Earlier today, we shared with you the news of the United States of America’s 41st President’s passing.
George H.W. Bush was announced dead earlier today and several politicians have noted his accomplishments for the American people and the world. But, what were his contributions and influence on LGBTQ citizens?
Before Bush Sr. followed Ronald Reagan’s disastrous exit from the White House, he was the Vice President.
Bush Sr. was ridiculed for his connection to the inactive Regan administration during the AIDS crisis. That said, Bush advocated for mandatory HIV testing during the time. In addition, Bush pushed for the protection of people living with AIDS from discrimination. Unfortunately, it was Reagan who failed to act.
“Once disease strikes, we don’t blame those who are suffering . . . We try to love them and care for them and comfort them. We don’t fire them, we don’t evict them, we don’t cancel their insurance,” he told Congress when the Disabilities Act was signed according to a Washington Post article from 1990.
According to Pink News, Bush also signed in the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which was the first federal bill to put “sexual orientation” under protection of discrimination.
But Bush wasn’t always an advocate for LGBTQ rights and issues.
In 1992, the U.S. President shared with the New York Times that he opposed same-sex parenting.
“I can’t accept as normal life style people of the same sex being parents. I’m very sorry. I don’t accept that as normal,” he said.
This eventually led to LGBTQ citizens turning away from Bush, which factored into his loss against Bill Clinton.
This was also the time when Chicago-based drag queen Joan Jett Blakk ran for president against Bush. Blakk then became the first drag queen to become a US Presidential Candidate.
Blakk also penned the phrase, "Lick Bush in '92!"
Later, Bush started to lighten up on his views of LGBTQ rights and life. Bush spoke to the New York Times in 2015 and shared that he approved of the right for same-sex couples to marry.
“Personally, I still believe in traditional marriage,” Mr. Bush wrote at the time. “But people should be able to do what they want to do, without discrimination. People have a right to be happy. I guess you could say I have mellowed.”
The former president even acted as an official witness to a wedding of a close friend in 2013.
While he certainly wasn’t a hero for gay or LGBTQ rights, Bush Sr. helped in some aspects of LGBTQ rights and wasn’t an aggressively anti-LGBTQ leader.
In today’s world of politics, that’s something to recognize.
h/t: Pink News, New York Times,