It Was That Monster John Kerry Who Made Sexuality a 2004 Campaign Issue

On the one hand, nobody’s children should be made into political pawns just to score points against an opponent. On the other hand, an entire group of Americans shouldn’t be turned into second-class citizens just so you can get voters to come out to the polls. And thus describes the Bush-Cheney camp’s furor over Sen. John Kerry, in 2004, noting Mary Cheney is a lesbian.

Both Laura Bush, writing in Spoken from the Heart, and Karl Rove, in Courage and Consequence, mention the 2004 presidential campaign incident.

John F. Kerry’s unsolicited mention during a presidential debate that the daughter of then-vice president Dick Cheney was gay still rankles George W. Bush’s closest confidants, according to books that offer an unusually intimate view of the 2004 campaign from within the former president’s circle. The remark was made when a moderator asked the Massachusetts Democrat whether sexuality is innate. Kerry responded by saying that “Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian . . . would tell you that she’s being who she was.’’ The response and resulting anger in the Bush-Cheney camp are recounted in Laura Bush’s new memoir, “Spoken from the Heart.’’

Rove and Laura Bush contend it was Kerry’s comment that made gay rights and gay marriage a major and volatile campaign issue, sparking increased support for Bush from religious conservatives. That assertion challenges the theory that the rise of gay rights as a campaign issue was fueled by referenda to ban gay marriage, which were on the ballot in eleven states that year. “In 2004 the social question that animated the campaign was gay marriage,’’ Laura Bush writes. “Before the election season had unfolded I had talked to George about not making gay marriage a significant issue. We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay. But at that moment I could never have imagined what path this issue would take and where it would lead.’’

And of course, Rove asserts that it was Kerry who turned gay marriage into a wedge issue.

In his book, “Courage and Consequence,’’ Rove dismisses the idea that the referenda were part of a White House strategy or contributed significantly to Bush’s narrow victory. At the same time, Rove says that a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision to legalize gay unions drew attention to Kerry’s “wobbly views on marriage.’’ Instead, suggests Rove, it was Kerry’s comment about Mary Cheney, a lesbian who did not have a visible role in her father’s campaign, that made individual sexuality a major campaign issue.

“This was a jarring moment; the word lesbian had never been used before in a presidential debate,’’ wrote Rove. “I knew in an instant Kerry had made a bad misstep; he looked nasty and his comment dominated the coverage in the days that followed.’’

And here we thought Rove blamed not Kerry, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court for going uber-liberal.

[Boston Globe]

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  • Pip

    Personally, I think we should just go right to the source, and blame Mary Cheney.

  • Andrew

    You know something is wrong when Dick ‘Torture’ Cheney is the highest ranked supporter of your civil rights.

  • Andy

    1. Karl Rove is a disgusting pathological liar without comparison. I’m an atheist, but I genuinely wish there was a giant Hell with pitchfork rape (duh) for people like him who harm millions without batting an eyelash.

    The lesbian debate comment came on October 13, 2004, or about *two weeks* before the elections. The 2004 anti-gay marriage state referendums were placed on the ballot well before that, obviously. The idiots were babbling about the sanctity of opposite mahwige long before John Kerry mentioned the obvious.

    It was a clear strategy to distract voters from the Iraq war having turned disastrous. The morons fell for it: instead of focusing on the war or the soon to implode financial markets, our biggest concern in 2004 were pairs of same-sex adults who may want the option of having a piece of paper recognizing their consensual relationships. Oh mercy, the vapors!

    2. “John F. Kerry’s unsolicited mention during a presidential debate that the daughter of then-vice president Dick Cheney was gay still rankles George W. Bush’s closest confidants…” Why is mentioning someone as gay a cause of “anger”?

  • biguy

    Great points Andy, the revisionist whitewash from the Bush/Cheney/Rove camps is nothing new but galling nonetheless.

  • SPO101

    JEEZ! I see Karl Rove is making the rounds selling his book instead of in a crowded holding cell wearing chains, PROSECUTED for any number of serious felonies and seditious activity? WHO could POSSIBLY BE STUPID ENOUGH TO BUY the BS Rove is dishing out? Let’s seeeeeeeee……

    I know it’s a stretch… but for arguments sake lets say Americans can conveniently forget about the 5000+ dead, 30,000+ wounded US soldiers and only GOD knows how many Iraqis. Forget that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove took the good will of the world after 9/11 and turned it to HATE and mistrust.

    How these chicken hawks sent our troops into battle WITHOUT PROPER ARMOR or any clear cut plan beyond George W. declaring “Mission Accomplished”. Never mind military strategists didn’t think it was a good idea to get rid of the ONE dictator (Saddam Hussein) in the Middle East that had an IRON BOOT on the throat of fanatical Islam. Remember… the terrorist, Osama bin Lunatic, degenerates that caused 9/11?

    The TRILLIONS of dollars wasted in Iraq or the 20 BILLION dollars missing or the 175,000 weapons misplaced or all the arms dealers and WAR profiteers that milked our national treasury. FORGET about all the Constitutional VIOLATIONS, domestic spying, bold lying, Justice Dept. bias, Walter Reed, Abu Ghraib, soldiers getting electrocuted in showers due to shoddy military contractor work…

    YEAaaaaa… once again, imagine we live in a country where almost half the population is dumber than a tree full of monkeys. These citizens are so damn ignorant they allowed some of the worst criminals in history bend them over and #*~/ them in the *** for 8 years. Even worse these numbskulls LIKED IT so much they want MORE!

    MORE of the waste, fraud, abuse, lies, incompetence, scandal, fear mongering, sexual deviancy, corruption, off-shore tax evasion, media consolidation, arms dealing, reckless economics, deregulation, war profiteering, Bush/Paulson corporate welfare, Constitutional violations and a Corporate Crime Wave of EPIC proportions.

    IF THE READER CAN POSSIBLY FORGET ALL THAT… then the WORST thing the Bush Administration DID was NOT raise taxes to pay for the WARS, tax cuts for the rich and Medicare Part iDiot. You want to hear about Fiscal Irresponsibility GRANDE?

    Instead, Bush/Cheney borrowed from COMMUNIST China and Saudi Arabia (at outrageous interest rates) AND put OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN under the thumb of MASSIVE FOREIGN DEBT!

    If there’s ANYONE out there who can explain away Bush/Cheney Administration CRIMES please reply because I’m NOT GETTING IT! Funny how we never heard any complaints from the so-called Tea Party crowd while Bush/Cheney were spending our national wealth like a crack HO with a credit card.

    And don’t give that ridicules argument about how the Democrats took over Congress in 2006 and ruined all the good Bush/Cheney was doing. Or that President Obama spent MORE in one year than Bush spent in his last term… Are you nuts? Obama/Biden is just getting started. Maybe you Conservative wackos forgot that the last Bush/Cheney budget ended in October of 2009… Oooohhhhhh!

    SEE? Conservative repeat the same old talking points over & over… Progressives present the facts, statistics and content. PLEASE tell me how any patriotic American Citizen could possibly be so shameless, misinformed, irresponsible or hypocritical to blame Obama/Biden and Democrats for the HUGE MESS this great nation is facing? It’s the MOST UN-AMERICAN THING I’VE EVER WITNESSED!


  • Soylent Diva

    They’re just as bad as the Catholic church with the child-molestation scandal. They’re trying to blame their own abhorrent behavior on everyone but themselves. They alone are responsible for their hideous and unprovoked war against LGBT Americans. It goes back to the Religious Right revival which began in the 80s.

  • Sam

    George W. Bush announces support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage: February 25, 2004
    John Kerry mentions that Mary Cheney is gay: October 13, 2004

    In other news, black is white, up is down, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, etc. This is par for the course for the Bush administration. They are not members of the reality-based community.

    During the 2004 election, Bill Clinton called up John Kerry and urged him to run on opposing gay marriage. This made Kerry deeply uncomfortable, and he didn’t. He was one of the few pols who voted against DOMA, way back in 1996, when Clinton was busy selling us out to get re-elected. I kind of wish Kerry had won in 2004. But then again, the seeds for this financial disaster had already been planted by then, so it would probably be blamed on the Democrats, the political backlash would serve the Republicans, and Sarah Palin would be Vice President right now. *shudder*

  • AxelDC

    This is nonsense. Bush had made FMA a central part of his campaign by February 2004, before the Iowa caucuses when John Kerry looked like his campaign might end in New Hampshire.

    The Mary Cheney incident only served to make Dick Cheney a hypocrite. He was running on a ticket devoted to amending the US Constitution to ban gay marriage while his daughter was having a baby with her lesbian partner.

    If Republicans get angry over their hypocrisy on gay rights being exposed, that’s their problem alone.

  • declanto

    @SPO101: I think you’re awesome. Who else has put it all so succinctly?

  • Cam

    That is political bullshit cop outs to say that nobody’s children should be made into political pawns to score points.

    1. His daughter worked for Coors beer as their Liason to the gay and lesbian community

    2. She was doing outreach for his campaign.

    So if McCain’s chief of staff can be pointed out to be openly gay how in the world is is wrong to point out that one of the Bush/Cheney Campaign staffers is openly gay, used to work for Coors as the Gay liason etc… Sorry, but what it pointed out was that that campaign was willing to throw their own families under the bus to win which I think is a very valid thing to know.

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