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Bill Horn and Scout Masterson Headshot

How Rick Santorum Is Bringing Homophobia Right into Our Home

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The 2012 presidential campaign is in full swing, with Republican hopefuls visiting state after state in hopes of securing their party's nomination. While this year seems much like any other -- with political pandering to the conservative base of the party -- the 2012 election has taken on new meaning in our household.

Let's back up for a moment. Some of you may know us as the Guncles (or Gay Uncles) from the reality show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. If you're not, here's our mini bio. We're Scout Masterson and Bill Horn, two 30-something gay men who have been together for almost 10 years, live in L.A., run a successful PR/marketing firm, and adopted a baby girl, Simone Lynn Masterson-Horn, in 2010. It's the addition of Simone to our family that makes this election so problematic, because the homophobic, bigoted rhetoric that we've become accustomed to every four years will now affect our daughter.

We're both fairly politically minded. We read the paper. We vote. Bill was even a political science major in college, with aspirations of being in elected office one day. And we're no strangers to anti-gay rhetoric. Unfortunately, after a while many of us in the LGBT community almost become used to it. It wouldn't be a political debate if someone didn't take aim at marriage equity, or gays in the military, or the entire gay rights movement. But early this month we were both somewhat shocked and sickened when Rick Santorum suggested that it was so important for a child to have both a father and a mother that a father in jail was preferable to a same-sex parent. He told a crowd of voters in New Hampshire that allowing gays and lesbians to marry and have children is "robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to." Since reading about Santorum's comments, we've been struck by how many things we do with baby Simone that wouldn't be possible if we were, in fact, in jail:

  1. Every Tuesday and Thursday we both spend two-plus hours with Simone at school. She's enrolled in a toddler program for kids between the ages of 14 months and 2 years of age, which one or both parents attend alongside their child. Its quality time we cherish with Simone, and the reason we started our own business -- flexible hours. Full disclosure: neither one of us has actually been in jail. But we're pretty certain there are no "Daddy and Me" classes for convicts and their toddler children. We did try to visit a friend at the Beverly Hills jail once. It was lovely but child-free.
  2. Every night one or both of us reads Simone a book of her choosing before she goes to bed. She picks the book and crawls into bed, and we read the story while she grows sleepier and sleepier (God willing). Now, while it's true that reading a book can be accomplished over the phone, we wonder if Mr. Santorum thinks a bedtime story read from a jail phone is preferable to one read to a child in person.
  3. Simone recently transitioned from her crib to a toddler bed. We didn't want to invest in an expensive bed, given that she'll grow out of it in a few years anyways. So we hit up our favorite Scandinavian home store, IKEA. One bed took us all day to purchase, load in the car, and then assemble. Unless IKEA has set up a store adjacent to San Quentin, this was yet another parental moment better serviced by someone who is not in the pen.

We think you probably get our point. Too bad Rick Santorum doesn't.

This political season, and the anti-gay rhetoric that comes along with it, is raising another troubling issue in our household: how do we explain homophobia to our daughter, and when do we do that? She's far too young to comprehend any of these complex issues right now, but is she old enough that every time a candidate is on TV complaining about gay rights or blasting gay marriage, we need to turn the TV off? We're big boys; we can take the criticism of our "lifestyle." We don't like it, but as adult gay men, we've grown accustomed to it. But Simone's just a little baby -- our little baby. It pains us both to know that one day she'll realize that people none of us have ever met think that our family is "less than" because it's a family with two same-sex parents. People who think, like Rick Santorum, that children like Simone would have been better served in life having a parent in jail rather than two dads are ignorant to the fact that kids need to be loved. Kids are best served by a parent or parents who are as present and loving as possible -- regardless of their sexual orientation.

Simone will be fine. We'll find a diplomatic way of teaching her about other people's hate and ignorance. But it sucks that we have to. Thanks, Rick.

The Guncles can be seen on Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood every Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST on Oxygen. Visit them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @thebillhorn and @scoutmasterson.