November 17th, 2013
12:25 PM ET
1 year 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. mrs sharpe

    Liz Cheney's sister in law was being nice, Liz is talking from both sides of her mouth. She is only saying she doesn't support same sex marriage because she wants to win the election.

    November 18, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Mo

    Liz Cheney – "I love Mary very much. I love her family very much." (I just don't think that the "family" should exist in any legal sense.)

    You cannot respect people and simultaneously try to harm them. The "traditional" marriage crowd needs to stop fooling themselves that they can simultaneously claim that they have nothing against gay people, while advocating policies that hurt gay people.

    Hurting people who have done you no harm and intend you no harm is not a moral position. Having a book that says otherwise only means that the book is sophistry.

    November 18, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Jerry Okamura

    It is all a scam. This is not about marriage. Marriage is simply an agreement between two people who pledge to live together for the rest of their lives. No one can stop two people from making such a pledge to each other, and no one should stop two people from making such a pledge to each other. The only reason you need the government to recognize such a union, is to get the benefits that government will provide, when they recognize the union.

    November 18, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Church of Suicidal

    That's the way to make the GOP more appealing to the swing voters – keep accusing each other of being too tolerant (Fascist In Name Only).

    November 18, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Pianofan

    Liz Cheney is a typical political slimewad who will say and do anything to get elected.

    November 18, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. ChristopherM

    Funny how Mary and Heather weren't concerned about this issue when Mary was making six figures to promote candidates on the backs of the rest of us who are LGBT. The entire Bush reelection campaign strategy hinged on turnout by putting anti-gay ballot measures on in swing states. At least Liz is genuinely stomach-turning, unlike phony Aunt Mary.

    November 18, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Denise

    Hmmmmm......so Liz, why is your sister gay? This is a multiple choice quiz.......a) she was born that way; it is biological or b) you parents did such a atrocious job in parenting during her young life that she turned gay? Surely, if Dick hadn't been involved in so many dui's during her formulative years or getting yet another deferment from the war, she wouldn't be living such a heathen lifestyle.

    November 18, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. KBNJ

    "The couple have two children together.." Um, no, that would be a biological impossibility. I agree 100% with Liz – let the states decide the marriage issue, but make sure we as a country don't allow discrimination against someone because of their sexual choices. Best idea? Get rid of govt.-recognized marriage altogether. Out of our personal lives.

    November 18, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. sue

    OMG...the possibility of another conservative Cheney running their own version of politics is just down right scary. maybe she'll get her daddy a job in her cabinet and we can relive the nightmare years. just like deja voodoo all over again

    November 18, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Kinard

    Just the name (Cheney), makes my teeth ache. Can not figure out how the nation ever got so dumb, or lazy to vote for the likes of the Father or the daughter. But hey, just read that Eva's got a new boyfriend, so everything must be going right with the world. Inside these borders resides the dumbest population of people known to exist at this period of time in history.

    November 18, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. teLawrence

    HA! She doesn't even know how utterly HYPOCRITICAL her own statements are!

    'we love her' does not coincide well with "we are pained to see it become public" – ASHAMED, you mean!?!

    What utter garbage she spouts, while playing right into the hands of critics like a puppet on a string. They tease and she takes the bait, making it clear that this 'private' matter is shameful to her – she is ashamed of her own!

    Dick paved the way for this, of course. His brand of personal politics made it clear that personal lives are great grist for the mill and it is open season on any private facts of a family – they must be used for political gain, so Cheney seems to believe.

    Privately Ashamed and now Publicly Admitting that!

    November 18, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. scotty501

    They seem like a horrible cold family to me

    November 18, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Crashman

    Why do we care about this woman? She is so out of touch with America. She's the only person I've ever seen who makes her father look compassionate.

    November 18, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. yogi

    "I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them."
    The key word here is "tried", meaning that she tried but couldn't, it is not in her genetic make-up to be compassionate. Love without compassion is like a car without wheels, yes it is still a car, but......

    November 18, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. loving it

    @Mr Duckworth
    "... A ball is round, that's the definition, it some people want a ball to now be considered as also as square, then find another word for that, but don't redefine "Ball"… People with back bones stand up.."

    And declare that a football is not, infact, a "ball". A think a few million people would disagree with you.

    November 18, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. Dawn M. Berg

    You are a terrible sister and family...OM Goodness...Dick Cheney was a cheat and rifle bearing idiot....now, Liz is running for office and HOW DARE THEM USE THEIR OWN...sister and daughter to try to win office....How dare you people....You are no family.....SISTER or human beings....GO HOME

    November 18, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. spm

    @KBNJ
    you are wrong – they are married and do have children together. You do not have to be biologically related to both parents to have them be your parents. Ever heard of adoption??? (by one of both of the parents)

    November 18, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Bob Loblaw

    Liz Cheney: a chip off the old psychopathic block.

    November 18, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Jim

    She is running for senate in Wyoming. What else is she going to say?

    November 18, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @KBNJ " let the states decide the marriage issue,....Get rid of govt.-recognized marriage altogether. Out of our personal lives."

    So you thought the federal defense of marriage act was bad then, while it lasted?

    November 18, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. somethingstellar

    "I feel compassion for my sister and her family"

    Yes, too bad its not love you feel for your sister and her family. Quit acting like you're walking amongst the lepers. There's a huge difference between tolerance and compassion and love and hate to say it but the people who peddle to you stories of an invisible sky daddy lead you wrong my friend. Hope you see the light soon and ditch your false-love at the church you learned it from.

    November 18, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. somethingstellar

    "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,"

    There's actually a huge difference between love and compassion. When you really love someone, it doesn't take work to be compassionate. So its Christian to be nice to them but its still Christian to stomp all over their rights as human beings? Typical. Quit acting like you're walking among the lepers. You're not. You're just misguided and can't think for yourself. The people who peddled to you stories of your invisible sky daddy and his version of what love means lead you down a very very misguided path, and for that, most of US should feel compassion for YOU. Hope you'll see the light sometime in your next lifetimes if its too late for you in this one.

    Now that evolution HAS been observed in a lab, I hope the religious will start thinning out in record numbers starting soon.

    November 18, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. tom

    Dick Cheney is paying the price – the pain of family disharmony – for his political ideology. He deserves what he's getting. He will go to his grave knowing that thanks to his ideology, his daughters will never get along well or be there for each other. How sad.

    More important to him to pander to the Christian "right" who feel they have a God given right to dictate morality, than to teach by example, respect for all. Last time I read the bible, it said "Judge not". Yet many to claim to be Christians, love to judge others about issues (gay marriage) which does not hurt anyone.

    November 18, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. sassafras

    Liz Cheney did not attend the wedding. That says it all.

    November 18, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. SnafuBob

    Maybe they should go hunting with dear old dad, I'm sure a favorable outcome would happen.

    November 18, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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