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Gingrich-Jones, Candace (b. 1966)  
 
page: 1  2  

Her father and sisters were also accepting, and so, at least nominally, was her brother, a U. S. Congressman from Georgia since 1978. At the same time, however, Newt Gingrich was also courting Christian conservatives for political support.

After her graduation in 1989, Gingrich returned to her parents' home in Dauphin, and held down two jobs, one as a computer consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and another loading trucks for United Parcel Service.

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Although Gingrich had become aware of glbtq rights issues through her college courses and her own coming-out process, she had not been particularly political until late 1994, soon after her brother had been elected Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives. (He assumed the office on January 4, 1995 and served until January 3, 1999.) At the family's Thanksgiving dinner--not attended by Newt Gingrich--one of her sisters called her attention to published comments by their brother about homosexuality. She was incensed by what he had said.

The Speaker-elect declared that there was room in the Republican party for gay men and lesbians as long as they were "in broad agreement with our effort to renew American civilization."

"I think on most things most days, the vast majority of practicing homosexuals are good citizens," he added lamely.

Although he spoke against excluding gay men and lesbians from the Republican party completely, he did not offer an especially warm welcome, saying that the party's stance "should be toleration . . . . It should not be promotion, and it should not be condemnation."

Expounding on his views, he called homosexuality an "orientation in the way alcoholism is an orientation" and said that, for people with "a propensity" to be homosexual, "I . . . believe that becoming celibate is an option." He also denied the right of same-sex couples to consider themselves a family: "It is madness to pretend that families are anything other than heterosexual couples. I think it goes to the core of how civilization functions."

The article also mentioned that Newt Gingrich had a lesbian sister, and once that piece of information appeared in the New York Times, Candace Gingrich was in the spotlight, interviewed by both print and broadcast media.

Instead of having the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame as the subject of a diverting feature story, Gingrich found herself on the road to becoming a public figure in her own right as an advocate for equality for glbtq people. In January 1995 Elizabeth Birch and David M. Smith, the executive director and communications director, respectively, of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRCF)--now called the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)--extended her an invitation to become their spokesperson for that year's National Coming Out Day and also to participate in their leadership conference and lobbying day in March, with a view to the possibility of her taking a permanent job with the organization.

Gingrich called the lobbying meetings "eye-openers." The day-long events culminated with an invitation from her brother to an impromptu press conference at which he stated, "I love my sister, period," but went on to say, "I consider Candace a sinner," an opinion undoubtedly endorsed by his supporters on the religious right.

Unaccustomed to life in the public eye, Candace Gingrich wrestled with the decision about entering "the high-pressure world of the cultural wars," but the opportunity to work for equality for glbtq people overcame any qualms. The accidental and somewhat reluctant activist signed on with HRCF as a spokesperson for National Coming Out Day.

For the next six months she traversed the country on a speaking tour that took her to more than fifty cities. The activities came to a celebratory conclusion on October 11. Gingrich began National Coming Out Day by participating in a press conference on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., then flew to Los Angeles, where she joined actor Dan Butler, legislator Sheila J. Kuehl, and others in a second event.

Gingrich was subsequently appointed Senior Youth Outreach Manager for the HRC. She has been a frequent speaker on college campuses, urging glbtq students and their allies to work for equality. She also writes the "Ask Candace" feature on the HRC web site, in which she provides advice--often related to coming out--to glbtq young people and their families.

Gingrich has undertaken other projects as well, including voter-registration drives and speaking tours to educate the public about anti-glbtq ballot measures.

Gingrich has made guest appearances on the situation comedies Ellen and Friends. On the latter, she played a minister marrying a lesbian couple. She was pleased to take part in the show--top-rated the week it aired in January 1996--since it depicted a same-sex relationship in a positive way.

In May 1996, with specific regard to his sister, Newt Gingrich said on Meet the Press that he would not attend a same-sex wedding if she ever had one because he would not consider the union a marriage. She responded by stating that she had been present at his second wedding--as she would later be at his third--not as a show of support for heterosexual marriage but rather in support of a member of her family.

Despite her busy schedule, Gingrich remains active in rugby, playing for a Washington, D.C. club, the Furies.

In 2006 the team took part in the Bingham Cup of the International Gay Rugby Association and Board. The award is named for Mark Bingham, who perished on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Gingrich was proud that the Furies were "part of something honoring Bingham's memory and his selfless act of courage. It is significant because Mark Bingham was and is inspirational to millions of Americans. But he is also an inspiration to gay athletes everywhere."

On September 5, 2009, Gingrich married her partner Rebecca Jones in Boston. The couple changed their last names to Gingrich-Jones.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  American Television, Situation Comedies

American television sitcoms have consistently reflected the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, often in distorted and stereotyped ways, but occasionally in ways that acknowledge our humanity and complexity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Coming Out

"Coming out" is the revelation or acknowledgment that one is a member of a sexual minority, a process that is at once personal and social and often political.

social sciences >> Overview:  New Right

The New Right, which emerged during the last two decades of the twentieth century, combines evangelical Christian morality with a political agenda in opposition to glbtq equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Bingham, Mark

Mark Bingham, San Francisco businessman and rugby enthusiast, is believed to have helped avert the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 into a populated landmark on September 11, 2001.

social sciences >> Birch, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, has been a visible and effective spokesperson on a wide array of issues of concern to the glbtq community.

arts >> Butler, Dan

Actor Dan Butler, best known for his portrayal of "Bulldog" Briscoe on the television comedy Frasier, not only came out as a gay man, but also authored and starred in the gay-themed play The Only Worse Thing You Could Have Told Me.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

social sciences >> Kuehl, Sheila James

Once best known as a youthful actor, Sheila James Kuehl is now a respected California state legislator and a vigorous advocate for glbtq rights.

social sciences >> Republican Party (United States)

The Republican Party of the United States has not been supportive of glbtq issues, despite the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans.


    Bibliography
   

Burstein, Rachel. "Sister Act." Mother Jones (November/December 1996): www.motherjones.com/news/qa/1996/11/outspoken.html

Gingrich, Candace, with Chris Bull. The Accidental Activist: A Personal and Political Memoir. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Human Rights Campaign web site: www.hrc.org

Price, Joyce. "Gingrich: Gays Are Welcome; Urges Party to Be Tolerant But Decries Same-sex 'Marriage.'" Washington Times (November 12, 1994): A3.

Provenzano, Jim. "Tough Enough: Women's Rugby and the Bingham Cup." Bay Area Reporter (June 8, 2006): www.ebar.com/columns/column.php?sec=sports&article=59

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Gingrich-Jones, Candace  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated August 29, 2010  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/gingrich_c.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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