Mary Cheney Comes Out
Being Gay and
Daughter Writes Memoir About
Personal Life and Politics
ABC News Primetime
from the Web, May 3, 2006
Mary Chaney says she considered
quitting her role as campaign adviser over the issue of gay marriage, but Vice
President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary Cheney tells ABC News "Primetime" anchor
Diane Sawyer her sexuality has never created problems within her family.
(Ron Edmonds/ AP Photo )
Cheney's political memoir, "Now It's My Turn," talks about working
on the 2004 campaign, coming out to her parents, and squaring her
personal life with Republican policy.
Mary Cheney discussed the campaign,
her feelings about President Bush, life with her partner of 14 years, and what
it was like to come out as gay to her parents.
Watch the full interview with Mary Cheney on "Primetime," Thursday at 10 p.m.
"I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign," Cheney told
"Primetime." Her personal challenge came when President Bush said the
nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.
When Bush proclaimed it in the State of the Union, she refused to go. Mary
Cheney, a senior campaign advisor, was finally taking her stand.
"I didn't want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I
didn't want to stand up and cheer," she said.
She says the president offered to let her give a public statement in
disagreement, and her father indicated publicly he disagreed with his boss on
the issue. She declined but says she did talk with her family about
quitting the campaign.
Cheney has had to deal with hearing hateful names about gays and lesbians from
the right-wing of her own party. And gay rights activists say that
Cheney's silence is just a form of hypocrisy. They even made a milk carton
that said, "Mary Cheney Missing."
She jokes about that. "That's...ooh, God, that's a nice picture."
Her reply to their criticism is simple. "We each have to choose our own
path," she said. "I respect their opinion. But it is not the path
that I would choose for myself."
Coming Out in High School
With everyone from reporters to politicians to activists offering their opinions
about Mary Cheney and her choices, she said it's time for her to tell her own
story in her political memoir, "Now It's My Turn."
Mary Cheney is very much her father's daughter. She even has her father's
crooked smile. Growing up, she was a daddy's girl who, since she was a
child, went with him on hunting trips and fishing expeditions.
When she was nine years old, she wore a sandwich board that said "Honk for
Cheney" for her dad's first campaign -- a Congressional seat from Wyoming, which
She was in her early teens, she writes, when she knew somehow she was different.
"There's not a moment I can ever point to and say that's when I knew I was
different. That's when I knew I was gay," she said. "It just was
sort of this thing that dawned on me over time."
Cheney was a junior in high school when she and her first girlfriend broke up.
She was so distraught she wrecked the car and says she had to tell her parents
She first told her mother, Lynne. "And it took a few minutes for mom to
understand because I, I think at first she thought it was maybe just the most
amazing excuse ever for a car accident," she said.
But she said her mother's first reaction was to be worried about the prejudice
she would face from other people.
"And she ... she burst into tears and gave me a hug, but once I explained to her
that it would actually be harder for me to lie about who I am, she came around
pretty quickly," Cheney said.
A few hours later, she told her father. "He's just this great even-keeled
guy, and I told him and his reaction was, 'You know, look, you're my daughter
and I love you and I just want you to be happy.' And that was it," she
Balancing the Personal and
And today the Cheney family includes Mary's partner of 14 years, Heather Poe.
"She is smart, she is funny, she is probably the most generous person I've ever
met," Cheney said of Heather. "Since my dad was first nominated, she has
been my rock."
But what is it to be Mary Cheney inside her parents' Republican party -- a party
that opposes civil rights legislation protecting gays. A party that says
in its platform that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
If her father weren't vice president, would she still be a Republican?
Cheney says she doesn't like to answer "hypothetical questions."
But she does say that if her father weren't on the ticket with Bush in 2004, she
would still support the president.
"I think he's a very good man," Cheney said of Bush. "On these issues, he
hasn't caught up." Cheney is now back in private life, working at AOL and
says inside her family, she and Heather are free to be themselves in love.
Sawyer asked Cheney if she and Heather planned to marry.
"Well, from my perspective? Heather and I already are married," she said.
"We have built a home and a life together. Um, I hope I get to spend the
rest of my life with her. The way I look at it, is we're just waiting for
state and federal law to catch up with us."