Wedding bells are considered by most to be sounds of joy. But the bells ringing at one recent wedding may have sounded more like the cawing of a sick CROW to some Wyoming conservatives. The daughter of Wyoming Republican icon Dick Cheney was married. There is nothing more romantic than a June wedding, right? Not so fast for some. This wedding feted two brides.
These wedding bells hit sour notes for some of the former vice-president’s ardent supporters. Bells were ringing not only for Cheney’s daughter Mary, but also for her partner Heather. For 20 years, the lesbian couple has treasured the kind of committed, loving relationship most of us want for our children.
The Cheney’s come to Wyoming often. They spend time in their Jackson home, hunt and fish, give speeches, raise money for the Grand Old Party and enjoy time with their many friends. But…they could not come home to marry off their daughter. In fact, if many of Dick Cheney’s fellow Republicans had gotten their way during the last legislature, his daughter’s marriage license would have been rendered null and void in his beloved home state.
So now, what’s a CROW to do? The Conservative Republicans of Wyoming (“CROW” for short but hopefully not for long) have found GOPer candidates to run in this year’s primary. Their purpose is to elect people who agree to attack the sort of marriage the Cheney family recently celebrated.
CROW and their conservative allies call marriage equality an abomination. The Cheney family call it a blessing. Mary Cheney and Heather Poe have been in a committed relationship for two decades. They have two children together. Their relationship has all the earmarks of a traditional marriage; love, devotion, loyalty, commitment, family support and the desire to raise healthy, loving children together. But until the District of Columbia joined other states in permitting two people of one gender to obtain a marriage license, they couldn’t marry.
In 2004, George W. Bush used the same-sex marriage issue to divide the country just enough to get himself re-elected. His vice-president went along, caught between a rock and a hard place, between the politics of family values and the reality of his own family. He did what politicians do. He arrived at a nuanced position. Cheney said it should be left up to the states.
Cheney has changed that position. He believes everyone should be entitled to marry the person they love, just as has his daughter. But, it’s still state legislators who decide whether to give that much value to families they don’t understand.
Our children can humble us. We do the best we can to raise them with our values, to instill in their minds what we have come to cherish in our own. Yet, life happens. I do not believe homosexuality is a choice. It never made sense to me that anyone would “choose” to live in a way that brings them such humiliation, discrimination and judgment. “Choices” like that are counterintuitive to our natural instinct to pursue happiness. Our sexual attraction is God’s choice, not ours.
Whether you believe it’s a choice doesn’t matter when it’s your son or daughter who falls in love. When it happens, it’s now you who must choose. Dick Cheney chose to value his family over the wishes of the “family values” crowd. For my money, that’s the Biblical choice.
Now, Wyoming conservatives have a choice. The man you’ve held high as the standard for conservative thought, is telling you it’s time to take another look at this issue. Will the CROWS and other Wyoming conservatives continue to hold the right to marry hostage to their personal religious beliefs? Or will they finally decide it is none of their business who Mary Cheney and others fall into love with?
Here’s a toast to the happy brides. “Happy marriages begin when we marry the one we love, and they blossom when we love the one we married.” Best wishes to Mary and Heather.