George H.W. Bush is witness at same-sex marriage in Maine

September 25, 2013

Updated, 7 p.m.

Another prominent Republican has come out in support of same-sex marriage — or at least, in support of one particular same-sex marriage.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo on Facebook of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”


Clement, left, and Thorgalsen, right, watch as President Bush signs their license. (Courtesy of Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement)

No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the Kennebunkport wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”

In an e-mail from their honeymoon in London, Clement told us they’ve known the former first couple for years and were thrilled they accepted the wedding invitation. Thinking about “how monumental this time is in our lives” and “how blessed we are to be in their lives,” they decided to ask them “to really personalize it for us” as witnesses.

“This is such a wonderful time for change in our legal system,” she added. “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’” Clement, 60, said she and Thorgalsen, 55, have been together for 12 years, during which she helped raise her new wife’s now-adult daughters.

Other members of the Bush circle — including granddaughter Barbara, daughter-in-law and former first lady Laura, and Dick Cheney — have expressed varying levels of support for gay marriage, which became legal in Maine in December.

(Since this one little detail may have caught your eye — yes, President Bush often makes a style statement with his socks.)


After the wedding of Helen Thorgalsen, second from right and Bonnie Clement, fourth from right, Helen’s brother Erling Thorgalsen, at left, makes a toast as the Bushes look on. (Photo by Susan Biddle)

Bonnie Clement, left, and Helen Thorgalsen, center, with Barbara Bush, right, and former President George H.W. Bush, seated. (Photo by Susan Biddle)

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