Published on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 by the Associated Press
Cheney Backs Freedom for Gay Relationships
by Todd Dvorak
DAVENPORT, Iowa - Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, spoke supportively about gay relationships on Tuesday, saying "freedom means freedom for everyone."
At a campaign rally in this Mississippi River town, Cheney was asked about his stand on gay marriage - an issue for which his boss, President Bush, has pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban such unions.
"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney said. "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.
"The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage," he said.
Bush backs a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, a move Cheney says was prompted by various judicial rulings, including the action in Massachusetts that made gay marriage legal.
"I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change, without allowing the people to be involved," Cheney said. "The courts were making the judgment for the entire country."
That stand put Cheney at odds with his wife. Last month, Lynne Cheney said states should have the final say over the legal status of personal relationships, a comment that came just days before the Senate failed to back the ban.
Cheney said the amendment did not have the votes to pass, but he also said the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 1996, may be sufficient to resolve the issue.
The Cheneys have two daughters, both of whom are working on the campaign. Mary Cheney is director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. She held a public role as her father's assistant in the 2000 campaign and helped the GOP recruit gay voters during the 2002 midterm elections.
During the 2000 campaign, vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney took the position that states should decide legal issues about personal relationships and that people should be free to enter relationships of their choosing.
While Bush and Cheney back the proposed constitutional amendment, their Democratic rivals, Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, oppose the amendment.
The Democrats also oppose gay marriage, but defend a gay couple's rights to the same legal protections as those conferred in marriage.
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