Knot Today

How Dick Cheney Is a Better Marriage Equality Advocate Than Barack Obama

So, what, former Vice President Dick Cheney is for gay marriage now? Actuall yes, but that’s not news.

Speaking at the National Press Club today, Cheney responded to a question about gay marriage, and said he wants same-sex unions to be decided at a state-by-state level, just as things are happening now, and not with the federal government deciding who gets to wed.

It should be assumed that Cheney’s position stems at least in part from having a gay daughter, Mary.


But just because Cheney just made so explicit his stance on gay marriage doesn’t mean we’re actually hearing anything new. Cheney split from his boss George W. Bush when the then-president supported a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

As far back as 2004, Cheney made clear his stance: “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.” Today he even repeated a statement he made in 2004: “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”

Cheney also, in as gay-friendly a way as he could, explained why he thought Bush supported the amendment: “I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change, without allowing the people to be involved. The courts were making the judgment for the entire country.”

So, if we’re following correctly, when Cheney says it’s an issue for the states, it should be assumed he prefers voters, and not legislators making the call. So … he supports Prop 8, but not the outcomes in Iowa (court) or New Hampshire (legislators).

His statements are destined to make the cable news rounds, even though they aren’t an original, or even an “evolved” platform from the former VP. But if there’s ever a chance to pit Cheney against Barack Obama, well, the media will take it. (And you know they’re fuming over this missed opportunity.)

But hey, so will we. So, talking amongst yourselves, you tell us: Just who’s the bigger ally on gay marriage … Cheney or Obama? Both paid lip service to the cause, yet neither has much action to speak of.

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  • naprem

    But what about the immigration situation? If marriage is decided state-by-state, how do couples navigate the immigration issues, which are on a federal basis? My partner has a green card to live in the States, I do not.

    But even if we had been married in a state that allows such, that wouldn’t matter, because the entire country as a whole wouldn’t recognize us as a couple for the purposes of me joining him in the States.

    That’s why marriage needs to be a federal issue, not a state one. How many states need to enact this before the country as a whole recognizes it?

  • Lee


    Cheney is NOT NOT NOT “for gay marriage now”.

    All is smile fucking about people should be free to do whatever they want is trumped by his explicit “unless a state tells them they can’t.”

    Come on!

  • dgz

    i think your assumptions are a little off base, queerty. there’s no indication that he only supports voter ballot initiatives.

    and isn’t this basically obama’s view as well?

  • Jake the libertarian


    Actually a state by state solution is probably fair and constitutional (although all states should be required to recognize marriages preformed in different states, we are a federalist union and not a lose confederacy). What is unfair and unconstitutional is DOMA…

    For all that I disagree with Cheney (and there is more than not), he is a PERFECT example of what happens when people who really should be bigoted and close minded meet and love gay people. They figure out that we are people just like everyone else and they immediately stop wanting to discriminate against us.

  • InExile

    If DOMA was repealed, the Federal rights would be automatic for everyone married in states that have marriage equality including immigration rights. DOMA is the “Federal” roadblock to full marriage equality and immigration equality in states that allow marriage equality.

    Therefore for same sex bi-national couples the passing of Uniting American Families Act or repeal of DOMA would bring us immigration equality for our foreign born partners.

  • The Gay Numbers

    RE The Statement

    His statements are substantively the same as both Clinton’s and Obama’s position.

    RE The states

    Marriage is a complex of federal, state, interstate, and international rights. There is no practical way that states alone can address the issue due to the issues growing out of full faith and credit, which is one is talking “Constitutional,” is an interstate issue that the Constitution addresses between marriages occuring in one state (and the complex of laws related to it) being recognized in another state. When I read comments about it being a “state” issue, I assume the person discussing it is either idealogue or ignorant about the legal issues involved in marriage laws.

  • Michael W.

    Cheney is in favor of DOMA, however. In fact that’s the reason he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, he felt DOMA was enough to hold gays back. How can he be considered a marriage equality advocate in the least?

  • The Gay Numbers

    @InExile: DOMA would not be suffiicent to end discrimination between states. It would also not affirm equality at the federal level since many states do not call relationships between gays as marraige. They call them civil unions or domestic partnerships. Those two terms , as I understand it, are undefined, and again, just going off of an article I read, would require a law recognizing the new form of relationships.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Michael W.: Most people are ignorant, and Queerty is trying to score a political point against Obama.

  • stevenelliot

    I think his comments fit right into my sinking suspicion that the GOP is coming after the gay vote. If they cut off the religious right, which they will have to do in order to win a national election, they will need to pick up enough “other” votes. So if you keep the anti abortion stance, endorse gay rights, and low taxes, and personal freedom. You will win a lot of independents and gays. Probably more votes in new england and out west where the repugs are losing.

    It really is a no brainer.

    Its a hunch Ive been mulling over ever since Obama has be so silent on our issues. what better way to quickly get support than to flip flop on the one issue that keeps us really from voting republican.

    Think about it….Without the religious right making policy…wouldnt you think hard about votng for a rebublican if he/she supported our rights?????

  • Michael W.

    Dick Cheney on Judge Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nom, as found at the link provided above:


    “I don’t have a vote, obviously, but if I had to nominate someone for the Supreme Court I don’t think I would have nominated her,” Cheney said. “I think I would have gone more with someone like John Roberts or Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.”

    So basically Dick Cheney wants to turn the Supreme Court into a batshit crazy cabal of conservative radicals, as if it wasn’t pushed to the right enough after the two Bush appointees. If it was up to Dick Cheney, he’d build a court that would reverse every inch of civil rights progress in the past few decades for ALL Americans, nevermind that which has yet to come. And you’re questioning whether or not this man is an ally to gays?

  • InExile

    @The Gay Numbers: I was referring only to states with marriage equality, not states with civil unions or domestic partnerships. But repeal of DOMA would at least make it possible for same sex couples to live in those states with marriage equality and receive federal rights. It would be a step in the right direction especially for bi-national couples living exiled or in forced separation. It would not be a fix all for every state by any means, just a step.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @InExile: That’s cool. I am just concerned that unlike yourself a lot of people think that this truly can be solved entirely at the state level rather than understanding that this is a soundbite by national politicians to avoid the issue as it relates to the federal questions.

  • alan brickman

    now thats he no longer in power of course he wants to undermine obama

  • The Gay Numbers

    Self absorption- I doubt this is about Obama.

    My guess: he said what needed to appease his base but never believed a word of what he was saying. A la Obama going from supporting marriage in 1996 to Civil Unions now. Clinton claiming to “evolve” on gay issues now that the tide of history is turning. Cheney remains an evil piece of shit, but he does have a lesbian daughter for whom he apparently cares a great deal. His stance before were always about political opportunitism.

  • The Gay Numbers

    By the way- separate point. I will say that the Democrats are openning a door to their left flank on the gay rights issue. That’s a big mistake. Obama is turning out to be like CLinton- he seems incredibily short sighted beyond his own political survival.

  • John K.

    @Jake the libertarian: Just because the discrimination is decided State-by-state does not make it constitutional. A state’s banning gay people from marrying is a violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. That said, I absolutely agree that DOMA itself is also unconstitutional for violating the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment. Furthermore, all this garbage in these people’s positions about leaving it to the states is bullshit anyway. Yeah, if a state chooses to ban gay marriage, the federal government goes along with it. However, if a state chooses to recognize gay marriage, the federal government then effectively takes the issue back from the state and says, “nope, sorry, we don’t like that.” So, the position is “leave it to the states unless the states make a decision we don’t like.” Bullshit.

  • John K.

    @The Gay Numbers: It also provides the argument in those states that say “Why do you need the word? Why can’t you be satisfied with civil unions with all the benefits?” Well, because civil unions would not be recognized federally without special federal legislation recognizing them. I would assume if DOMA is repealed, the default would be that the feds would recognize any “marriage” from a state, including gay marriages from states the recognize them (the feds may try not to recognize them, but I think with DOMA’s repeal, a court would easily decide that gay marriages would need to be recognized). However, civil unions are a completely different thing that would need separate legislation for federal recognition. Hopefully by the time the Prop. 8 repeal gets on the ballot, we can throw that argument in the ads.

  • John K.

    @The Gay Numbers: I’ve already written President Obama and told him that if DADT is not repealed by Election Day 2010, and not a day later, I will not vote that day (at least not for Dems), and I will not vote for President Obama in 2012. As much as his marriage equality pisses me off, his dragging his feet on the DADT repeal enrages me.

  • Anthony

    I wish the editor of this blog just came out of the closet already!!! You are a bright red Republican. Who would ever write such bull? Only a Republican. A lot of Republicans would prefer the gay marriage issue be handled at the state level but they would prefer the states define marriage as a man and a woman. If you call that an ally than WOW!

  • Brian Miller

    Dick Cheney is now the equal of Barack Obama in gay rights.

    Both have said pretty things, wonderful things about gay rights, but neither has done a damn thing in their entire careers to actually make what they talk about happen. And both have chosen to undermine LGBT equality for political benefit when presented with the opportunity.

  • HayYall

    If he would have done something when he was VP, your outrage might have been worth a shit. As it stands, this is just a untried war criminal trying to draw focus off his shortcomings. Stop being such fucking haters, Queerty.

  • Brian Miller

    Obama hasn’t done or said anything on this issue that Cheney hasn’t already done or said.

    His talk is cheap. So is Obama’s. Rather than try and wriggle out of the situation with cheap rhetoric, instead prove Obama’s better by taking action to repeal DOMA — today.

  • hand

    thanks for posting these videos. clicking the “barack obama” tag is certainly an eye-opener. I’m glad you all are bringing this news to our attention, I thought there was a deafening silence on the facts from folks like the HRC during the election season.

  • ProfessorVP

    Mary’s being gay (I think he means lesbian) “is something that we’ve lived with for a long time in our family.” A strange way of phrasing it, as if it is an illness or handicap.

  • Chuck

    Talk about lip service! He supports it in his family but he does not support it in practice, ie. the government. He’s clearly just trying to get at Obama for not supporting it. He makes no endorsement of approving anything to help marriage equality. All he does is typical of a Republican when they have more immediate issues and not deal with the problem. He doesn’t have a problem with the states doing it right now. But you bet your a$$ if he had any power now, he’s quickly change that. Republicans like to say things like this that they consider meaningless anyway because they know full well that the party they support and give money and effort to doesn’t support it. So here he looks like slightly less than the monster he is in his daughter’s eyes by begrudgingly saying that his family has ‘dealt with it.”

    How sorry I feel for anyone who has to interact with Darth on a personal level. And how disgusted I am when Republicans give in on what they consider an unimportant issue by declaring support for the status quo which, last time I checked, was far from equality.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @John K.: There are several things he could do to prove to me he’s committed to acting. Pass the hate crimes biil. Pass ENDA. FIght for DADT. I don’t know whether he would suceed, but the attempted real effort would be a sign. THose things are what I look for. The fact he’s doing nothing on any of them is why I have no patient for people wishing to apologize for his behavior.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Chuck: Again, the level of narcisistic “Oh he’s out to get Obama” comments just reinforces my point that we traded want cult of personality (for Bush) with another (for Obama). Not all roads lead to Obama.

  • Lee

    I’m amazed at the number of sites that are replaying this myth over and over.

    If you don’t believe the Obama Critic the Obambots Love to Hate, who ya gonna believe?

    Cheney is FAR from better than Obama. He supports marriage equality only in those states that support marriage equality.

    For states that don’t, he’d happily don his camo jacket, grab his shotgun, and defend them against you, me, and his daughter, daughter-in-law, and grandchild.

    Of course, RICH WHITE lesbians with the Secret Service on speed dial hardly have much to worry about.

  • Steve

    @Jake the libertarian:

    Leave it to the states doesn’t work when states have decided they won’t recognize gay marriages from other states.

    What happens when I take my Iowa marriage to Florida on vacation and my partner gets sick? So I need health care proxies and powers of attorney in some states but a marriage license is sufficient in others? Of course, I don’t think straight couples carry around their marriage licenses. They’re generally taken at their word.

    I’ve never been quite sure how this federal civil union thing was going to work…if your state doesn’t have gay marriage or civil unions or domestic partnerships, how do I get a federal civil union? The only federal organization pervasive enough would be…uh, the post office? I have to get federal civil unioned at the post office? A federal court? Weird.

    And then how do I claim my federal civil union on my W4 if my state doesn’t have anti-discrimination laws? Do I fill out my W4 indicating that I have a civil union (not a marriage) and then my employer fires me for being gay (not right away, of course). Maybe they have the box say “married or civil unioned”. What happens when the secretary asks to meet the missus?

    The whole separate but equal thing doesn’t work. The whole leave it to the states thing doesn’t work. We’ve seen it before. I find it immensely ironic that a black president would press for separate but equal and states’ rights.

  • Random Gay Guy

    Really, Queerty? I know you guys are always itching for ways to attack Obama, but this is just ridiculous. I am sorry, but turning marriage equality into an issue that should be handled by the states is basically a step back. Our right to marry should never be put to a vote or subject to referendum. What we really need to do is make this a national issue and take it to the high court. Otherwise, you get Prop 8 situations popping up in every state, every election year. Unless we prove that marriage equality is a right guaranteed to use by the Constitution, we subject ourselves to the sway of politics. With a Democratic majority in control of congress at the moment, we don’t run the risk of a constitutional amendment defining marriage. However, sudden emergencies tend to sway the minds of voters more than possible outcomes. There is still the risk(low one though) of a resurgence of a Socially conservative GOP>

  • DaveO

    Cheney is a far more valuable ally than Obama is. He can speak to those whose minds we need to change.

  • Chuck


    Nope those people will not change till they are in the ground. Obama is president so he is a more valuable ally, not an ex VP looking for attention.

  • Dennis

    I would expect nothing less from the psychotic editors of this site…

    Yes, Dick Cheney is our hero, he’s so pro-gay it’s amazing that he did JACK SHIT to help us out in the 8 years during which he was the 2nd (or was it the 1st) most powerful man in the country…so hey, why don’t we draft him for 2012 ??! Cheney/Palin…sounds great! or maybe Cheney/Jeb Bush, yeah, we’ll be guaranteed our full civil rights on Jan. 21, 2013.I can hardly wait…


  • BradK

    Could anyone please explain why it is that when a democrat professes support for “state’s rights” or other Federalist principles they are admired for it, yet when a conservative (or even a moderate) hints the very same thing they are burned at the stake?

    As was pointed out earlier, there are very few shades of gray between the views of Chaney (or Candidate McCain for that matter) and our “fierce allies” like The Messiah and John Kerry as far as it relates to LGBT equality.

    In other words, the messenger is far more important than the message. Ever consider that you’re being played?

  • Joanaroo

    After going thru the hell that was 2000-2008 at the hands of the GOP, now is the time to reverse, rule unconstitutional, legislate and put to the voters anything limiting rights of all Americans, what with having a Dem. Prez and Congress. Put things right – from DOMA, DADT, gay discrimination, citizen rights after the War on Terror that the Dick-tater Bush got, ad infinitum.

  • 1star

    @stevenelliot: The GOP is not coming after the Gay Vote Dick Cheney is only sticking his foot out the door because of his gay daughter. For one the gay population is way to small to replace the evangelical’s which are now the bedrock of the republican party. Second no straight person is going to vote for the GOP just for gays, and no gay person should be voting for any party just based on gay issues, to do so would only serve as a testament to ones selfishness.

  • villager

    too bad cheney didn’t have the balls to say so in office. coward.

  • hyhybt

    What *is* the status of the hate crimes bill, anyway? If I remember rightly, it was about to be voted on, or else it had passed one house and was on the way to the other, and then not a word about it for the last few weeks.

  • Tony

    Look, our guy Obama is far more antigay than most Americans if you believe the polls. I am for a candidate by candidate policy for the LGBT Community. Certain sectors within the Dem party hate the gays. I support those who support full equality. I do not have the luxury of helping others before I work to help those in my own community. Obama is just another gay hating bigot. Screw him.

  • michael

    There are 2 kinds of Republicans, one is rich, has always been rich, and wants to get richer. Low taxes and low interference in the world of business is what they hold most dear. The second is a bat shit crazy, religious nut. Hates anything unlike itself, does not want to think to hard and believes Jesus is gonna come any day but in the mean time got to fight all those evil people who are open minded, compassionate and care about the planet. The second type provides the votes needed to keep the first type in control, plus the dumb assess pay the bulk of the taxes and fight the oil wars to keep type 1 rich.

    I know lots and lots of the first type. They could care less who you or I fuck, marry or whatever. What people do in their little trailer parks is really of little concern, as long as those people are gone from their neighborhoods once the house is clean and the yard is mowed. I think Dick Cheney is a 1st type Republican. He could care less what his daughter does but he wants to make sure she’s rich, cause in the end he believes money is power and if you have enough money you never have to interact with those ignorant fuckers who are helping make sure you stay that way.

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