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. Malory Archer

    lizzy really needs to lay of the haterade. It's really taking it's toll. All that hate and ugly has burst through to the surface and started to affect her physical appearance.

    November 18, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Dave

    Liz holds a reasoned and fair position on this issue. The politics of the subject are being amplified because of the intrafamily differences. Really, who cares what Mary's "wife" thinks?? This entire controversy revolves around government benefits afforded married people because of the real positive effects on society resulting from traditional marriage. Perhaps the time has come to consider removing all reference to marriage from the public arena. Traditional marriage will do fine, and the entire non-traditional marriage movement will likely vaporize in the absence of monetary rewards that come with government recogniiton.

    November 18, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. Malory Archer


    "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,"

    So you either agree or you are a racist bigoted pig that deserves to be drawn and quartered.....where is the love, where is the tolerance and respect for another's view?????????????????????????


    I'm sorry, I've read and re-read Mayr Chene's comment and fail to see the part where she accuses her sister of being "a racist bigoted pig that deserves to be drawn and quartered". Can you point out the passage where she does that?

    November 18, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. I AM

    All we need is love.

    November 18, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Sammy

    Liz Cheney, like her father, puts politics over family. That is the way Tea Party members act. They don't care about love or human life. It all about winning, nasty campaigning. Liz will lose like all Tea Party candidates need too. Liz is on the wrong side of history in the making.

    November 18, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Rich

    Getting tired of this whole argument. Government has no business being involved in this anyway. I am a Christian, and for Christians marriage is based on a life-long relationship between a man and a woman who bear and raise children. The two make vows to each other before God; government has nothing to do with it. We should not have marriage licenses. If two Americans want to have some sort of "marriage" between them, regardless of gender, fine. The government simply needs to define laws for civil unions and get out of the "marriage" business completely. And the rest of us need to be respectful of each other. Stop trying to force gay "marriage" down the throats of those of us who are deeply offended by the concept, and we in return should accept the fact that others can live as they choose.

    And sorry Mary, Liz is not "wrong" nor is she on the wrong side of history.

    November 18, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Fish

    Apparently judging people is a Cheney family trait, who gave them the right to say what is right or wrong??? We should all be concerned with simply living our own lives instead of dictating the lives of others!!!

    November 18, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. hee2

    @yogi That is not fair to say she does love love her because she has different perspectives on life issues. How one concludes what they beleive should not be intertwined with how one feels about a sibling. All she is saying is that you can have any kind of relationship you want but she is not in support of the federal govenrment catergorizing it as a marriage. That definaition has already been taken , and any new relationships should not be folded in if they do not meet the criteria already defined. She is ok with the union and the legal rights associated with it just not comfortable with calling it a "marriage". She can still care and have love for her sibling, but just because one chooses to play the game different does not mean everyone has to play it that way also. Don't rewrite my rules and i won't rewrite yours. Her sister says she is on the wrong side of histgory – that may well be true – but the does not compell her to dismiss her own convictions simply to buy in to a movement that rips at her core values. Mary is not being fair and her mate is also very selfish and unreasonable. It's like a salesman that offers to sell you something and when you refuse you are wrong for not wanting to buy it or even like it. Freedom to believe is the choice that history has preserved for us and it should not be leveraged simply because Mary wants to promote her own agenda. Hey and guess what – I am a liberal (democrat), but i feel strongly about the traditional definition of marriage.

    November 18, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. yogi

    republicans believe in freedom ,they will just choose the ones you can have
    Perfect post!

    November 18, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Kazuki

    So Rich its ok for you to force your ideals down the throats of others but its not ok for anyone else?

    November 18, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Vicki

    Mary is intolerant of others, period. If her sister doesn't agree, she is "just wrong", really?. How do you raise children to think for themselves in this situation?. Are Mary's children being raised to believe that if someone disagrees with them, they are wrong?. What can you point to Mary, to defend that position?. Certainly not the Bible. As Christians we are to love everyone, that doesn't mean that we agree with them or have to accept their beliefs as truth, we are just to love them. What is absolutely truth is that many who want to cram their beliefs down everyones throats and force them to be tolerant of their beliefs, are extremely intolerant themselves.

    November 18, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. John

    Liz Cheney would show more character by standing up for her family. It's kind of sickening that she would publicly denounce her own sister just to scrape up a few more votes. Her father had courage but she obviously does not. It is unfortunate that most politicians just say whatever they think is likely to get them elected.

    November 18, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. one_way

    marriage = one man + one woman

    November 18, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. Vicki

    Fish, really?. So you never judge anyone, ever?. Your kids can come home with a gang-banger on their arm and you just zip-your-lip because you are not ever judgmental?. C-mon, that is not possible, we are to judge, but not hate and disagreeing with a persons decisions is natural and acceptable providing it doesn't lead to hatefulness towards that person.

    November 18, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Anonymous

    The greastest pitfall of all is 'lack' of insight into how potentially damaging political and spiritual segregation can be to a young persons self-esteem, especially if they looked up to church and state leaders for many years of their naive early life, in seeing them as wise, but in truth are not wise at all. In fact....they are unwisely dangerous....the statistics on gay lesbian youth suicides of age 15-24 reveal this truth. Perhaps only when their own beloved family member dies, do they humble themselves to explore answers to why? Forefather mad flood of ignoramus fateful snares are leading in death, destruction and oppression of your beloved, in all your useless absurd shortsighted bullying by church and state. It is NOT forgivable. Nor should it ever be. May none of you fully realize this truth at your beloved child's funeral. Wise are you who pay heed to one offering you advice.

    November 18, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  16. jeannie

    for all the people saying this is just a difference of opinion that Liz shouldn't be taken to task for... Mary's "opinion" hurts no one – no one at all. Liz's "opinion" are part of her political stance in an effort to gain political power can and do hurt people by denying to others the rights that she enjoys. What part of this is hard for you?

    This country is not ruled by your holy books. Marriage is a legal contract in this country at this time and can be also a religious one, but does not have to be.

    November 18, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. Vicki

    John, so Liz is supposed to NOT speak her opinion because it doesn't coincide with yours or her sisters?. And for that, you think she only is doing it for votes?.

    November 18, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Harry Balzac

    LOL!!! This is humorous! I cannot believe that so many "intelligent progressives" *yeah right* do not realize that this is a staged argument. And the incredibly warped and self-serving deviants are very quick to attack anyone who disagrees with their revision of marriage and normalcy. Keep jumping through hoops you attention junkies and screw-anything-that-moves crowd. So what is next on the PC agenda? Legalize pedophilia and bestiality? Progressive drones are a joke.

    November 18, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. FrenchChef

    Well, that's "family values" for you–an anti-gay attacks her own sister!

    November 18, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. pj

    "The couple have two children together – a son, Samuel, and a daughter, Sarah."

    No they don't, that is biologically impossible. Last time I checked, it takes a man and a woman to have children together.

    November 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. RichardLB

    It's a shame that Liz isn't allowed to have her own opinion. "Dead wrong?" I don't think so.. why is it that she gets beaten up for having an opinion AND being open minded? Who's being the bully here?

    November 18, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. BobJackson

    The sad truth is that no one is allowed to have an opinion anymore without running a very real risk of being attacked. There's always someone waiting to tell you your opinion is wrong, as if that person's opinion carries any more weight than your own. If Liz feels a certain way, she's allowed. If Mary and her partner feel a certain way, they're allowed. If their state recognizes them as a couple who can share benefits and they want to participate in that, that's their right, under the state's law. That doesn't mean that even her sister isn't allowed to disagree, nor does it mean the sister can't disagree and still care for Mary and her family. The pigheaded self righteous indignation over someone having an opinion that differs from your own has to stop. We get no where with such closed mindedness. Social media allow people to surround themselves with like-minded people, and develop a mob mentality toward those who disagree with them. Further, social media provide a medium in which people are conditioned to believe that their every thought and opinion has value, and that they not only have a right but an obligation to spew forth thoughts and opinions that are often best kept private. That goes for everyone, including me.

    November 18, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Bob

    Lots of posts seem to think that two people marrying is somehow "imposing" their views on others. Or "Cramming" Or something.

    Let me get this straight: Legally prohibiting a marriage is OK, no "imposing" or "Cramming", right? At the same time, two people getting married, and having nothing to do with YOU or YOUR marriage, that's somehow "imposing"?

    Don't approve of gay marriage? Then don't marry a gay person.


    November 18, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Vicki

    Anonymous, raise strong children who believe in themselves and are responsible for themselves. Because I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman certainly doesn't mean that I am responsible for the suicidal actions of anyone. Drug addicts also commit suicide. Am I also responsible for that , since I don't believe people should take drugs?. C-mon, you act as though if I disagree with anything and a person on the other side of that disagreement commits suicide, its my fault?.

    Jeannie, As an adult, I enjoy the right to drink alcohol if I choose, my kids do not as they are not of age. Does that mean that I am hurting my kids by denying them the same rights I enjoy?. The great thing is that if left up to the states, we can move if we don't like the states decision, regardless of which side of the argument you're on.

    November 18, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Sanely Insane

    Folks, all I see in these forums are hatred and insults, so I'm going to inject some sanity.

    The VERY simple truth is this is the land of the free. This means that all of it's citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights. We can't say "Come to America, where all are free. Except for ." The LGBT community have just as much claim to the rights of marriage as a straight couple. Period. It doesn't matter what the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, or the walls in the Great Pyramid say. Legally, marriage is the joining of two adults. There is nothing in the law about a man and a woman, which means gay marriage is legal. The Federal government can't change that, only the individual states can (and that is mandated through the Constitution of the United States).
    Religion has no place in law for a reason; the results are oppression, tyranny, and hatred for specific groups. History has shown this time and again.

    November 18, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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