- (Photo: Screenshot via Facebook/Helen Thorgalsen)
Former president George H.W. Bush, 89, served as the official witness to the wedding of a same-sex couple in Maine over the weekend.
Bush, who served as U.S. president from 1989 to 1993, attended the wedding of close friends Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, who own a general store in the small coastal town of Kennebunk, Maine, near where the Bush family has a summer home. Bush and his wife, former First Lady Barbara, attended last weekend's private event as private citizens.
On Sunday, Thorgalsen posted on her Facebook a photo of the former president sitting in a chair and signing a large stack of papers in his lap as she and her partner look on. The caption reads: "Getting our marriage license witnessed!"
In the photo, Bush can be seen wearing one bright blue sock and one bright red sock; the former president has been known for having an eccentric fashion sense when it comes to socks.
Clement and Thorgalsen are now celebrating their honeymoon in London, England. Clement, 60, told The Washington Post via email from their vacation that she and her partner, 55, were pleased with Bush's agreement to serve as a witness to the nuptials. "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 said. The couple has been together for 12 years.
Although some media outlets are stipulating that Bush's attendance at last weekend's wedding serves as a silent approval of same-sex marriage in the U.S., the Associated Press is quick to point out that Bush's spokesperson, Jim McGrath, said the 41st president attended the ceremony as a private citizen and friend.
Same-sex marriage was not a major issue during Bush's presidency in the early 1990's. His son, former president George W. Bush, publicly said he supported traditional marriage during his presidency, calling for a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.
In July of this year, Bush said in an interview with ABC that he would no longer discuss his view on same-sex marriage because he is "out of politics" and didn't want to "wade back into the debate." Bush's wife, former First Lady Laura, and his daughter, Barbara, have voiced their support for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Maine became one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote in December 2012.