Former Vice President Dick Cheney became the third national Republican figure to publicly approve of gay marriage today, joining former John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt and former George W. Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson, who is helping spearhead a legal challenge to Proposition 8 in California.
But Cheney also signaled his support for letting states ban gay marriage. Is it possible to hold both positions simultaneously?
Here's the exchange between a reporter and Cheney today at the National Press Club, where I was attending a luncheon to honor fellow U.S. News -er Kenneth T. Walsh, winner of this year's Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Coverage of the Presidency:
Given recent developments in Iowa and elsewhere, is some for m of legalized gay marriage inevitable in the United States ?
I think freedom means freedom for everyone. As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family. And I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute that governs this, I don't support. I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue and I think that's the way it ought to be handled today, that is on a state-by-state basis. Different states will make different decisions. But I don't have any problem with that. I think people ought to get a shot at that. And they do at present.
Cheney made similar remarks in 2000, appearing to support both marriage and states' rights to ban it.
Most of the state-level gay marriage bans prevent the states from providing any legal recognition for same-sex couples, lest the states sanction what gay marriage foes call "marriage light." It's hard to believe that Cheney could simultaneously support his daughter's right to marry and the right of the states to deny his daughter's longtime union any relationship-based rights at all.
Anyone else perplexed?