A letter I sent to some media outlets today about Lynne Cheney.
Lynne Cheney’s indignant response to John Kerry’s mention of her lesbian daughter — Mary — comes off as an act, to me. Where was Lynne Cheney’s outrage when Ohio Republican senate candidate Alan Keyes referred to her daughter as “a selfish hedonist”? We heard not a word from the Cheney’s when that happened. Where is Lynne Cheney’s indignance when members of her party verbally gay bash and use gay and lesbian families as a wedge issue to gain political power (not to mention fundraising)?
Neither John Kerry nor John Edwards insulted Mary Cheney. Neither made any derogatory reference to her. Both simply stated what is already a known fact: that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. Mary herself has made it no secret. In fact, being a lesbian has been central to her career, from her work with the Coors company to her role as a spokesperson for the Republican Unity Coalition which formed after Bush’s inauguration and sought to make sexual orientation “a non-issue” in the Republican party. Since stepping down from that position Mary Cheney has taken a job with the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign, earning a six figure salary. Put plainly, Mary Cheney is not exactly a private citizen. As she has made her sexual orientation a central part of her public and professional life, it’s hypocritical to expect no one else to mention or address it. It’s called wanting to have it both ways.
As a gay man whose parents are still alive, there’s something just beneath the surface of Lynne Cheney’s remarks, and the Cheney’s willingness to stand by a party that degrades a group their daughter is part of, and their willingness to stand by a president who would use the constitution to make their daughter a second class citizen. Lynne Cheney’s reaction, suggests that she thinks mentioning her daughter’s sexual orientation is somehow an insult rather than a simple statement of facts. The reality is that Lynne Cheney is, on some deep level, ashamed of her lesbian daughter and that is sad. It’s sad not just for Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, but also for Mary.