Friday, June 22, 2012

Congratulations Mary Cheney, I Guess

English: Mary Cheney at Dick Cheney's second i...
English: Mary Cheney at Dick Cheney's second inauguration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I usually get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear about a lesbian couple that has been together for 20 years and have two children together getting married. However, when I heard about such a story today I got very mixed feelings. The couple is Mary Cheney and Heather Poe. Mary Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President, Dick Cheney. The former Vice President has always supported his daughter and today was no different. The statement released about the wedding can be found here.

The dilemma I have is not that she is Dick Cheney's daughter. After all he came out in favor of marriage equality before Obama did. My issue is with Mary Cheney and her role in supporting President George W. Bush in the 2004 campaign. During the 2000 presidential campaign, a group called the Republican Unity Coalition was formed. This was a type of gay/straight alliance, if you will, for the Republican Party with notable names on its board like President Gerald Ford and U.S. Senators. The group believed that the Republican Party needed to have a big umbrella that could reach out to non-traditional Republicans. The group even submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Lawrence vs. Texas case, which overturned sodomy laws.

This all happened while Mary Cheney was on the Board. However, she resigned from the board to become the director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney 2004 Presidential re-election campaign. This is where my issue starts. Up until this point Mary Cheney had been working to make a difference for LGBT individuals. However, the 2004 campaign is when things shifted massively for LGBT individuals. This is when  the Bush/Cheney team decided to use LGBT issues as a wedge issue by encouraging anti-LGBT marriage amendments to increase voter turnout.

While I understand a daughter supporting her father, I absolutely can't understand this. Prior to that election only 5 states had any type of constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage or civil unions. In that election cycle alone 13 states passed some kind of constitutional amendment. Not only did she stay to work on the campaign but many sources say she was a key player in the campaign. Also, because of Bush calling for the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of this election strategy, the Republican Unity Coalition basically disbanded. Leaving a void of any leadership speaking out for the position that sexual orientation should be a non-issue for the Republican Party.  We all know that without these leaders the Republican Party has embraced the religious right and made LGBT issues a key part of fundraising.

In 2006, eight more states passed constitutional amendments of some kind against same-sex relationship recognition. It was at this time that Virginia, the state Mary Cheney lives in, passed one of the strictest bans in the country. The amendment in Virginia bans marriage, civil unions and any other contract that might resemble marriage (domestic partnership). The trend continued until we currently have 31 states with a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.

So while Mary and her partner got married in Washington D.C., her marriage is not recognized when she heads back home. Just like the majority of same-sex couples in the country. I hope she recognizes the irony of that. That she her marriage is worthless when she crosses a state line in part because of a campaign strategy she was a part of.

I hope she had a nice day celebrating with her family. The piece of paper she has is worthless. At least the domestic partnership paper I have is recognized where I live and I go to sleep every night knowing that I have not done anything to undermine the equality of my family.    
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