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Vice President Cheney to Speak at Republican National Convention - 2004-09-01

Vice President Dick Cheney takes to the podium later Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in New York.

Vice President Cheney is widely regarded as President Bush's most-trusted adviser and confidant, an architect of the administration's response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.

But in recent weeks Mr. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have drawn enormous media attention by publicly differing with the president on the question of gay marriage. Mr. Bush has backed a constitutional amendment banning homosexuals from civil marriage, which is currently allowed in the state of Massachusetts.

But the Cheneys, whose daughter Mary is openly gay, have said that everyone, including homosexuals, should be allowed to enter into the relationship of their choice, and that the federal government should not decide the legality of matrimony for gay people.

Those statements have astounded many religious conservatives who vociferously oppose legal recognition of homosexuals and who form an important constituency of the Republican Party.

Both Dick and Lynne Cheney will address Republican delegates at New York's Madison Square Garden. Speaking on the CBS television network's Early Show, Mrs. Cheney said she and her husband do not speak for the administration on the question of gay marriage.

"The president sets policy for the administration," she said. "Not everyone in this room agrees on everything, just as I suspect not everyone in Boston [at the Democratic National Convention] agreed on everything. But, boy, are we united behind the notion that Dick Cheney and George Bush ought to be vice president and president for the next four years, for a whole series of important reasons beginning with their strength and steadiness in the global war on terror."

Tuesday, California governor and action-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger echoed the theme of party unity. The Austrian-born governor, who is also pro-gay rights and pro-abortion rights, said Republicans need not agree on every issue.

"That is what is great about this country," said Mr. Schwarzenegger. "Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American, and still be good Republicans."

Sporadic protests continue in New York against President Bush and the Republican National Convention. Several hundred demonstrators were arrested Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 1000.