Why Nothing About Mary?
Richard and Lynne Cheney have two daughters. And last week
Bush-Cheney campaign spokespeople were happy to inform reporters
that daughter Elizabeth, 34, is married and has three children.
When reporters asked about Mary Cheney's personal life, however,
they were told the campaign wouldn't discuss it.
Last week Mary Cheney, 31, stayed in Wyoming after her dad's
debut rally. She was away from the suburban Denver home she
shares with her girlfriend Heather and away from the constantly
ringing phone. She was torn over how to handle press inquiries
about her homosexuality. "I love my father," she told an
acquaintance. "I don't want to be a distraction."
While friends say her relationship with her father is obviously
strong, her relationship to his campaign is more muddled. Bush
officials said the Governor invited her on the campaign trail,
and Lynne Cheney told TIME both her daughters would accept. But
Mary Cheney got the feeling that the campaign wanted to say as
little about her as possible, according to a friend.
"She's encouraging people to call the campaign, because that
will force them to come up with some answers," said Mike Smith,
a Denver gay activist who has known Cheney for three years. But
coming up with those answers would be interpreted as putting
Mary's relationship on an equal footing with her sister's. That
would be a major departure for a party that has traditionally
supported the right of employers to fire gay people.
Mary Cheney isn't a gay activist. But until May, she worked for
Coors Brewing Co. as liaison to the gay community, and she gave
buckets of the brewer's money to gay causes. ("She was one of
our secret weapons in terms of donations," an activist said.)
She traveled the country defending the company at meetings of
gay radicals who oppose the G.O.P. politics of the Coors family.
"Coors has come a long way," she told a gay paper in 1998. "It's
a company that really listened to us."
But have her parents? Will Bush? For months, the Governor
waffled on whether he would hire someone like Mary--an openly
gay person--in his administration before saying sexuality wasn't
a factor for him. As a Congressman in the '80s, her dad
routinely voted for antigay bills. But he has never smeared gays
in personal terms, and contrary to her reputation as a culture
warrior, Lynne Cheney hasn't either. When Mary came out to her
in the early '90s, Lynne quietly asked gay Republican friends
The Cheneys made clear last week that they love their daughter.
And Mary Cheney seemed eager to get back to the Colorado
outdoors (she loves to golf) and start business school. For now,
she's keeping quiet about Dad's politics. "It must be very tough
for her to feel that second-class status implied by his
positions," says Dee Mosbacher, the lesbian daughter of Robert
Mosbacher, Commerce Secretary under Bush's father. "I've come a
long way with my own father, but it takes a lot of discussion."