Feb. 23, 2012
I live in Maryland, where lawmakers in Annapolis may be voting to end marriage. They dont realize that thats what they are doing. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be working the phones, trying to persuade Republican holdouts to join Democrats in ending marriage.
Why is it ending, and not just expanding marriage rights to confer the legal status of marriage on same-sex couples? Consider constitutional expert, GWU law professor Jonathan Turley. He spoke to an overflow crowd at the Newseum in 2008.
He said: Opponents say that this will lead to polygamy. Im for that. Turley was wildly applauded by the audience, which included law students, congressional staffers, and, of course, enthusiastic journalists.
Turley is surely right. Recognizing same-sex couples as married will lead to polygamy and the end of marriage as a civil institution in America. Thats because when everyone can marry, there is no marriage left. Thats doubtless why Turley today is working to legalize polygamy.
Consider this thought experiment. Twin brothers announced on a TV talk show that they were gay. Under the laws proposed, can they marry? If not, why not? Theyve certainly had a committed relationship since before they were born. What constitutional principle could you invoke to say these twins cannot marry each other? And if these twin brothers may marry, why not a twin brother and sister?
Dick Cheney probably never met Mae West. For younger readers unfamiliar with one of Hollywoods original blond bombshells, Ill simply say: sailors in World War II called their large life jackets Mae Wests. (This is a family blog, after all.)
Mae West famously said: Marriage is a great institution, but Im not ready for an institution. How strange that Mae West had a better understanding of civil marriage than a former Vice President of the United States, a man who was twice elected to national office by pro-family voters.
I was sent by FRC to the Philadelphia Convention of 2000, instructed to meet GOP delegates on the Platform Committee. FRC does not endorse candidates, but we are certainly permitted to comment on the parties platforms. I had prepared carefully to read and analyze that years platform on such family issues as the defense of unborn human life, the protection of marriage, preserving religious liberty, and education. Those delegates rated an A on all those issues, except education (because they had dropped the call to disestablish the federal education department.)
Speaking to reporters outside the platform hearings, I praised the delegates work. The press couldnt care less about that. All they wanted me to do was to criticize the lesbian daughter of Dick and Lynne Cheney. What do you say about her being here?
Were always glad to see families brought together, I replied. But, but, shes sitting in the VIP box with her father and mother. I answered: Its certainly good to see a family united when their dad is being so honored.
Again and again, they probed. They wanted me to bash the daughter of the Republicans vice presidential nominee. You and him fight. Well hold your coats. Again and again, I tried to steer the interviews back to the partys platform, which was the only thing I was authorized to comment on. Dont try to tell reporters what it means to be a man under authority.
As a result, of course, nothing I said was reported. But as my former boss, Gary Bauer, often said: You can always get news coverage by setting your hair on fire. And I dont have hair to burn.
Then as now, Dick Cheney declined to support the Republican Party platforms strong defense of marriage. His serious demeanor brooks no contradiction. He speaks always as if he expects to be obeyed. Its as if they invented gravitas for him. I have a personal situation, he said to nodding reporters. He didnt have to spell it out.
Cheney was wrong then and now. My wife and I have relatives who are gay. We have never rejected them. That does not mean we must agree with them. That does not mean I should slacken any effort to defend the civil institution of marriage when it is under assault.
In 2000, Dick Cheney might have considered Philadelphias most famous son, Benjamin Franklin. Franklins own son was the royal Governor of New Jersey. It was a patronage job Ben had secured for him. When his son remained loyal to the Crown, Benjamin Franklin did not refuse to sign the Declaration of Independence citing a personal situation. Thats one of the many reasons why we remember Ben Franklin with admiration and respect.
Dick Cheney is said to be worth hundreds of millions. His family may not suffer the devastation that comes from the breakdown of marriage. But in his recent book, Coming Apart, Charles Murray shows how the loss of marriage for the white working class in America has already had catastrophic consequences. If we seek the reason behind the great disparities in wealth that the Occupy crowd is howling about, we need look no further than the collapse of marriage. In this great cultural clash, Dick Cheney has enlisted with the forces of dissolution.