August 24, 2004
Vice President Loves Gay Daughter. Religious Right Stunned.
So, the Vice President has gone and done it. When asked by an attendee at a Bush event in Iowa what he thought about gay marriage, Dick Cheney said:
"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. . . . With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free -- ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."
The Vice President not only said the word, gay, something neither President Bush nor Senator Cheney has done in a speech, but he said that his daughter was gay. He also states that this issue should be settled by the states, not by a constiutional amendment.
Of course the Religious Right was not pleased. Here is what Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said:
"Unfortunately, protection of our values is made more difficult when mixed messages emanate from the White House," said Tony Perkins, the group's president. "We support President Bush's commitment to a constitutional amendment on marriage, but we are left to wonder why the vice president is allowed to depart from this position when the top of the ticket is unified on all other issues."
Good point, Tony. Why would the Vice President depart from the President's view? Maybe because he has a gay daughter who he loves and he wants her to be happy and fufilled in her life like any father would want their child to be. Wanting the best for your daughter, what is that, Tony? Sounds like family values to me.
I don't know if this will trigger a sea change in the GOP yet. It is way too little too late to win back any gay votes Bush has lost because of his support for the FMA. However, this might allow other Republicans who have gay children to start speaking out and being honest. And maybe when enough people do that, then the party will become more tolerant, because having then gay marriage is not about some scary people out there, but about the gay child that any parent wants to make sure is happy.
Posted by Dennis at August 24, 2004 11:46 PM
What do we stand for? No warning? What about courage, love of country, of honor?
Great post. Unfortunately, Brian is right. Most social conservatives see homosexuality as a choice. When buttressed by their literal interpretation of the Bible and general homophobia, they have no problem throwing civil liberties out the window. I do hope, however, that Cheney's admission will at least confuse some people who think being a Republican = rejecting homosexuals.
Dennis, my name is Rick Perlstein, and I'm a reporter for the Village Voice and also a historian of the conservative takeover of the GOP (I wrote a book called BEFORE THE STORM: BARRY GOLDWATER AND THE UNMAKING OF THE AMERICAN CONSENSUS).
I'd like to focus my coverage of the Republican Convention on the ordeal of moderates in the party. I'd love to hear from you or any other mods who'd like to talk about this, on or off the record--especially folks who are going to New York.
I can be reached at 773-536-0475 (my cell, for during the convention, is 773-517-5026).
"Wanting the best for your daughter, what is that, Tony? Sounds like family values to me."
Yeah, but the Family Values Crowd would say that if Cheney were really a good dad, he wouldn't have "let" her become a lesbian in the first place.
Though it's reassuring to know that Cheney (Dick) DOES have a shred of humanity.
And not just republicans with gay children; there have to be some gay republican office holders out there who are thrilled to hear this from a leading conservative light.
I wondered when some GOP leader would speak up for the traditional Republican value of individual liberty. I hadn't expected it to be Dick Cheney but he is a perfect one to do it.
I may be too cynical but I doubt that this was just an impulsive comment. I suspect that the Bush/Cheney campaign's polling is starting to show moderate Republicans becoming uneasy about the power of evangelicals over GOP positions, so they decided to send a conciliatory signal.
Cheney has the gravitas and the family connection to survive the backlash (no one will accuse Dick Cheney of being a wishy-washy, warm and fuzzy, tree hugger).
Nonetheless, it is an important and powerful step.
Great post Dennis - one of the best.