November 17th, 2013
12:25 PM ET
9 months ago

Cheney sisters spar over same-sex marriage, parents weigh in

Updated 1:50 p.m. ET, 11/18/2013

(CNN) - One day after their daughters' quarrel over same-sex marriage burst into the political spotlight, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, defended their daughter Liz Cheney, saying she loves and respects her sister Mary, who's married to a woman.

"This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public," the Cheneys said in a statement.

"Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage," the Cheneys added, saying Liz Cheney has "always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done."

"Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz's many kindnesses shouldn't be used to distort her position," the statement concludes.

The recent dispute started when Liz Cheney, who's making a GOP primary challenge for a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming next year, said Sunday morning that she supports some rights for same-sex partners but does not favor the right for same-sex couples to legally wed.

"I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue in which we disagree," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday."

Mary Cheney responded Sunday not long after the interview.

"Liz – this isn't just an issue on which we disagree – you're just wrong – and on the wrong side of history," she posted on Facebook.

Cheney says daughter Liz will win Senate bid

Mary Cheney married her longtime partner, Heather Poe, last year in Washington D.C., which legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. The couple have two children together – a son, Samuel, and a daughter, Sarah. Liz Cheney did not attend the wedding.

Mary also shared a post by her wife, who said she was offended by Liz Cheney's latest comments:

I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say "I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage."

Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.

To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least

I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.

I always thought freedom meant freedom for EVERYONE.

Mary Cheney added: "Couldn't have said it better myself."

Responding to the comments, Cheney said Monday morning she treats her sister with compassion.

"I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave," Liz Cheney told CNN anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper.

Liz Cheney asserts her Wyoming roots in first ad

Mary Cheney's sexual orientation was known during her father's first run in 2000 for vice president, though her family generally declined to discuss her personal life on the campaign trail.

Dick Cheney has said in the past that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, though like his daughter Liz he says regulations should be handled at the state level.

Tapper asked Cheney last month in an interview for CNN's "The Lead" whether the family disagreement might create awkward Christmas table conversation.

"My position on that issue is well known, I enunciated it in 2000 in a debate with Joe Lieberman. It hasn't changed. And I'll let my daughters speak for themselves," the former vice president said.

A majority of Americans voters–56%–say they support or would support allowing same-sex marriage in their state, while 36% oppose, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in late September.

When considering Republicans' views only, the numbers flip. Fifty-eight percent oppose laws that legalize same-sex marriage, while 36% favor such laws.

The American Principles Fund, an independent political group defending Wyoming's incumbent GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, launched an ad last month attacking Liz Cheney for supporting some same-sex rights. Wyoming is one of 34 states with a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The ad said she opposed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and applauded the State Department's decision to grant benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

Cheney said Sunday that Enzi should "renounce" the ad for being "gutter politics." She defended her view on the State Department and explained that she opposed the constitutional amendment because she believes same-sex marriage decisions should be made on the state level.

"I don't believe we ought to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. If people are in a same-sex relationship and they want their partner to be able to have health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary on their life insurance, there's no reason we shouldn't do that," she said.

"I also don't support amending the Constitution on this issue. I do believe it's an issue that's got to be left up to the states. I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage."

When Cheney voiced her stance on same-sex marriage in late August, her sister took to Facebook to say Liz Cheney was "dead wrong" on the issue.

Asked about the dispute, White House spokesman Jay Carney said "This is a tough issue, and can be a tough issue, for a lot of families."

"It is a very American value to pursue equality for everyone," he added.

– CNN’s Jake Tapper and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Liz Cheney • Same-sex marriage • Wyoming
soundoff (295 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Coming in 2024... the first gay President of the United States! Don't think it can't happen...

    November 18, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. David

    Just goes to prove people will sell their soul to get elected!

    November 18, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  3. Lisa

    Ah, traditional marriage, divorce, remarriage, ditching of step-children... all okay. But gay marriage has everyone up in arms.

    Liz and her parents are WRONG. If you don't see them campaigning to end divorce and remarriage then you know they aren't worried about tradition or Biblical edicts.. it's pure and simply bigotry against those who are different than the majority.

    November 18, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. maggie

    the guy who posted about "its very american to pursue equality for everyone." he said "I guess that means my dog"
    there are so many dogs in shelters they are euthanized every 7 seconds. the economy has made many people give up their dogs, detroit has so many feral dogs it cannot house them all. It would be honorable indeed if people fight for equal rights (treatment) for dogs. and cats, and horses and every kind of animal every where. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    November 18, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. Paige

    Don't assume all hetero Christians are full of such judgement. I am a follower of Jesus Christ who taught us to love God first and LOVE our neighbor as ourselves second. These are our most important commandments. To LOVE not JUDGE. If this issue were so important to God, wouldn't it have been included in his Ten Commandments?? All of you all knowledgeable judges spewing hatred and venom in the name of our loving God, why not focus on your own sins that he clearly outlined in His commandments.... Any of you ever committed adultery? Coveted your neighbors possessions? Dishonored your parents? Taken something that didnt belong to you? Better start examining your own sins and quit trying to sit on God's judgement seat. He told us to LOVE...

    November 18, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  6. American Worker

    If a candidate is promoting the premise that the Government, Businesses, Groups, and other let the people be; then it does not matter what their personal beliefs are on personal issues.

    November 18, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  7. Name

    This is sad. At the end of the day, it should be about her sisters happiness and not her political or religious viewpoint. Deferring gay rights to the state level is a copout and is no different what they did during the 60's with civil rights. Decades later, the vast majority of the population is appalled by the injustice that took place back then. History will no doubt show how close minded these prejudice fools are just as we now view the idiots who fought against civil rights!

    November 18, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  8. LastOne Standing

    Mary is absolutely right. I agree, Liz is wrong and on the wrong side of history. Mary does NOT need LIz's compassion. Liz should perhaps save that for stray animals. The only thing Liz needs to do is abide by the law. Her liking the situation or NOT is seconday. As gay Americans, we have fought for our rights and are winning. We don't need to justify to bigots like Liz why we are winning.

    November 19, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  9. just the facts, ma'am

    If this disagreement was between two brothers, would the CNN home page headline still characterize it as "a spat"?

    November 19, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  10. Mark

    I wonder how long America will be able to be a country of people that beleive in God and people that ha te His gu ts and ha te everyone that beleives in Him and basically want the country to have the values of Sodom and Gomorrah. I think the polls lie, and so do the g ays or they would want it put to a vote. I don't think our democracy will be able to tolerate this though, we will be one or the other and we are only bidding our time until civil war. Sad. Maybe we can be two countries, but the US has never allowed that so it will probably mean a war.

    November 19, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  11. Jonathan K

    I really dislike Dick Cheney and his religious right daughter fits squarely in with her creep of a father.

    November 19, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  12. DM

    Quinnipiac University poll: 56% of American voters "support" gay marriage...while 34 states out of 50 have voted to ban this abomination.

    Something is wrong with the Quinnipiac University poll. It doesn't reflect the math, plus, they didn't poll me!!

    November 19, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  13. Carmelle's Treasures

    Funny all this talk about marriage and even Jesus didn't get married...think!

    November 19, 2013 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  14. John

    Dick and Lynne Cheney make it sound as if the media or someone else made the family spar public. They are always blaming someone else. In this case, it is quite obvious the daughters, Liz more than Mary, themselves made it public. Mary wants to defend her right; Liz to deny Mary her right to gain votes.

    November 19, 2013 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    For too many centuries, gay people have had to lie to their families or leave them.

    November 19, 2013 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  16. MIike

    It seems to me that people have lost a certain truth that has been in place throughout all of human history and through all of the history of humanity. That is we are not all equal in all things. The progressive argument stems from the belief that we are and that all people should be treated equally. I believe in fairness and respect, however I don't believe that someone should be able to do anything that they want to do when they want to do it just because they want to; I find the charges of human and civil rights abuses to be laughable just because someone wants to do something with someone when they want to do it and someone says they can't. It reminds me of spoiled childern running to Mommy when they don't get there way.

    November 19, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  17. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Guns Over People tea potty hate gays. They will throw a family member under the bus in a minute if the tea potty tell them to.

    November 19, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  18. Catholic

    Whose Mary's moral guide? Certainly not God. When you take God out of morality, morality sure changes with the wind, or the whims of public opinion, as reinforced by Mary's comment about being on the wrong side of history. Man does not dictate my morality, only God can do that.

    November 19, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  19. rolick

    I think this is a planned stunt to game the media on the part of the Cheny's. Mary stayed silent about gay marriage during her fathers run and all of a sudden she speaks up? Seems to me that they both get what they want here, one get't to prove that she is the "most conservative" against her opponent and thrust into the national spotlight thus securing her polticial career. (did most of us even know that she existed before this?) And the other get's to cozy up to a community that she betrayed and ignored until something was in it for her. I think the Cheny;s do what is good for the Cheny's, smart money says that this is a strategy that was cooked up over dinner at Dat's.

    November 19, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  20. bill alexander

    Conservatives are irrelevant at this point. They have proven themselves to be both ignorant and abrasive to the cultural advancement of our society. They no longer have credibility.

    November 19, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
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