Responding to a Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network initiative for middle school students called "No Name-Calling Week" in his January 25 online "Best of the Web" column, Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto claimed that Senator John Kerry and former Senator John Edwards "call[ed] Dick Cheney's daughter names, and many in the gay-rights crowd thought it was just peachy." During the 2004 presidential campaign, Senators Kerry and Edwards referred to Cheney's daughter, Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian, as "a lesbian" and "gay."
Taranto did not provide examples of the "names" he claimed Kerry and Edwards called Mary Cheney, but presumably he was referring to two instances -- both during debates -- in which Kerry and Edwards referred to Mary Cheney's sexuality. The first was during the October 5, 2004, vice presidential debate, when Edwards responded to a question regarding the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by saying:
Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing.
The second was during the October 13, 2004, presidential debate, in which Kerry responded to a question on homosexuality by saying: "We're all God's children, Bob [Schieffer, the debate moderator]. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as." Following that debate, a number of conservatives falsely accused Kerry of "outing" Mary Cheney.
In fact, the "name-calling" and derogatory comments about Mary Cheney actually came from conservatives. According to a September 2, 2004, Associated Press report, when asked if he thought Mary Cheney was a "selfish hedonist," conservative activist and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois Alan Keyes -- having already referred to homosexuality as "selfish hedonism" -- replied, "Of course she is. That goes by definition." And, as Media Matters for America documented, a number of conservative media figures -- including MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, FOX News host E.D. Hill, and FOX News contributor Mike Gallagher -- compared Mary Cheney's sexuality to abortion, adultery, alcoholism, and obesity.