Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, spoke supportively about gay relationships on Tuesday, saying, "Freedom means freedom for everyone."
At a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa, Cheney was asked about his stand on same-sex marriage; his boss, President George W. Bush, has pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban such unions. "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney said. "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is, freedom means freedom for everyone.... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.
"The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is, What kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage," he said. Cheney said Bush's move for a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage was prompted by various judicial rulings, including the action in Massachusetts that made same-sex marriage legal in that state. "I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change, without allowing the people to be involved," Cheney said. "The courts were making the judgment for the entire country."
Cheney said the amendment did not have the votes to pass in the U.S. Senate, but he also said the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996, may be sufficient to resolve the issue. The Cheneys have two daughters, both of whom are working on the GOP reelection campaign. Mary Cheney is director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney campaign. She held a public role as her father's assistant in the 2000 campaign and helped the Republicans recruit gay voters during the 2002 midterm elections.
During the 2000 campaign, as a vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney took the position that states should decide legal issues about personal relationships and that people should be free to enter relationships of their choosing.
While Bush and Cheney back the proposed constitutional amendment, their Democratic rivals, Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, oppose it. The Democrats also oppose gay marriage but defend a gay couple's rights to the same legal protections as those conferred in marriage.
"Today the vice president restated what he so eloquently said in 2000, and what the vice president said then rings just as true today. The vice president's comments should be a clear signal to the drafters of our party's platform to not include a plank that would call for a constitutional amendment," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "Additionally, we have called on the platform committee to adopt language that makes it clear that voices, like those of Vice President Cheney, who may disagree with the Gary Bauers of the world are welcome in this party."
The Log Cabin Republicans, in conjunction with Republicans for Choice and the Republican Youth Majority, have called on the platform committee to adopt a Party Unity Plank.