Click Here North Star Writers Group
Syndicated Content.
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Feature Page
David J. Pollay - The Happiness Answer
Cindy Droog - The Working Mom
The Laughing Chef
Mike Ball - What I've Learned So Far
Bob Batz - Senior Moments
D.F. Krause - Business Ridiculous
Stephen Silver
  Stephen's Column Archive

December 13, 2006

The Right’s Meltdown Over Mary’s Baby


If the revelations about Pastor Ted Haggard and his love of drugs and male prostitutes didn’t make social conservatives’ heads explode, the Mary Cheney news very well might. Cheney, the openly gay daughter of the vice president, announced last week that she and her partner, Heather Poe, are expecting a child that Mary is carrying, via an anonymous sperm donor. 


Many on the right had predictably laughable reactions to the news of the Cheney baby, some of which put Dennis Prager’s recent “Keith Ellison must swear on the Bible” column in serious jeopardy for the title of “dumbest political argument of the year.” (Ellison, a newly elected member of Congress, is a Muslim.)


Robert Knight of the Media Research Center – no, not the basketball coach, but rather the guy whom Bryant Gumbel once accidentally called a “f-ckin’ idiot” on national television – had perhaps the dumbest sound bite. Knight called the pregnancy “tragic,” because the child had been conceived “with the express purpose of denying it a father.” As though Cheney and Poe decided to have a baby not because they wished to expand their family, but for the purely political motive of keeping their family dad-free.


The Concerned Women for America, meanwhile, were - you guessed it - very, very concerned. Janice Crouse, a spokeswoman for the conservative group, called news of the pregnancy “unconscionable,” because it “repudiates traditional values and sets an appalling example for young people.”


So what is she suggesting? Abortion? Probably not. Government confiscation of the child? I’m guessing not that either.


Leave aside the absurdity of conservatives feeling the need to speak out about the choices of an individual family. The opposition obviously has very little to do with the lack of a father, and everything to do with the anti-gay yuk-factor among their constituency. I’m sure the outrage would not have been nearly as loud coming from the Christian right if the veep’s daughter, or one of the Bush daughters, had gotten pregnant out of wedlock with a male partner. Sure, they may have condemned it, but I can’t imagine the word “tragic” being used.


The child born to Cheney and Poe will, by all accounts, have two committed, loving parents who have been together for 15 years — and as the grandchild of a vice president, will probably enjoy every advantage life has to offer. Yes, the problem of children being born without stable, nuclear families is a very real one. But loving, two-parent gay families are clearly the furthest thing imaginable from the root of this problem.


The fact that the daughter of the vice president is openly gay has caused all sorts of cognitive dissonance for the left as well as the right, ever since Cheney was first announced as Bush’s running mate in the summer of 2000.


Those on the fringes of the anti-gay right are obligated, of course, to wish for her repentance and eventual conversion to a heterosexual lifestyle. But on the left, many, such as the proprietors of a website called, have attacked her for standing in support of her father while the administration in which he serves has pursued anti-gay policies.


Mary Cheney also became a lightning rod during the 2004 election, when in a presidential debate, Democratic nominee John Kerry answered a question about same-sex marriage by invoking the vice president’s daughter. This led to criticism from all sides that he had “outed” Mary (even though she had long since come out of the closet), or that he had attempted to provoke a homophobic response. This is mostly remembered as yet another Kerry gaffe that made Republicans chortle with fake outrage and Democrats shake their head in distancing frustration.


I always found all of this unfair. The veep’s daughter, after all, has not chosen to be a public figure, and she is free to live her life any way she chooses. And while it certainly must be a dilemma for her that her dad supports policies that are contradictory to her interests, what is she supposed to do, disown her own father? After all, he has done nothing but indicate that he loves his daughter, and that her partner is as much a part of their family as is the husband of his other daughter.


Mary Cheney and Heather Poe deserve our congratulations, our best wishes and little more. Their child should be just fine. As long as the kid avoids hunting trips with grandpa.


To offer feedback on this column, click here.

© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # SS21. Request permission to publish here.