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Gay Politicos to Be Outed

WWW – GAY-rights activists are threatening to “out” closeted queers on Capitol Hill as part of their campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The gay-rights Web site, named after Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter, is taking out an ad in gay paper the Washington Blade, Roll Call reports.

“If you are gay, end your silence,” the ad reads, calling on gays in Congress to “stop aiding and abetting those who would make us second-class citizens.” “If Congress wants to debate our private lives in public, we’re going to debate their private lives in public,” founder John Aravosis tells Roll Call, noting there are “lots” of politicians who could be outed.

From Newsweek, February, 2004: A new Web site targets Mary Cheney, the openly lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. Within an hour of its launch, attracted 100 emotional letters pleading with her to weigh in against a constitutional amendment. “Where is your courage, Mary?” asked one. “Your community needs you to voice your dissent.”

As director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, Mary Cheney makes an inviting target. In 2000 the Cheney family insisted that Mary was a private citizen and off-limits to the press. Even so, her presence seemed to bolster the “compassionate conservative” image the Bush-Cheney ticket hoped to portray. After her father became veep, Mary joined the gay-friendly Republican Unity Coalition and gave speeches encouraging the GOP to reach out to women, minorities and gays. “We can make sexual orientation a nonissue for the Republican Party, and we can help achieve equality for all gay and lesbian Americans,” she said in an April 2002 statement. But when she joined the ’04 campaign last year, Mary quit the coalition and seemed to fade into her own undisclosed location. Now that Mary, 34, is a senior campaign official, the Web site hopes to shame her back into the spotlight. Still, the effort’s ultimate target isn’t Mary but her dad’s boss. (The Bush-Cheney campaign declined to comment.) Though Dick Cheney at one time seemed sympathetic to gay unions-in a 2000 debate with Joe Lieberman he said the issue should be left to the states-last month he said he would support “whatever decision” Bush makes.

“I think the American people deserve to know he is willing to sell out his daughter for votes. It says something about his character,” says John Aravosis, a Washington, D.C., political consultant who founded the site along with Los Angeles activist Robin Tyler. The two have a solid track record: in 2000 they helped force conservative talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlesinger off television with a similar campaign.

This week they plan an e-mail ad picturing Mary’s face on a milk carton. HAVE YOU SEEN ME? it asks, noting that she’s been “silent since her father endorsed anti-gay constitutional amendment making her and millions of Americans second-class citizens.” Says Aravosis: “I think Mary is our last best hope to stopping this amendment.” Even if last week’s skirmishes turn out to be more symbolism than substance-it’s doubtful the California marriages will hold up in court-they’re proof that gay marriage is nudging its way onto the campaign trail.



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