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On gay marriage, Cheney shows heart. Why not courage too?

June 22, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Mary Cheney, right, and Heather Poe at the 2004 GOP convention. The couple were married Friday in Washington, D.C.
Mary Cheney, right, and Heather Poe at the 2004 GOP convention. The couple… (Damon Winter / Los Angeles…)

The Wizard gave Dick Cheney a new heart in March.

If only he’d gotten courage as part of the deal.

On Friday, Cheney’s daughter, Mary, married her longtime partner, Heather Poe. The couple have two children.

And how did the staunchly conservative Lynne and Dick Cheney, bastions of the Republican right, react?

"Mary and Heather have been in a committed relationship for many years, and we are delighted that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity to have that relationship recognized," the Cheney family said in a statement. "Mary and Heather and their children are very important and much-loved members of our family, and we wish them every happiness."

Which is nice, isn’t it?

It’s also more than a little hypocritical, of course, considering that Dick Cheney once supported an effort by the George W. Bush administration to impose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.  

Then again, as vice president, he said he believed that the question of legalizing same-sex marriage should be left to the states.

And after leaving office, he had this to say in 2009 on the subject:

"I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute to protect this, I don't support."

It appears, strangely enough, that Cheney may be “evolving” on this issue, just like President Obama, who recently came out in support of same-sex marriage.

Of course, Obama caught immediate flak from Republicans for his change of heart. Had Cheney been running for office, I’m sure he would have joined in the criticism. That, after all, is politics. You might not like it, but you can understand.

What I question, though, is Cheney’s courage. 

Saying that same-sex marriage should be left to the states is simply trying to have your cake, by supporting the daughter you love, and eating it too, by trying to reconcile what you really believe with the tenets of a hard-right Republican Party.

Does Cheney truly want his daughter’s marriage recognized in Washington, D.C.,  but not in, say, Virginia, where the couple reside, or in Wyoming, which he represented in Congress? Because that’s what you get if you let the states decide. Nor would the state be able to give married same-sex couples the federal benefits that heterosexual married couples receive.

No, I don’t think Cheney prefers those scenarios. I think he would prefer that his daughter, her spouse and their children have the same rights as all married couples.

Too bad he doesn’t have the courage to say so.

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