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Why Gay Activists Must Read Mary Cheney’s Book

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:37 pm - May 20, 2006.
Filed under: Gay America,Gay Politics,Literature & Ideas

I just finished Mary Cheney’s book Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life and recommend it as the most important book addressing a gay topic of the year, if not the past few years. Indeed, it is must-read book for anyone who wishes to talk honestly about the Bush Administration’s record on gay issues.

While I will not, at this time, write a complete review of the book, I expect this to be a continuation in a series of posts on the significance of the book — and what it reveals about the Vice President of the United States. I have already noted how it shows what a good man Dick Cheney is and how few gay leaders and activists are willing to acknowledge his positive record on gay issues.

Because he is our nation’s Vice President, widely respected in conservative circles, even by social conservatives who know about his relationship with his lesbian daughter, I wish to focus on what this book tells us about this good man and what its release shows about the narrow-mindedness of gay activists. Perhaps you will say that I have said this already. But, as the comments to my recent posts indicate, some of our critics don’t seem to be listening, so, in the words of André Gide, “it is ever necessary to start again.

What emerges from reading Mary’s book is that the Vice President is an exemplar of how a parent should treat his gay child. When Mary first came out to her father, she writes, “the first words out of his mouth were exactly the ones I wanted to hear: ‘You’re my daughter and I love you and I just want you to be happy.'”

About fifteen years later, when then-Governor Bush, the Republican nominee for president in 2000, was considering Cheney as his running mate, the former Secretary of Defense talked with his daughter about what his selection might mean. Mary notes that he “was concerned that people would target me and my sexual orientation in an attempt to attack him. He wanted to make sure I understood exactly what this decision could mean.”

In order words, this man showed great sensitivity to how his career choice might affect his lesbian daughter’s life.

This is not the only example which shows the Vice President as an exemplary parent of a gay child. It’s clear as well from Mary’s narrative that Dick Cheney has welcomed Mary’s partner, Heather, into the family, treating her as he would a child’s different-sex spouse. Indeed, on Election Night 2004, Heather and Mary slept with him (though on different sofas and chairs) in his White House office.

Despite these stories of the Vice President’s relationship with his daughter, in their Washington Post column, Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of HRC and her partner Hilary Rosen, refuse to praise him directly for treating his child as we would want all parents to treat their gay children. Perhaps they didn’t even read Mary’s book.

Instead they focus on how her coming out might impact political battles. To be sure, I share their delight that “timing of the book’s release is a welcome boon to the effort to defeat (for the second time) the . . . Federal Marriage Amendment.” In their column, however, Birch and Rosen fail to reference the content of Mary’s book, a sign that they are unwilling to let Mary tell her story even as they applaud her “leap onto the national stage.

So much have these two activists spent inside the Beltway that they remain focused on legislative (& judicial) solutions to the concerns of our community. They have apparently long since lost sight of the real goal. Perhaps were they to read Mary’s book and focus on the Vice President’s relationship with his daughter, they might discover it once again.

Reading this book would expose them to a side of the Vice President different from the one they are accustomed to hearing in the liberal circles in which they travel. They would see how much Mary loves her parents even though she occasionally disagrees with them on matters of policy. They would see how loving a father Dick Cheney is to his daughters and that Mary’s coming out did not cause him to love her any less.

As they read her story, they might realize once again that we all wish our parents would react as did Dick and Lynne Cheney. Not only that. They would see the impact of a child’s coming out on a parent’s attitudes toward gays. Mary’s coming out didn’t make Dick Cheney any less conservative, but it surely caused him to speak out in favor of tolerance for gay couples and in opposition to a constitutional amendment defining marriage.

Birch and Rosen (and their allies on the left) may be upset that Mary’s coming out didn’t cause Dick Cheney to switch parties. (Heck, her coming out didn’t cause her to become a Democrat either.) But, once they let go of their expectation that coming out makes one liberal, they might have the sense to praise this good man and his wife as exemplars of how parents should treat their gay children. And praise the Vice President as a model of political courage, willing to defy part of his political base to speak up for what is right.

Mary Cheney’s book shows what a good man her father is. And in describing their relationship, she helps us focus on (what should be) the real goals of the gay movement. That we can live freely and openly as gay individuals in our families and in American society.

And yet, Birch and Rosen, like so many other gay leaders and activists commenting on Mary’s book, focus more on the political implications of Mary’s coming out than on the actual contents of her book. It’s too bad they prefer their own fictional narrative about the Vice President to his daughter’s own true story.

So, I suggest that before they criticize the Vice President, they read his daughter’s book. It confirmed to me that I’ve been right to look up to this man for as long as I’ve been involved in politics. They may not share his politics as do I, but they will at least come to respect him as a man and look up to him as the type of father we all wish we had. (And that some of us do have.)

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

UPDATE: A reader wrote in to take issue with a point I made:

It’s not that Dick Cheney is “an exemplary parent to a gay child.” He’s an exemplary parent, period. The qualifying adjective diminishes the larger point—the nature of parental love.

She’s right.

WELCOME INSTAPUNDIT READERS!!

While you’re here, please browse around the blog that has been called “the most reliably conservative gay blog on the Internet.” You might want to check my recent post on John Murtha & media bias or my co-blogger’s piece on a reader e-mail which heartened him. And I note that not only did Dan Brown get Christian history wrong in the Da Vinci Code, he got the Grail legend wrong as well.

I have blogged pretty extensively this past week on Mary Cheney and her father. I discovered that one ostensibly gay book store is not stocking it. Here I note that by living quietly and openly as a gay woman, she has done more to help gays than many activists. And in these two posts (here and here), I show how the animus most gay groups and leaders have against President Bush and his allies and associates has prevented them from acknowledging what a good man the Vice President is.

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63 Comments

  1. Gryph (#27) — If you can’t even read our posts close enough to know WHO wrote them, why would I think you would read them closely at all to make cogent points?

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — May 21, 2006 @ 11:23 pm – May 21, 2006

    SOME of us have real jobs that do not permit us the luxury of dilly-dallying away the hours of the workday reading blogs. As such, a lot of the times I visit here its with very little time to read and write. So I sometimes make mistakes. Consider it the blogging equivilant of an accidental drive-by shooting. Sometimes I hit the wrong target, so I do apologize for my sins of the past and those I will commit in the future.

    But you might consider that my experience is probably not unique among your readers. Especially those like myself that at least glance at 6-10 blogs a day. And thats in addition to 4-5 regular news sites.

    As for the commenters, asking ANYONE to keep up with the sheer massive volume of Caralato’s entries is unreasonable. So I skim, and maybe hit something or not. Most of Michiganmatts I ignore, but then he makes it easy. I skip anything where he starts off with an insult, either of myself or others. Thats the majority of his posts. If he were smart, he would leave off the personal invective until the end of his. Then I might sometimes see at least a paragraph or two of whatever point he is mangling.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — May 23, 2006 @ 12:58 pm - May 23, 2006

  2. #51 – Well Gryph, at least time, you admit the possibility you can make a mistake.

    Next step, if/when you’re ready: Apologizing when you trash someone on a mistaken basis. (Bitterly trashing someone as a chocolate lover, say, when they posted their love of vanilla – I have seen you do that surprisingly often.)

    Advanced step – but I know you will never get to this – Self-awareness. For example, just in #51, you complain about Matt’s alleged personal invective in a paragraph of your making personal invective on him. Weakens your case, no?

    A smaller step, more manageable for you, I hope: Understanding that skipping commentors you don’t like is part of Web life, and Bruce’s comment system is not in danger of running out of numbers. LOL 🙂

    Comment by Calarato — May 23, 2006 @ 1:56 pm - May 23, 2006

  3. P.S. But of course, if Bruce/Dan ever ask me to change what I do, I’d comply instantly.

    Comment by Calarato — May 23, 2006 @ 2:08 pm - May 23, 2006

  4. Well, I’m not a single issue voter… so I don’t much care what Cheney or Bush or Kerry or Lieberman’s positions are on gay issues. Frankly, I couldn’t care less. Sounds like a the person who wrote this is a one-note johnny.

    Dan

    Comment by Dan cobb — May 23, 2006 @ 6:09 pm - May 23, 2006

  5. my dictionary doesn’t seem to include these morphed definitions…

    But yet, by your example, you agree with my definition of tolerate . You should talk to this group regarding your hatred of the word tolerance.

    Comment by John in IL — May 23, 2006 @ 11:44 pm - May 23, 2006

  6. Yawn. I have better things to waste my money and time on than to buy and read a book by a professional public relations nut-case like Mlle. Cheney.

    Since she is a professional public relations nut-case, it is quite evident that she could–with the help of her editors, of course–strike just the right tone in the book (what a 30-some-odd year old virtual nobody has to tell us in a “memoir” is beyond me), nod the right way in interviews pushing the book, and so forth. Her performances pushing the book were noted here in Germany in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Hilarious.

    Let’s get something–um–straight. She has used her public relations skills to further the fortunes of the Coors family, which has sponsored virulently anti-gay initiatives. And she has used her public relations skills to further the Bushies’ malAdministration elections. You know, the malAdministration that is pushing to get anti-gay discrimination enshrined in the federal constitution. And her faux “vapors” regarding Kerry’s and Edwards “outing” her–after she having been a professional lesbian shilling for the Coors family–are hilarious.

    But why should she care? She’s going to become very wealthy from her daddy’s shares in Halliburton. She’s substantially insulated from the anti-gay clap-trap that comes from her father’s party. Actually, one might seriously ask her why she hasn’t volunteered to serve in her daddy’s war against Iraq. She’s a perfect example of what I’ve been saying for years–people are “gay” second, third, fourth or fifth, and something else first. And that is one significant reason why gay people will, for the forseeable future in the Untied States of America, have such a difficult time achieving equal rights.

    Comment by raj — May 24, 2006 @ 2:13 am - May 24, 2006

  7. #55 John in IL — May 23, 2006 @ 11:44 pm – May 23, 2006

    ….my dictionary doesn’t seem to include these morphed definitions…

    But yet, by your example, you agree with my definition of tolerate . You should talk to this group regarding your hatred of the word tolerance.

    This is a joke, right? Relying on a possibly-deluded web site as a basis for the definition of a word? That is about as dumb as relying on the web site that was supposedly directed toward “transgendered” people, which defined “transgendered” so broadly as to be unrecognizable. This actually came up on the NYTimes gay rights board a few years ago.

    “Tolerance” is a noun that has a number of definitions, but the one that is of interest here is the one that is associated with the verb “tolerate.” Tolerate:

    2 a : to suffer to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction b : to put up with”

    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/tolerate

    Comment by raj — May 24, 2006 @ 2:13 am - May 24, 2006

  8. Again, Raj, with your criticism of Mary Cheney…..we consider the source.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — May 24, 2006 @ 2:45 pm - May 24, 2006

  9. Who the hell is Miya Keyes?

    Comment by rightwingprof — May 24, 2006 @ 5:41 pm - May 24, 2006

  10. #58 North Dallas Thirty — May 24, 2006 @ 2:45 pm – May 24, 2006

    AFAIC, Mlle. Cheney can do whatever she and her publicists want. I subscribe to the “greater fool” theory: she as a public relations artiste is separating you (not me, you) from your money.

    Fauning over her and her relationship with her daddy (and the Coors family, of course) is, to me, a bit beyond the pale, but it’s your dime, not mine.

    What I found interesting is that the Sueddeutscher report of her publicity tour indicated that she considered herself “married” to her partner. It’s nice that she “considers” herself “married” to her partner. But that “considered” would be fairly meaningless if push comes to shove in the legal arena. Ah, well, to channel Robin Cook, the Lives of the Rich and Famous are not the lives of we more mundane people.

    Comment by raj — May 25, 2006 @ 12:20 am - May 25, 2006

  11. raj baby, you giving lessons on what constitutes “tolerate” is like the young boy who kills his parents and then asks the Court for mercy because he’s an orphan.

    We know what tolerate means. You test us on the outer bounds of that concept with every single comment you offer.

    Tolerate: putting up with raj’s pedantic, uber-Germanic, pseudo-intellectual rants and observations.

    Tolerate.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — May 25, 2006 @ 5:48 pm - May 25, 2006

  12. #61 Michigan-Matt — May 25, 2006 @ 5:48 pm – May 25, 2006

    We know what tolerate means.

    You do? Explain it to John from IL.

    Comment by raj — May 27, 2006 @ 1:35 am - May 27, 2006

  13. Do Calarato and the Dallas guy have their own blogs?

    Comment by jimmy — May 28, 2006 @ 12:48 pm - May 28, 2006

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