Columns 2009

Dick Cheney… father of the year?

It occurs to me that Father’s Day came and went without any acknowledgement on my part to the many dads I know. This is probably because I have now lost all the dad figures in my life. For the first time ever, I didn’t even have an uncle to call.

So I spent Father’s Day wondering whom I’d call to wish a Happy Father’s Day if I could call anyone I wanted. Much to my horror, the name that kept coming to mind was Dick Cheney.

Yes, that Dick Cheney. The man who seems to exist in a world of permanent darkness where everything that goes bump in the night is something that will hurt you. Trust me when I tell you that I thought he would have been way far down on any list I’d ever come up with for praise.

But Dick Cheney did something that shows the power love for your child carries. Because there can be no other reason in the world that he came out in support of the right of gay people to marry. He looked at the woman who had once been his little girl and knew instinctively that she wasn’t evil, wasn’t out to destroy society as we know it, didn’t want to corrupt the world, and didn’t have perverted morals. She just loved someone society tried to tell her she shouldn’t.

Cheney is the master of dark reasoning and dark decisions so it is not surprising that there might be some who view his championing of this cause with cynicism. But I can’t for the life of me imagine what this position gains him in his particular circle that isn’t far outweighed by what he loses.

In the end, Dick Cheney was faced with what most people eventually are forced to face… someone they know, love and respect who comes out of the closet and acknowledges their homosexuality. For most of us, this is the moment when we have to confront some of our most deeply held beliefs, misconceptions, misunderstandings and feelings. It’s never easy. But if Dick Cheney can offer his daughter love and acceptance, then I think those on the right who condemn homosexuality as evil incarnate should pause for a moment and wonder if perhaps they shouldn’t have at least a little inkling of doubt.

As I’ve followed the sad debacle of the Anchorage Assembly allowing unlimited debate from some very questionable sources on the issue of gay rights, two things strike me. One is that those who claim their opposition is based on their Christian beliefs are always quoting everyone but Jesus to justify their position. They quote the Old Testament and then the quote every book they can from the New Testament but they never can find a place where Jesus’ own words condemn homosexuals.

The other thing that struck me is that we are having a debate on whether to allow a minority their rights. I find myself wondering how I would feel if the Anchorage Assembly chose to have a public debate on whether to give me my rights. I thought the purpose of the constitution was to protect minority rights from the majority. It frightens me to think that these rights can now be voted away. Women and blacks would still be waiting for the vote if this had been allowed in the past.

Mostly, though, I’ve wondered what Dick Cheney would say to the Anchorage Assembly about whether or not he thought his daughter had a right to be protected from discrimination in housing, health care and employment. I have this image of Cheney, with that look of perpetual pessimism on his face, patiently explaining that his daughter is a good woman with a wonderful partner and an even more amazing child, his grandchild, and how this family deserves to have its rights protected and respected.

That’s not apt to happen, of course. Instead, the Anchorage Assembly will continue the circus it began without apparently any clear plan on how to proceed once the marching band started playing. And the gay people of Anchorage will watch as hate washes away their hopes for equality.

Here are words I never thought would come out of my mouth… where’s Dick Cheney when we need him?