Does Cheney's gay daughter affect his campaign?
By Hope Salley
Being gay in America is not easy, especially for Mary, since her dad decided to run for Vice President.
Mary Cheney, 31, publicly announced her sexual preference in her 20's, around the same time her father, then a Wyoming congressman, voted against gay rights.
Up until recently, she was the lesbian and gay corporate liasion for the Coors Brewing Company. But she gave up that job as well as going to business school for the fall semester so she could campaign with her father.
Cheney's ties to conservative, anti-gay forces as well as his perceived opposition to the expansion of legal protections for gays and lesbians make her presence in the campaign a potentially controversial issue.
Cheney's presidential running mate, George W. Bush opposes workplace anti-discrimination laws, supports a ban on gay adoptions and says he wouldn't allow gays to serve openly in the
military. Bush also reportedly told religious right leaders "that he would not appoint openly gay staff who espoused a 'gay lifestyle'."
Cheney's congressional voting record reflects similar views. He was against the 1988 Hate
Crimes Statistics Act in 1988 and supported adding an ammendment to the bill containing anti-gay language to the bill. As the elder Bush's Defense Secretary, Cheney supported a ban f gay members in the military.
"Cheney upheld the Pentagon's ban on gay service members at a time when the policy was under increased attack for its unfairness," said Advocate.com journalist John Gallagher in his
article July 25, 2000 article, "Choosing Cheney."
Does having a gay daughter working on his campaign while opposing gay rights make Cheney a hypocrite? Or is it none of the public's business?
"It's been widely known for a long time that [Mary's] gay and not shy about it," said Elizabeth Birch, Human Rights Coalition Executive Director. "I think she's between the rock and a hard place. The issue now will be whether she's locked in the vault--literally or figuratively," Birch offered in an article written by Dave Cullen and Daryl Lindsey,"Gays Blast Lynne Cheney's Denial About her Daughter."
Cheney's wife, Lynne, denied her daughter's declaration of openly being gay to ABC's Cokie Roberts. "Mary has never declared such a thing. I would like to say that I'm appalled at the media interest in one of my daughters they are bright; they are hard-working; they are decent. And I simply am not going to talk about their personal lives. And I'm surprised, Cokie, that even you would want to bring it up on this program," stated Lynne Cheney.
Another Human Rights Campaign Spokesman responded to Lynne Cheney's comments. "She said she is proud of both her daughters, but there was definitely a sense this was one aspect of who her daughters is that she was not proud of. That came through loud and clear," David Smith told Salon.com in an earlier article.
On the other hand, to George W. Bush, Mary Cheney's sexual preference made no difference to him in the vice presidential selection process," reported Jackie Judd in her article, "Double Standard?", on abcnews.go.com. His campaign is reportedly now reaching out to lesbian and gay voters ("Dick Cheney's Gay Daughter", 7/25/00).
"Some speculate that her very presence in Dick Cheney's campaign can only help advance the acceptance of gay issues within the Republican Party" (Cheney's Gay Daughter Prompts Questions about GOP Policies", 8/5/00).
It seems as though Cheney's views on gay rights have changed over the years. His recent comments prove to be different than what his voting records of the late 80's and early 90's reflected. "I am one of those people who believes that people's sexual preference and orientation are a private matter," Cheney said in 1993 on an appearance on Larry King Live
(Double Standard?, 8/3/00).
There have been no signs of Dick Cheney's disapproval of his daughters sexuality directly. When questioned about the topic, he simply says it's personal business. Cheney maintains a close relationship with his daughter, in fact, friends of Mary said that her father took the
surprising news better than her mother ("Gays Blast Lynne Cheney's Denial About her Daughter," 8/1/00).
So how does this affect the American citizen? It's hard to tell what Dick Cheney's beliefs on gay rights are. Is he all for gay rights or is he against it? Well, records show that he was against it about 11 years ago, but now his views have changed to, "As long as they perform their professional responsibilities in a responsible manner, their private lives are their business," Cheney said to employees at the Pentagon when it was revealed that the Defense Department Spokesman revealed that he was gay.
Presumably, Dick Cheney knows an attack on the gay and lesbian community will bring a swarm of negative media attention on him as well as his daughter.
This is the official Bush/Cheney site. It has various selections toc hoose from, such as; a calendar of Bush's events, how to get involved in the Bush and Cheney campaign, and a "Youth Zone" specially made for the younger generation. This section as stories that pertain to the youth ("Officer Buckle and Gloria: Watch Texas First Lady Laura Bush read this fantastic story about a police officer and his dog"). Though focused primarily on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney is also included. This site is the only official site for Cheney, according to a campaign spokesperson. A Cheney page is in the works.
All in the Family, by Dave Cullen, 7/29/00
Cheney's Gay Daughter Prompts Questions About GOP Policies, in the Hartford Courant, 8/5/00
Choosing Cheney, by John Gallagher, 7/25/00
Dick Cheney's Gay Daughter, 7/25/00
Double Standard?, by Jackie Judd
Gays Blast Lynne Cheney's Denial About her Daughter, by Dave Cullen and Daryl Lindsey, 8/1/00
Gay Rights and Abortion: Becoming Mainstream (Part I and II