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. Dan I

    Well...Thanksgiving this year is going to be awkward in the Cheney household.

    November 18, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  2. Maine liberal

    The church marries, the state performs a civil union.

    The Episcopal church marries gay couples in the National Cathedral

    November 18, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  3. Dan

    Rick McDaniel,

    "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..."

    No, it's social contract as well and societies have regulated it since civilization was born. Gay marriage does nothing but undermine and weaken the values of society. Our families are in enough trouble.

    November 18, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. The Right needs hep

    I hope Mary will keep her kids away from Liz. I'd hate to think of the vile things she'd try to fill those kids heads with.

    Liz is dead wrong on this and most issues. I don't see how she can not support her sister and the family she has.

    November 18, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  5. DVA

    Liz is a true Republican just like her father....she learned well how to talk out of both sides of her mouth and to lie when the occasion rises. Go for it Liz, perhaps American voters will do to you what you did to your sister,,,turn on you. By the way, in the not too far future your niece and nephew will certainly care about you (Not),

    November 18, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  6. NYVeteran

    Lesbian catfight! And we don't have to pay or wait for a bachelor party! Go Mary!

    November 18, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  7. keven

    Saying its a states rights thing is just ridiculous and a cop out, Either its right, or its not, doesn't change from state to state.
    Seems some people want to have white states, black states, gay states, straight states,

    November 18, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. roro

    Liz Cheney is just as mean, nasty, and crazy as her father, and God knows what he did to this country. Go away, all of you Cheneys. This country doesn't need or want any of you.

    November 18, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. ralph

    "No, it's social contract"

    Wrong, it is a legal contract.

    Marriage is a civil legal contract. Religion plays no role whatsoever. My atheist wife and my atheist self have been legally married for over 20 years. No church involved, no church was needed. In order to undo the contract, we would need to go before a judge and have the contract nullified.

    November 18, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Bob Penn

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

    November 18, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. samuel

    this whole homosexual thing is all wrong. the people supporting this crap will one day stand before their maker for accounting except thry repent in the blood of jesus christ.

    November 18, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. magicpanties

    The teavangelicals will be relegated to a footnote in the dustbin of history.

    November 18, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. Herewe Goagain

    Note to therightneedshep:

    Just imagine the poison Mary is pouring into those kids against Liz and conservatives and christians. Mary is dead wrong on this and most issues.

    November 18, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Anonymous

    it is not marriage please do find another name for such a relation. such laws will distort the path of humanity into dark valleys and as it contradicts the conventional marriage I do affraid a time that they try to forbid what we know it as Marriage

    November 18, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. yogi

    "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."
    No, you don't, if you really love your sister you would completely support her. Your political career is more important, it is void of compassion, but nothing new here, the vast majority of your fellow GOP misses this essential quality in life.

    November 18, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. John Buchanan

    Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother , and cleave to his wife ; and the two shall become one flesh ? Jesus – Matthew 19 :4,5
    Seems pretty clear to me . Orientation is a concept created by those in a homosexual or lesbian lifestyle. Sorry Mary but you are on the wrong side of eternity . Marriage is between a man and a woman

    November 18, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. Xqzamoi

    For the record: Wyoming does not have a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage,it has failed each and every time. As a Wyoming lesbian I know who I will support and it will not be Cheney. She gravely underestimates the people of the Equality State when she makes promises to impede the rights of any individual including the Wyoming LGBT community.

    November 18, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. parvo00

    "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."

    Just throwing this out there for other people who feel compelled to put the same "disclaimer" on gestures of goodwill...

    When you say you love/care for/respect someone, adding a footnote about it being "the Christian thing to do" removes ALL authenticity from the statement.

    It's essentially saying "I love her and have always tried to be compassionate... because I have to."

    Love/care for/respect someone because you feel it and believe it *in your own heart*. Not through unthinking adherence to religious mores or in a bid to avoid eternal damnation.

    November 18, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. wendel

    while every repo is bashing the president for trying to bring quality healthcare to all Americans . The repo clowns are really showing their true colors bashing each other about issues that do not effect the whole country. Leave people alone. Instead of getting involved with peoples personal issues try helping the majority with health care immigration and Jobs.

    November 18, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. hkirwin

    "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,"
    ====================================================

    So you either agree or you are a racist bigoted pig that deserves to be drawn and quartered.....where is the love, where is the tolerance and respect for another's view?????????????????????????

    November 18, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. SomewhereinCanada

    This reminds me of the most selfish couple ever: Martina and Krista!!!!!!

    November 18, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. cedar rapids

    'Gay marriage does nothing but undermine and weaken the values of society. Our families are in enough trouble.'

    How does it? Its not as if the people in same sex marriages would actually decide to marry someone of the opposite sex if they weren't allowed to get married so how does it undermine values and how do you think it affects families?

    November 18, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Michael B

    Christianity did not invent marriage (neither did Judaism preceding it) so Christians should honestly just back off when it comes to this issue for the millionth time. They have no moral obligation nor right to blabber on about how Christianity does not support homosexuality 24/7.

    November 18, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. Arun

    Liz and daddy need to get lost!! How does daddy have the nerver to say the prez is lying when he, himself is the poster child for lying about the weapons of mass destruction, valerie plain, his role as vp in the enron downfall, giving haliburten billions in a no bid contest. Should I go on? The repubes are a joke of a party and need to be put out to pasture!!

    November 18, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. Foz-man

    " I believe that is the Christian way to behave"

    Right, because there can't be any other reason to love and support your sisteer. And if it were the Christian way to behave by stoning her, you'd do that.

    Pathetic.

    November 18, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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