There was another Gingrich on Capitol Hill yesterday. This one was slight, bespectacled, a vegetarian and a lesbian.
Candace Gingrich, the 28-year-old half-sister of House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, joined other homosexual activists lobbying members of Congress for anti-discrimination laws and continued federal funding to fight AIDS.
A registered Democrat, Candace Gingrich declared that her famous brother was “maybe misinformed” on homosexuality, that his avowed policy of toleration for gays was “not enough” and that they disagreed “on about 90 percent of the issues” facing America today.
Given their different wavelengths, there initially were no plans for the siblings to meet.
After mediation by another sister, however, a late-afternoon session was hastily arranged, complete with a picturesque photo opportunity on the speaker’s sun-washed balcony.
“We are an American family, with all the complexities of an American family,” a grinning Newt Gingrich said, sitting beside Candace Gingrich, and another half-sister, Roberta Brown.
“I don’t necessarily mix my family with my politics,” the speaker said when asked how conservatives might view his lesbian sister.
“She’s a liberal Democrat, I’m a conservative Republican,” he said. “We have a lot bigger gaps than our personal relationship.”
Envisioning a world where sexuality was irrelevant and the Internet and satellite uplinks were the ways in which people connected, the speaker said he belonged to a religion “that says you love the sinner.”
Did that mean that Candace Gingrich was a sinner?
“Yes, but she considers me one, too,” he said with a smile. “So we’re all fine.”
Asked if she hoped to convince her brother that homosexuality deserved more than tolerance, she replied: “Convincing is kind of strong. I hope to discuss it with him.”