Maggie Gallagher and her Son

11 Apr

Several years ago, I would leave my apartment in Washington Heights to head to whatever day job I wound up in for the week. I’d drop my quarter and pick up the New York Post for the 30-minute ride downtown. I knew the paper was a conservative one and I’d get more and more frustrated with each turn of the page. But there was one thing that always made me angrier than anything else.

Maggie Gallagher

Once a week or so, I’d read an article about the assault of gay people on the “traditional” family. The picture of the woman who wrote the articles always made me sick to my stomach. I knew whenever I saw that photo, that I would be reading something horrible and untrue about me, making assumptions about who I was and what I was looking for when it came to living equally. I was so astounded that this woman who didn’t know me could write such horrific lies about who she thought I was.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I read an article about this woman having been in trouble because she was getting paid by the Bush administration to fight marriage equality, while at the same time using her position as a columnist to do that work – meaning she was being paid by the government to spout her bigoted opinions, while failing to recognize the clear ethical breach of journalistic integrity one would hope a columnist might have.

Now Maggie Gallagher is a part of our everyday lives as we pursue our fight to be seen as equals by a government that promises it. For those who don’t know, Maggie is the President of the National Organization for Marriage – a very well-funded anti-gay hate group. Over the years, they’ve claimed only to be interested in protecting “traditional” marriage, but their fight against civil unions and now gay parent adoption in Virginia, leads us to believe they are indeed anti-gay and not “pro-traditional marriage.”

Maggie has railed and ranted against gay people for so many years, it’s amazing that so many have failed to see the hypocrisy in her own life. Her primary argument against marriage equality is that she believes children are better off when raised by a biological mother and biological father. This is the crux of her argument. What many don’t know is that Maggie raised her son Patrick as a single mother.

Patrick Gallagher

Patrick is now a young adult, writing musicals in New York City. He identifies as straight, and given his chosen occupation, he spends a great deal of time with LGBT people. We offered Patrick the opportunity to tell his side of things, but given the obvious personal conflict he feels about the situation, he declined. Though Patrick doesn’t want to comment directly, it has become clear that his views differ from his mother’s. According to Patrick, Maggie has been very supportive of his career and has not obstructed her son’s goals and dreams – like a mother should. One thing Patrick did say, which I don’t think he’d mind sharing is “Maybe one day I’ll write a hell of a musical about this.” Patrick’s a good guy who doesn’t deserve to be in the middle of this – but we feel that his and Maggie’s story is an important one that demonstrates the strength of a “non-traditional” family.

Maggie had the opportunity to raise Patrick lovingly and to be a good mother to him and support him even now, unconditionally. Also being the son of a single Mom, I understand the struggle it was for her to make ends meet. I understand how much of a challenge it is for a Mom to blindly support a son trying to do something with his life that has absolutely zero security. And for that, I appreciate what Maggie has done for Patrick. My mom did the same.

I am at a loss however, to understand how Maggie Gallagher is so able to separate her compassionate, unconditionally supportive self from the woman who spends her life hating and hoping to take so much happiness and love from other people simply because they are gay. How does a woman who clearly had to face so much hardship and so many challenges in raising a son on her own, justify her work in ripping other families apart?

Maybe one day, she will see and understand the utter disconnect there is between who she was as a struggling single mom and who she is now as a crusader against others’ families.

h/t: Jeremy Hooper,

29 Responses to “Maggie Gallagher and her Son”

  1. Maggie Gallagher April 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Thanks for your kindness and decency. Can you tell mw what I wrote that struck you as a personal attack? a link to the column? (my columns are all archived at Because I don’t think I ever wrote something like what you are describing. I realize people have different points of view, can you help me?

    • Little Kiwi April 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      My sister, who is heterosexual, got married last June. The table-favors at her wedding were Equality bracelets, and she and her husband gave a speech about how important Equality is, and how much they both love me as a member of the family who is a proud gay man. And how much they support the LGBT Community.

      My sister and her husband took time at their wedding to let all of their guests know how important LGBT Equality.

      Amazing, isn’t it? How some people take the time on their wedding day to send a message of love to others?

      Here’s the video. Feel free to share it.

    • Jamie McGonnigal April 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks for your reply Maggie – not sure if the “kindness and decency” comment was sarcastic or not, but I have taken your request for examples of your attacks against me and my fellow LGBT folk at face value. Here are a few of the examples I was able to find on your site – some of which I recall specifically and the feelings I had when reading them.

      Maggie, you have on numerous occasions referred to my relationships as “social experiments” This is hurtful.

      Perhaps referring to being gay as “a sexual disability” is hurtful:

      You’ve used the argument that children need a biological mother and father as the primary reason to fight equality, while you were a single mother. How come you don’t spend as much time fighting divorce? or single-parent adoption? It’s easy to see you as hateful when you ignore your own glass house.

      You claim that gay people having kids is not an “OK thing to do to children.” This is hurtful. How do you think kids with gay and lesbian parents might feel when they read that? Did you think raising your son without a father was damaging to him? If so, why did you do it?

      You repeatedly compare gay men and pedophiles. As an adult gay man, no matter how much time I spend away from the company of other gay men, I will NEVER have the desire to have sex with a child. This is insulting and ignorant.

      And another example of you referring to gay people as a sexual disability:

      • Maggie Gallagher April 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

        Thanks. I think the second “sexual disability” comment is the same as the first.

        I’ll go read these. I gather “once a week” was probably an exaggeration, but I appreciate very much your response.

        No I wasn’t being sarcastic, I thought your column reflected kindness.


    • Pat August 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      If what you say is 100% intended to inflict harm on others, it does not matter if you think you’re being polite while doing so.

      You’re attacking. You’re the aggressor.

      And your opponents don’t have “different points of view”, they’re defending themselves or others.
      You have different points of view on debatable issues, not ones that are solved by simply standing up and saying that one holds the truth to be self-evident that all are created equal and endowed with by that creator with some inalienable rights–including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      You don’t get to have a different point of view on whether other people should be allowed to live like you do.
      You don’t get to pretend that you’re being nice.

      And I’m sure you’ll never see this reply so many months after you reported your comment, but I had to do it anyway.

      • Rachel February 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

        Pat, imagine you won’t see this either so many months after, but:

        “You don’t get to have a ‘different point of view’ on whether other people should be allowed to live like you do.”

        is one of the best and pithiest things I’ve read all week. Thank you.

    • Joe M. Benevides February 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Maggie: There is one thing I think doesn’t get stated enough. I actually think you’ve painted yourself into a corner. You’ve made a business/career of intolerance and hate, and now your fame/infamy makes it very difficult for you to let your guard down. At this point your increasingly extreme intolerance is not only designed to keep you in the press, but to continue your very lucrative business. It’s obvious that your life and family contradict the venom you spew, but you have to stay in business so you’ll trudge onward ignoring that woman behind the curtain.

    • Ray Harwick February 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      It’s not merely what *you* write that is so evil. You left your position so your attack dog, Brian Brown, can raise funds like he did only TODAY, by saying the 9th Circuit Court declared *marriage itself* to be unconstitutional. Do give me this “I have no control over that” excuse for an organization you FOUNDED. You really think a lie like that has no impact on gay families.

      While I and my partner were raising our daughter in central California, our home was shot at, spray painted with the word “faggot” in 8 foot high black paint, our yard was driven through and plants destroyed on six occassons, and it was virtually an everyday experience for kids to drive by our home screaming vulgarities at us. Our daughter was assaulted at school twice, and *constantly* taunted with anti-gay vulgarity and she wasn’t even the one who was gay.

      That’s you and your organization’s doing, Ms. Gallagher. I know you can distance yourself from the harm and sleep at night. But I’d a deaf man who wouldn’t have heard the gun that could have kiled my child or myself and my partner. You have no idea what it’s like to lay awake at night wondering if someone acting on your abuse of gays is going to kill you or your child. You keep calling us damaged goods and I know *exactly* the effect it has when that message trickles down to the neighborhoods of America. You are, in my informed and experienced view, as responsible for these assaults on my family as the people who who terrorized us. You TAUGHT them to distain and disrepect as a neighbors and your organization now provides cover for you in a manner not unlike how political superpacs do the dirty work for presidental candidates.

      Shame on you!

  2. Little Kiwi April 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Well done.
    I’d like to ask Maggie if she thinks that she’s created a safe home environment where a child who *is* gay *would* feel comfortable Coming Out to his mother. If her position as the face of anti-Equality and indeed anti-Gay movement, would in any way make life harder for a closeted young queer person to feel like they could NOT Come Out.

    How safe would a boy feel, if he indeed was gay or bisexual or trans, and having a mother who is devoting her life right now to making sure that LGBT people in America are denied Equality.

    Would a boy feel like his mother would still love him, support him, and champion him as a gay man, when she spends her life working so hard to promote anti-gay bigotry?

    We’ve all read the Prop 8 court transcripts. We’ve seen that Maggie is not fighting on behalf of “straight married people” at all, but is in fact waging a battle AGAINST the LGBT Community. The Prop 8 team had a terrible case, where anti-gay rhetoric and slanderous hateful lies were passed off as their justifications.

    Maggie’s legacy will not be as a woman who fought for what she believed in, nor as a woman who cared about marriage or tradition. Her legacy, should she not change her ways, is a legacy of bigotry, and her son will be saddled with her sins on his back.

    I wonder if Maggie is aware of how she has contributed to a culture of anti-gay bigotry in America. And I wonder if Maggie is aware that life is so much harder for LGBT youth who have parents that do not support Equality.

    Gay or Straight, her son is aware of one thing: His mother’s love for him hinges on him being heterosexual.

  3. Maggie Gallagher May 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Your comments caused me to reflect on how differently I see family from what those comments imply (I realize your own views may be more complex than this one comment). I want to divorce this response from my particular children, who are not me, and also not public figures.

    But my own mother, who is quite a bit more politically liberal than me, created a family where people can disagree, even on profoundly important moral issues, and still love one another.

    I think few people have that. It was quite a gift I realize now.

    • Pat August 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      I’d agree that saying something about members of your family who are innocent bystanders who’ve done nothing wrong but be related to you would be wrong. But you’re all about demonizing our families and pretending they don’t exist so you can claim that you’re helping families while attacking ours (and not actually helping anyone, are you?).

      And I haven’t seen anybody bad-mouth your son. Or even say anything about you as a wife or mother–only how you’re hypocritical about that.

      Say, didn’t Jesus say something about hypocrites using religious justifications to harm others? Or was that they gays? I get mixed up.

    • Scott Rose December 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

      You’ve completely sidestepped the question, Gallagher. The question was, were a young person unfortunate enough to have a narrow-minded, smug, gay-bashing monster bigot like you as their mother, and were that young person actually to be either gay or lesbian, how could that young gay person possibly feel psychologically safe in your house?
      Unless they just ignored all of your gay-bashing bullshit, how would they develop self-esteem? You see homosexual orientation as a “moral” “issue” and you judge homosexuals to be inferior. That isn’t “disagreeing” on “profoundly important moral issues;” that’s persecuting a young person.

    • Homer February 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      How many gay and lesbian teenagers will be thrown out of their homes, how many will commit suicide, because of the anti-gay animus promoted by Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, and their ilk?

      Maggie Gallagher earned a living, which she used to raise her kid, by promoting hatred. There is no excuse, no justification, no reasonable explanation.

    • Craig Ranapia February 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

      Ms. Gallagher:

      I agree with your mother than it’s possible to disagree vehemently without being disagreeable (as President George W. Bush once put it).

      I also hope that if I broke bread with your family and equated you – and your” non-traditional” family – with a child raper or a bestialist (as Rick Santorum has) she would tell me not only to leave the table but get the hell out of her house and never come back.

  4. Wade MacMorrighan August 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Ugh….Maggie experienced almost NO financial hardships as a single mother! The woman has never raked in anything under an annual 6-figure income all her adult life; she even comes from a very affluent and well-to-do family!

    • Wade MacMorrighan August 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      Also, I have always wondered why–as a historian–Maggie continually misrepresents and distorts the Historical and Anthropological records re: so-called “traditional marriage”.

  5. Michael Heath February 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    The relevant section of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Using religious arguments or lying about the nature and character of GBLTs and their families to justify obstructing GBLTs equally exercising their rights is morally repugnant and indefensible.

  6. maxd February 10, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    It was interesting that Ms. G completely ignored the question as to why she was not directing her cultural campaign and critique against heterosexual divorce. Clearly the hetero horde’s propensity for divorce has a much more deleterious effect on families and social stability than gays who want to be married ever will. And she doesn’t even claim that adoption by gays should be banned. She continues to conflate secular marriage (state-sanctioned property arrangements) with religious sacrament. This is simple-minded bigotry. Let religions do what they want. Gays have every right to be miserable in secular marriage as Ms. G is in hers. If she were really concerned about preserving societal family structure, she would concentrate her animus against divorce by trying to ban it (like Catholics say they abide by but don’t really because they like annulments as much as non-Catholics seem to like divorce). She would focus her childcare concerns on better support services, such as single-payer healthcare and early childcare programs we see in other 1st-world countries, and perhaps higher min wage standards. Of course being anti-divorce and pro-children in this way would put her beyond the easy rightwing money. Much easier to stigmatize gays with bigoted attitudes and absolutely no evidence for her social theories. That pays better. As I.F. Stone said: “Follow the money.”

    • Craig Ranapia February 10, 2012 at 4:32 am #

      It was interesting that Ms. G completely ignored the question as to why she was not directing her cultural campaign and critique against heterosexual divorce.

      Well, because that hits a little too close to home for many a far-right culture warrior. I don’t think even Newt Gingrich would have the chutzpah to condemn divorce and the toleration of adultery as a threat to the “traditional family’ and the sanctity of marriage. At least, not while his third wife (and one time mistress) was within ear shot.

  7. Robert February 10, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    This is a subject of great interest to me. My husband and I have been together for sixteen years. We married again (legally) back in 2008, and are still legally married in the eyes of the State of California. We have two sons, both adopted from foster care at the age of five. Both had spent most of their young lives in foster care, and would most likely have stayed there until eighteen had we not been allowed to become their fathers.

    They are both lively, intelligent, stubborn and loving boys, growing up with two fathers. That anyone would devote his or her time and talents to the abolition of families like theirs is something I hope they will not learn for quite some time. At fourteen and ten, they might be too young to understand. At fifty, I certainly am.

  8. GJR February 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Interesting that Ms Gallagher prides herself on being raised in a family where love prevailed despite healthy political disagreement.
    I find that the type of lobbying she engages in which relies heavily on non-scientific, faith-based donations, fear-based marketing strategies and promoting black-and-white thinking is in fact deeply impoverishing to democracy in America.
    Ms Gallagher has found a gig, a niche – like many of her cardboard peers she rides it out over the years, keeps a public face, gets lots of media training to stay on message, relishes any time she can get a headline and no doubt gets paid handsomely. She’s the Grover Norquist of gay marriage – dancing in the wings of the powermongers’ main stage hoping for an approving glimpse. I’m sure it must be highly validating to be seen as the go-to person for anti-gay marriage in America.

    It would be folly to try to find logic in her paradoxes, to wonder who the real person is; where her true ethics lie. Personally I see a certain level of cowardice in this career choice.

    As a higher-educated, world traveled, 50-something I feel I have no clue about the complex underpinnings of the influence networks of DC. I propose the best tool to fight this kind of dynamic is deep investigative journalism into all the back-scratching that goes on. I have little hope to see this emerge in my lifetime.

  9. Regan DuCasse February 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Ms. Gallagher: It is beyond disingenuous (at best), to call your words and deeds a ‘disagreement’.
    You are using the force of government to do serious harm to a minority that’s already endured much abuse. As a black woman, I want to make something very clear, because I’ve witnessed your condescension with regard to comparisons to this as a civil rights issue. And the agenda of gays as wrongful to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.

    We don’t compare ATTRIBUTES (which we know are all different) as being the same. It’s the INJUSTICE and systemic bigotry that is. The historical record shows that women, blacks, Jews and gays, have had to deal with damaging and extreme abuses BECAUSE of their attributes. They are forced into socially inferior and vulnerable positions, not because they are actually inferior, but their attribute is thought of as rendering them inferior. And much of your rhetoric involves repeating the word ‘specialness’ of op sex couplings, despite the high divorce rate, abandonment of children and their mothers and domestic violence, would belie that claim. Your values align with those of supremacists, who felt quite rational and justified in their claims to segregation, as you do about the invention of the institution of marriage as belonging to ‘fertile heterosexuals only’.

    As much as you agree (as do gay people who want to marry), that marriage is a healthy, and noble thing to aspire to, your firm belief is that gay people are incapable of appreciating it, let alone capable of enhancing that principle with their relationships.
    The ugliest, and cruelest thing you can do to another human being, is gorge on the feast and generosity of getting married, and force gay people to watch you as they starve for it. All the while, those who are feasting waste almost half of what they are hoarding for themselves.
    Most of all, the demands for the popular vote is specifically so that you’ll have an unfair advantage. Gays have always been a perpetual minority through all of human life and history. There are no options for gay people but to be subject to the whims of the hostility of others. A hostility you foment, with a smile on your face. Politeness and claims it’s a mere disagreement won’t change the actual work you’re doing and the public you’re encouraging to keep gay people where you’d prefer them to be. Jim Crow never made white people better people, nor served society well. There is nothing in discrimination against gay people anywhere, that will make heterosexuals special or more moral either. You can’t agree the former wasn’t justified, but the latter is. They both represent rationalizing mean and irrational origins for restrictions of rights and protections to otherwise productive, law abiding and compassionate citizens.

  10. Jessica Naomi March 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    A few weeks after Ms. Gallagher’s disingenuous response. her colleague Brian Brown invited this preacher to a NOM gay basihng revival telling a mob of tyrannical theocRATs the Bronx that gay men and lesbians are worthy of death. Jeremy Hooper this is your video

  11. DavidKCMO May 20, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Someone please find a way to contact Maggie and ask her to please respond the the questions central to this article.


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