Great article in The Forum on Sunday about Ellie Schafer, daughter of former North Dakota governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. The gist of the article is Ellie Schafer’s rise in President Obama’s circle, from campaign workhorse to the director of the White House visitor’s office.
I highly suggest reading the full article here: From governor’s daughter to White House official: Ellie Schafer cuts her own political path.
The part that stuck with me, though, was the last part of the article when reporter Archie Ingersoll gets into Ellie Schafer’s marriage to Heather Rothenberg. Ed Schafer, of course, is a conservative Republican. And his political stance throughout his career has been that gay marriage is wrong. In fact, in 1997 he signed a bill that banned gay marriage in North Dakota, a law that wasn’t overturned until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional last summer.
Here are the last few paragraphs of the article:
One topic they don’t debate is gay marriage, Ellie Schafer said. For her, it’s a personal issue: In September, she married a woman named Heather Rothenberg, the director of policy and federal projects for a transportation engineering and planning firm.
Ed Schafer, who attended the couple’s wedding, said his background and beliefs put him at odds with the concept of gay marriage, which has been legalized nationwide. But in his daughter’s case, he said, the end result is hard to dispute.
“I’m not real keen on gay marriage,” he said. “On the other hand, I look at my daughter and say she’s the happiest she’s ever been. What’s wrong with that?”
In 1997, as governor, he signed a bill that banned the recognition of gay marriage in North Dakota, and he released a letter saying the ban was not “an endorsement of discrimination.”
While Ed Schafer is still not enthusiastic about gay marriage, he said his daughter’s marriage has broadened his view of the issue.
“I understand it better from walking that path with her,” he said. “That just gets you more open to it.”
So, what I gathered from that was this: Ed Schafer, conservative Republican, opposes gay marriage politically because he has to and that’s what’s expected of him. Personally, though, he’s OK with it because his daughter is homosexual and enjoys a happy marriage to another woman.
“On the other hand, I look at my daughter and say she’s the happiest she’s ever been. What’s wrong with that?”
How difficult must it be to be unable to stand before the world and say, “Even though our party platform says we must oppose gay marriage, I do not. I do not because I have a daughter, who I love with all my heart, who is gay and I want her to have the same opportunities at love, happiness and fulfillment as every other American. If this single, insignificant item precludes me from being your selection as nominee, so be it. I stand with my daughter.”
I’d like to think most dads would stand by their daughter, over anything else. Even over the lust for power. Especially over politics.
Ed Schafer didn’t.
It must suck to be a politician.