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Ron Jr. on the record: the son of Ronald Reagan breaks his silence regarding the whisper campaign that he is gay.

I've been married for 23 years. Pretty good for a gay guy," laughs Ron Reagan over iced tea recently in Los Angeles. Gay buzz has surrounded the reed-thin son of former president Ronald Reagan since he dropped out of Yale University in his freshman year in 1976 to dance with New York City's Joffrey Ballet. It follows him still, even though he and his longtime wife, clinical psychologist Dorta Reagan, appear to be happily married, ensconced in Seattle with their three cats.

Being typed as gay "has never bothered me," says Reagan, 46, a political commentator for MSNBC and dog show host for Animal Planet. He was in town doing interviews for the Television Critics Association meeting, "I've always thought of it like someone thinking I'm Chinese or something. It's not pejorative, as far as I can see. It's simply incorrect."

Over the years, Reagan says he's been attacked by the gay press "for not coming out. I guess it's because I'm a man and ballet dancer. If I had been a truck driver, nobody would have brought that up." Also, being portrayed as a closeted gay man "can be used as a weapon against my father, even posthumously."

Reagan, an atheist, and his wife, a Buddhist, live a simple life, he says. There's only one phone In the house, and neither of them owns a cell phone. The couple moved from California to Seattle in 1994 "because L.A. is not a pleasant place to live. There's the smog, the crowding, the traffic, the expense, and the attitude. It's Hollywood. You have to have the right hair, the right haircut."

A registered independent, Reagan says he didn't vote for Bush in 2000 and won't vote for him in November. He won't campaign for anyone, he says, but will support "any viable candidate who can defeat Bush." He plans to vote for John Kerry.

An outspoken critic of Bush, Reagan made headlines in July when he addressed the Democratic National Convention in support of federal funding for stem cell research.

he is equally passionate about gay marriage. Bush's failed attempt to pass a constitutional amendment banning it "was a nakedly political move," Reagan says. "The beginning of the Declaration of Independence says, 'All men are created equal.' I take those words literally. There's no [clause stating] 'unless you're gay.' I don't see the purpose in denying people access to a right that most of us take for granted. I don't see it as very American to carve out exceptions to our Constitution for a certain class of people."

Reagan knows his opinions rile many conservative Republicans. It doesn't bother him. But when they complain to his mother, Nancy Reagan, he's bothered--very bothered. "Some called her immediately after my father's funeral" in June, Reagan says. "I would Just remind those people that I'm a 46-year-old man and my mother doesn't tell me what to say or not say, And they ought to be a little more thoughtful. This woman just lost her husband of 53 years. She really doesn't need to be dragged into some beef they have with me. If they have a problem, they can bring it to me. But lay off my mother."

Shister is television columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Politics
Author:Shister, Gail
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 31, 2004
Previous Article:Tradition! Tradition? A new book provides gays with a road map on how to argue for same-sex marriage rights.
Next Article:Doctor phobia: even though they're out to family and friends, many gays and lesbians still fear coming out in their doctors' offices. As a result,...

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