For the first time, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court has performed a
same-sex wedding. Meanwhile, the daughters of former VP Dick Cheney
have publicly disagreed about gay marriage.
By Brad Knickerbocker
Same-sex marriage has been a constant political and social theme in
recent months, but not for the reasons it made news this weekend.
Item one: The daughters of former vice president Dick Cheney — Mary
and Liz — went public with their differences over gay marriage,
revealing the kind of debate no doubt happening in other American
Item two: Ruth Bader Ginsburg — an Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States — officiated at a same-sex wedding in
Washington, D.C., where such marriages are legal.
In a ceremony at the Kennedy Center Saturday evening, Justice Ginsburg
performed the wedding of Michael Kaiser, who runs the John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts, and John Roberts.
No, not that John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but
government economist John Roberts, who works at the Commodity Futures
Mr. Kaiser is an old friend of Justice Ginsburg, described by the
Washington Post as “perhaps the Supreme Court’s most ardent supporter
of the fine arts, especially opera.”
Ginsburg, the senior liberal on the court, has been on the
pro-gay-marriage side of recent 5-4 Supreme Court decisions
invalidating the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and opening
the way for California to resume same-sex marriages.
Saturday evening’s wedding at the Kennedy Center, Ginsburg told the
Washington Post, “will be one more statement that people who love each
other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings
and the strife in the marriage relationship.” She has agreed to
officiate at another same-sex wedding later this month.
It’s not unusual for Supreme Court justices to perform marriage
ceremonies. Ginsburg did for her son and his wife. Associate Justice
Clarence Thomas did for radio broadcaster and fellow conservative Rush
Limbaugh and his third wife.
Meanwhile, all is not cake and bubbly in the Cheney family.
Dick and Lynne Cheney have two daughters, Liz and Mary.
Of the two, Liz has been the most politically outspoken, a strong
advocate for conservative causes and frequently tearing into President
Obama during her 18-month stint as a Fox News contributor.
She recently announced that she will challenge U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R)
of Wyoming in the Republican primary election next year.
Her father represented Wyoming in the U.S. House of Representatives
from 1979 to 1989, but she lived in Washington, D.C. from girlhood
through a series of federal government jobs in the administration of
George W. Bush. She moved to Wyoming last year, but claiming it as her
home state has been a challenge.
As part of establishing her bona fides as a conservative in a red
state, Ms. Cheney recently declared her opposition to same-sex
“I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by
the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators,
but by the people themselves,” she said in a statement last week. “I
am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage.”
The problem for her family is that her younger sister Mary is married
to her long-time partner Heather Poe (with whom she has two children),
and the sisters’ father announced his support for same-sex marriage in
2009 — the year after he and Mr. Bush left office.
“At the National Press Club in Washington that year, Cheney said, “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.”
“I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they
wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish,” he said, although he added
that he — like Liz — believes that should be decided on a
Mary Cheney, who leads a quiet, nonpolitical life, could not let her
older sister’s recent comments on gay marriage stand without
responding. After all, just this year she had signed a Supreme Court
friend-of-the-court brief supporting same-sex marriage.
“For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue
of marriage,” Mary wrote on her Facebook page. “Freedom means freedom
for everyone. That means that all families — regardless of how they
look or how they are made — all families are entitled to the same
rights, privileges and protections as every other.”
One hopes the next Cheney family gathering will be cordial.