Even militant conservative Phyllis Schlafly admits she’s a proud mom who loves her gay son
By DANIEL KUSNER | May 11, 2001
Don’t expect to find Phyllis Schlafly, 76, bearing her soul at a PFLAG rally.
The ultraconservative pro-life activist launched the Stop-ERA crusade in the ’70s and leads The Eagle Forum, a volunteer organization that favors punishing gay sex with imprisonment.
But ever since her eldest son, John Schlafly, a lawyer, was publicly outed in 1992, Phyllis has been an easy target for gays to ridicule.
Countless others would make a better Mother’s Day spokesperson for parents of gay children. But Phyllis Schlafly stands out as someone who’s probably had to strongly re-examine the bond between a mom and her queer kid.
In interviews with gay media, Schlafly remains an even-tempered, albeit tight-lipped subject.
Her prime agenda on the topic of motherhood mostly deals with her fierce advocacy for breastfeeding and disposable diapers.
“Paper diapers are the greatest invention that ever happened,” she beams.
Beneath her stridently anti-gay Radical Right exterior lies the undeniably warm heart of a mom with six kids and grandmother of 14 who loves her gay son no matter what.
“There’s a point when you have to let your children live their own lives when they become adults,” Schlafly says during a phone interview from the Schlafly’s St. Louis home.
And when it comes to controversies and disappointments, Schlafly says a mother’s love should overcome those difficulties.
“I have a close friend whose son was bounced from the Navy for drug use. And the Navy is real tough on drugs. This was a terrible affront to her husband, who had had a fine Navy career. And the Navy was so important in his life,” Schlafly explains.
“But she was going to tell the son never to come home again. And I told my friend, ‘No. No. You welcome him home.’ And she’s thanked me 1,000 times for that. And her son has turned out to be a very fine young man.”
According to Schlafly, being a strong role model is the most important thing a parent can do when their children have reached adulthood.
She admits the Schlaflys have the same problems other families experience.
“But we have no illegal drug use. Nobody smokes. We don’t have any divorce. We don’t have illegitimate pregnancies. And we’re workaholics,” Schlafly lists.
However, there’s at least one surprise that’s come out of the closet.
And when John Schlafly was outed, it was mostly done to take Phyllis down a few pegs.
“I didn’t have any other problem — other than the media asking nosy questions. And, of course, it was all done to embarrass me,” she explains. “This is the alliance of the gays and the abortionists, who really have nothing in common except a political alliance. So they created this national media controversy.”
“The harassment of the media is a terrible annoyance,” Schlafly continues. “They invited me on shows who would not otherwise have invited me. Because that’s all they wanted to talk about. And it was all done to embarrass me. I mean, my son doesn’t have any enemies.”
“It just made a big national news story that went on for weeks — about something that wasn’t anybody’s business,” the mom continues. “He was deliberately outed by somebody who went around bragging that he didn’t believe in outing.”
Did her son being gay change anything between them?
“No. He’s a wonderful young man. He’s my first born. And I love him,” she assures.
Was she ever afraid for her son being a member of the gay community?
“No. I’m not a person who’s afraid of things,” she quickly answers.
Did the fact that her son is gay ever challenge her political ideology?
“No. Not really. Actually, he’s very supportive of practically all of my work. He believes in the traditional family and most of the things I work for. We’re just a private family. And we don’t air all our personal problems out for the public. Now, I think that’s about enough of me and my son. Let’s finish this topic,” she orders.
But she did give one last piece of advice to the gay community for this Mother’s Day.
“I hope all the gays and lesbians love their mother and respect her,” she says.
And for what it’s worth, Mrs. Schlafly, most of the gay community probably wishes you a Happy Mother’s Day.
AGGIELAND & AIDS
On Nov. 19, 1987, Schlafly spoke in College Station to lecture — clip from Texas A&M’s newspaper, The Battalion.
When you look in the audience that is in the public schools, it’s a very different audience from what we have here tonight,” Schlafly said.
“In the public schools in this country, we have minor children who are pretty much a captive audience, and it seems that over the last few years, two movements have developed,” she said.
“One point of view is that whoever has control over the school establishment can do whatever he wants to with the captive children who are at the public school,” she said.
“There is another point of view, that the child in the public school, being a minor and being a captive audience, does enjoy certain rights in that classroom that can’t be taken away,” she said.
Those rights, she said, demand that anything they are taught about acquired immune deficiency syndrome be “true, healthy, legal and constitutional.”
“There is a great effort at the present time to come into the public schools and teach what is called ‘safe sex,’ ” she said. “I would contest that the way that is taught today does not meet the four criteria.
“In fact, there is only one teaching that meets all those four tasks, and that is the teaching in regard to sex, that we should have and should promote sexual abstinence before marriage.”
Schlafly’s remarks met with applause, mainly from older members of the audience of more than 250, and hissing from others, mostly students.