Newt’s half sister talks politics.
It’s poetic justice (or perhaps just an accurate reflection of real life) that GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has a half sister who is not only lesbian, but also married and a gay-rights activist. Before Gingrich-Jones visits Northeastern Illinois University for a speaking gig Thursday 29, we spoke with her by phone.
You’re both an activist and a sibling to a presidential candidate. Does that make you a political junkie?
I don’t know if it’s possible to hear some of the anti-LGBT things that the GOP has to say and not get fired up. I don’t watch Sunday morning talk shows or regularly visit the Washington Post blog, but as they say, if you’re not pissed off you’re not paying attention.
You’ve said you support Obama. What are your feelings on his LGBT track record?
One of the challenges is that a number of the things he has accomplished have been through executive orders and things that may only affect federal employees, and it doesn’t necessarily get the kind of attention that other things do. President Obama is doing what he’s capable of doing at this time, especially with the House being controlled by the GOP.
Is the GOP really anti-gay or do you think its hands are tied by party extremists?
If your base is particularly adamant about a topic, it’s probably in your best interest to be adamant about that topic as well. I really don’t know what my brother believes. In our personal interactions, he is supportive of me and has interacted and done things with my wife and myself. I don’t really know if he believes what he says or is saying it to be politically expedient. I’m not sure if I like one of those answers better than the other.
Do you think your brother would make a good President?
As far as LGBT Americans are concerned and as far as people who believe in the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, he would not. A Gingrich or a Santorum or Romney presidency would drag the country back decades and not just on progressive issues.
Does Newt have respect for the fact that you’re working against his presidential ambitions?
Since 1995 when he became the Speaker of the House and I came out, we’ve had this mutual understanding that we can be family and be at total opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t think our family is too different from a lot of families out there. I’m sure that if you asked him, he’d say, “I never imagined that Candace would support me.” He’s known a long time what my politics are.
Do you think LGBT conservatives have a place within the GOP?
It gets lost that LGBT America looks exactly the same as straight America. It’s exactly the same tapestry, so there’s going to be people who are gay and conservative. If one is actively working to educate the party and to further the work for equality, it’s not my place to tell someone what party to belong to, and the flip side to that is that there are some really bad Democrats out there on LGBT issues. I do find it frustrating for someone who is gay to be supportive of a candidate who is anti-gay. It doesn’t make any sense.
Do the slow-turning wheels of the political process ever get you down?
I hope one of the lessons that activists learn sooner than later is to celebrate the small victories when they happen. We’re all impatient. We deserve full equality and we want it right now, but we’re also willing to
do the work to get us there one conversation at a time.
Gingrich-Jones speaks at Northeastern Illinois University Thursday 29.