November 17th, 2013
12:25 PM ET
11 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. Loathstheright

    One has American values and believes in EQUAL RIGHTS for ALL....and the other believes that the Bible should make laws....which is very unAmerican.

    November 18, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  2. loverpoint

    The people of Wyoming vote the way Dick Cheney tells them to vote. That is where he learned to become the puppet master that controlled his puppet George W Bush.

    Apparently the people of Wyoming hate big government but don't seem to mind nepotism in politics.

    November 18, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  3. Bob

    Either Liz Cheney is the worst human being in the world and she can't accept the fact of who her sister is and doesn't her to be happy. Or she actually loves her sister and is just lying in order to appease the right-wing nutjobs that have taken over her party. Either way, she doesn't deserve to be elected to office.

    November 18, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  4. sharpshtik

    Since marriage law recognizes each person has the same right to get married (i.e. to the opposite sex), individual equal protection is satisfied. The issue is group rights, i.e., group A (male, female), group B (same gender), whether these groups are similarly situated and, if they are, are they treated differently without a rational basis. Equal protection is satisfied because these groups are not similarly situated and they are treated differently with a rational basis. Only group A can reproduce & raise its own natural, biological children, which is impossible for group B. States are not required to title or treat different kinds of groups the same, e.g., corporations and partnerships are treated differently and, likewise, marriage contracts can be treated differently than homosexual contracts.

    November 18, 2013 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  5. Fred Flintstone

    Wilma and I agree that, it should be Adam and Eve, not Adam & Steve.

    November 18, 2013 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  6. Vinny

    Replacing GOP Sen. Mike Enzi with Liz Cheney is like replacing one abhorrence with another.

    November 18, 2013 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  7. mary

    We all have a right to make choices on how we feel regarding marriage.
    Believing the word of God which defines a union as being between a man and a woman.. Is as much a "right" based on that belief as the pro gay feel their opinions are.
    I am getting sick of being called a bigot because i believe in God and his word on the subject..
    I have the right to my beliefs..NO matter how the world has changed their opinions..
    The bible still says a union is between male and female.
    And so far there have been no other biblical writings to say different presented.
    And to say that her anti marriage stance is "hateful" or "bigoted" is absurd.
    You can oppose another's belief without being "hateful".. though it seems the pro gay can't view the pro God without being hateful.

    November 18, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Bravissima Mary Cheney! You are a brave woman. If your sister supported you, I might vote for her when she runs fort president. I'm still a Republican.

    November 18, 2013 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  9. Holy Mural

    We should thank the Tea Party for destroying the Republican Party... sure... they got some racist degenerate lunatics to shut down the government... which is their idea of success... but most people know it is wrong to deny people equal protection of the law... even if the church says it is ok to deny people equal protection of the law... it is still wrong and most people know it and that is why the racist Republican Party is doomed...

    November 18, 2013 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  10. nothanksimdriving123

    The concept of a federal Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage would pretty much seem moot now, as Congress is unlikely to pass it (dozens of Democrats would have to support it) and it would need 38 states to ratify it. There will soon be only 34 left without same-sex marriage, so 4 states would have to repeal their previous acceptance of it. Only two amendments have ever taken rights AWAY from people: the 13th said we couldn't own slaves anymore (yeah, so sad, right; most of us have gotten over it), and the 18th denied us alcohol and was a disaster and was repealed.

    November 18, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  11. m.

    Well… Any comments against gay marriage gets pulled..
    Some people choose to follow a religion and in their religion , be it adultery, stealing, etc.. They try to follow those teachings AGAINST those things.
    No one calls them bigots for thinking divorce is wrong.. Or sleeping with your neighbor or stealing…But you must think being gay is OK..Or you get called a bigot, and get blocked from posting.~!
    Way to sway opinion here.. Seems everyone is PRO gay.. But guess what..'not really'...

    November 18, 2013 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  12. MM

    The woman has every right to have a different opinion ..
    She loves her sister..
    if her sister were having an affair, would she have a right to an opinion against that?
    Then why is she not allowed to have a different opinion on what marriage means to her????
    Its absurd to force people to view something the way others do..
    And ridicule and condemn them for it.
    If you want PRO gay and the right to feel its oK. Then you MUST agree an opposite opinion is within someone else's right.

    November 18, 2013 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  13. Michael

    It is easy for those who choose the wrong paths in life to justify the wrongs that they do. Read into this what you want.

    November 18, 2013 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  14. JD Brewer

    Maybe Liz and Dick can get together and go hunting.....

    November 18, 2013 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  15. sandra

    Actually, the Tea Party supports Enzi.

    November 18, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  16. thenitenurse

    Liz Cheney's dad is grooming her for the one position he was not able to get and that is president.

    November 18, 2013 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  17. adsas

    I love these lies by Dick Cheney. Please, please SOMEONE find the news reels back in 99 or 2000 where he most definitely was NOT in support of marriage equality. Revisionist history. I love it.

    November 18, 2013 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  18. Viper

    "The couple have two children together – a son, Samuel, and a daughter, Sarah."

    Not possible. Neither of you have a Peg A to insert in to slot B

    November 18, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  19. andrew

    Like demon father...like demonic daughter..She has the same deapan face and cold dead eyes. Souless window and rotten to the core.

    November 18, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  20. Marie MD

    A cheney with a brain.
    The ex vp walking dead (that heart should have gone to somebody worthy) didn't agree with same sex marriage until his daughter came out of the closet.
    Now he thinks that by showing up at every political show (go away) is going to get her votes. Iraq WMDs, shooting a friend in the face while drunk then hiding and Halliburton anyone?

    November 18, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  21. cbp

    How sad that the Cheney sisters are not able to support each other's viewpoint. We really do not have the right to criticize anyone who chooses a different path in life. It should not be a political discussion. There are many other topics which need to be discussed in the next year.

    November 18, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  22. Say What?

    A shame that G/L always have to attack someone when they dont agree with them. Just because there are laws dont mean people have to accept who others are. That will never change

    November 18, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  23. Johnjon

    what a wonderful family.

    November 18, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  24. the king is naked

    Randy, San Francisco
    What is your definition of hateful?

    November 18, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  25. Steven Chambers

    I married my partner of 18 years and guess what? The world didn't end. Oh, and it didn't affect anyone else's life. If those that disagree with same-sex marriage would just get out of my bedroom and start focusing on what really matters like hungry children in the USA, or homeless vets then we would be a better country. It's time that we move on to real issues that impact all of us. Imagine all the money that has been spent fighting something that is inevitable. Imagine how many people that could have helped! Still fighting same-sex marriage? You are on the wrong side of history!

    November 18, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
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