The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

November 22, 2013

A marriage debate that we need to have

In the matter of the Cheney Family Feud: Something in me balks at leaping on the let’s-all-bash-Liz bandwagon.

Sure, it would be fun. For one thing, she’s wrong about same-sex marriage. As her sister Mary now famously posted on Facebook after her big sis re-proclaimed her opposition on “Fox News Sunday”: “Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”

For another, she isn’t simply wrong on substance. Her manner of disagreeing contains an element of smarmy condescension. “I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave.”

Compassionate? We are compassionate to those less fortunate among us, the poor, the lame, the weak. We bestow alms, bind their wounds. That the Cheney parents weighed in with the same word — “Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter,” they said in a statement — is revealing about their lingering attitudes.

Mary Cheney and her family — her nuclear family, wife and children — don’t need compassion. They aren’t suffering from the affliction of lesbianism. They need decency and equal treatment under the law.

Meanwhile, Liz Cheney’s invocation of religion is the icing on the condescension cake, with a subtext of voter pandering. It pained me to be around those poor fatherless children but I brought them presents because it was the Christian thing to do. What’s she going to do next: offer to wash her sister’s feet?

To me, the comparison between the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed and the long-settled issue of racial intermarriage is compelling. I agree with Mary Cheney: history is inexorably marching — actually, it’s sprinting — to marriage equality.

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