hostile to gay people ("damned lesbian" comment etc. etc.; see film "Dear Jesse"). That is not OK.

    Posted by: Taxpaying American | Apr 4, 2013 10:56:16 AM

  17. *jaw drop*

    he didn't seem to mind when we were, you know, mysteriously and suddenly dying in the 80s.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 4, 2013 11:04:34 AM

  18. Jack's comment is spot on.

    Posted by: Lars | Apr 4, 2013 11:16:21 AM

  19. I think Patti's comments are helpful even they make even one moderate Republican pause for a minute.

    Posted by: Seattle Mike | Apr 4, 2013 12:02:29 PM

  20. MaryM said:

    "Ronald Reagan stood idly by while the AIDS holocaust annihilated hundreds of thousands of American citizens, simply because they were gay."

    If we accept your Holocaust analogy, that would make Ronald Reagan the equivalent of the Allies who failed to bomb the railway tracks leading to Auschwitz. In other words, his sin is the failure to prevent the harm that others were causing. So that would make gays and IVDUs, the ones who actually transmitted the virus, the equivalent of Nazi Germany. You should think twice before you toss around Holocaust references.

    You seem very homophobic. So it isn't all that surprising that you would suggest that , AIDS is a gay disease.

    Posted by: Terry | Apr 4, 2013 12:08:41 PM

  21. All the Reagan kids are nuts and always have been. Patti and Michael are the worst. Ron is OK but still a bit off---but soft-hearted at least. I can't really blame them...imagine growing up in that household.

    Posted by: Paul R | Apr 4, 2013 12:15:29 PM

  22. Little Kiwi:

    How's the acting career going? When is your next movie/TV show/Broadway performance/pole dancing appearance?

    Posted by: Matteom | Apr 4, 2013 12:19:20 PM

  23. Daughter Dearest needs to make up her mind. She's told this unbelievable "Daddy really LOVED The Gays" tale before even though she also once told The Advocate: “[My parents] think [being gay is] abnormal. I certainly don't think they feel that whatever someone's sexual preference is, is OK. They think that God made men and women to make love and any variation on that theme is in some way blasphemous." THAT fits with her father's own words during his 1980 campaign for the presidency: “An employer should not be subject to special laws such as ‘gay ordinances’ passed in some cities which in effect would compel him to hire a person because of that person’s sexual preference. My criticism is that that [the gay movement]isn’t just asking for civil rights, it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.” When the reporter asked why not, Reagan replied, “Well, you could find that in the Bible. It says that in the eyes of the Lord it’s an abomination.” But here she goes again, trying again to get us to believe that, circa twenty years before, DaDa was comfortable discussing homosexuality neutrally with his grade school daughter.

    As for him and Rock Hudson, just nine months after his death from AIDS, Ronnie & Nancy attended a nationally televised rededication of the cleaned-up Statue of Liberty in July 1986. A part of the evening’s “entertainment” was Repug comedian Bob Hope. He said:

    “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or from the Staten Island Ferry.” “As the television camera panned the audience, special guests French President & Mdm. Mitterand] looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing.” By the end of 1988 and the close of the Reagan years, 82,362 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 61,816 of them had died. The man was a heartless monster when it came to my people, guilty of passive genocide, and NOTHING anyone says will change that fact.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Apr 4, 2013 2:34:49 PM

  24. Another uninteresting spat between the Reagan progeny.


    Posted by: BobN | Apr 4, 2013 4:01:10 PM

  25. Reagan was an opportunist he was pro-abortion in Case but anti-abortion on the national stage. By all accounts he had multiple gay friends but he was brutal to gay interests as president.

    I don't doubt that Nancy arranged for lesbian babysitters or that he could give a level headed explanation of homosexuality. But when the bright lights came on they didn't suit his roll.

    In terms of Reagan children- Maureen for the win!

    Posted by: robroy | Apr 4, 2013 10:12:17 PM

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