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. Jim

    Let's get straight where the real intolerance lies – gay marriage radicals absolutely will not tolerate anyone who holds to a traditional view of marriage. They want to impose their view on the entire country. It's not OK, for example, that the populace of a given state can decide public policy on this issue. Now, they are demanding to impose their beliefs on any state, no matter the will of the people. More radicalism is coming, which will make this issue a litmus test for many cherished freedoms, including speech (which will become hate speech), being able to hold public office irrespective of religious belief, and being able to worship and raise your children without fear of discrimination.

    November 17, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Mary Grant

    Come on. Haven't they wrung all the publicity that's permissible out of this so-called feud? Do you all really believe that this isn't totally scripted?

    November 17, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Joe

    The simple fact is that Liz Cheney care more about winning her Senate race than she does about her own family. That is the brutal truth and it is pathetic.

    November 17, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. chet

    There is a big difference between love of a sister and supporting her choices and believing in same sex marriage even if your sister is gay. The belief of one's inner beliefs do run into and counter to what is going on around you but you do not stop caring for your own sister. If you don't get it then you are just as bad as a basher of gays. She has a right to believe as she does and that is that, it is her gay sister that doesn't get it.

    November 17, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. ted

    Can't the Cheney's just go away? Dick did enough damage to the US and the world all by himself. And now Liz wants to see what she can do. Great.

    November 17, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. shawbrooke

    Plenty of people have relatives, friends and colleagues they disagree with and mostly people agree to disagree. Yes there are gray lines where each persons right to their own views cross and some accommodations must be made. Liz is walking that gray line on the open side by continuing to be a sister and aunt since family is important to her, and maybe someday Mary will provide the same openness to Liz. But apparently not today.

    Forcing people to change their voiced opinions due to the force of law is the last resort of those who and against diversity and only accept others who agree with them. That isnt freedom.

    November 17, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Pete

    blood is thicker than water except in the cheney family. if they'll sell out their own family for political gain what will they do to your family? unfortunately we've already seen it.

    November 17, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Catherine

    I find it highly hypocritical for Mary and her wife/husband??? whichever to want to have the right to their belief system but not allow Liz her right to her belief system.

    November 17, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  9. PEter

    The lesbians will always defend the lesbians. Gays need to understand that they cannot force down their beliefs down the throat of everybody and then call them a bigot if they refuse to accept they way of life.

    November 17, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Terry D

    The family Thanksgiving dinner should prove interesting.

    November 17, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Crosswinds

    As close as the family bond is, the bond between Christ and believers, should be stronger........and when loyalties are challenged, the believer must remain steadfast in there faithfulness to Christ.........
    Matthew 10:34-36........

    34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

    November 17, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Richard

    I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to have Dick Cheney in the family. I can just hear him saying (with echo effects), "I am your father. Come to the Dark Side."

    November 17, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. MJW

    The likes of Liz Cheney and Ted Cruz do not belong in government. Their hate and negative attitude will not work to create a cohesive government. If she cannot get along with her own family how will she work with people of a different party. We really need people who can work together to strengthen government not tear it down. Liz Cheney is not that person, she is too much like her father. Her reason for wanting to be in the senate is purely devisive and a personal agenda.

    November 17, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. tet1953

    Ok they may be legally married, and have a child. However, they did not have a child together. They parent a child together, yes.

    November 17, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. twalk

    Liz is going to be exactly like her father; evil.

    November 17, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. bla

    Um, Mary: You are on the wrong side of "science", lol. I don't think two girl parts work together, the stick goes in the hole I do believe. These strange and twisted nuts think their perversions are natural and something we should tolorate. Dream on, I will never condone or give gays any kind of approval for their mental health issues. They need a doctor, not a pat on the back.

    November 17, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. JackBeHumble

    The Senate race in Wyoming is not a national referendum. only the opinions of the citizens of that state, and only those who actually vote in the election will count.

    Regardless of who wins that Senate seat, we will be able to learn a lot about people of Wyoming from the outcome.

    November 17, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  18. SDCinNS

    Congrats to Liz for not caving to political correctness. Hope she's elected in a landslide.

    November 17, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Tell the Truth

    So once again gays think they own the moral high ground and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong. They've whined and snivelled about freedom of choice and finally got it -- now they want everyone ELSE to give up THEIR freedom of choice to keep them happy.
    Sorry but they are selfish people who have no regard for decency!

    November 17, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  20. So one apple bounced far away from the diseased tree it sprang from

    It's sister apple fell right at the foot of the diseased tree and has now put down its own diseased roots.

    Republicanism is a DISEASE that needs to be eradicated once and for all.

    November 17, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Jason B

    So Ms. Cheney, what other rights should be left to the states? Perhaps women's rights? Civil rights? Voting rights?

    November 17, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  22. Rasheed

    Sorry, folks, call me backward or a bigot. What's wrong is wrong. The digestive system never brought about reproduction. Sexual pleasure is a reward in advance for the responsibility of having and raising kids. These folks want to get paid without having to work. That doesn't happen in a fair world. The US and many other advanced countries are headed for ruin not because of any scripture saying so, but by common sense, by underpopulation. The death alternative for a trait is being artificially selected for. Others will come and inherit this land. OK with me, because those who control this land aren't from here anyway!

    November 17, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Forbetter Orworse

    Because the "state" or "condition" of being "gay" is now permanently "legal" in this country and subject to all of the protections and rights of any other minority, I believe gay marriage should also be legalized. It's a perfectly Christian ideal to nurture a monogamous union between two people who are in love; irrespective of the nature of their exceedingly private and personal sexuality.

    November 17, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  24. LogicInStyle

    Liz Cheney is a family values kinda candidate. She values family so much she betrays the love of her own sister.

    November 17, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. riddick state

    Liz Cheney will not win in a state like Wyoming supporting gay marriage. She is doing what all characterless politicians do and turning on her own sister to achieve victory. Even Dick Cheney (named appropriately) uber conservative loves his daughter Mary enough to want her to be in a loving, recognized relationship.

    November 17, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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