silence is deafening.
Picture the photo of the Vice President and his wife and their
newborn grandchild — fresh from delivery and still wrapped in his
hospital-issue receiving blanket. What’s missing here? The child’s
parents, of course.
The fact that this White House chose to announce the birth of Vice
President Cheney’s grandson — Samuel David Cheney — with a photo
of the baby without either one of his two mothers in sight should
come as no surprise. This administration continues to try to have
its cake and eat it too when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) Americans.
Think about it. Samuel is the Cheney’s sixth grandchild — but can
you recall seeing photos of any of the other grandchildren? The
only thing that makes Samuel’s birth newsworthy at all is that his
birth mother, Mary Cheney, is both a lesbian and the daughter of
the man who is second in command of an administration that has been
more destructive to the lives of LGBT parents and their families
than any other group in American history.
By virtue of Mary’s status as the Vice President’s daughter, she
and her partner, Heather Poe, continue to be arguably the most
prominent Republican lesbian couple in the country. Mary’s
pregnancy has been covered by the media since it was first
announced. The couple welcomed their first child, Samuel, into the
world earlier this week. And yet the mothers are not included in
the photo that was sent out to announce the birth of their
A more astute media might be asking why there is no photo
availability of the entire family, but that is not happening. As a
result of the absence of a compelling and truly representative
visual to accompany the story, there has been minimal media
coverage of the latest addition to one of the nation’s most
prominent LGBT-headed families. Once again, this administration has
manipulated the media for its own purposes — and the media has
allowed them to do so. And, once again, LGBT-headed families remain
largely faceless and invisible to the majority of America.
As a lesbian mother and an advocate for full equality for
LGBT-headed American families, I have followed Mary Cheney’s
pregnancy with great interest and empathy. I have read and
appreciated her statement that their baby is a “gift from God” —
for is that not true of all children?
I certainly believe that about mine. I have also read Mary’s
statement that, in her view, their child is “not a political
statement.” I wish that were also true. I absolutely join Mary and
Heather in their desire to live in a world — and to raise their
son in a world — in which that were the case. However, the
unfortunate reality is that our children and our families are
politicized — but not by us. Mary and Heather’s invisibility in
the public announcement of their own son’s birth is proof of that
It is no secret that President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s
re-election campaign strategy centered around mobilizing the most
conservative elements of the Republican Party by targeting LGBT
people and their families. Ballot initiatives about same-sex
marriage were introduced in many states with the specific intent of
bringing religious conservatives to the polls.
However, when asked about his daughter Mary’s sexual orientation,
Vice President Cheney has consistently asserted his love and
support for his daughter. In addition, the Vice President was
described by an official White House spokesperson as “looking
forward with eager anticipation” to the birth of his sixth
grandchild. Additionally, when asked specifically about Mary and
Heather becoming parents, President Bush replied that he thought
Mary would be “a loving soul to her child” and “a fine mom.” Mary’s
partner, Heather, reportedly even receives protection from the
Nevertheless, in a cowardly move to mollify their conservative
base, the administration stripped Samuel’s lesbian mothers from the
picture heralding his arrival. It simply doesn’t get any more
political than that.