Cheney's Grandchild Will Have Two Mommies

"They're deliberately bringing a child into the world without a father, leaving a great gaping hole," Crouse said.

"Father absence is the biggest problem we're facing in this country," she said, and "the root cause of all sorts of negative outcomes -- drug use, juvenile delinquency. You name it."

Similar sentiments were expressed by Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Center.

"I think it's tragic that a child has been conceived with the express purpose of denying it a father," Knight said.

"Fatherhood is important and always will be, so if Mary and her partner indicate that that is a trivial matter, they're shortchanging this child from the start."

"Mary and Heather can believe what they want," Knight said, "but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage" and to "create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values."

Conversely, Jennifer Chrisler, the executive director of Family Pride, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian parents and their families, seized upon Cheney's baby news to underline what she sees as injustice.

"As Mary and Heather enter into the life-changing roles of parents, they will quickly face the reality that no matter how loved their child will be -- by its mothers and its grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and close family friends -- he or she will never have the same protections that other children born to heterosexual couples enjoy," Chrisler said.

"Mary and Heather currently live in Virginia. Unless they move to a handful of less restrictive states, Heather will never be able to have a legal relationship with her child" because Mary Cheney will be the birth mother and Virginia does not recognize the legal status of same-sex couples.

Chrisler added that Grandfather Cheney "has been complicit in the largest full-scale attack on the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community in modern history. … Grandfather Cheney will no doubt face a lifetime of sleepless nights as he reflects on the irreparable harm he and his administration have done to the millions of American gay and lesbian parents and their children."

Cheney's office said it would not have any comment on Mary's pregnancy beyond its statement this morning.

In Davenport, Iowa, in August 2004, the vice president said that, "With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Some conservatives believe that Mary Cheney's lesbianism has tempered Bush's support for the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"The Cheney situation clearly tempered what Mr. Bush said about the marriage issue," Knight said. "He may have backed the marriage amendment, but he didn't really put a lot of effort into it."

Karen Travers contributed to this report

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