Former vice president Richard B. Cheney waded into another roiling public debate yesterday, saying that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage as long as the issue is decided by the states, rather than the federal government.
Cheney, whose youngest daughter has a longtime lesbian partner, said at the National Press Club that "people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish."
He added, however, that he does not support a federal role in the matter. "Historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level," Cheney said. "It has always been a state issue, and I think that is the way it ought to be handled, on a state-by-state basis."
Cheney has long departed from conservative orthodoxy on the issue of same-sex marriage. He said during the 2000 presidential campaign that the matter should be left to the states, and he caused a small uproar during the 2004 race by appearing to distance himself from a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a measure that was strongly supported by his boss, President George W. Bush.