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Mary Cheney's path

The top self-loathing out queer on the planet, Mary Cheney, will open her dark heart to ABC News “Primetime” anchor Diane Sawyer tonight at 10PM. This is lined up to coincide with the upcoming release of the ready-to-serve-as-fish-wrapper Now It’s my Turn: A Political Memoir (can you believe it’s 320 pages long?).

Clearly, the conflict of being a former professional lesbian and re-closeted daughter for the sake of her father’s ambitions has wreaked havoc on her mental health. How on earth can you make sense of this statement (there’s no way to paraphrase this insanity):

“I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign,” Cheney told “Primetime.” Her personal challenge came when President Bush said the nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. When Bush proclaimed it in the State of the Union, she refused to go. Mary Cheney, a senior campaign advisor, was finally taking her stand. “I didn’t want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I didn’t want to stand up and cheer,” she said. She says the president offered to let her give a public statement in disagreement, and her father indicated publicly he disagreed with his boss on the issue. She declined but says she did talk with her family about quitting the campaign. Cheney has had to deal with hearing hateful names about gays and lesbians from the right-wing of her own party. And gay rights activists say that Cheney’s silence is just a form of hypocrisy. They even made a milk carton that said, “Mary Cheney Missing.” She jokes about that. “That’s…ooh, God, that’s a nice picture.” Her reply to their criticism is simple. “We each have to choose our own path,” she said. “I respect their opinion. But it is not the path that I would choose for myself.”

Which path is that, Mary?

* One that questions “professionally closeted” gays who work for a party that officially considers you a second-class citizen? Jeezus, you’re in company with plenty of out gays who work for, support and vote for candidates in a party who are ready to legislate your relationship into legal limbo, the level of delusion is stomach-churning. Happy with that path?

* You couldn’t find a way to choose a path that fights for the rights of everyday LGBT citizens, putting your personal mettle to the test to live openly, speak publicly, question those in authority, and distance yourself from a campaign that was demonizing you (instead of further lining your wallet)?

* If you had chosen a different path, what you could have been to the civil equality movement, given the opportunity presented to you by Dear Leader himself to publicly speak out in disagreement and quit the campaign.

You had the ears of the most powerful elected officials in the land, and yet chose to continue to support a party that denigrates your relationship with your life partner, and the relationships of millions of gays and lesbians who have no access to power, no job security, no support from their families for that matter, something you clearly do have.

* If your politically powerful family loves you unconditionally — something you’re probably going to be spewing ad nauseum on your book tour — then there was little risk to you to stand tall and make a difference. What a path you chose.

The paycheck versus your principles…everyone knew where you stood then (and were flabbergasted). Now, with this interview, you confirm what a sick and sorry state of mind you’re in. I am trying to find a place in my mind where I can pity you, but I simply can’t.

I think of your gutless existence and then I think of someone like the late Laurel Hester, who, in both life and death, has made an impact on the lives of everyday gays and lesbians. The former NJ police officer battled the bigoted Ocean County Freeholderswhile battling terminal cancer, for god’s sake — to leave her pension benefit to her partner, is now a giant in the gay rights movement.

She risked, she won. Laurel Hester was an average person who took a stand, withstood hateful comments (one of the Freeholders said if Hester’s request was granted it would “violate the sanctity of marriage”), and her personal sacrifice has now earned her a revered place in gay history — because of the path she chose. From Garden State Equality, which sums up the impact of Hester well.

Had Lieutenant Hester and Stacie Andree been allowed to marry — and if same-sex couples across New Jersey were allowed to marry — government officials could never put same-sex couples through this kind of hell.

In February 2006, the very month Lieutenant Hester died, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard the marriage equality lawsuit that’s been making its way through state courts for several years. If Lambda Legal and the plaintiff couples win, New Jersey will become the second state in the U.S. to give same-sex couples the freedom to marry.

The state, acting as defendant in the case, argued that the New Jersey domestic partnership law already provides same-sex couples “many” of the rights of marriage. That is preposterous. The state’s domestic partnership law, even with its expansion at the start of 2006, provides same-sex couples only 10 of the 1,049 rights of marriage, or less than one percent. And in the few rights the law provides, loopholes allow officials like the Ocean County freeholders to do what they did.

With their intransigence, the Ocean County freeholders wound up proving the domestic partnership law’s weaknesses and greatly helped the arguments for marriage equality — a cause that no doubt repluses them. How sweet are the ironies of history.

What a difference you could have made at the national level, Mary. The path you selected — wealth and access to power — is heartless, selfish and ultimately reflects badly on the purported Cheney family values that we’re going to hear about over and over as you shill your book.

Hat tip, Americablog.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding