Meltdown Over Mary’s Baby
If the revelations about Pastor Ted Haggard and his love of drugs
and male prostitutes didn’t make social conservatives’ heads explode,
the Mary Cheney news very well might. Cheney, the openly gay daughter of
the vice president, announced last week that she and her partner,
Heather Poe, are expecting a child that Mary is carrying, via an
anonymous sperm donor.
Many on the right had predictably laughable reactions to the news
of the Cheney baby, some of which put Dennis Prager’s recent “Keith
Ellison must swear on the Bible” column in serious jeopardy for the
title of “dumbest political argument of the year.” (Ellison, a newly
elected member of Congress, is a Muslim.)
Knight of the Media Research Center – no, not the basketball coach, but
rather the guy whom Bryant Gumbel once accidentally called a “f-ckin’
idiot” on national television – had perhaps the dumbest sound bite.
Knight called the pregnancy “tragic,” because the child had been
conceived “with the express purpose of denying it a father.” As though
Cheney and Poe decided to have a baby not because they wished to expand
their family, but for the purely political motive of keeping their
Concerned Women for America, meanwhile, were - you guessed it - very,
very concerned. Janice Crouse, a spokeswoman for the conservative group,
called news of the pregnancy “unconscionable,” because it “repudiates
traditional values and sets an appalling example for young people.”
So what is
she suggesting? Abortion? Probably not. Government confiscation of the
child? I’m guessing not that either.
the absurdity of conservatives feeling the need to speak out about the
choices of an individual family. The opposition obviously has very
little to do with the lack of a father, and everything to do with the
anti-gay yuk-factor among their constituency. I’m sure the outrage would
not have been nearly as loud coming from the Christian right if the
veep’s daughter, or one of the Bush daughters, had gotten pregnant out
of wedlock with a male partner. Sure, they may have condemned it, but I
can’t imagine the word “tragic” being used.
born to Cheney and Poe will, by all accounts, have two committed, loving
parents who have been together for 15 years — and as the grandchild of a
vice president, will probably enjoy every advantage life has to offer.
Yes, the problem of children being born without stable, nuclear families
is a very real one. But loving, two-parent gay families are clearly the
furthest thing imaginable from the root of this problem.
that the daughter of the vice president is openly gay has caused all
sorts of cognitive dissonance for the left as well as the right, ever
since Cheney was first announced as Bush’s running mate in the summer of
the fringes of the anti-gay right are obligated, of course, to wish for
her repentance and eventual conversion to a heterosexual lifestyle. But
on the left, many, such as the proprietors of a website called
DearMary.com, have attacked her for standing in support of her father
while the administration in which he serves has pursued anti-gay
also became a lightning rod during the 2004 election, when in a
presidential debate, Democratic nominee John Kerry answered a question
about same-sex marriage by invoking the vice president’s daughter. This
led to criticism from all sides that he had “outed” Mary (even though
she had long since come out of the closet), or that he had attempted to
provoke a homophobic response. This is mostly remembered as yet another
Kerry gaffe that made Republicans chortle with fake outrage and
Democrats shake their head in distancing frustration.
found all of this unfair. The veep’s daughter, after all, has not chosen
to be a public figure, and she is free to live her life any way she
chooses. And while it certainly must be a dilemma for her that her dad
supports policies that are contradictory to her interests, what is she
supposed to do, disown her own father? After all, he has done nothing
but indicate that he loves his daughter, and that her partner is as much
a part of their family as is the husband of his other daughter.
and Heather Poe deserve our congratulations, our best wishes and little
more. Their child should be just fine. As long as the kid avoids hunting
trips with grandpa.
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