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. QS

    Typical of "Christian compassion" – conditional doesn't even begin to describe it.

    Why are religious people so ignorant about this? If you are against gay marriage because of your indoctrination, fine...but don't pretend to be happy for friends or family who are gay and married while hypocritically still believing that at any given moment you would support those marriages and families being destroyed!

    Religion and conservatism tend to walk hand-in-hand....over other people. Not surprising though, as both rely and are wholly dependent on discrimination disguised as "tradition" in order to exist.

    November 18, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. QS

    Typical of "Christian compassion" – conditional doesn't even begin to describe it.

    November 18, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. Joe Plumber

    She supports and loves her sister's family, but is out there speaking against gay marriage because that's the only way you can win a GOP primary. Sad.

    November 18, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Carol

    Some people aren't capable of loving fully. Liz is a product of her time, and her political beliefs. Mary is herself, and needs no apology for being born who she is. We are all equal, and until the time that political, and religious zealots can face that truth people will keep on voting and hurting each other in this country.

    November 18, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. tom

    Actually it sounds like the family is handling it very well. They show a level of caring and mutual respect that is admirable for ANY family. It's the press that seems to be trying to make a story where one doesn't exist. I really miss the days of legitimate journalism.

    November 18, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain: Hey, GOP, where's our $24 billion reimbursement check?

    @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."

    It's called artificial insemination with a male donor. And because they are legally married, they both have legal custody of their children.


    November 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Aurthor

    If you are going to try to shove your daughter into a closet that is no better than holding her captive.

    November 18, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. c

    Gay marriage does nothing but undermine and weaken the values of society


    No Dan, straight marriave ending in divorce has done more to do that than gay marriage ever will. How about we get rid of that?

    November 18, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Steve

    Not long in our countries history blacks were not equal, women were not equal. Neither were allowed to votem even worse they were abuse by the very people that now ask for their votes. What is different about being black, a woman, or for that mater gay? Equal rights is equal rights for all. And just so evryone knows I am a married man (27 years), white, and a recovering republican.

    November 18, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Jeb

    Cheney is just trying to appeal to the GOP base: Old White Bigots

    November 18, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. steve

    Was studying romans the other day in the bible and came across Romans 1:15-32. It perfectly describes the USA. God help us.. 🙂

    November 18, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Strangways

    Cheney was "pained"? so... he has feelings? who knew?

    November 18, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. petroskies

    that are not compassion issue , that are immoral , dirty, ugly , abominable issue inside the conservative people like the republicans has to deal , don't care what kind of close we are with that immoral human being , we are suppose to repel that immoral deviations , that the law from our Lord says , not question about we had to expel that plague from our lives.

    November 18, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. Just me

    Quick, turn the attention to the republicans because we can't cover up our mess anymore.

    November 18, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  15. Shelia

    Everyone is on the wrong side of history as to why the government even controls marriage at all..Ridicules that governments are involved in the privacy of relationships.. why is marriage even an issue when religion made it up.. What is the point of marriage to an atheist

    November 18, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. Shelia

    In today's modern age there is no reason to care about legitimate children maybe people need to move forward

    November 18, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  17. Randy

    Liz is 100% right. And Mary is wrong. Once you define marriage as merely between adults with no rules as to who those adults can be, then ANYTHING goes. And conservatives understand this. It's quite simple, actually.

    November 18, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. twalk

    if Cheney is elected into office the voters of Wyoming need to have their heads checked. Liz is going to be just like her father; evil. She defends her father when he is/was wrong, then criticizes other politicians.

    November 18, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  19. Larry B.

    We need more Cheneys in office like we need more of the Bush family. This woman is a carpetbagger and does not deserve public office and trust.

    November 18, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  20. NeoKat1

    Liz is NOT disrespecting her sister. Absolutely not! Why can't Liz's beliefs be respected??

    November 18, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  21. Michael

    She loves her sister, but she just loves her political career a LOT more. So much so that she's willing to publicly stab her sister in the back.

    Even if I agreed with her on this particular issue, I wouldn't be able to vote for her. If she turns on her own family so quickly, why would I ever believe that she would be loyal to the people who voted for her?

    November 18, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. Reasonable Descent

    Dear Cheneys:

    To say, "This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public." means that you never dealt with it in private. You only sound like you wanted to keep things in the closet.

    November 18, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. catheriine

    Just because a political star's daughter is gay does not mean it's right.

    November 18, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. MDL

    Lol! Libs are having a fit

    November 18, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. Fool me thrice??

    I thought NeoCons were all about family values. I guess selling out on your own family is OK if it garners you a few votes. Disgusting.

    November 18, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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