Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2009

CHENEY BACKS MARRIAGE EQUALITY?.... It was pretty meaningless to hear Meghan McCain urge her Republican Party to come around on gay marriage.* It seemed a bit more important when Steve Schmidt, John McCain's campaign manager, gave the GOP the same advice.

But in terms of influence in Republican politics, Dick Cheney is on another level.

Dick Cheney rarely takes a position that places him at a more progressive tilt than President Obama. But on Monday, the former vice president did just that, saying that he supports gay marriage as long as it is deemed legal by state and not federal government.

Speaking at the National Press Club for the Gerald R. Ford Foundation journalism awards, Cheney was asked about recent rulings and legislative action in Iowa and elsewhere that allowed for gay couples to legally wed.

"I think that freedom means freedom for everyone," replied the former V.P. "As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute to protect this, I don't support. I do believe that the historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue and I think that is the way it ought to be handled, on a state-by-state basis. ... But I don't have any problem with that. People ought to get a shot at that."

I recall several instances in which Cheney endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples, but these remarks, expressing support for states that have legalized gay marriage, seem to go further.

In February, RNC Chairman Michael Steele was asked whether the party might consider a more tolerant approach to the issue and support civil unions. He replied, "What are you, crazy? No."

Well, now Cheney not only supports civil unions, but is also fine with states supporting marriage equality. Does Steele think he's crazy?

Post Script: Not all of Cheney's remarks at the Press Club were encouraging. He also talked, for example, about "the relationship" between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. Some things never change.

* Update: For reasons I did not expect and did not intend, this offended Meghan McCain. I have a follow-up post here.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Comments

Yeah, give me a federal statute that covers rights of survivorship for Social Security and we can talk.

Posted by: Suzii on June 1, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

..let's see how quickly somebody demands that dick leaves the party...beepin' rino...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on June 1, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Exacerbating the contradictions of conservatism. Well played Lord Vader.

Posted by: angler on June 1, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans often choose progressive positions when they or those they call family benefit: self-interest is their rule. As I recall, Rehnquist was a big supporter of family leave benefits only after he found himself helping out his daughter by picking up his grandchildren for activities. The real issue is: Can you care about your fellow human beings even if their problems are different than your own? Can the rich care about the poor, for example? Ditto corporations: Did GM care about its customers (recall the Corvair) or its employees or even its country? Because helping people become their best selves is a good thing to do is not a good enough reason for them: perhaps the only way to explain it to them is that mutual interest is also, in the long run, self interest.

Posted by: SF on June 1, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

It only count as "support" of marriage if he includes federal recognition of state status.

A marriage license from State X is fine and good, as long as we don't cross the state line. What matters is federal recognition ... like joint filing, Social Security survivor benefits, and all the other thousands of rights and privileges Liz Cheney enjoys and Mary Cheney is denied.

But, still, Dick on our side is something ... and it shows, yet again, that homophobia usually stops outside the family door.

Posted by: K in VA on June 1, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

SF at 4:19 PM:

Gosh, it sounds like you're describing "empathy."

Posted by: K in VA on June 1, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

If Mary Cheney wanted to be an army interrogator, I'm sure he would favor repealing DADT.

Posted by: Danp on June 1, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

awww the folksy cheney has "lived with" his daughter being gay for a long while. tsk tsk... and he's come to the conclusion that she ought to "get a shot at" marriage... sweet jesu!

dickie, yer too much. you almost present in human form...

god damn dick cheney's shit-filled soul to hell.

Posted by: neill on June 1, 2009 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"I do believe that the historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue and I think that is the way it ought to be handled . . . ." - Dick Cheney

Ummm . . . Loving v. Virginia, where the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that state laws against interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

And of course, Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, commonly known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, addresses the duties that states within the United States have to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of other states. (Wikipedia)

As usual, Cheney is wrong.

Posted by: SteveT on June 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

You have to laugh at Dick Cheney finishing up even a nice thought by saying, "People ought to get a shot at that."

Duck!

Posted by: Brendan Keefe on June 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

wait a second: when john kerry mentioned the well-known fact that dick cheney's daughter was gay during one of the 2004 debates, liz cheney insisted this was horrible, simply horrible of kerry to bring up.

so what's liz' attitude about her very own husband bringing it up?

Posted by: howard on June 1, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

'Compassionate Fascism,' anybody?

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 1, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

SF's got it. Cheney's entire set of principles are: "How does this benefit me or someone close to me?"

Posted by: shortstop on June 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Prick Cheney has gotten used to being called a bastard. Doesn't necessarily mean he wants to have his grandchild called the same thing.

Howard, @16:29,
Of all things that I've heard Prick Cheney accused of, incest wasn't one of them. The politically prolific Liz is the Cheneyette; it's Lynn who is the steamy-romance-writing matron.

Posted by: exlibra on June 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know the answers but maybe someone here does.

I live in a state where I can marry my first cousin. I move to a state where it is illegal. Is the marriage still legal?

I live in a state where I can marry a 15/16 year old and move to a state where I can't. Is the marriage still legal or am I guilty of statutory rape?

I marry another man in a state where it is legal. I move to another state wher I can't. Why is this marriage no longer legal?

Posted by: neil wilson on June 1, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Almost every politician on Earth is right about at least one issue. Big deal.

Posted by: Franklin on June 1, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Who gives a crap what DC thinks anyways ?

It would be interesting to do a Lexis/Nexis search to see if he always had those views, or if they are a product of his own family. I am pretty sure he wasn't down with gays until one landed on his lap. Too bad a torture victim wouldn't enter his life.

Posted by: ScottW on June 1, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and regarding his preference for having the states decide (thus denying all the federal benefits to the partner)...

I bet he's just fine with that, too. Should Mary's partner (can't remember her name) die first, pater familias Cheney is perfectly capable of supporting Mary and the grandchild and would, in all probability, love to be in that controlling position. But, should Mary die first, "that woman" would be denied and serve her right, for leading his Mary astray like that.

Posted by: exlibra on June 1, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, gays and lesbians are free to marry in Dick Cheney's world, in which freedom means a world of smoldering wreckage that Cheney's foreign policy would create.

Posted by: clb72 on June 1, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute, I'm confused. is Cheney recognizing and endorsing Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda's same-sex relationship? A little late now!

Posted by: Quicksand on June 1, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
You have to laugh at Dick Cheney finishing up even a nice thought by saying, "People ought to get a shot at that."

Duck!
Posted by: Brendan Keefe on June 1, 2009

So, you're saying he's BANG on? Heh

Posted by: MarkH on June 1, 2009 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sullivan says this makes Cheney even more liberal on gay marriage than Obama. True? (I guess, because BHO supports - supposedly - a marriage amendment that would tell states they must accept a Federal definition of marriage as man+woman.

Posted by: delver on June 1, 2009 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Steve T.: stop equating racial prohibitions, a historical anomaly, with prohibitions against same0sex marriage, a historical continuity. The two are not equivaent, and cause needless hostility to gay marriage.

Posted by: Mandy on June 1, 2009 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

So we're supposed to take Cheney seriously on this after he waged a despicable anti-gay marriage political campaign and supported Rove's scare tactics, like telling churches that John Kerry's election would have led to their pastors being jailed for refusing to perform gay marriages?

Posted by: DC on June 1, 2009 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

While I suspect it is accidental, Cheney goes farther than most here, "I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish.".

That statement would approve polygamy if it was approved by a state!

Posted by: bobbiegreensleves on June 2, 2009 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

Some people will never understand the Republicans or they don't want to. The Republican party already has a big tent..all people are invited into it. Because we can have diverse groups is a strength not a weakness as our country is diverse. I believe it was the Democratic party that refused to let a Pro Life speaker speak at its National convention some time back. All things being equal Dick Cheney is appreciated by the Republican party..it appears that president Obama, Democrats and some media have problems with him..interesting that Dick Cheney's approval numbers are going up?

Posted by: Ray,Calif on June 2, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I guess you weren't paying attention when Cheney said that during the 2004 campaign. How dense are you?

Posted by: Tony on June 2, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"I believe it was the Democratic party that refused to let a Pro Life speaker speak at its National convention some time back."

Casey refused to endorse the Party's candidate and insisted on delivering a speech that went directly against a key plank in his Party's platform. He was not denied a spot because he was pro-life, he was denied a spot because at that time in that specific context he was not a good Democrat. A Party Convention is intended as an occasion for building unity and not for inserting wedge issues into the discussion.

Casey effectively through down a guantlet saying 'My way or the highway' and the Democrats chose highway. Don't pretend that in similar circumstances the Republican Party would not have made the same decision.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on June 2, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I am a conservative and I am for gay marriage. I think though that you all have to give it for Cheney who at least expresses his support. Unlike, Obama since he got elected he has been quite and did not comment on Prop 8. How come you don't hold him accountable for that. He is your candidate. Yet, you knock Cheney who could help the gays cause with conservatives. I guess it is the old double standard. Obama has control of the whitehouse, senate and congressment. He could bring changes but says nothing

Posted by: Kelly on June 2, 2009 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

By 'pretty meaningless' do you mean because she is not 200 years old like everyone else in the party? Meaningless because her ideals are mainstream instead of fox-news extremist? Meghan McCain is more relevant than anything Republican that I can think of. If she continues advocating for the reform of the GOP from religious fringe-group ideals to ideals of justice, equality and liberty, the party MIGHT pick up a few young voters, which MIGHT allow it to keep its 'household name' status for another generation. Otherwise, people are going to say, 'Ive heard of republicans... but I cant remember where I heard it from'.

Posted by: Drew Murray on June 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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