Vice President Dick Cheney parted ways with President Bush’s homophobic doctrine on Tuesday August 24. Speaking in front of a conservative crowd in Davenport Iowa, Cheney said, “[My wife] 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.” This was a first for Cheney, who has not previously discussed his daughter’s sexual preference on the election trail.
Like John Kerry and even Howard Dean, Dick Cheney still believes that states should make the ultimate decision regarding same-sex marriage. It is a faulty argument of course, as civil rights of any kind should not be left to state governments; segregation in the South may still be present today had civil rights legislation in the 1960s been left to the states. But at least Cheney has distanced himself from Bush’s proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage.
The Washington Post reported the conservative organization, Family Research Council, as saying that Cheney’s remarks were “disappointing”. The Human Rights Campaign on the other hand praised Cheney’s comments and stated, “President Bush must be feeling the heat,” said Cheryl Jacques the group’s president. “Millions of Republican families, like the Cheneys, have gay friends and family members and are offended by President Bush’s efforts to put discrimination in the Constitution.”
John Kerry and John Edwards have both said that they oppose same-sex marriage, but would not support a constitutional amendment banning the practice. However, neither Kerry nor Edwards has made comments that carry as much weight as Dick Cheney’s. This is an interesting development indeed, and the Democrats can surely use this to step up their opposition to Bush’s homophobic agenda. But don’t count on them to take that initiative. That would be wishful thinking.