America’s gay and lesbian community is asking why Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of US vice president Dick Cheney, did not join her family on stage at last week’s Republican National Convention in New York.

During her father’s speech Mary and her partner Heather Poe had been sitting in the audience with the rest of Cheneys. But when it came time for the whole family to appear on stage Mary and Heather had disappeared from the hall.

Her noticeable absence raised eyebrows among gay Republicans and led queer groups across the country to question what happened.

Were the convention organisers worried her presence would reinforce what the vice president stated last week -“ that he opposes the president’s call for a Consti-tutional amendment banning gay marriage and loves and supports his daughter as she is? the group PFLAG asked in a press release.

Sadly, the message last night was that Mary was not welcome to share the stage with her straight sister, said PFLAG executive director Ron Schlittler. It was a missed opportunity by Lynne and Dick Cheney to show the country a family in all its diversity, sharing an exciting moment together.

During a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, the vice president said same-sex marriage should be left to the states and he did not believe a proposed amendment to the US Constitu-tion was necessary.

Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with, he said. Freedom means freedom for everyone.

Mary’s absence followed a series of attacks on her and the vice president by Illinois Republican Alan Keyes. The Senate hopeful called Mary a sinner and a selfish hedonist.

A spokesperson for the Bush-Cheney campaign declined comment on Mary’s whereabouts following her father’s speech, reported.

At the convention President George Bush reiterated his belief traditional marriage needed to be protected from activist judges.

I will continue to appoint federal judges who don’t put their personal opinions over a strict interpretation of the law, Bush said and added that if re-elected he would keep pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

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