Pictures of presidents signing documents are pretty standard. A less-than-standard variation? A picture of former President George Bush signing a same-sex marriage license as an official witness. Bush and former First Lady Barbara were up in Kennebunk, Maine for the wedding of two long-time friends, Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen when one of the brides spontaneously asked him to sign their marriage license as a witness.
“Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world," Clement told the Washington Post in an email from London, where the couple was honeymooning. "When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’”
The newlyweds own a general store in Kennebunk, which is right next door to Kennebunkport, where the Bushes have a compound. Although some news sources are calling this a "presidential endorsement" of same-sex marriage, it's important to note that Bush was attending the wedding as a private citizen.
While in office, Bush didn't have an presidential policy on same-sex marriage — although his Republican party doesn't support it, it wasn't yet a hot topic during his era. The next George, however, was pretty clear about where he stood on the issue. Former President George W. Bush was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and supported a 2004 constitutional amendment to outlaw it altogether.
Since then, Bush's wife, Laura, and their daughter, Barbara, have both come out as supporters of same-sex marriage. Even Bush's vice-president, Dick Cheney, was later in favor of equal marriage rights: He lobbied to pass same-sex marriage in Massachusetts last year. In fact, Cheney's daughter Liz is the only one in the Cheney family not to back same-sex marriage: Her sister Mary is married to a woman, and Cheney matriarch Lynne is also pro-same-sex marriage.
Post-presidency, George W. has refused to talk about the subject because he's claimed to have mostly opted out of politics. He's also so far declined to comment on about his father's impetuous decision at the wedding. In July, he uttered a great Dubya-ism when he said he wouldn't comment on gay marriage because he "shouldn't be taking a speck out of someone else's eye when I have a log in my own." (We had no idea what that meant, but one Bustle reader helpfully pointed out that Bush was referencing scripture.)
The fact remains that had George W. gotten his way with a constitutional amendment in 2004, the Clement-Thorgalsen wedding would never have happened (same-sex marriage became legal in Maine last December).
Which would be a shame on multiple levels, including our never having seen those awesome socks.
Images: Helen Thorgalsen/Facebook