- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that homosexual couples should have equal freedom under the law and reiterated his 2000 campaign stance that states should have the right to decide what constitutes marriage.

While Mr. Cheney did not unequivocally support President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage,” he expressed support for the president’s prerogative to set policy.

“My own preference is as I’ve stated. But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he’s made it clear that he does, in fact, support a constitutional amendment on this issue,” the vice president said in response to a question about his stand on homosexual “marriage” during a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa.

Mr. Cheney said Mr. Bush was prompted to call for the constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage” after several judicial rulings sanctioned the practice, including a landmark ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

“I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change — without allowing the people to be involved, without their being part of the political process — that the courts, in that particular case, the state court in Massachusetts, were making the judgment or the decision for the entire country.

“And he disagreed with that. So where we’re at this point is, he has come out in support of a federal constitutional amendment,” Mr. Cheney said.

Mr. Cheney’s comments are not at odds with the president’s position, according to one of his spokesmen.

“The vice president supports the president’s right to set policy and make those decisions,” Anne Womack said. “The vice president has been very clear and consistent on this issue.”

But she would not say the vice president supports the constitutional amendment itself.

During the 2000 campaign, vice-presidential candidate Cheney took the position that states should decide legal issues about personal relationships and that Americans should be free to enter relationships of their choosing.

Yesterday’s response prompted reports that the vice president had broken with the president over the issue of homosexual “marriage.”

In his answer, Mr. Cheney noted that he and his wife “have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue that our family is very familiar with.”

“With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free — ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to. The question that comes up with respect to the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction, or approval, is going to be granted by government, if you will, to particular relationships.”

The Cheneys have two daughters, both of whom work on the campaign. Mary Cheney, who is homosexual, is director of vice-presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. She held a public role as her father’s assistant in the 2000 campaign and helped the GOP recruit homosexual voters during the 2002 midterm elections.

While Mr. Cheney acknowledged that there were not enough votes on Capitol Hill to pass the proposed constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage,” he said such a move may be unnecessary after all.

“There is on the books the federal statute Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996, and to date it has not been successfully challenged in the courts, and that may be sufficient to resolve the issue,” he said.

The Democratic candidates, Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, opposed the amendment, but they also oppose homosexual “marriage,” although they defend a homosexual couple’s rights to the same legal protections as those conferred in marriage.

Mr. Cheney, kicking off three days of campaigning, will take a bus tour through the swing state of Pennsylvania.

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