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Mary Cheney’s Class Privilege

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Beyond Chron (reposted)
There’s always been two standards of behavior in America: One for the rich, the other for the rest of us. When abortion was illegal, the daughters, wives and girlfriends of rich men could travel over any border to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Conservative members of Congress have always disregarded the laws against prostitution and legal age of consent to personally indulge in all sorts of sexual shenanigans, even as they ranted and raved about immorality in America, often turning the halls of our legislatures into bully pulpits.
This hypocrisy has a solid basis in American politics: The founding fathers, while pushing the all-so-noble idea that “all men are created equal” had slaves who sometimes bore them illegitimate children. Their wives and daughters couldn’t vote.

Now, along comes Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, who announces that she is carrying a baby that she’ll raise with her lesbian lover of 15 years, Heather Poe. No word on whether she went the anonymous turkey baster or the best-gay-male-friend-as-sperm-donor route. The announcement, at least publicly, has been greeted with a cautious statement from the expectant grandparents: “The Vice President and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild.” That’s all they’re saying about the soon-to-be blessed event.

To his credit, Cheney has stated in the past that he does not support an amendment banning gay marriage. He even expressed support for alternative lifestyles in a speech in Davenport, Iowa a couple years ago: “With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.”

Not all conservative parents of queer kids end up so publicly tolerant. When the son of Phyllis Schafly, a big right-wing organizer of the 70s, came out, she didn’t miss a beat in continuing to condemn homos as the greatest threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Despite having an out lesbian half-sister, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich responded to the recent Mark Foley scandal by blaming gays for the lack of action on the part of Republicans who allegedly knew that the former Florida Congressmember was writing sexy emails to a 16-year-old.

Mary has it good. Sure, she’s been trashed by the right-wing Christian crazies who think it’s oh so awful that the kid won’t have a Daddy. Mary needn’t worry. No matter what happens, she’ll always be able to raise the kid in a style to which most of us will never be accustomed. Who’s going to stop her? Mary has the class privilege to do whatever she wants. She’s never even been an activist. She’s paid no dues. During the last presidential campaign, queer activists criticized her for not championing the cause of gay couples. She hasn’t been a fighter for anything. Her ability to be open is thanks to the sacrifice of countless working- and middle-class queer activists who, since 1949, have risked life and limb to pave the way for Mary to be the poster child for lesbian moms.

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