Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mary Cheney And Memory Lane

Well, I sure as heck wasn't expecting to post twice in one day about Mary Cheney. (Here's the the one from earlier.) But after reading the comments section of this post, I was struck anew at how often I've read/heard people talking about the 2004 debate-season brouhaha over Mary Cheney and apparently forgetting that there was MORE than one incident. There also seems to be a tendency to attribute to Edwards what Kerry said, AND to somehow present the Edwards/Kerry ticket as a grand champion of gay people's right to marry. (Not!)

If we feel the need to re-debate the behavior during the debates (and, of course, it's Mary Cheney who's brought it back up via her book), let's first take a walk down memory lane to establish what the actual incidents were: not just one, and involving Edwards and Kerry separately. (Would that suggest that maybe, just maybe, perhaps, possibly, this was a deliberate tactic, and not just off the cuff? Well, decide for yourself.)

First, it's important to remember that much in the news had been the proposal to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman (obviously the push for the Federal Marriage Protection Amendment is also in the news currently, but that's outside the scope of this post). So it's no surprise that debate moderators asked questions related to the issue of gay marriage.

Now, onto the Mary Cheney references, which occurred during two separate debates, eight days apart:

1) John Edwards brought her up during a debate between the veep candidates on Oct 5, 2004.

Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but 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. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy.

And I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry.

I also believe that there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long-term, committed relationships.

But we should not use the Constitution to divide this country.

No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage.

This is using the Constitution as a political tool, and it's wrong.

IFILL: New question, but same subject.

As the vice president mentioned, John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts, which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Yet both you and Senator Kerry say you oppose it.

Are you trying to have it both ways?

EDWARDS: No. I think we've both said the same thing all along.

We both believe that -- and this goes onto the end of what I just talked about -- we both believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But we also believe that gay and lesbians and gay and lesbian couples, those who have been in long-term relationships, deserve to be treated respectfully, they deserve to have benefits.

For example, a gay couple now has a very difficult time, one, visiting the other when they're in the hospital, or, for example, if, heaven forbid, one of them were to pass away, they have trouble even arranging the funeral.

I mean, those are not the kind of things that John Kerry and I believe in. I suspect the vice president himself does not believe in that.

But we don't -- we do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

And I want to go back, if I can, to the question you just asked, which is this constitutional amendment.

I want to make sure people understand that the president is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that is completely unnecessary.

Under the law of this country for the last 200 years, no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage.

Let me just be simple about this. My state of North Carolina would not be required to recognize a marriage from Massachusetts, which you just asked about.

There is absolutely no purpose in the law and in reality for this amendment. It's nothing but a political tool. And it's being used in an effort to divide this country on an issue that we should not be dividing America on.

We ought to be talking about issues like health care and jobs and what's happening in Iraq, not using an issue to divide this country in a way that's solely for political purposes. It's wrong.

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.

IFILL: That's it?

CHENEY: That's it.

2) John Kerry brought it up during answer he gave during the Oct. 13 presidential debate:

We're all God's children, Bob. 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.

[My comment: Btw, I suspect that's Cheney's view too, especially since reportedly he was one who was most instantly accepting when Mary came out, by her account.]

I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.

I think we have to respect that.

The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

But I also believe that because we are the United States of America, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace. You can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people.

You can't disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I'm for partnership rights and so forth.

Now, with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws. And they're proving today, every state, that they can manage them adequately.

I quote at more length than necessary to elucidate that there were two separate incidents, just to remind people that Kerry and Edwards weren't exactly championing the rights of gay people to marry, for crying out loud. Which, in my book, makes their evoking of Mary Cheney more cheap. I mean, they weren't exactly promising to further the rights of gay people in this regard all that much more than Bush/Cheney, in the positive, progressive sense, though they were, indeed, clear in their opposition to the proposed federal amendment and to cutting of political debate.

Between the two incidents, no less than John Stewart poked fun at Edwards for obviously employing Mary Cheney's status as a tactic to provoke homophobes. Remember GAY DAUGHTER! GAY DAUGHTER!? (I think, as a tactic, it was also useful for deflecting attention from Kerry/Edward's lack of support for gay marriage, which they each emphasized they shared with the president.)

Whatever you may think of the Cheneys' reaction in terms of the political equation, it's not going much out on a limb here to say it's not hard to understand how this whole period might have been a bit ... irritating and distressing to them as parents as well. And why Mary Cheney might use terms such as "slime" and "sleazeball." (I note that someone over there has a problem with these terms as somehow juvenile or adolescent--I don't recall the term. Well, what do people expect her to use? Deep blue profanity? Hoity-toity, school marm terminology? Sheesh.)

Of course, there was all sorts of media hype and blogosphere buzz going on throughout the entire time period as well, but there's not time enough in the day (year?) to compile All Of That.

Well! I need to get back to other things. Debate away--but with a bit more clarity on the series of events, please.