Some on Right Unhappy With Cheney’s Pro-Marriage Equality Stance
Comic Craig Ferguson riffed on former vice president Dick Cheney’s June 1 declaration that "Freedom means freedom for everyone" when it comes to marriage equality by saying that Cheney supports marriage for gays and lesbians as an extension of his approval of methods of torture.
That’s a fairly funny punchline, but no one believes it literally.
Such is not the case for Cheney’s actual words, about which some conservatives aren’t laughing. In fact, some on the right have a humorless and utterly literal take on the former vice president’s comments when Cheney said, "I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish."
While it is doubtful that Cheney intended to voice support for bestiality, incest, pedophilia, or other objectionable sexual practices that the right wing reflexively associates with same-sex families, old habits die hard, and it was with astonishing swiftness that conservatives turned on Cheney for his defense of his lesbian daughter’s right to family equality.
A June 3 article at anti-gay religious site OneNewsNow posted the response of Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, who accused Cheney of having "clouded... judgment" on the issue due his familial relationship with a gay child.
Barber also accused Cheney of promoting what Barber called "sexual anarchy."
In an address to the National Press Club, Cheney said, "As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and it’s something that we’ve lived with for a long time in our family.
"I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish."
Barber connected the dots in ways that Cheney is unlikely to have meant, saying, "If freedom to marry means, as he said, that people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, well then, he’s virtually endorsing polyamory and polygamy, and incestuous marriage, and bestiality."
Cheney added that the issue ought to be decided at the state, rather than the federal, level. Indeed, on June 2, New Hampshire became the sixth state to extend marriage equality, and the third to do so through the legislature rather than through court action striking anti-gay laws as being inconsistent with constitutional guarantees.
Cheney’s support for daughter Mary Cheney’s right to family parity would seem to bolster what a recent Gallup poll purported to demonstrate: that when individuals know openly gay or lesbian friends, family, and acquaintances, opposition to GLBT equality decreases.
Cheney’s June 1 comments were virtually identical to remarks he made during the 2004 presidential election, when he declared in Davenport, Iowa, that "freedom means freedom for everyone" in answer to a query about his stance on marriage equality.
Even in the midst of a presidential election, conservatives went on the attack over Cheney’s defense of an essential human right, noted an Aug. 25, 2004 article posted at Newsmax.
Cheney’s comments back then were almost word-for-word the same as his remarks on June 1 of this year.
Said Cheney, "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with.
"With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone."
The then-vice president added, "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."
At that time, too, Cheney asserted his conviction that states should be the level of government to work out for themselves whether or not to grant gay and lesbian families the same option for legal recognition as that enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
The anti-gay Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins focused not on worries of "sexual anarchy," but on encouraging Cheney to adopt then-president George W. Bush’s support for an amendment to the United States Constitution to ban marriage between any but heterosexual couples.
Said Perkins in 2004, "For many pro-family voters, protecting traditional marriage ranks ahead of the economy and job creation as a campaign issue."
After Cheney’s June 1 reiteration of support for gay and lesbian families, the chairman of the Republican National Party, Michael Steele, appeared on CNN to address the former vice president’s remarks.
According to a June 2 article posted at CNN.com, Steele commented on CNN program American Morning, "My personal view is that marriage is between a man and a woman, very much in line with what the president has said."
Current president Barack Obama has expressed support for America’s gay and lesbian families, including stating that he would like to see the1996 anti-gay "Defense of Marriage Act," which outlaws any federal recognition of gay and lesbian families, repealed.
However, Obama has also said that he does not support marriage equality for gay and lesbian families, preferring instead to see them offered some form of civil unions.
Steele went on to noted that Cheney’s comments were informed by his experience as the parent of a lesbian daughter, saying, "The vice president brings a very personal perspective to this issue.
"I think his comments are an appropriate reflection of his family and his situation with his daughter."
Steele echoed Cheney’s view that states, rather than the federal government, should determine the question of marriage equality.