(Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
Former Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly lent his assistance to help secure votes for Maryland's same-sex marriage bill that passed the state Assembly last Friday. The bill passed with 71 votes – the exact number needed for approval.
Delegate Wade Kach, one of two Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, apparently changed his mind after receiving calls from several "high-profile" GOP operatives. Kach said one of the messages offered him the opportunity to speak with Cheney.
Kach called the former vice president "a great man," yet insisted his mind was changed after hearing same-sex couples testify regarding their devotion to one another.
Although the Cheney camp did not confirm his participation, R. Clarke Cooper who leads the homosexual Republican group, Log Cabin Republicans, confirmed Cheney's participation. "I am proud and grateful that he has chosen to lend his voice to securing marriage in Maryland," Cooper told Newser.
The first reports of Cheney's involvement surfaced last week when The Baltimore Sun reported that Cheney, along with former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were lobbying Republicans.
Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian, has become a supporter of LGBT rights since leaving office in 2009. Mehlman, a former aide to President Bush and later chairman of the RNC, made news in 2011 when it was revealed he was gay. Bloomberg used his power as New York mayor to help convince some Republicans in New York state to pass same-sex marriage in June of last year.
However, Mehlman's involvement may have been the most intense. Not only does the former GOP operative encourage legislators to vote for passage, his Rolodex of individuals willing to contribute to pro-homosexual causes and candidates is extensive.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Mehlman said he first made calls into Maryland last year when the Assembly failed to pass the bill. He said his calls to delegates are similar, encouraging them to "Do unto others as you would have them do onto you."
However, Mehlman denied offering any of the delegates promises of future campaign contributions. "I do not get into money," he said. "That would not be appropriate."
Meanwhile, other notable figures making calls encouraging delegates to vote against gay marriage was Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, who was elevated to the position last week in Rome. Democrat Delegate Kevin Kelly from Western Maryland said he spoke with O'Brien. Kelly had already committed to vote against the bill.
"He just called to thank me. To thank me for standing firm," Kelly told The Baltimore Sun. "It was better than a call saying that you've been excommunicated."
The bill now goes to the state Senate where it is expected to easily pass. Gov. Martin O'Malley, who strongly lobbied for the bill, will then sign it into law.