For Mary Cheney, backing gay rights isn’t just the right course of action for the Republican Party in moral terms, it’s also the path that’ll help the GOP at the polls.
The lesbian political consultant and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney made the case for Republicans to back gay rights during her keynote speech Wednesday at the National Log Cabin Republicans annual “Spirit of Lincoln” dinner in D.C.
“Simply and clearly affirming the rights and dignity of gay men and women will not make us a weaker party — it will help make us a majority party,” Mary Cheney said. “We haven’t come this far without an awful lot of confidence in the justness of our cause.”
Cheney said support for gay rights is a natural fit for Republicans because “freedom and equality” are the founding principles of the party.
“I am not a conflicted conservative, struggling to reconcile personal views with settled principles,” Cheney said. “Sometimes you hear people speak as if freedom and equality for gay Americans requires some sort of radical departure from the ideals of the party of Lincoln. And this never fails to amaze me — because I always thought freedom and equality were the ideals of the party of Lincoln.”
Cheney said she considers herself a conservative because she believes in the free market; doesn’t “skip from the First Amendment to the Third” and is “proud to be a responsible gun owner”; shares the Reagan view that man isn’t free unless government is limited; and considers family the cornerstone of society.
“I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again – all families — regardless of how they look, how they’re made or where they live — all families deserve to be treated with the same respect, dignity, legal rights and recognitions as every other — I firmly believe that,” Cheney said.
Cheney, who was well-received by the audience of gay conservatives, made headlines earlier in the year over a family tiff in which she publicly rebuked her sister Liz Cheney for declaring her opposition to same-sex marriage, who was running as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.
Cheney recalled her own father’s endorsement of marriage equality 14 years ago, saying efforts like his have helped change minds leading to growth in support for the idea.
“Fourteen years after my dad first spoke those words in a nationally televised debate, they don’t seem quite so daring as they did back then,” Cheney said. “And one reason for that is that Log Cabin, and other like-minded efforts, have got people thinking. You’ve accepted the challenge of persuading. You have been persistent and offered reasoned arguments, not just blunt demands and accusations. And quite frankly that makes all the difference.”
Other attendees at the dinner were Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) as well as Republican congressional candidates Carl DeMaio and Richard Tisei.
Read Mary Cheney’s full remarks here.