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. Tampa Tim

    If she loses, maybe she can get on Family Feud.

    November 17, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. rs

    Liz Cheney- carpetbagger for the TEA Party lunatics. She only represents the astroturf, not the grassroots.

    November 17, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. vic , nashville ,tn

    Gay, abortion, deportation GOP must stay away from these issues.
    Young republicans (students) are begging their party to avoid these issues. But tea party republicans are not listing.

    By 2016 many students will use to Obama care but they won’t vote for candidate who is anti gay, anti abortion and self deportation

    November 17, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    We are still reeling from the last Cheney. No thanks!

    November 17, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. rs

    vic , nashville ,tn
    Gay, abortion, deportation GOP must stay away from these issues.
    Young republicans (students) are begging their party to avoid these issues. But tea party republicans are not listing.

    By 2016 many students will use to Obama care but they won’t vote for candidate who is anti gay, anti abortion and self deportation
    _________________
    A sound assessment.

    November 17, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Thomas

    "Freedom means freedom for everyone," Mary Cheney

    Maybe the wrong Cheney is running for office ?

    If it was up too Liz Cheney , some states would still think slavery is an option .

    November 17, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. terryln

    They all lie

    November 17, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Cheney's intolerant and hateful anti-gay marriage stance only works in a red state.

    November 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    OK Liz. You're entitled to your opinion, just like your father and sister and everybody else in America. Don't believe in same sex marriage? Don't get a wife!

    (I AM making certain assumptions about YOUR gender, however...)

    November 17, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    This is going to make for some interesting conversations in the Dick household at Thanksgiving, what with Mary and her wife and her kids at the table with the witch Liz.

    November 17, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    That's an issue where I differ with Liz. However, her position isn't going anywhere, in government.

    First of all her position is religion based, and not human rights based. That's where we differ. Marriage has little to do, with religion. It is a legal contract, which provides for legal obligations and remedies. Only organized religion views marriage, as a religious act. It isn't so, and never was so, until modern times.

    November 17, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. vikingwoman

    I agree w/Mary Cheney: all families should have the same rights no matter their make up! Equality is for every1, not just those politicians deem worthy! That's not equality, it's dicrimination, no matter how you look at it! I know we'll have to que the "I wanna marry my dog" arguements on this thread, but it really is infantile & is not a serious argument against equality for gay married partners/families! When it comes down to it there truly are none!!

    November 17, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    Hawaii judge refuses to block new same-sex marriage law

    You said, "Who marries them? God sends all homosexuals to "the vengeance of Eternal Fire" (Jude verse 7). Read Leviticus 20: 13; Genesis 19: 24 ; Romans 1: 22. They have to REPENT like the rest of humanity (Romans 3: 23)

    November 17, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    WHY would anybody vote for a woman that stabbed her own sister in the back just to get a cushy job of 174,000 dallars a year and free healthcare and a pension of about the same ???????the teaparty garbage of America will vote for her, BUT they don't have the votes to elect ANYBODY.

    November 17, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Siestasis

    I bet that will be one heck of a Thanksgiving dinner at the Cheneys.

    November 17, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  16. crazyvermont

    Just wondered when it's become intolerant i America to have an opinion? Why are progressives scared to have a debate in the public square of opinion? Perhaps, the intolerance isn't on part of Liz Cheney?

    November 17, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. davecu

    Unless I'm invited, this is none of my business.
    Live and love.

    November 17, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. bearitstrong

    “Liz – this isn't just an issue on which we disagree – you're just wrong – and on the wrong side of history,”

    However, Liz is still entitled to her opinion.

    November 17, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Sotzume

    Liz Cheney is just one more opportunistic "politician"(meaning no politician at all) who tries to win by hating others...its the tea party way and the Republican way. Her sister is correct in telling her that she is just wrong...not just on the wrong side of history. It is no wonder the American public holds politicians in such low esteem.

    November 17, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. Jeb

    This isn't about what most Republicans believe.

    It's about the fact that without the old bigots and religious fanatics that make up most of their base, Republicans would be permanently out of power because they only represent the interests of the 1%.

    November 17, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. family squabbles

    family squabbles. just in time for the holidays.

    November 17, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  22. Sean

    I dont mind liz having these views, i just dont believe her

    November 17, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. SeattleReign

    What it comes down to for Liz is she says whatever it takes to metaphorically "get her laid."

    November 17, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  24. revolting peasant

    I love how the GOP hides behind the state-level argument. Individual rights are done at the national level. Duh.

    November 17, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    I agree with Liz. Marriage is a religious rite, the government should have nothing to do with it. Of course that means that nobody would be 'legally married'. But if Liz wants one then she's got to accept the other-or live in a fantasy world where she can have her cake & eat it too. Maybe fantasy will be a good representative for Wyoming?

    November 17, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
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