Friday, October 15
She's Here, She's Queer -- Get Used to It
by Margaret Carlson, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2004
I have to admit I found it a little jarring when Sen. John F. Kerry used the word "lesbian" on Wednesday night.
The evening was thick with statistics, and the president had just shouted that Kerry had voted to increase taxes 98 times for what seemed like the 98th time.
As far as we've come — and I've come far for a product of the School of the Good Shepherd outside of Harrisburg, Pa. — the word "lesbian" still leaps out in the middle of a presidential debate.
The word came in an answer to moderator Bob Schieffer's novel way of framing a question about gay rights: "Is homosexuality a choice?" Bush sidestepped, as he did last year when asked if homosexuality was a sin. (That time, he answered, "We're all sinners.") This time he replied, "I just don't know," although he surely has an opinion. But to say so would risk alienating one wing or the other of his party.
Kerry, talking honestly — and for once, it seemed, from the heart — said: "We're all God's children. 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 … who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."
On Thursday morning, I was even more jarred when I read Lynne Cheney's reaction to Kerry's comment. "This is not a good man," she said. "Of course, I am speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."
My first instinct was to admire Cheney as a fierce and righteous mother defending her daughter. But the more I thought about it, it just didn't hold up.
Her daughter is an adult; she's not Amy Carter or Chelsea Clinton thrust into the public eye in tender adolescence. She's not even Margaret Truman at the piano.
Mary Cheney is happily in the public eye, an open lesbian whose job before she joined the 2000 campaign was as liaison to the gay community for Coors beer in Colorado. She now holds one of the most important jobs in her dad's reelection effort.
And her life partner joined the Cheneys on stage in St. Louis after the debate.
She'd have to be in deep denial to think her sexual orientation wasn't going to come up, given that Republicans have made gay marriage a defining issue of the campaign.
I also wondered if Mrs. Cheney has talked to Mr. Cheney to get their stories straight.
It was dear old Dad who first made Mary Cheney a talking point in the campaign earlier this year, discussing how there is some daylight between his position on the gay marriage amendment and that of the president. And in last week's veep debate, he actually thanked John Edwards for making reference to Mary.
This new openness was a departure. During the campaign in 2000, neither Cheney would discuss Mary. Time magazine wrote a piece headlined "Where's Mary?" about the constant references by the Cheneys to their daughter Elizabeth — the lawyer, wife and mother — and their simultaneous silence on Mary. There was no doubt they loved her, but also no doubt that a reporter would be cast out into darkness for asking about her.
Now the VP has gone public, showing how tolerant he is of his own daughter — but he is still not willing to move his president or his party in that direction.
Kerry and Edwards see this and realize that discussing Mary Cheney is a no-lose proposition: It highlights the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney position to Democrats
while simultaneously alerting evangelicals to the fact that the Cheneys have an actual gay person in their household
whom they apparently aren't trying to convert or cure. [...more]
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