Friday, October 15
Kerry Remarks Over Cheney's Gay Daughter Draw Fire
By Randall Mikkelsen,
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney called Democrat John Kerry "out of line" for citing Cheney's lesbian daughter in a presidential debate, but Kerry said he was just praising "strong families," in a flare-up on Thursday rooted in an election-year battle over gay marriage.
President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, favored by conservatives at the heart of Bush's political base, was a topic of Wednesday's final televised debate between Bush and Kerry.
Kerry had mentioned Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, who works for the Bush campaign, after Bush said he did not know whether a person could choose to be homosexual.
"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 choice," Kerry said.
Cheney reacted quickly in a post-debate interview with Des Moines television station WHO. "I would have said Sen. Kerry was out of line to bring my daughter into it. I thought it was totally inappropriate," he said.
Cheney called himself "an angry father" at a Florida rally, and his wife, Lynne, called Kerry's comment a "cheap and tawdry political trick."
Kerry said in a statement that he and the Cheney family shared a love for their daughters. "I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue," he said.
Kerry said in the debate that he shared Bush's opposition to gay marriage, but thought states could manage the issue. [...]
The vice president had broken with his earlier circumspection regarding Mary Cheney's sexual orientation when he addressed the gay-marriage issue in a meeting with voters in August. Cheney said marriage should be a state issue, a rare disagreement with Bush administration policy.
"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, we have two daughters, and we have enormous pride in both of them," Cheney said then.
Cheney reiterated his gay-marriage position in his vice presidential debate last week with Democratic Sen. John Edwards, who responded by saluting the Cheneys for a willingness to talk about their daughter and "embrace her."
Cheney thanked Edwards for his "kind words," but privately, Bush campaign officials were annoyed and considered the comment inappropriate.
Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, said she was surprised by Mrs. Cheney. "I thought that implicit in her reaction was that there was some shame associated with this discussion and ... that made me sad, frankly," she told CNN radio. [...more]