WASHINGTON (BP)–Dick Cheney, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s choice as a running mate, compiled a strongly pro-life and pro-family voting record during a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The former Wyoming congressman had a 100 percent pro-life voting record from 1979-89, according to the National Right to Life Committee. He also opposed legislation considered detrimental to the family, including the Equal Rights Amendment.
Texas Gov. Bush, who is slated to be nominated at the upcoming GOP convention in Philadelphia, announced Cheney as his choice July 25. Cheney is probably best known for his service as secretary of defense from 1989-93 under Bush’s father, former President George Bush.
“Mr. Cheney is thoroughly compatible with the vast majority of people who are inclined to vote for a Republican ticket whether they are registered Republicans or not,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “His voting record in Congress was very pro-family and very pro-life, and thus is compatible with Gov. Bush’s positions on these issues.”
Carol Long Tobias, director of NRLC’s political action committee, said the pro-life organization was “extremely pleased” with Cheney. He “has been unwavering in his support for protecting vulnerable human life, including unborn children, the aged and the medically dependent and disabled,” she said in a written release.
During Cheney’s time in the House, he compiled a perfect voting record on 27 roll calls considered key pro-life votes by NRLC. He voted pro-life on 23 occasions and was absent four times. Part of his reason for voting against ERA was the House leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on an “abortion-neutral” amendment, according to NRLC. Cheney also opposed legislation allowing assisted suicide.
Among other votes, Cheney supported an amendment seeking to block the “promotion” of homosexuality in the Legal Services Department, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual political organization. He also voted against the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1988 and for an “anti-gay” amendment to it, according to HRC.
As secretary of defense, he once called the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military an “old chestnut” he inherited, but Cheney did not say he wanted to rescind it, HRC reported. After he left the position, Cheney opposed President Clinton’s efforts to revoke the ban, saying, “I basically don’t believe in discrimination, but I did conclude, as secretary of defense, that the ban on gays in uniform was appropriate,” according to HRC.
Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the homosexual rights organization, said in a written release the selection of Cheney “is in keeping with Governor Bush’s strategy of staking out conservative positions and wrapping them in a moderate package.”
Cheney’s younger daughter, Mary, is an open homosexual, The Washington Post reported. She was gay and lesbian marketing director for Coors Brewing Co. until recently, according to The Post.
Cheney is a longtime Methodist, a spokesman for the Bush campaign told Baptist Press. He is not highly identified with a particular faith community, said a veteran evangelical leader in Washington.
Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have another grown daughter, Elizabeth. Lynne served as chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities during both the Reagan and Bush administrations.
Before being elected to the House, Cheney was chief of staff for former President Ford in the mid-1970s. Since 1995, he had worked for Halliburton Co., a Dallas-based company that describes itself as “the world’s largest provider of products and services to the petroleum and energy industries.” He was chairman of the board and chief executive officer when he resigned to accept Bush’s invitation.
“Clearly, Gov. Bush stayed with his announced goal to pick someone that he thought could serve as president and someone with whom he was comfortable and compatible,” the ERLC’s Land said. “Mr. Cheney is someone with wide and varied experience in Washington and someone who nicely complements Gov. Bush’s strengths and compensates for the governor’s comparative lack of Washington experience.”
Alan Keyes, the firebrand conservative candidate for the Republican nomination, said July 25 he was leaving the race and would support Bush, according to an Associated Press report in The Post. Cheney’s pro-life position reflects his own, Keyes said, according to the report.
A week before Bush’s announcement of a running mate, a survey of Protestant pastors found 64 percent will definitely or probably vote for the GOP candidate in the November election. Only 15 percent made the same commitment to vote for Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, according to Ellison Research, a Phoenix, Ariz., firm. Twenty-one percent were undecided, according to the poll of more than 500 pastors.
Pastors in denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals favored Bush over Gore by 83 percent to less than 1 percent. Pastors in churches affiliated with the liberal-leaning National Council of Churches were split between the candidates at about 35 percent each, while 31 percent were undecided.