by Mary Griggs
Mary Cheney wed Heather Poe in Washington, DC in a private ceremony on Friday, June 22. Cheney posted on her Facebook page: “Very happy to announce that as of this morning, Heather and I are legally married (at least in DC). 20 years to the day after our first date.”
Lovely, right? I’ll give you a minute to bask in the irony that the daughter of the former Vice-President, who came to power as part of a vicious right wing campaign to bring voters to the polls by enshrining discrimination against same-sex marriage in constitutions across the United States, just legally married her partner and co-parent of their two children.
Almost immediately after the wedding, the pundits and commentators began to speak. Republican strategist (and close Cheney family friend) Mary Matalin said, “I am certain Mary and Heather have not given one nanosecond of consideration to the electoral season or political impact of their recent union. The Vice President and Mrs. Cheney’s unconditional love and support for their family has also never been remotely predicated on politics.”
Seriously? Didn’t she learn from our feminist foremothers that politics are predicated on the personal?
In point of fact, their very marriage is a political act. Same sex marriage is only allowed in six states (CT, IA, MA, NH, NY, and VT) plus Washington, D.C. It isn’t legally recognized where they live in Virginia.
Further, it is naïve to think that the political animal that is Dick Cheney hasn’t considered every possible ramification of his support for their freedom to marry. While his support might be in opposition to the religious zealots who have hijacked his party, his stand follows traditional Republican values on limited government and individual liberty.
Ted Olson, one of the lawyers on the Prop 8 challenge case wrote an essay entitled The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. In it, he stated:
“Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance.”
Supporting the freedom to marry does not make one a single issue voter. Marriage equality is beyond a mere issue of fairness. It is an economic issue, a religious issue and, damn it all, it is an issue of love.
Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has signed the pledge from the National Organization for Marriage. The signers of the pledge commit to five points:
- Sending a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman to the states for ratification.
- Defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which includes the traditional definition of marriage and bans states from recognizing gay marriage, in court.
- Appointing federal judges and an attorney general who are opposed to a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
- Appointing a commission to investigate claims of harassment against those people who support marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
- Supporting legislation that would give people living in the District of Columbia the right to vote on marriage.
Politics may be the art of the possible but they are also intensely personal. That is something that none of us should forget in November.