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Tuesday, August 24, 2004  

Politics: Cheney opposes gay marriage amendment

While acknowledging his lesbian daughter, Vice President Dick Cheney has said he does not agree with the Republicans' claim federal legislation is needed to ban marriage between gays. He expressed his opinion at a political event in Iowa. His remarks were very carefully phrased. The New York Times has the story.

Mr. Cheney said the issue was what kind of government recognition to give those relationships, and indicated that he preferred to let the states define what constitutes a marriage. In contrast, President Bushhas argued that a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is essential. Mr. Cheney noted that Mr. Bush sets policy for the administration.

In unusually personal remarks on the issue, delivered at a campaign forum in Davenport, Iowa, the vice president referred to his daughter, Mary, who is a lesbian, saying that he and his wife "have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with." He added, according to a transcript of his remarks, provided by the White House, "We have two daughters, and we have enormous pride in both of them."

He spoke on the same day that a draft version of the Republican platform was distributed to convention delegates that declared, "We strongly support President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage." The draft platform added, "Attempts to redefine marriage in a single city or state could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a constitutional amendment, passed by Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges."

Cheney's remarks appear to be timed to create a less harsh view of the Republicans' attitude toward homosexuals for their national convention. The gesture may be meant to serve two purposes:

•Reassure gay conservatives, such as the Log Cabin Republicans. Homosexuals who are conservatives often support the GOP's positions on matters other than the rights of homosexuals. Since gay men are more likely to be white, better educated and affluent, unlike other minority groups, there is a significant constituency of conservative homosexuals.

•Get conservative gays who are not Republicans to consider the party as it enters the image polishing process of a national convention.

There is a caveat to Cheney's position.

But Mr. Cheney noted that the president believed a recent round of court decisions, notably in Massachusetts, "were making the judgment or decision for the entire country," and had thus embraced a constitutional amendment.

His alleged fear of 'activist judges' could provide cover for Cheney to support a federal resolution to the issue, despite his claim he does not consider gay marriage a federal matter.

Gay activists expressed skepticism in regard to Cheney's stance.

The Associated Press reports delegates preparing for the convention perused the proposal to make opposition to gay marriage part of the party's platform Tuesday.

Republicans call for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in a proposed election platform headed for a feisty debate in the days before their national convention.

If the plank is approved as expected, it would mark the first time the GOP has gone on record in its statement of principles as supporting an amendment against gay marriage. The issue opens a new point of contention between the party’s social conservatives and moderates in platform hearings, who typically tangle over abortion rights each presidential election season. .

Mary Cheney is said to have successfully recruited gay people to the Republican Party during the 2002 mid-term elections.

10:45 PM