Feature

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

October 2000

How did Mary resolve it? By all accounts, she is extremely close and loyal to her father. Yet even as the story emerged, his party was finalizing a platform seeking to forbid her from adopting a child or serving in the military. Will the awkward situation help gays by convincing Americans they exist in every extended family, or hinder their political goals by legitimizing Bush’s claims of compassionate conservatism?

The story might have ended as a curiosity if Mary Cheney hadn’t just completed a highly visible and somewhat controversial role within the Denver gay community. Until May, she spent the past three years as corporate relations manager to the gay community at the once-notoriously anti-gay Coors Brewing Co. That position placed her directly on the front lines of the pivotal “movement vs. market” debate raging inside the gay activist community. Some gays saw her as a traitor, others as a powerful ally. Within hours of her father’s selection as running mate, friends revealed that she was postponing grad school to join the campaign full time, and the very same questions began to circulate.

But perhaps the greatest irony of all was that Dick Cheney joined a ticket rejecting employment discrimination laws for gays as unnecessary, when merely being related to a lesbian may have cost him his own last job prospect.