The Freedom to Mary Cheney – 1/30/2005

The Friday after the election, I was in a free-food-at-five courtesy suite at a hotel in Sacramento, eavesdropping on a group of disgruntled straight professionals who were frothing about the unthinkable of the unthinker getting elected. I got up and stood by their table, and they went silent. Good to know I have not lost my high school teacher/cafeteria monitor mien.

“I’m sorry we were getting so loud,” one woman said.
“Oh no,” I answered. “I’d love to sit shiva with you.”

I joined their Coalition of the Wailing, and as one woman quietly banged her forehead on the table, we dahvined for democracy. After stating a liberal tautology, one of the men concluded sadly, mystified, “But I guess I’m now in the minority on this.” And I thought, “Well, how do you like it?”

But I did not say it because I didn’t have the energy to come out as a lesbian and then explain to their perplexed faces how it was that 23 percent of the gay vote decided to win another girly mandate for that son of a Gipper.

For you, I’ll explain. In the catastrophic success of the 2004 election, some gays said Bush’s war on terror was more important to them than his war on gays. Some said that they felt radical gay activists had pushed the issue of gay marriage at the wrong time. Others denied that Bush had manipulated anti-gay marriage sentiment and blamed it on activist judges and radical gay activists. Some said gay issues were only 20 percent of what they based their vote on: More important were issues like a flat tax, school vouchers, or privatizing Social Security. Others said they did not vote for Kerry because he copped out on gay marriage, so they voted for Bush on other issues with which they agreed. To summarize: What’s the matter with Kansas? Dorothy.

More to the point, unlike the straight vote, 77 percent of the gay vote went for the Democrats. They did not deserve it. Their public silence on the anti-gay-rights initiatives in eleven states was shameful. If eleven states were attempting to pass initiatives limiting the civil rights of Jews or African Americans or Hispanics, there would have been an outcry. If the federal government had been seeking to amend the Constitution with the immoral value of bigotry, there would not have been such silence. But I guess I’m in the minority on that one.

In the Vice Presidential debate when John Edwards out-smarmed even Aaron Brown and said to the Vice Cusser, “Your daughter is a lesbian,” it sounded like, “Bummer, man, too bad about your straight man’s burden.” When John “Bad Man” Kerry echoed that sentiment, he violated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and tipped all the undecided-on-their-values voters into the red of embarrassment.

Sometimes I try to walk a mile in Mary Cheney’s sensible shoes. What was her Thanksgiving like? Dear old Dad giving the blessing, “Go fuck yourself,” then carving up the turkey. “White or dark? And if you make the wrong choice, we could get hit again.” And there really is no choice, because Dad and Antonin bagged the turkey with their unbanned assault rifles, so it’s more of a turkey hash. SOS Condi was there with her famous mushroom cloud stuffing. Mary’s “friend” was there, but seated at the kid’s table. Lynne had positioned a lovely local straight lad next to Mary “just in case.” On a scale of one to PFLAG, the Cheneys are a zero.

What the gay outsurgency got this election was not the Freedom to Marry, but the Freedom to be Mary Cheney-to be cute and mute, and respected right back into the closet. In the Democrats’ pathetic new quest to get religion metaphors, Mary Cheney is the Patron Saint of the Used. Cardinal Karl exploited her and the wedge issue of gay marriage to get out the fundamentalist vote.

That a thirty-five-year-old gay identity movement can so threaten a 2005-year-old Christian identity movement, though, is the good news.

Kate “from the tiny island nation of New York City” Clinton is a humorist.