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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 11:44 GMT
Cheney lesbian daughter pregnant
Mary Cheney, left, and her partner Heather Poe
Mary Cheney, left, is expecting a baby in spring 2007
Conservative groups have expressed dismay at news that US Vice-President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter is pregnant.

Mary Cheney, 37, and partner Heather Poe are expecting a baby in late spring 2007, the vice president's office said.

Concerned Women for America said the pregnancy was "unconscionable".

Meanwhile, a gay-rights group said Mr Cheney faced "a lifetime of sleepless nights" for serving in a White House opposed to same-sex marriage.

Mary and Heather's decision to have a child is an example that families in America come in all different shapes and sizes
Human Rights Campaign

Correspondents say that Mary Cheney's openness about her sexual orientation has for years posed a dilemma for conservative activists who admire Dick Cheney's stance on many issues, but consider homosexuality a sin.

The CWA's Janice Crouse told the Associated Press news agency: "It's very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father.

"They are encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have."

'Irreparable harm'

The vice president's office has declined to elaborate on the circumstances of Mary Cheney's pregnancy.

Vice-President Dick Cheney
The vice-president has opposed a federal ban on gay marriage

"The vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation" to the arrival of their sixth grandchild, a spokeswoman said.

Mary Cheney has been with her partner for about 15 years.

She was an aide to her father during the 2004 election campaign, and now is vice-president for consumer advocacy at AOL.

News of her pregnancy was welcomed by Joe Solmonese, president of gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign.

"Mary and Heather's decision to have a child is an example that families in America come in all different shapes and sizes," he was quoted as saying by AP.

"The bottom line is that a family is made up of love and commitment."

But Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of gay advocacy group Family Pride, said: "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."

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