On Father’s Day this year, we have decided to pay tribute to a Republican leader who, by loving and accepting his lesbian daughter for who she is and welcoming her life-partner into his family, has become a role model for all parents of gay children, indeed, has helped define what it means to be a good father.
When we read in his daughter Mary’s most excellent book, Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life about his paternal qualities, the Vice President reminds us of our own Dads. Thus, in honoring Dick Cheney on Father’s Day this year, we are also honoring all fathers who are devoted to their children, those good men who take seriously their parental responsibilities and through their affection and even their goofiness, have earned places in our hearts.
On an Instapundit podcast last month, Mary said she was “so incredibly fortunate to have the parents I do,” adding that the Vice President “is a great Dad!!“** The anecdotes she provides in her book provide further evidence of his qualities as a man — and a father. When his daughter came out to him, he responded exactly as she had hoped he would, telling Mary he loved her and wanted her to be happy. A few years later, he was concerned how his nomination as the GOP Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 might affect her.
By continuing to love his daughter after she came out as he had before, the Vice President showed a quality that all fathers should have, even those without gay children — that of accepting and loving their offspring as they are.
But, it’s not just his acceptance of his younger daughter’s difference that defines the Vice President as an exemplary father. It’s also that even after his daughters have grown up, he continues to spend time with them, whether for hunting and fishing trips or for such traditional family gatherings as Thanksgiving dinners — which Mary’s Dad cooks (almost) every year. A picture from Mary’s book of her and her sister Liz on a fishing trip with their father reminds me of one of my favorite pictures of me and my Dad (on a hike in Colorado).
It’s not just in his personal life where the Vice President has distinguished himself as a father. He has both welcomed Mary’s partner Heather into his family and included her in public events. Heather joined Mary on stage when the president declared victory after the 2004 election, causing even then-HRC President Cheryl Jacques to take heart. And Heather sat beside Mary when George W. Bush was sworn in for a second term as president. The Vice President promised to go to bat for a man if his supervisors gave him trouble for coming out.
As I’ve noted repeatedly on the blog, since taking office in 2001, the Vice President has distanced himself from the President on only one issue, Bush’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment (now called the Marriage Protection Amendment), a constitutional amendment which would have precluded state recognition of same-sex marriage (and possibly same-sex unions as well).
And the Vice President’s outspoken opposition to this amendment — and his acceptance of his gay daughter — has not cost him the respect of conservatives. In 2004, social conservatives voted for the Bush-Cheney ticket even as they knew about Mary. The Vice President continues to enjoy strong support among the GOP’s conservative base, with some activists even saying they would prefer him as president to the man who tapped him in 2000 to be his running mate.
When gay and lesbian children come out to their conservative parents, those parents may now have an easier time dealing with might be difficult situation for them, aware that that prominent conservative accepts and embraces his gay child. Just by the example he provides, the Vice President promotes tolerance and acceptance of gay people to communities which might otherwise be deaf to such understanding. For that alone, gay leaders who are serious about promoting acceptance of gay people should overlook their policy differences and join us in praising Richard B. Cheney.
Retaining his conservative principles while embracing his lesbian daughter, Vice President Cheney has earned a special place in the hearts of your humble GayPatriot bloggers — as well as among countless other gay and lesbian conservatives.
He is a true role model for parents of gay children and he reminds us of our own loving fathers. Thus, it is entirely fitting that, on Father’s Day, this blog pays tribute to the Vice President of the United States, a gifted leader, a good Republican, a good man and, in his own daughter’s words, “a great Dad!”
Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Vice President. Thank you for your service to our nation — and your family.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
*Without this qualifier, I believe the title belongs to the PatriotFatherWest.
** Emphasis interpreted.