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Chester County Press

Editorial: Hypocrite of the Commonwealth

08/02/2022 12:32PM ● By Richard Gaw

The timeline went like this:

On July 20, by a vote of 267-157, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, that if passed by the Senate will repeal and replace provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman and spouse as a person of the opposite sex with provisions that recognize any marriage as valid under state law. The bill is now before the Senate, and needs just ten Republican votes to pass.

While 47 Republican lawmakers voted for the bill, several GOP members opposed it. One of those was Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District.

On the evening of July 22, Thompson attended the wedding of his son – a gay man. A spokesperson for the lawmaker and his wife said that the Thompsons were “thrilled” to attend their son’s nuptials, “as he began this new chapter in his life,” the rep said in a statement. “The Thompsons are very happy to welcome their new son-in-law into the family.”

The truth in all of this soggy and homogenized sentiment, however, reveals one glaring fact that can not be dismissed: Glenn Thompson voted against his son’s happiness.

In the rancorous battleground of our national conversation, the issue of same-sex marriage has been the victim of our fears and our biases, but like the changing tide of popular sentiment, acceptance and approval of gay marriage continues to evolve. In a recent Gallup poll, 71 percent of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, one that includes a slim majority of Republican voters.

Into that cultural shift, however, lingers the power of the electorate, particularly in districts like Thompson’s – whose beliefs closely align with the doctrines of the Evangelical and Catholic faiths – who continue to resist efforts by governments to establish same-sex marriage.

The 15th Congressional District, realigned in 2019, now represents all or parts of 14 counties in the largely rural and conservative region north east of Pittsburgh. In short, they form Thompson’s base – the same one that continues to exhaustively attempt to impose their theocratic agenda on Republican lawmakers throughout the Commonwealth.

It is not entirely certain whether Thompson’s rejection of the Respect for Marriage Act was influenced by his own personal beliefs or by the word of his constituency and likely voters, but he knows he cannot win without them.

And yet, the actions he took between July 20 and July 23 represent a glaring hypocrisy and the latest hard scab of inequality that continues to stultify our nation’s progress, and one that is being perpetuated by certain lawmakers fearful of reprimand from their base, who remain intent on owning the corner market of our freedoms.

It is not in the realm of question whether Rep. Thompson loves his son or whether he was truly happy that he “had married the love of his life,” as his son so eloquently shared. The entire Thompson family deserves this happiness. Thompson’s error is his failure to acknowledge that happiness should not be politicized, and that every American family and every American individual – gay or straight -- who is so moved by the sanctity of love be given the same freedom to make it sacrament.