Alan Keyes

The daughter of former presidential candidate Alan Keyes has come out of the closet to announce she’s a lesbian, putting her at odds with her father’s highly publicized stances against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Calling herself a “liberal queer,” Maya Marcel-Keyes, 19, went public with her sexual orientation yesterday at a rally in Annapolis sponsored by Equality Maryland, the state’s largest civil-rights organization for homosexuals.

“Things just came to a head. Liberal queer plus conservative Republican just doesn’t mesh well,” Marcel-Keyes said. “That was making my life a little bit turbulent.”

Alan Keyes, who sought the White House in 2000 and last fall lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, is considered one of the most eloquent defenders of the conservative worldview and agenda.

He currently heads up RenewAmerica and the Declaration Foundation, organizations looking to preserve the founding principles of America.

Maya and Alan Keyes in December 2003

In a statement issued last night, Keyes responded to the announcement, saying, “My daughter is an adult, and she is responsible for her own actions. What she chooses to do has nothing to do with my work or political activities.”

Keyes created a national stir last August after a radio interview in which he expressed support for a proposed amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

“The essence of … family life remains procreation,” he explained. “If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it’s possible to have a marriage state that in principle excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism.”

Some news reports stated the comments suggested all homosexuals were “selfish hedonists,” including Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Maya Marcel-Keyes, right, joins her father campaigning for president in 2000

In an e-mail interview with the Advocate, a publication geared toward homosexuals, Marcel-Keyes said she told her parents about her sexuality at the end of high school, and they initially denied it:

They said I wasn’t really queer – I was either lying about it or just confused or going through a phase or brainwashed, etc. Then they just got angry, upset – my mom in particular. I left the country for a year and things cooled off a bit, but they were always still very harsh if the subject came up. It was best if we just stayed quiet and pretended the whole queer issue never happened. Occasionally we’d have arguments, or long talks where they reminded me how horrible and sinful homosexuality is, but mostly if it didn’t come up, our relationship stayed pretty OK. Recently things have gotten a lot worse, though, because I’m not staying quiet about it anymore. I hope it’s just a phase and we work things out again. At the moment it’s been a while since I’ve talked to my parents.

When asked about her reaction to her father’s comments last August, Marcel-Keyes said, “It was weird to see what he said all over the news, but the remarks themselves weren’t any shock to me; it’s no different than what he believes and says at home as well.”

She says she has a girlfriend at the present time, and would someday consider “marriage,” noting she is a religious person.

“I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I’m still very Christian, yes,” she told the Advocate.

On her personal blog online, Marcel-Keyes is receiving numerous notes of encouragement, including:

  • “Just goes to show you: whatever group of people you hate, one of them will end up in your family. ‘Tolerance’ is not enough … we need justice.”

  • “Your dad is so smart, hopefully one day he will turn his intelligence towards connecting with you. His loss.”

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    Related column:

    What Alan Keyes actually said

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