Vice President Dick Cheney called himself a "pretty angry father" on Thursday, referring to remarks Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made about Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, during Wednesday's night debate with President Bush. Cheney made only a passing reference to the remark during a rally with 2,500 Republicans at Florida Gulf Coast University. But the vice president left few wondering what was on his mind. "You saw a man who will do and say anything to get elected, and I am not just speaking as a father here, although I am a pretty angry father," Cheney said. Cheney's wife, Lynne, accused Kerry of pulling a "cheap and tawdry political trick." Mary Cheney declined to comment about the remark.
During the debate Wednesday night, Kerry responded to a question about whether homosexuality is a choice by mentioning Cheney's daughter, Mary, who has publicly acknowledged being a lesbian. "We're all God's children...and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice," Kerry said.
Dick Cheney expressed no objection when Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards brought up Mary Cheney during their debate last week. Edwards expressed "respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing." Cheney thanked his opponent for the "kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much."
In response to the Cheneys' rebuke of Kerry, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of vice presidential candidate John Edwards, suggested Lynne Cheney might feel "a certain degree of shame" because her daughter is a lesbian. During an interview with ABC Radio, Elizabeth Edwards said Lynne has "overreacted to this and treated it as if it's shameful to have this discussion. I think that's a very sad state of affairs.... I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences.... It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response."
Bush said during Wednesday's debate he does not know whether homosexuality is a choice or fate. He and Kerry spoke of their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, but the president supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and Kerry does not. Kerry supports giving gay couples many of the civil rights that come with marriage, while stopping short of conferring that status on same-sex couples.
In an interview in the October 26 issue of the The Advocate, now on newsstands, Kerry said gay Americans should support his candidacy because he will appoint Supreme Court justices who will fight for equality and a fair interpretation of the equal protection clause and due process. He said he pays a political price for opposing attempts at "gay bashing" in the Senate. "The difference between me and George Bush will be the difference to gay and lesbian couples and individuals across this country--whether rights are afforded them or whether or not they are discriminated against," Kerry said. He added, "If people take a walk on those things, life's going to be worse."