In a book to be released Tuesday, Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, denounces a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying “it would write discrimination into the constitution.”
The book, “Now It’s My Turn,” does not name the amendment’s key backers, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo. But in pointed language, Cheney, a lesbian, rips the proposal and writes about how it tested her will to remain as a key campaign staff member during President Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004.
Cheney said that she had been scheduled to be in the gallery for Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2004. That changed when she saw an advance text in which Bush declared, “Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.”
“I didn’t want to be there when the members of the House and Senate and all the invited guests applauded the president’s declaration,” she said. “I sure wasn’t going to stand up and cheer.”
The book touches on her childhood in Wyoming, her father’s rise through politics, and her days as an undergrad at Colorado College in the early 1990s.
She describes her parents’ loving reaction when, still in high school, she chose a novel way to announce that she was a lesbian. She had just broken up with her first girlfriend, skipped class to drive to a store and “drown my sorrows in sugar,” ran a red light and got into a car crash.
Explaining the accident, she told her mother that she was gay. Later, when she told her father, she said he told her: “You’re my daughter and I love you and I just want you to be happy.”
She said that’s why she has stuck with her father and worked on his campaigns through the years, even when it has meant uncomfortable scrutiny over her personal life.
She said that when her father agreed to be Bush’s running mate in 2000, she told him, “Personally, I’d rather not be known as the vice president’s lesbian daughter. But, if you’re going to run, I think the country would be lucky to have you. I want to do whatever I can to help out the campaign. And you’d better win.”
She did help, doing advance work in the 2000 campaign and then signing on to help the re-election bid in 2004. But she writes about having second thoughts after Bush’s 2004 State of the Union speech and subsequent endorsement of the Allard-Musgrave amendment.
“I seriously considered packing up my office and heading home to Colorado,” she writes.
“In these early years of the twenty-first century, society may not recognize gays and lesbians as deserving of the same rights and protections as other citizens, but nowhere in the Constitution are they specifically excluded from having them,” she writes. “The Federal Marriage Amendment would change that.”
The amendment garnered only 48 votes in the Senate in 2004 _ far short of the two-thirds majority needed for it to be sent to the states for ratification. Allard is poised to try again for a vote this summer.
In the book Mary Cheney blasts the “lowlifes, pitiful lowlifes” who have tried to use her sexual orientation to advance their political causes. She has especially harsh words for Democrats’ 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who mentioned her during the 2004 vice presidential debate.
“What gave him the right to use my sexual orientation to try to score political points?” she writes.
“People on the far right have paraded around with signs calling me the Bride of Satan, and people on the far left have denounced me on the internet as a Nazi sellout,” she writes. “In general, I try to ignore most of the insults hurled from the political fringes, although I do sometimes find humor in the more outrageous comments.”
“By and large my attitude is that if someone approves of me, great,” she writes. “If they don’t, I’m sorry they feel that way . . . but I’m not going to lose a whole lot of sleep over it.”
(E-mail sprengelmeyerm(at)shns.com or visit www.shns.com.)