After Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida revealed Thursday he has an adopted son, Nestor Galban, who legally immigrated from Cuba to the United States in 2014, media outlets and the social media mob questioned the validity of the Republican congressman’s relationship with Galban.
“We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life,” tweeted Gaetz.
For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida.
I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. pic.twitter.com/JB96wzOzYU
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020
Media reports on the issue started circulating using headlines questioning the validity of Gaetz’s relationship to Galban. One tweet from CBS put word the “son” in quotations, while the outlet Queerty also put “son” in scare quotes and published an entire article projecting doubts on Gaetz’s statements about being a “proud, happy family.”
After heated exchange on race, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz reveals Cuban "son" https://t.co/AweNtQSwRv
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 19, 2020
— Queerty (@Queerty) June 19, 2020
People Magazine also followed suit with the misused scare quotes, as did CBS News.
Rep. Gaetz returned to Twitter just a day after the announcement to debunk any rumors concerning him and Galban.
Ive honestly never understood this gay shaming smear.
Are you saying being gay is something to be ashamed of? I’m not gay, but I don’t think it would be if I were.
How do gay people feel when a straight person is accused of being gay as some sort of dig?
The New Woke is mean. https://t.co/E3la978ZSA
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 19, 2020
In the original announcement via Twitter, Gaetz explained that his decision to go public with the announcement was connected to a heated debate between him and Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana just a few days earlier.
“As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise non-white kids,” wrote Gaetz.
The initial conflict occurred during a committee hearing concerning the Justice in Police Act when Richmond asserted that he was “clearly more concerned” about anyone’s black or minority children than Gaetz or the other Republicans would be.
“You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do?” asked Gaetz. “Who in the hell do you think you are? This is outrageous.”
Although Gaetz initially received backlash for defending a family he didn’t seem to have, he also received support for all of the time he devoted to raising Galban.
In one tweet, former Rep. Jose Felix Diaz praised Gaetz for being “an outstanding role model & mentor” for Galban.
I am seeing so many hateful comments about Matt Gaetz & Nestor. When that kid lost his mom, Matt was dating his sister and he stepped up. Plain and simple. He has been an outstanding role model & mentor for Nestor and anyone that served with Matt knows this great kid 🇨🇺🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/lD96jI54nQ
— Jose Felix Diaz (@josefelixdiaz) June 18, 2020
Another tweet from former Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat, showed support of Gaetz despite their political disagreements.
“I can’t stand a lot of his beliefs but he’s been there for me when others haven’t. He talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad,” she wrote.
Many of you know @mattgaetz & I have an unlikely friendship. I can’t stand a lot of his beliefs but he’s been there for me when others haven’t. He talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad. This #freenestor thing is bullshit. Stop. https://t.co/qqOx9opXzH
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) June 18, 2020
In an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Rep. Gaetz expressed his disappointment in the whole situation.
“I’m honestly embarrassed for the United States Congress that we’ve resorted to criticizing each other based on our race and the race of our children and I wish we would’ve been more productive going forward,” Gaetz said.
Galban also chimed in about the issue saying that he thinks that it is “unfair to tell someone they don’t understand because of their racial color.”