Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, February 20, 2019

At KPU event, Mary Cheney said challenges lie ahead for GOP

At KPU event, Mary Cheney said challenges lie ahead for GOP

The Republican Party needs to embrace the LGBT community or it will be on the wrong side of history, businesswoman and political activist Mary Cheney said during a speech at AU on Jan. 21.

Cheney spoke in the Abramson Family Founder’s Room as the Kennedy Political Union’s first speaker of the semester.

Cheney, who is openly lesbian and an advocate for same-sex marriage, wholeheartedly identifies with the Republican Party, she said.

“For the record, I am a Republican,” Cheney said. “I am not a Republican with reservations [who is] comfortable with some core convictions but not others. I am not a conflicted conservative.”

Cheney is not the only self-identifying conservative in support of marriage equality, according to a poll conducted in 2014 by the Pew Research Center that she referenced during her interview with The Eagle. According to the poll, a majority of Republicans under the age of 50 agree that same sex couples should have the right to marry.

“The fight over marriage is becoming less of a partisan one and more of a generational one,” she said.

Cheney said she believes marriage equality and LGBT rights are still not being embraced by the Republican Party. Most 2016 Republican presidential candidates will also not explicitly run in favor of marriage equality, according to Cheney.

“However, what I think you will see, and what they’re [Republicans are] going have to do, is aggressively move to a more neutral stance,” Cheney said.

Most potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates and their advisors hope the U.S. Supreme Court will end the discussion on the topic of same-sex marriage with its decision in late June 2015, she added.

Cheney took a mixed stance on LGBT rights in her speech. She expressed her support of marriage equality, but did not fully discuss other issues like non-discrimination legislation or transgender rights.

Cheney said she agrees with many beliefs held by the Republican Party, including the importance of free market capitalism and frustration with President Obama’s use of executive veto powers.

“[President Obama] didn't give any indication of having listened to voters last November,” Cheney said of the State of the Union address the night prior, though she admitted to not watching the whole speech. “He didn't really give any indication that he actually wants to work with Congress.”

Cheney did, however, emphasize the importance of women’s rights and said one of her greatest accomplishments is being a female business owner.

Another political problem that Cheney stressed during her speech is the growing division between political parties. According to a different Pew survey of 10,000 people, of the most politically active Americans, conservatives are becoming more conservative and liberals more liberal, Cheney said.

Cheney attributes increasing polarization to the changing ways in which Americans consume media in the digital age, she said.

“One of the consequences of this explosive growth in communication is that people now have so many sources of information, you have so much stuff coming at you every day, every hour, that people are less likely to listen to information from sources they disagree with,” Cheney said.

According to Cheney, as Americans have become more polarized they have lost faith in their political leaders and each other. They are also increasingly concerned about the fate of future generations, she said.

“This is a situation that we’re going to have to figure out and that we’re going to have to resolve if we have any hope of moving forward and truly resolving the challenges of our country today,” Cheney said.

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