Dick Cheney on Gay Marriage

E.J. Dionne parses Vice President Cheney’s recent dissent from Bush Administration policy on gay marriage and chalks it up to love for a lesbian daughter outweighing ideology.

Vice President Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter who matters more to him than ideology. So last Tuesday, he said that people “ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to” and that states ought to make their own decisions on marriage laws.

Cheney made his pro-gay statement on the same day that the Republican Platform Committee contradicted him, endorsing President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “Attempts to redefine marriage in a single city or state could have serious consequences throughout the country,” the platform plank read, “and anything less than a constitutional amendment, passed by Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges.”

While it’s likely that Cheney’s desire to protect his daughter was a big factor in his position on the issue, ideology and compassion aren’t necessarily at odds here.

Even under the proposed amendment–which is purely rhetorical, given that it has absolutely zero chance of ratificiation–Mary Cheney or any other adult would “be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.” This isn’t an anti-sodomy amendment but an anti-marriage amendment. The only thing the amendment would preclude is having activist judges impose the imprimatur of public recognition on these relationships. That’s hardly an onerous burden.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Religion, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. KipEsquire says:

    You deny literally thousands of legal, tax and other benefits to people for no other reason than your own bigotries, and you don’t call that “onerous”?

  2. James Joyner says:

    We’ve denied those benefits since the dawn on mankind. Since marriage is a public institution, the public has every right to limit it. The vast majority of the public does not view homosexual union as being on par with a heterosexual marriage. That’s changing, and fairly rapidly.

  3. KipEsquire says:

    We’ve denied those benefits since the dawn on mankind.

    Slavery existed for 99.9% of human history; women had no rights for 99.9%, etc.

    Since marriage is a public institution, the public has every right to limit it.

    Then why are anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional?

    Your only viable argument is naked bigotry — please just fess up to it.

  4. James Joyner says:


    I think gays ought be allowed to marry. I simply realize that it’s minority view at the moment and think the harm of having unelected judges imposing it on society worse than the minor evil of not permitting them to marry.

    Slavery and an inferior legal position for women was acceptable at one point in time and set of circumstances. As those circumstances changed, so did attitutes, and policy change followed.

    Anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional because we amended the Constitution to preclude discrimination on account of race. Further, only a small minority of Americans think inter-racial marriage should be illegal. Conversely, most Americans (including the likes of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) oppose gay marriage. A decade from now, that’s unlikely to be true. Twenty or twenty-five years from now, it almost certainly won’t.

  5. KipEsquire says:

    Dr. Joyner, you’re playing a bit of a shell game here. The question wasn’t “how can we?” (btw, as a law school graduate I’m very familiar with the Loving case, thanks anyway — have you read Carolene Products recently?), but rather “why should we?”

    My original question stands: what intellectually consistent (i.e., non-contradictory) basis is there for allowing bans on gay marriage other than naked bigotry, even if it’s naked bigotry “of the majority”?

  6. James Joyner says:


    Cheney is geniunely conservative in his beliefs, so far as I can tell. I’m merely arguing that his
    ideology and the position he takes here aren’t inherently contradictory.

    On the merits, I’m not sure I’d call a widespread belief that something is fundamentally immoral amounts to “naked bigotry.” I’m not a religious person but recognize that the overwhelming majority of the country is. Most people still believe that homosexual unions are immoral and that confering the legimacy of marriage on them is abhorent.

    My personal beliefs on the matter are fundamentally libertarian. But it’s a view very much in the minority and not one I’d like to see imposed by the courts out of thin air.

  7. agraham says:


    What intellectually consistent reasons can you give for the bans on incestuous marriages,polygamy or adult/child marriages?

  8. Attila Girl says:

    Bigot! Homophobe! Polly wants a cracker!

  9. agraham says:


    that did indeed, add to the discusion~l~