The same-sex marriage issue will be bubbling just below the surface when Lynne Cheney goes to Oregon on Friday. Cheney, the vice president's wife and the mother of a lesbian, recently made news by declining to support a federal constitutional ban on gay marriage--a stance that put her at odds with her husband and President Bush. Cheney will attend a private fund-raiser Friday night in West Linn for the Oregon Republican Party, which is backing a statewide gay marriage ban that likely will appear on Oregon's ballot this fall.
On Saturday morning the vice president's wife will address the state GOP convention in Keizer, an annual event that brings together some of the party's most socially conservative members. While Cheney's recent stand was viewed by many as sympathetic to same-sex couples, state GOP chairman Kevin Mannix said he expects that Cheney will be warmly received at Saturday's convention. "We don't expect the spouse of the vice president or the president to hew to the party line on every issue," Mannix said. "We're just delighted that she's coming. She's an excellent speaker."
However, Cheney's visit doesn't thrill Mike White, head of the Oregon Family Council, a conservative group that supports the proposed same-sex marriage ban in Oregon. White, who is backing Bush's reelection bid, said he is "troubled" by the vice president's wife's refusal to endorse a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. "I just hope she doesn't address the gay marriage issue" in her remarks to the state GOP convention, White said. "She is here to rally support for the president, and common sense would say that she will only make remarks on issues she and the president agree on."
A spokeswoman for a group that's opposing the marriage ban said it's noteworthy that the vice president and his wife, whose daughter Mary is lesbian, disagree on the proposed ban on same-sex marriage. "I think the Cheney family exemplifies how Americans are unsure how to proceed on this issue," Shauna Shindler Ballo of Voter Education Project said. She also said she doubts Cheney will discuss the issue while she's in Oregon, but she said Cheney's visit will "serve as a reminder that this issue is all around us and will be on the Oregon ballot this fall."