Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Meet the Parents: Santorum Said a Mouthful about Gay People, but He Was Tongue-Tied When He Came Face-to-Face with Their Families. (Politics)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Meet the Parents: Santorum Said a Mouthful about Gay People, but He Was Tongue-Tied When He Came Face-to-Face with Their Families. (Politics)

Article excerpt

Fran Kirschner, a 59-year-old Philadelphia resident and the president of the local chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, says that when she heard Sen. Rick Santorum's comments comparing homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery, "I felt so much hurt and heartbreak for my daughter," a 31-year-old lesbian living in Boston.

In response, she and her husband, Allen, 71, and their longtime friends from Pennsylvania, Richard, 67, and Melina Waldo, 64, now of Haddonfield, N.J., decided they needed to discuss the topic with Santorum in person.

They didn't have any delusions about changing the senator's mind. "But I just thought if we went there and spoke to the senator as one parent to another, that it wouldn't be difficult for him to understand that we love our children just like he loves his," says Melina Waldo, who has a 31-year-old gay son. "And that the words he used and the linkages he made were deeply hurtful to our families."

Thanks to Fran Kirschner's repeated phone calls to Santorum's office, the quartet was able to schedule a 10-minute meeting with the senator in his Washington, D.C., office on May 1.

Each couple brought along a picture of their children to the meeting. The Kirschners, who have six kids, carried a family photo taken last year at a straight daughter's wedding. Allen Kirschner says he told the senator, "This is my family. …

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