Last Friday the Huffington Post published this piece about the question of whether President Barack Obama’s decision to come out for same-sex marriage will have any impact on gay Republican voters this November. Although this is a no-brainer when it comes to die-hards like Rob Schlein, it turns out some gay GOPers were indeed swayed by the president’s historic decision. And one of them, according to the HuffPo, was Bill Jones, “a 45-year-old gay Republican from Dallas” who’s considering voting for a Democrat for president for the first time in his life.
“It stopped me dead in my tracks because it removed the one rationalization I always had,” Jones told the HuffPo of Obama’s announcement. “… I used to be very good at compartmentalizing. But it does make a difference now that Obama has said what he’s said. I can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”
On Monday we caught up with Jones to learn more. He said it all began when was listening to Michalangelo Signorile’s Sirius OutQ radio show about the topic last Thursday, and he called in on a whim from his car. (Signorile is an editor for HuffPo.) Jones never made it on the air as he had to hang up to go to an appointment. But the producer passed on his name and number to the HuffPo’s reporter, who called him the next day.
Jones said his only issue with the HuffPo piece is that it makes it sound like he’s still a Republican. Although there is no such thing as an official party affiliation in Texas, Jones said his personal shift away from the GOP began several years ago. While Obama’s announcement may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” his switch was “a long time coming,” Jones said.
“I wouldn’t consider myself Republican anymore,” Jones said. “The funny thing is that most of my friends don’t even know that I used to be conservative. A lot of my current friends, I don’t necessarily want to know that. It made it seem like I was still that way, and I’m really not. … I just don’t want to look like a crazy fool to friends.”
Jones asked us not to repost the photo of him and Dan Quayle that’s featured alongside the Huff Po story — or any photo of him for that matter — in part because some of the comments below the article were “really hateful.” But despite his concerns about being outed as an ex-gay-Republican to friends, Jones said he think’s the HuffPo story addresses an important topic. In addition to Obama’s announcement, he pointed to a gay soldier being booed during a Republican Primary debate last year — and none of the candidates on stage intervening — as a key step in his evolution.
“As I’ve gotten older, and more established with my partner, you kind of start to resent the fact that you can’t be like the other couples that you’re associating with,” Jones said. “I think it’s important for the conversation to happen, because I think other conservatives or people who lean that way, need to start putting this [gay rights] as a higher priority. I think it’s important to put it out there for discussion.”