As candles flickered on the long wooden dining tables under a ceiling decorated with large string lights, guests sat with glasses of sparkling wine before them to hear speeches to toast the two newlyweds.
But the Friday night wedding, southwest of Philadelphia, included a controversial speaker who just so happened to be the father of one of the two grooms.
Wearing a black tuxedo and black bowtie, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson toasted his son and new son-in-law, both of whom sat before him, wearing wedding white blazers. Standing next to his wife, the member of Congress told the guests how “blessed” he felt to celebrate the men’s marriage and to welcome a new member into his family. Thompson said any parent hopes and prays that their child stays healthy, finds their way, and ultimately finds “that one true love so that they have the opportunity to experience that: someone to grow old with.”
“We love it when they find their one true love, especially when they become a part of our families then. That’s what we’re rooting for,” Thompson said, praising his son for his selection of a husband.
But as some in the crowd knew — and some would later learn — Thompson had just three days earlier voted against a bill that would codify federal protections for marriage equality. He was one of 157 House Republicans who voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which acts as a failsafe in case the Supreme Court reverses itself on marriage equality — something LGBTQ activists fear is a very real possibility following the court’s overturning of abortion protections.
After the vote, Thompson’s press secretary Maddison Stone told the Centre Daily Times the bill was a “stunt” by Democrats — despite 47 Republicans breaking with Thompson and the rest of the party to vote in favor of it. “This bill was nothing more than an election-year messaging stunt for Democrats in Congress who have failed to address historic inflation and out of control prices at gas pumps and grocery stores,” Stone said.
The hypocrisy of Thompson’s vote prior to his son’s wedding was first noted by Gawker on Thursday — a day before the event took place. On Monday, NBC News then reported that Thompson had in fact attended the event after his "no" vote.
BuzzFeed News can report that Thompson not only attended the event, but he delivered a speech to celebrate the nuptials, which he called “a really good experience.” Media of the speech was provided to BuzzFeed News by a guest, who asked to remain anonymous.
"I think the word should definitely get out there," the guest said of their decision for BuzzFeed News to publish it. "These politicians need to be exposed for who they really are."
Below, BuzzFeed News is publishing an edited audio version and transcript of the remarks that includes most of Thompson’s speech, but removes sections where he names his son and son-in-law. (Like other news outlets, BuzzFeed News is not naming the two grooms as they are not public figures. When reached on his honeymoon, Thompson’s new son-in-law told BuzzFeed News that the couple weren't sure if they want to say anything publicly right now.)
Stone, Thompson’s press secretary, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment for this story, but previously confirmed to NBC and other outlets that Thompson had attended the wedding. “Congressman and Mrs. Thompson were thrilled to attend and celebrate their son’s marriage on Friday night as he began this new chapter in his life,” Stone said. “The Thompsons are very happy to welcome their new son-in-law into their family.”
Should the Supreme Court overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case that enshrined marriage equality nationwide, individual states would once again have the power to determine whether or not to refuse marriage licenses to two people of the same sex. The bill Thompson voted against would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 and ensure that federal benefits and protections remain in place for couples like the lawmaker's son, regardless of their state of residence.
Rep. Glenn Thompson’s wedding speech:
We really appreciate you all being here, and being a part of that. You know, as a parent — parents have hopes and dreams, right, with their kids, from the time that they’re born and they’re creeping and crawling and walking and falling over and walking again, and all the things that they learn right through their teens and into becoming adults. We have hopes and dreams. First of all, obviously, we hope right from the beginning, it’s all about having a healthy child. But it’s about being healthy. It’s about them being healthy. We hope for safety. We’re hoping that they find their way, find opportunity, they find inspiration. And as they grow and as they get a little older, we also hope and pray they’re going to find that one true love so that they have the opportunity to experience that: Someone to grow old with. So we’re just really thankful that you’re here. It actually goes beyond that, as parents. We love it when they find their one true love, especially when they become a part of our families then. That’s what we’re rooting for. We’ve been fortunate with three sons, and [REDACTED]’s done a great job of adding to the family. Every kid showed up through cesarean section so it wasn’t all pleasant, right! So this has been a really good experience, especially for Penny, to have a new son enter the family! So we’re just blessed, and we just want to say thank you to everyone here as part of the celebration.