AOL hires daughter of VP Cheney

Mary Cheney, former gay community liaison for Coors Brewing, will work for America Online's head of programming.

Time Warner's America Online has hired Mary Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, an AOL spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

Mary Cheney will work closely with Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of America Online and head of the unit whose function it is to increase AOL's Internet audience via Web-based programming and products, AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said.

While Graham said Mary Cheney will begin her new job "in the near future," he added that he could not say exactly when she would start, exactly what her title would be, or in which office she would be based. Leonsis works in the company's Dulles, Va., headquarters.

"We are very pleased to have her on board as part of AOL," Graham said.

"Mary brings a huge amount of talent and skills and insight to America Online from years in public policy, public affairs and business," he said when asked why AOL hired her. "Mary has a strong knowledge of marketing and the online industry in general, as well as the marketplace."

Mary Cheney recently worked as an aide to her father. A high-profile lesbian, she previously served as gay community liaison for Coors Brewing, which had been criticized for making donations to critics of gay rights.

Despite attempts to keep Mary Cheney out of the news, the subject of her sexuality came up during several debates in the 2004 presidential race when candidates were questioned about their stance on gay rights. The vice president had previously tried to stay quiet on the subject.

AOL has long been a leader in promoting gay-friendly policies and practices, including offering same-sex domestic partners and their children the same benefits as non-gay couples, Graham said.

AOL was a corporate sponsor at the Capital Pride gay rights rally in June and has a business resource group, OUT@AOL, which was formed four years ago to promote a safe and diverse workplace for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. AOL also was "an early voice for the gay community," with its content-sharing agreements in the mid-1990s with Gay.com and Planet Out, Graham said.

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