During the Supreme Court hearings over DOMA and California's Proposition 8 -- in fact, whenever the debate over gay marriage comes up -- one of the few arguments that Republican tend to make to show the party's reasonableness (or, in the words of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, to show they're not old world heretics) is to point out Dick Cheney. That Dick Cheney has a gay daughter. That Dick Cheney is open about having a gay daughter. That Dick Cheney hasn't disinherited his gay daughter and put her in the dungeon. And this -- pointing to Dick Cheney -- is supposed to, seemingly, show that the Republican Party has a heart.
I've never been completely sure why Republicans fall over themselves with "Dick Cheney and His Gay Daughter," which sounds a little like a New Age Golden Book for kids. One reason might be that people are so shocked that Dick Cheney would have a gay daughter -- as if he had a say in the matter. Or it might be that people can't believe that Dick Cheney would, in fact, love his gay daughter -- as if in GOP World it's not unreasonable for a parent not to love their child if they were gay. It might be, too, that people can't believe that Dick Cheney would love anyone. Or it might just be that people simply can't believe that Dick Cheney would actually be able to procreate and have a daughter. (Speaking personally, this last is something I've been trying to wrap my head around ever since I came across the existence of Liz Cheney.)
But a different thought occurs to me whenever Republicans like to put Dick Cheney on a pedestal for loving his child. It's -- hey, what about all those other Republicans in Congress?? Are you folks trying to suggest that none of you have a child who's gay? None of you? Other than Rob Portman...
I've read statistics that say the number of Americans who are gay range between 3.4% and 25%. That's a pretty hefty range, but let's favor the lower side and say 10%, for the easy math.
There are 242 Republicans in the House, and 45 in the Senate, for a total of 287. So, that means, by the pure law of averages, 29 Republicans in Congress have a child who is gay. Yet the only person they point to is Dick Cheney. And now Rob Portman. (And Mr. Cheney, of course, isn't in Congress. So, they're pulling him out of a wider database, of several million...)
Now, of course, it could be more than 29 elected officials -- or less. And this number isn't exact, since the "10%" figure is an average of people, not households, but it's the best we can do.
And it's sort of unfortunate (which is the polite term for reprehensible) that so few Republicans are willing to acknowledge and support the best interests of their children. Now, mind you, it might be that -- knowing their parents -- some of these children are too terrified to say that they're gay, so maybe these GOP elected officials don't know that they're demeaning their own children. But I doubt that all or even most are. After all, if his child was willing to come out to Dick Cheney, all these others have much less to fear.
So, in the end, we're stuck with a situation where Republicans in Congress are not only unwilling to allow equal rights for others -- but for their own families, as well.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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