In her new memoir, NOW IT'S MY TURN(Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2006), Mary Cheney writes that when she told her parents she was gay, the first words out of her father’s mouth “were exactly the ones that I wanted to hear: ‘You’re my daughter, and I love you, and I just want you to be happy.’”
VANITY FAIR editor Todd Purdum reports that Mary Cheney tells her story in a voice very much like her father’s, and that she came out to her parents when she was a junior in high school, on a day when, after breaking up with her first girlfriend, she skipped school, ran a red light, and crashed the family car. Cheney writes that her mother hugged her, but then burst into tears, worried that she would face a life of pain and prejudice.
When Purdum asks the vice president whether he thinks gay people are born that way, Cheney scrunches up his mouth, fixes him with a look that says “Nice try,” then says: “I’m not going to get into that. Those are deeply personal questions. You can ask.”
Mary Cheney tells Purdum that her father “has very little tolerance for bullshit, pardon my French.” She also says that one common reaction from people who have read the manuscript of her book is “‘Wow, you guys really have this close-knit, loving family,’ and it always strikes me as ‘Yeah, of course we do.’ It was very surprising to me that people would think we didn’t.”
It certainly places Dick Cheney in a different light, knowing how accepting and caring he was of his daugther from the very beginning. It also makes a bit of a liar out of her mother. I distinctly remember her mother being interviewed during the presidential race in 2000 and being asked about Mary's lesbianism. Mrs. Cheney became very angry and challenged the interviewer, claiming that Mary had never said she was a lesbian, and that she had no right to suggest Mary was a lesbian. By that point, everyone in the GLBT community had known about it because she had been working in the gay community on behalf of Coors. The interviewer was taken aback by Ms. Cheney's reaction.
What really bothers me is how a politician can place his own selfish political interests ahead of his own child. Cheney has sat by idly while President Bush has allowed Karl Rove to mastermind ballot initiatives all over the country targeting gay marriage as a divisive wedge issue to turn out conservative voters at the expense of gay families.
Cheney is not alone in this department. There is one very long-time serving state senator here in Indiana on the ballot today who has done just that to his own son. He has been in a position to make a big difference, and he's chosen to remain silent. How he sleeps at night knowing this I will never understand.