Mary Cheney

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For the wife of Horace Greeley, see Mary Young Cheney Greeley.
Mary Cheney
Mary cheney.jpg
Cheney at her father's second inauguration, January 20, 2005
Born Mary Claire Cheney
(1969-03-14) March 14, 1969 (age 46)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Spouse(s) Heather Poe (m. 2012)
Children 2
Parent(s) Dick Cheney
Lynne Cheney
Relatives Liz Cheney (sister)

Mary Claire Cheney (born March 14, 1969) is the second daughter of Dick Cheney, the former Vice President of the United States, and his wife, Lynne Cheney. She is politically conservative and is involved with a number of political action groups.[1]

She is openly lesbian, has voiced support for same-sex marriage, and has been credited with encouraging her father's approval of same-sex marriage,[2] which he has publicly supported since leaving the vice presidency.[3]

In 2013, she was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[4]

Early life[edit]

Cheney attended McLean High School in McLean, Virginia, graduating in the class of 1987. Following that, she attended Colorado College, her mother's alma mater, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated in 1991. She earned a graduate business degree from the University of Denver in 2002.


In 1993, she became one of the first employees of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, working in promotions when the team began playing in Denver.[5] Thereafter, she was a public relations manager for the Coors Brewing Company, and worked as a gay & lesbian outreach coordinator, helping to end a national gay boycott of Coors.[6]

She has been one of her father's top campaign aides and closest confidantes. In July 2003, she became the Director of Vice Presidential Operations for the Bush-Cheney 2004 Presidential re-election campaign.

Cheney is a vice president for consumer advocacy at AOL.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Mary Cheney has been with her partner, Heather Poe, since 1992. In December 2006, Cheney was reported to be pregnant; circumstances surrounding the conception were not reported.[8] Cheney and Poe were said to be "ecstatic" about the baby. "The vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild," spokesperson Lea Anne McBride said on December 5.

On January 31, 2007, in a forum by Glamour Magazine at Barnard College of Columbia University, Mary Cheney stated that: "This is a baby... This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate by people on either side of an issue. It is my child."[9] Cheney gave birth to their first child, a son, in May 2007.

Cynthia Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour, asked Cheney if she had anything to say to critics like Dr. James Dobson. Cheney accused Dobson of distorting the research he cited and added: "Every piece of remotely responsible research that has been done in the last 20 years has shown there is no difference between children raised by same-sex parents and children raised by opposite-sex parents; what matters is being raised in a stable, loving environment." She also said that Dobson was entitled to his opinion, "but he's not someone whose endorsement I have ever drastically sought."[9]

Mary Cheney gave birth to her second child, a daughter, on November 18, 2009.[10]

Mary Cheney married Heather Poe on June 22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The family resides in Virginia.[11]

Mary Cheney wrote a private post on her Facebook page comparing the art form of drag to blackface. Obtained by CNN,[12] Cheney posted "Why is it socially acceptable - as a form of entertainment - for men to put on dresses, make up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) -- but it is not socially acceptable -- as a form of entertainment - for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans?" She continues, "Should both be ok or neither?" The comments were reportedly made following Cheney watching RuPaul's Drag Race. Drag mogul RuPaul then posted a video[13] on Twitter entitled, 'A Message to Mary Cheney' explaining the history of drag saying, "What is drag? Drag is underground, and over the top. Drag is political, and politically incorrect. Drag is camp, and cotoure. Drag is punk, and mainstream. Drag is a laugh riot, and it can start a revolution. Drag is never having to say you’re sorry, because drag is all about being whoever the hell you want to be." RuPaul's Drag Race, which was undergoing promotion for its seventh season, even tweeted Cheney quoting the famous line from the show, "Oh no she better don't!".


2000 presidential campaign[edit]

In 2000, the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign freely discussed Liz Cheney's marriage and children, but were silent about Mary Cheney's private life.[6] Nevertheless, Cheney's sexual orientation was publicly known,[6] and some considered her presence during the campaign as bolstering, providing the Republican ticket with a "compassionate conservative" image.[14] During an interview with Lynne Cheney, Cokie Roberts brought up the topic of Mary Cheney's having declared herself a lesbian. Mrs. Cheney responded by stating that "Mary has never declared such a thing,"[15] and criticized Roberts and the media for their interest in the story.[15]

In 2002, Mary Cheney joined the Republican gay-straight alliance Republican Unity Coalition and said that sexual orientation should be "a non-issue for the Republican Party," with a goal of "equality for all gay and lesbian Americans."[16] Cheney resigned from the RUC's board and in July 2003 became the director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney 2004 Presidential re-election campaign.[14]

Federal Marriage Amendment[edit]

In 2004, public attention focused again on Cheney's sexuality, when the Bush administration supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples and ban civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. Cheney did not publicly express her opinion of the amendment at the time. In her 2006 autobiography Now It's My Turn, Cheney stated her opposition to the amendment. However, at the time, she remained silent to support Bush's re-election bid. In August 2004, Dick Cheney reiterated the position he took in the 2000 Presidential campaign: that the issue should be handled by individual state governments. He added, though, that President Bush determined his administration's policies, and his policy supported the Federal Marriage Amendment.[17]

2004 presidential re-election campaign[edit]

During the 2004 Presidential re-election campaign for the Bush-Cheney administration, during which Cheney served as her father's director of vice presidential operations, the subject of her sexual orientation arose again.

The 2004 presidential election debates included mentions of the same-sex marriage debate and referred, initially indirectly, to Cheney. Both Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards mentioned and praised Cheney's openness with regard to her sexual orientation when questioned regarding gay issues. Some commentators viewed these remarks as a gratuitous, cynical appeal to residual homophobia among blue-collar voters in key swing states.[18]

During the Cheney-Edwards vice-presidential debate, moderator Gwen Ifill directed a question to the Vice President in which his daughter was indirectly mentioned:[19]

I want to read something you said four years ago at this very setting: ‘Freedom means freedom for everybody.’ You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family's experience as a context for your remarks. Can you describe then your administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions?

— Gwen Ifill

Dick Cheney reiterated his position of four years prior, stating the issue should be left to the states but that he supports the Bush administration. He did not mention his family nor his daughter in his immediate response to the question. In his response, Edwards said:

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. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy.

— John Edwards

Although he was given 90 seconds to respond to Edwards' comments, Dick Cheney responded succinctly, “Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.” Ms. Ifill followed up: “That's it?” The vice president replied, "That's it," effectively ending the discussion of his daughter's sexual orientation.[19] At the end of the debate, Mary Cheney appeared on the podium with her partner and the rest of the family.

During the third and final Bush-Kerry presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked, “Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?” John Kerry replied, "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.”[20] This prompted an angry response from Dick Cheney, who stated, “You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected. And I am not just speaking as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father.”[21]

2010 political work[edit]

In 2010, Mary Cheney became involved in a network of politically active nonprofit organizations. The network is illustrated in this reference:[1] According to tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Cheney is a member of the BKM Strategies consulting firm.[22] In 2010, Cheney and two other Republican consultants, Barry Bennett and Kara Ahern, started two nonprofits in the office of BKM Strategies: The Alliance for Freedom and the Alliance for America’s Future. In the same year, Cheney and Kara Ahern established a super PAC, Partnership for America's Future, which is not currently active.[22]

2014 political work[edit]

In 2014, Cheney's consulting firm BKM Strategies was apparently responsible for a writing campaign in support of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Of the nearly 125,000 comments filed with the State Department, at least 98,000 contained similar pro-pipeline language and came from individuals listing BKM Strategies as the originating organization, according to the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation.[22]

2006 autobiography[edit]

Main article: Now It's My Turn

Mary Cheney left the public spotlight after the 2004 election until May 4, 2006, when she was interviewed by Diane Sawyer for ABC News' Primetime program to promote her autobiography, Now It's My Turn.[23] In the book, published in 2006, Cheney discusses how she came out to her parents, recounting her father's initial reaction: "You know, look, you're my daughter and I love you and I just want you to be happy." She also discusses her relationship with her partner, Heather Poe.

Gay rights advocates criticized her for waiting until after the 2004 election to voice her disapproval of the Bush administration's positions on gay rights. During another appearance by Cheney on May 19, 2006, on the Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman brought up some of the issues raised by the gay community. He asked Cheney why she had waited two years after the 2004 election to speak publicly about gay marriage and rights, and asked whether she had any input with the Bush administration regarding gay issues. Cheney responded that she did not, and that it had not been her job to do so.[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Maguire, Robert (July 2, 2014) Dick Cheney Goes Dark: A Family Network of (c)(4) Groups Accessed July 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Barbaro, Michael (January 31, 2011). "Bush’s Daughter, in a Break, Endorses Gay Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dick Cheney defends his silence on gay marriage in 2000". Associated Press (Politico). July 30, 2012. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay Marriage Brief". The Daily Beast. February 28, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ USA Today. (October 15, 2004) Cheney's gay daughter involved, but behind the political scenes Accessed September 3, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Cloud, John. (August 1, 2000) Why Nothing About Mary? Accessed May 28, 2007.
  7. ^ Perry, Simon. (April 5, 2007) Mary Cheney Expecting a Boy, Her Dad Reveals Accessed May 28, 2007.
  8. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne. (December 6, 2006) Mary Cheney and Partner Are About to Be Moms The Washington Post. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Mooney, Alexander. (February 1, 2007) Cheney's daughter: My baby 'is not a prop' Accessed September 3, 2007.
  10. ^ ABC. (November 19, 2009) Cheneys Welcome Seventh Grandchild Accessed July 24, 2011
  11. ^ Pappas, Alex. "Mary Cheney marries longtime partner Heather Poe". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Diamond, Jeremy; Jaffe, Alexandra. "Mary Cheney: Why is drag 'socially acceptable' and blackface isn't?". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "A Message to Mary Cheney". YouTube. World Of Wonder. Retrieved 4 May 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  14. ^ a b Miller, Mark; Rosenberg, Debra. (February 23, 2004) Something About Mary Newsweek. Accessed July 19, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Dave Cullen and Daryl Lindsey. (August 1, 2000) Gays blast Lynn Cheney's denial about her daughter Accessed September 3, 2007.
  16. ^ Morman, Todd. (May 22, 2002) Gay Baiting with the N.C. GOP Accessed September 3, 2007.
  17. ^ CNN. (August 25, 2004) Cheney describes same-sex marriage as state issue Accessed May 28, 2007.
  18. ^ Taranto, James (October 6, 2004). "Best of the Web Today". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 12, 2004. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Ifill, Gwen. (October 5, 2004) The Cheney-Edwards Vice Presidential Debate transcript Case Western Reserve University. Cleveland, Ohio. Accessed July 19, 2012.
  20. ^ Schieffer, Bob. (October 13, 2004) The Third Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate transcript Arizona State University. Tempe, Arizona. Accessed July 19, 2012.
  21. ^ (October 15, 2004) Spinning Semantics Accessed September 3, 2007.
  22. ^ a b c Watzman, Nancy. (March 12, 2014) Influence Analytics: Mary Cheney's firm organizes pro-Keystone XL blitz Accessed July 10, 2014.
  23. ^ Sawyer, Diane. (May 3, 2006) Mary Cheney Considered Quitting 2004 Campaign Over Gay Marriage Issue ABC News. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  24. ^ McIntee, Michael Z. (May 19, 2006) Late Show with David Letterman: The Wahoo Gazette, Show Recap: #2559 Accessed September 3, 2007.

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