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. Donnie Avery

    GLBT lie, deceive and betray everyone including themselves as they try to make the "parts" fit. Basic basic basic anatomical science shows us that the parts do not fit. I speak from experience as I once lived as a GLBT activist for over 20 years. I lied, decieved and betrayed all others into feeling sorry for me b/c I did not have the same rights as them. I did not live responsibly.

    November 17, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. guest

    They are NOT, NOT, NOT married!!!!!!!

    November 17, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. Patriot919

    Most people have no problem with any two (or more) people legally bonding for life. For thousands of years "marriage" has been the term for the legal bonding of a man and woman. Come up with different terms to cover other legal bondings.

    November 17, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  4. Lone Ranger

    And when all the Cheneys were asked where they’d spend eternity if they had to go tomorrow
    Without batting an eye everyone of them said…with the lost souls of Sodom & Gomorrah !!!

    November 17, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. snomannn

    Not to worry, Heather and Mary. Liz is just saying this stuff so she can win the election in Wyoming. Once she's in office everything will be fine again and who knows, she may even push for your rights in her state too.

    November 17, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. ladies first

    anything for attenion Seriously grow up so not feeling the tune thats being played on & on & on WE HAVE ISSUES THAT NEED SOLVED KIDDIES

    November 17, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  7. snomannn

    Don't worry Heather, once Liz wins the election in Wyoming everything will get back to normal, to the way it was. She just has to convince the big ranchers that this is how she really, really, really feels.

    November 17, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. Mikie

    Alright this is for democrats and independents out there not for republicans. I know that you republicans would vote for Satan if he had an (R) in front of his name and you probably actually like what Liz did. But to the rest of the country that are not insufferable bigots do you really want to vote for someone that would turn her back on her sister in order to further her political career?

    November 17, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Sroz

    I don't see why we can't have several kinds of "marriage" – leaving the word itself to the traditional, religious, legally contractual union. How about non-contractual religious unions, same-sex contractual unions, same-sex non-contractual unions, non-religious contractual unions, etc.. with a different name for each. I think it's the use of the word "marriage" that bothers a lot of people. Also disconcerting is the use of the words "husband" and "wife". They seem inaccurate and unwieldy in same-sex unions. English is a flexible language.

    November 17, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  10. peick

    I have to ask it: How on earth to two women have "two children together?" I think what the article meant was, they brought two children from other relationships or they adopted, used artificial insemination, etc. Come on, are we that naïve?

    November 17, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  11. PtBarnumBoy

    I hope Liz and Mary don't have any quail hunts planned.

    November 17, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    "Have two children together...." What a joke.

    November 17, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. TruthandConsequence

    The only right side to history is history itself...and that is for thousands of years all human society has recognized and honored marriage as an institution between men and women. At no time, except in the last dozen years or so, have homosexuals been "married" nor their dependents considered "children"...since all knowledgeable humans are aware that homosexuals do not breed children. Homosexuality has been around for thousands of years, if society ever thought it was good idea to enjoin them in "marriage", they would have done so thousands of years ago. And, it is still a bad idea. There simply is no point in undermining the single most important foundation of human society to please a political interest group...which, despite its claims, has no interest in sexual "equality" among all aberrant sexual behavior.....and that is assuming it is a good idea...which it is not.

    November 17, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. Robert Smith

    Why does it have to be stabbing someone in the back? Why does it have to disintegrate into name-calling and bitter fighting? Why can't two people just disagree and be done with it? Homosexuality is a choice. A sin. An Abomination. Period. That's the way person one feels. I was born this way. It's normal for me. That's how person two feels. Those two disagree. It happens on all sorts of subjects but this one sparks such hatred, bitterness and rudeness in people. I just don't get it...

    November 17, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  15. Liquidus

    Don't forget about the +1,000 legal benefits and rights same-sex couples are denied because they cannot get married in their state or won't be recognized on the federal level. Land of the free indeed!

    November 17, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  16. Kris

    Whenever the GOP knows it's fundamentally, constitutionally, and for all other purposes, -wrong-, their patent reply is "Leave it to the states".

    November 17, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. wut!?!

    Just the name "Cheney" dooms Liz and the fact that she refuses to be a woman of intelligence and admit that homosexual citizens in this country should be allowed to marry and have the same rights as she enjoys as an American. Who does she think she is?!? . . . dissing her own sister on her sexuality, nationally, to appease the greedy, moronic teabagging tribe she caters to. She doesn't stand a chance at winning the election; not when she's the evil spawn of Darth Vader.

    November 17, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  18. Catherine

    Why does Mary's right to her belief override Liz's right to her belief. Both have the same freedom of speech.

    November 17, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  19. Catherine

    Guess only libs have freedom of speech on this story 🙁

    November 17, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. adibese

    There's MORE of them?

    November 18, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. Jerry in Canada

    Liz Cheney should divorce her sister, if there is such a thing, aka, cut all ties. The homosexual Mary is a cancer to Liz's political future. And yes, she is very much a Tea party person, which makes her very popular right now, considering the Tea was right and Obama has been proven to be a lier and has robbed people of their healthcare.

    November 18, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  22. LouieD

    Pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, makes no difference. Both of them are daughters of someone who makes Satan look like Mr. Rogers. Better to play it safe and not elect any of his relatives to office.

    November 18, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  23. thenitenurse

    There's always a daddy's favorite in any family.

    November 18, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  24. BUD

    Sad that a sister would turn on her sister because of politics.

    November 18, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  25. miscreantsall

    Liz has that death – evil look in her eyes like her dad………….

    There is no soul behind those eyes……..

    November 18, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
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