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Dick Cheney on Civil Rights

Vice President of the United States under George W. Bush


1995: Opposed gays in the military

Cheney was debating whether to run [for the 1996 presidential nomination]. Was he prepared to sacrifice everything during the next two years for that one goal and objective? Cheney wasn't sure. There was another factor. A relative was gay. Cheney worried that this would make the newspapers, become part of the endless scrutiny. It seemed unfair that his whole family tree would become subject to an in-depth examination and discussion in the media. Some no doubt would contrast this with his own opposition to gays in the military.

There was a thin line between the public and private lives of presidential candidates. The line was so thin it had virtually ceased to exist. Members of the Christian right, where Cheney drew lots of support, might quote biblical passages that seem to argue against homosexuality.

Source: The Choice, by Bob Woodward, p. 59-60 , Nov 1, 2005

Gay marriage should be an issue for the states

Q: You said four years ago at this very setting: “Freedom means freedom for everybody.” You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family’s experience as a context for your remarks. Can you describe then your administration’s support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?

A: That’s a separate question from the issue of whether or not government should sanction or approve or give some sort of authorization, if you will, to these relationships Traditionally, that’s been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference. In effect, what’s happened is that in recent months, especially in Massachusetts, but also in California, but in Massachusetts we had the Massachusetts Supreme Court direct the legislature of Massachusetts to modify their constitution to allow gay marriage. Bush felt that it was important to make it clear that that’s the wrong way to go, as far as he’s concerned.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential , Oct 5, 2004

“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” including gays

Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, distanced himself from President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage “Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with,” Cheney told an audience that included his daughter. “With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to. “The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that’s been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage,” he said.

Bush backs a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Cheney commented: “My own preference is as I’ve stated, but the president makes policy for the administration.”

Source: Todd Dvorak, Associated Press Writer in SF Chronicle , Aug 24, 2004

People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship

“People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s really no one else’s business, in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.”
Source: CNN.com quoting the Vice President , Feb 26, 2004

Equalize pay for stay-at-home moms vs. working women

Q: On average an American working woman earns 75 cents for each dollar earned by a working male.

LIEBERMAN: Great advances have been made by women achieving the kind of equality that they were too long denied. But your question is absolutely right. One of the goals of our economic plan is to eliminate the pay gap between men and women. It’s unfair and it’s unacceptable. Until women are receiving the same amount of pay for the same job they’re doing as a man receives, we’ve not achieved genuine equality in this country. And Al Gore and I are committed to closing that gap and achieving that equality.

CHENEY: We’ve made major progress in recent years [but] we’ve still got a ways to go. But I also think it’s not just about the differential with respect to women. If you look at our opponents’ tax proposal, they discriminate between stay-at-home moms with children that they take care of themselves and those who go to work or who have their kids taken care of outside the home.

Source: Vice-presidential debate , Oct 5, 2000

Voted that US civil rights laws not apply to South Africa

In 1986, he voted against a sense-of-the-House resolution calling on the white-controlled government in South Africa to free Mandela. (He eventually was released in 1990.) Cheney also opposed economic sanctions against South Africa. He voted against measures that sought to ensure the application of a variety of US civil rights laws.
Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, p. A13 , Jul 26, 2000

Stopped military academies from banning gays

Representative Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat, who served with Cheney in the House, said: “He was a deeply committed conservative. Cheney is an example of how you can get a reputation as a moderate if you don’t yell at anybody, unlike Gingrich. But he is very, very right wing.”

Still, Frank recalled two incidents where Cheney showed a more moderate side. In 1991, when Cheney was defense secretary and testified before a House committee, Frank asked him about the military’s ban on gays. Stoppe Frank said Cheney characterized the ban as an “old chestnut,” an ambiguous statement that may have helped set the stage for the Pentagon to adopt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.

On another occasion, Frank said, he told Cheney that US military academies were requiring some students to lose scholarship money if they were gay. “He said, ‘That’s not fair,”’ Frank said, and the policy was eventually changed.

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, p. A13 , Jul 26, 2000

Voted against ERA in 1983

[In Congress in the 1980s], Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment for women, along with 146 other members of Congress in 1983.
Source: CNN.com , Jul 24, 2000

Kept ban on gays in military; and ban on women in combat

Increasingly, toward the end of his tenure, Cheney had to consider social issues affecting the military forces, particularly the status of homosexuals in the military and the role of women in combat. Cheney reviewed standing DoD policy on these matters. He decided that the existing policies-a ban on homosexuals serving in the military and the exclusion of women from combat positions-were correct and did not need to be changed.
Source: DefenseLink.mil, “SecDef Histories” , Jan 1, 1997

Criticized for calling Gulf War “best covered war”

It upsets my friends in the press corps when I say it was the best-covered war in history. They don’t like this at all. They fundamentally disagree because they felt managed and controlled. I understand their concerns, to the extent that they didn’t get to cover the war the way they wanted to cover it. I also think it’s fair to say it’s a legitimate criticism for them to make. Access was very uneven. There were some people in the field who were able to file their stories, and others who weren’t.
Source: Interview by First Amendment Center , Jan 12, 1995

Co-sponsored bills for equal rights for women in education

Source: Thomas Register of Congressional Votes , Jan 1, 1984

Voted for anti-busing Amendment

Source: (X-ref Health) Congressional Record, in Poltics in America , Jan 1, 1979

Other governors on Civil Rights: Dick Cheney on other issues:
WY Gubernatorial:
Matt Mead
WY Senatorial:
John Barrasso
Michael Enzi

Newly elected Nov. 2012:
IN: Mike Pence (R)
NC: Pat McCrory (R)
NH: Maggie Hassan (D)
MT: Steve Bullock (D)
WA: Jay Inslee (D)

Re-elected 2012:
DE: Jack Markell (D)
MO: Jay Nixon (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
UT: Gary Herbert (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WV: Earl Ray Tomblin (D)

Up for re-election 2013:
NJ: Chris Christie
VA: Bob McDonnell
Up for re-election 2014:
AK: Sean Parnell
AL: Robert Bentley
AR: Mike Beebe
AZ: Jan Brewer
CA: Jerry Brown
CO: John Hickenlooper
CT: Dan Malloy
FL: Rick Scott
GA: Nathan Deal
HI: Neil Abercrombie
IA: Terry Branstad
ID: Butch Otter
IL: Pat Quinn
KS: Sam Brownback
MA: Deval Patrick
MD: Martin O'Malley
ME: Paul LePage
MI: Rick Snyder
MN: Mark Dayton
NH: Maggie Hassan
NM: Susana Martinez
NV: Brian Sandoval
NY: Andrew Cuomo
OH: John Kasich
OK: Mary Fallin
OR: John Kitzhaber
PA: Tom Corbett
RI: Linc Chafee
SC: Nikki Haley
SD: Dennis Daugaard
TN: Bill Haslam
TX: Rick Perry
VT: Peter Shumlin
WI: Scott Walker
WY: Matt Mead
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Page last updated: Apr 25, 2013