Cheney's daughter boosting Indiana gay-marriage-ban foes

INDIANAPOLIS - Mary Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, on Wednesday rallied opponents of an effort to write Indiana's gay marriage ban into the state constitution.

   The daughter of the former Republican vice president attended a fundraiser for Freedom Indiana, an umbrella group fighting against the marriage amendment. Mary Cheney, a lesbian married in Washington, D.C., spends much of her time travelling the nation advocating for gay marriage throughout the states.

   On Wednesday night, she played up her conservative bona fides before a group of about 100 supporters before laying out her opposition to the amendment.

   "Now, this may come as a shock to some of you, but I'm pretty conservative. Actually, I'm really conservative," she deadpanned.

   During her brief comments, she said gay couples raising children -- such as Cheney and her wife, who have two daughters -- have become increasingly common and urged lawmakers not bar that from happening in Indiana.

   "As a conservative, I also believe that strong families are the cornerstone of our society, and that we as a society need to do everything we can to ensure that all families are provided for the greatest opportunity," she said. "I believe that all families -- regardless of how they look, or how they're made, or where they live -- that all families deserve to be treated with the same respect, rights and legal recognition."

   Cheney has garnered national attention recently over a spat with her sister, Liz Cheney, who opposes gay marriage and is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming. She did not mention the dust up Wednesday, however.

   Mary Cheney's appearance Wednesday night marked the first high-profile catch for Freedom Indiana, as the group looks to sway lawmakers while building a campaign fund ahead of a potential 2014 ballot fight.

   Supporters of writing the marriage ban into the constitution say it is needed to keep the issue from potentially being decided by a judge. However, the constitutional amendment would go beyond simply banning gay marriage; it also would bar lawmakers from approving civil unions and employers from extending benefits for same-sex couples.

   Lawmakers will consider the amendment during the 2014 session, which begins in about a month. If the General Assembly approves the amendment, it would go before voters on the 2014 ballot. Republican legislative leaders, who oversee supermajorities in both the House and Senate, have said the issue is not a priority for them, but it could still dominate the two-month session.

   If the measure heads to the ballot, it is sure to spark an expensive battle between the opposing sides, likely drawing in even more national figures such as Cheney.

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