W A S H I N G T O N, June 9, 2003 -- — Chrissy Gephardt tried to keep her true feelings a secret for nearly a year — until she realized she had to come clean and tell her husband and her prominent political father that she is gay.
Gephardt says she vividly remembers the day that forever changed her life.
"I met this woman at school, Amy [Loder]. "We were having coffee one day at a coffee shop in St. Louis and she said, 'Chrissy, there's something I need to tell you … ... I'm gay.' And my heart started racing," Gephardt said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
"I felt like it was coming out of my chest. And I was like, oh, my goodness, that's it. That's exactly what this is. I have an absolute crush on her," she said.
Gephardt tried to keep her feelings a secret. She didn't want to hurt her husband or her father's political career. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., is making a run for the presidency in 2004.
"I thought there's no way that I could ever bring this to my parents. Because it would ruin my father's career … that's when I decided that I would just keep it a secret, and try to make it go away," she said.
Crush Leads to Confession
As her friendship with Loder grew, Chrissy said she was finding it more and more difficult to keep her true feelings a secret.
"I finally came out and told her," Gephardt said. "She [Loder] was kind of scared. I was married … and she knew my husband," she said.
Gephardt finally broke the news to the man she still calls her best friend. "I told him and the rest is history," she said.
After the 30-year-old social worker broke the news to her husband two years ago, she prepared for what she thought would be an even more frightening conversation with her parents.
"Here were people who have been with me since the day I was born, who love me unconditionally. And I would have to say to them, 'I'm not who you think I am,'" she said.
Chrissy Gephardt said she expected that her family would want to keep the truth about her sexuality a secret, for political reasons. But her admission brought the kind of reaction she never expected — total and complete acceptance.
"I love Chrissy. I love all my kids beyond reason. And whatever is right for her, I trust her," her father, Dick Gephardt said.
The former Democratic majority leader and longtime congressman said he never worried about whether or not his daughter's news would hurt his political career.
"I don't care about my career when it comes to my family," he said.
Ambassador to Gay Community?
In fact, Gephardt has asked his daughter to join his campaign and she replied by jumping in with both feet. She plans on talking about gay and lesbian rights and she hopes Americans will learn something new from what she has to say.
"I really want people to know that gay and lesbian Americans are no different than any other Americans," she said. "We pay taxes. We're part of the government. We're employees like anybody else. And we just want to be treated fairly and equally," she said.
She and her father have different political views on very few subjects — but one they don't see eye to eye on is the subject of gay marriage.
Dick Gephardt promotes the idea of civil unions, but not gay marriages necessarily.
"I think civil unions is gonna be hard to do in the country," he said. "It's controversial. I think it solves the majority of the problems that people face, who are discriminated against. And I think if we can get that done, it would be real progress."
His daughter, on the other hand, would support going one step further.
"Obviously, I'm pro gay marriage. Why not go for gay marriage? We wanna have our relationships recognized just like heterosexual couples," she said.
Chrissy Gephardt, who is now seriously involved with Loder, says she hopes to be married one day. Her family has been very supportive of her relationship with Loder, 31. The happy couple joined the rest of the family in the 2002 family Christmas card picture.