Swift defends her stand on gay marriage in face of stepson's criticism
By John McElhenny, Associated Press, 08/15/01
BOSTON -- A family disagreement between acting Gov. Jane Swift and her gay stepson over same-sex marriage went public on Wednesday, as Brian Hunt criticized Swift's opposition to the idea as "hypocritical."
Hunt, 25, said he should be allowed to marry his male partner. He said in an interview with The Boston Globe that his Republican stepmother opposes gay marriage in order to win votes.
"She wants to get the votes of the gay community, but when it comes down to it, she doesn't want to lose other votes over it," Hunt said. "It's hypocritical to me.
Brian Hunt is the son of Swift's husband, Chuck Hunt, 47, and his second wife, Andrea. Brian lives in California, where he works at a coffee store.
"Knowing they have a homosexual son, you'd think they'd be more understanding," Hunt said in the interview published Wednesday.
Swift, 36, said she considers her stepson to be one of her children, along with her 2-year-old daughter and infant twin daughters.
"I love Brian," Swift said. "I support Brian's right to voice his opinion on any policy."
Swift, a Republican who became acting governor in April when Paul Cellucci was named U.S. ambassador to Canada, opposes gay marriage.
"In my mind, the sanctity of marriage requires that it be confined to marriage between a man and a woman," Swift said Wednesday.
But Swift supports domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, and she opposes a proposed ballot question that would deny same-sex couples benefits available to heterosexual married couples.
Brian Hunt said he feels Swift's position on gay marriage is politically motivated, and though Swift and his father accept his sexual orientation privately, they are uncomfortable with it publicly. He charged that they have tried to hide him to protect their images.
"They want me out of the spotlight," he said. "I'm the black sheep, I guess."
He said he told his father and Swift he was gay when he was in his late teens, and that they were supportive and loving.
Jason Kauppi, a Swift spokesman, said Swift and her husband have avoided discussing Brian Hunt publicly to protect him from public scrutiny, not to hide him.
"It is not his doing that his father chose to marry a woman who would become governor," Kauppi said. Swift and Chuck Hunt married in 1993.
Brian Hunt, who contacted the Globe to speak out, acknowledged his driver's license was suspended after he crashed his car into a tree under the influence of alcohol during a visit to the Berkshires in 1997.
Hunt was also cited for driving without a license in North Adams and for speeding on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Blandford, both in 1995.
Last Thursday, Hunt was pulled over in Shelburne for driving with a suspended license and for following another car too closely. He was fined $50.
Brian Hunt said his father traveled to Greenfield to bail him out, but sent a friend into the jail instead, and asked his son if anyone had connected him to his family.
Joshua Friedes of the Boston-based Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, said many people learn about gay issues through family members. Swift should take the time to learn from her stepson, he said.
"The focus of this story should be on the need for gay and lesbian families and all families in the commonwealth -- not on any disagreements in the acting governor's family," Friedes said.
In another development, Swift said she knew Chuck Hunt had been married three times previously, but she respected her husband's desire to keep it private until now.
"It's not something we chose to speak a great deal about," she said.
Chuck Hunt refused comment through a spokesman.