Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he supports gays being able to marry but believes states, rather than the federal government, should make the decision. I suppose this is a step in the “correct” direction (Cheney has taken enough steps in the “right” direction). But it troubles me that he wouldn’t take a stand for gay equality when he was in a position of influence and power. Speaking out in retirement seems a bit anemic as advocacy goes.
And, whereas the former Vice President allows for gay marriage where states approve, it still seems that he is saying that federalized bigotry is wrong (now that he is no longer part of the Federal Government), but state-by-state bigotry is acceptable. Again, a bit anemic as advocacy goes.
Still – he opens the door for the possibility of genuine equality, and that alone might challenge his ultra-conservative base. And, it does show at least a nod of respect to his same-gender loving daughter. Maybe this is one more crack in the wall of institutionalized homo-hatred and exclusion.
As a child, I, along with all other children in the classroom, would pledge our allegiance to a symbol (flag) of a republic that was meant to be “one nation…indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.” Historically, we have tried to pretend that meant one nation of haves with various colonies of have nots, indivisible by force of law that privileges some over others, with liberty and protected advantages for the dominant majority culture. But little by little, progress has been made.
Women have demanded equal opportunity and the right to make their own choices about their bodies. Immigrants are reminding us that we are a nation of immigrants whose rhetoric welcomes the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Differently abled citizens have demanded that they be seen and treated as the whole, contributing, dignified individuals that they are. The evil of slavery, the shame of Jim Crow, and the embarrassment of segregated schools are now behind us, though the pain they caused has not been entirely healed. A few states now have gay marriage, others are debating the issue, and now an ultra-conservative politician has publicly said that at least in some places, gays should be able to marry. Maybe Dr. King was right: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Freedom and equality are the values that we affirm and they are, obviously, what are right and good and true. Not freedom and equality for some, or even most, but for all. Until we have that, we have not lived into our promise nor our potential. Bigotry…whether promoted by church, state, family, or village is simply wrong. If V.P. Cheney can take a step in the direction of that recognition, then perhaps there remains reason for hope.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins