There is discord in the family of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney today after daughter Liz Cheney reasserted her strong opposition to marriage equality in an interview on Fox News.
Liz, the elder of his two daughters, is currently mounting a primary challenge to Wyoming Republican U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, running to his right and attempting to outflank him on key conservative issues. In an appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that some of Ms. Cheney's critics have accused her of flip-flopping on LGBT issues like marriage discrimination and workplace protections in order to attract more conservative voters. He asked her to clarify her views, and she responded that she "[believes] in the traditional definition of marriage."
Wallace pointed out that Liz Cheney's position puts her at odds with her younger sister Mary, an out lesbian who married her wife and long-term partner Heather Poe last year in D.C. Mary, also a Republican, is an outspoken supporter of marriage equality and has been credited with inspiring her father's famous evolution on the issue.
This summer, Mary said Liz was "dead wrong" on same-sex marriage. The elder Cheney responded on Fox yesterday: "I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree."
Needless to say, Liz Cheney's "I love you and your family, but I don't support your marriage" thing did not go over well.
According to the New York Times, watching Fox News Sunday is part of Mary and Heather's weekly ritual, so they were watching live when Liz made her anti-gay comments. They were livid and hurt, and Heather vented her frustrations on Facebook. She wrote:
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.
Heather's "moving from state to state" comment refers to Liz Cheney's opportunistic relocation from northern Virginia to Wyoming just in time to run for Enzi's Senate seat. The elder Cheney had already been facing accusations of carpetbagging, but his is one of the sharpest barbs yet.
Mary agreed with Heather's critique, sharing the above status message and adding that Liz is "on the wrong side of history":
The New York Times reports that up until Liz Cheney's Senate campaign, Mary assumed that her elder sister shared their father's views on marriage equality because Liz had always been supportive of her and Heather and the couple's two children. She found out otherwise in August, and the two previously-close siblings haven't spoken since. Mary says reconciliation is "impossible" as long as Liz continues clinging to her discriminatory views.
"'What amazes me is that she says she's running to be a new generation of leader,' Mary Cheney said, citing her 47-year-old sister's slogan in her campaign against Mr. Enzi, 69. 'I'm not sure how sticking to the positions of the last 20 or 30 years is the best way to do that.'
"...Mary Cheney, who is a longtime political consultant, said she would continue to raise the matter. Reminded by a reporter that such criticism could complicate her sister's Senate campaign, Mary Cheney offered a clipped answer reminiscent of her father's terse style. 'O.K.,' she said, before letting silence fill the air."
The ongoing feud between the Cheney sisters is reportedly a source of great anxiety for their parents, and it appears likely to spill over into the holiday season: the entire Cheney clan plans to gather in Wyoming for Christmas, but Mary says she "will not be seeing" her anti-gay sister.
A commenter on Mary Cheney's Facebook post tried to draw an equivalency and call for a truce, writing, "Can't you all just accept Liz's [anti-equality] position and remain lovingly tolerant? She has your opinion, you have yours." Mary's response? Hell no.
This isn't like a disagreement over grazing fees or what to do about Iran. There isn't a lot of gray here. Either you think all families should be treated equally or you don't. Liz's position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That's not a position I can be "lovingly tolerant" towards.
Amen, sister. While I disagree with Mary Cheney on nearly every political issue, I have to give her kudos here for not backing down and holding her sister accountable for her anti-LGBT views.