November 17th, 2013
12:25 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. al

    Just what the country needs. Another psycho Cheney in office. Wasn't one crook from that family enough?

    November 18, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Sturm & drang signifying nothing

    Good for Mary Cheney – she is right & Liz is wrong. Fortunately Liz has zero chance of winning in 2014 and has probably disqualified herself from winning any future office in Wyoming.

    November 18, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. David

    She's for "traditional definition of marriage" what tradition? Biblical? How many camels and sheep did Dick "this is MY new heart" Cheney get for his "traditionally" married, ignorant daughter?

    November 18, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Erik Smith

    Wake up, people. This manufactured "controversy" is totally artificial. It was designed to bolster Liz Cheney's bona fides as a social conservative in the face of attacks on her position on marriage equality. Who benefits from this public catfight? Why, strangely enough the answer is Liz Cheney.

    November 18, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. charliesix

    The couple has "two children together." I would not be surprised a man and a woman having two children together but two women? Such dishonesty in so-called "journalism."

    November 18, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. juanmoretime

    "It is a very American value to pursue equality for everyone," I guess that would include my dog.

    November 18, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Chris

    Yeah this should explain how tight knit this family is. Shunning a daughter because she has a different set of urges...sad world folks.

    November 18, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Kris

    Some issues don't have a right and wrong answer for everyone, especially faith-based issues where no amount of evidence can be presented to prove that one position is correct. This is one of these issues. If you are a conservative, you are in-electable in most cases if you support gay marriage. It's tough being a politician and having to lie about your true feelings and opinions on issues, but it does come with the territory.

    November 18, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Thomas

    .....zzzzzzzzzzzz......Oh the gay marriage issue rearing it's ugly head again. How many times have I reminded LGBT's that your so-called "life style" is an abomination in the site of our Father in Heaven. REPENT! Come unto Jesus Christ and keep His commandments.

    November 18, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Adam

    Waaah I can't impose my will on you anymore waaah. Poor Christians 🙁 Gay marriage is coming. Don't like it? Don't get one. And all this talk about gay people "imposing" their will? Uhh...what? How is gay marriage imposing on your right to worship sky people and do all the other silly, useless things you do? Look at it this way: Personally, I have a big problem with religion. It wastes time and resources, and I think you'd have to be deranged (or just very, very stupid) to believe in all that crap. But do I try to get it banned? No. Because it DOESN'T AFFECT ME. Get over yourselves.

    November 18, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation, especially by responding only indirectly.

    Try not to be evasive like the rest of the world is, when it comes to enlightenment of your own kids when on serious life issues

    November 18, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Open mouth, insert foot. Given another few years of our LGBTQ movement, time and time again, we see the shift in right ofpoliticians seeking majority vote, as times change, as society changes from within the fabric of family ties. It is disheartening but true, and so obvious in their blatant disregard of how their leading of bullying has had a daily impact on us all, with all the death, destruction and on going oppression worldwide. In a court of law, negligence causing death is a serious 'real' matter. If you think you are not responsible, then you are as blind as the other bullying ignoramus ones. Blind to the truth of all the harm LGBTQ community witnesses and survives thru, where many of us die. We are all connected. When your own beloved are impacted badly, then you wake up to this truth, all too often...too late. Changing tomorrow starts TODAY.

    November 18, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. howard yonet

    I nominate liz cheney as the most unreal personality of the year. I wonder how she got that way?

    November 18, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Jonathon Powelly

    Don't ya just luv the Cheneys?

    November 18, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Michael A

    I, for one, side with Liz. I also believe in the traditional definition of marriage. It's just too bad there isn't enough compassion in disagreement. It seems the hate is coming from those who vehemently claim they are being hated. 🙁

    November 18, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Adam

    Holy heck talk about some interesting family dinners!

    November 18, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. aasii

    So, she wants to be a Senator but pick and choose whom she wish to represent. Anyone vote for her should be shamed...

    November 18, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. bailee

    Anything to win an election . . .that's a Cheney!!

    November 18, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Adam

    Why doesn't this Mary run? I like her and her wife I think...

    November 18, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Name Teresa Eagan-Morrison

    Who in the world does Liz Chaney think she is.... Mary Chaney deserves her sisters "respect" .... not her "compassion."

    November 18, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. Kaitlin Dunning

    She should be ashamed of herself. How do they publicly shame their own daughter and encourage her sister to act as if Mary is the family blemish. Shame on them all.

    November 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. gahh

    There goes the Wyoming neighborhood, if nut Liz Cheney wins. Like Daddy, like daughter, lie, steal, cheat, start wars, and make Halliburton as wealthy, as possible, using taxpayer dollars.

    November 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. resident

    "Freedom for everyone" (as long as "freedom" means that I can do what pleases me at this moment in time and everyone that doesn't like it can take a hike!")


    November 18, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. Kay

    I really don't see the "big" news here. Many siblings love each other but disagree on many important issues. All this says to me is that even rich and well known people have everyday squabbles. They just need to make sure those issues don't take priority over their love for each other.

    November 18, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. S. Dabby

    I am dismayed that Liz Cheney chose to make hurtful comments directed at her sister and her family.Couldn't Liz just not say anything? Or is Wyoming a single issue state favoring the most anti-gay candidate?

    November 18, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
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