It's not exactly startling to see that Karl Rove has denied he was aware his own father was gay, even as he guided the GOP into anti-gay wedge politics in the last decade (the Christianists, he coolly calculated, had potentially way more votes for the GOP than gays and their families). But it is important to note that it is untrue that he had no idea his dad was gay or that he was unaware it was the reason for his parents' divorce. From James Moore, the author of The Architect, a biography of Rove:
When I went to Palm Springs in 2005 prior to the publication of The Architect, one of Louis Rove's neighbors literally laughed when I told him Karl claimed he didn't know what happened to his parents' marriage.
"He [Karl] was obviously hurt by the divorce. It's just absurd when he says, 'I had no idea what the problems were with my parents and their marriage.' He knew damned good and well what was going on. His father had decided to come out of the closet."
In fact, according to Louis Rove's best friend Joe Koons, Rove not only knew his father's sexual orientation but also was comfortable with it and had accepted his father's honesty.
People are complicated; families are only knowable from within; we should comment on their people's private lives with great reluctance. But Rove's cynical attempts to wage culture war against gay couples, servicemembers and our families surely make this a legitimate issue.
You cannot try to destroy gay couples' marriages while claiming privacy as soon as you face your own divorce or are asked uncomfortable questions about squaring your policy positions and your father's orientation.
In fact, Rove's experience is as good an argument as any for getting over denial and for embracing marriage equality as any. His own family was torn apart by denial of homosexuality. His experience shows that suppressing, stigmatizing and preventing solid gay relationships is anti-family, not pro-family. He had a great opportunity to show this publicly and, from all accounts, he acted humanely, decently and lovingly around his father, and had a great relationship with him. This could have been a constructive, teaching moment. Similarly with Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter's de facto marriage and grandchildren. And with George W. Bush's personal ease and familiarity and empathy with the actual gay and transgender people he knew and worked with.
These people should not be demonized. Many of them are humane in private and not bigots in any personal way. That's how they live with themselves. But the tragedy of their lives and the last painful decade should not be missed.
They knew better. But they pandered to the worst. And their victims were among the people they loved.