Cheney Sisters Battle Publicly Over Same-Gender Marriage

By Chris Hoenig

(L-R) Liz Cheney, Mary Cheney, Heather Poe

There’s a family feud so deep in a former Vice President’s family that two sisters aren’t speaking, except through the media.

The feud between Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her younger sister, Mary Cheney, began when Liz Cheney took a hardline stance against gay marriage after announcing her candidacy earlier this year for a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming. Mary Cheney is a lesbian and saw Liz Cheney’s latest remarks while watching FOX News Sunday with her wife in Virginia.

“I love Mary very much, I love her family very much, but this is just an issue where we disagree,” Liz Cheney told host Chris Wallace. Mary Cheney took to Facebook, responding, “Liz—this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong—and on the wrong side of history.”

“What amazes me is that she says she’s running to be a new generation of leader,” Mary Cheney told The New York Times in a phone interview. “I’m not sure how sticking to the positions of the last 20 or 30 years is the best way to do that.”

Heather Poe, Mary Cheney’s wife, also fired back at the Senate candidate. “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,” Poe wrote on Facebook. “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.”

Liz Cheney would not respond directly to her sister’s and sister-in-law’s remarks, instead sending out a statement via email. “I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate toward them,” she wrote. “I believe that is the Christian way to behave.” Cheney told the FOX News show that she does support the federal recognition of benefits for LGBT couples and is against a constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage, but that the definition of marriage should be left up to individual states and she is personally against same-gender marriage.

The comments from Liz Cheney break from the rest of her family’s stance on same-gender marriage. “I think freedom means freedom for everybody,” Dick Cheney told Barbara Walters in a 2011 appearance on The View. “And you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation. I certainly don’t have a problem with it.”

The sisters have reportedly not spoken since the summer because of Liz Cheney’s stance.

Controversial Campaign

The very public family feud is not the only negative publicity that Cheney has dealt with since announcing her candidacy. She has also been accused of being a carpetbagger for trying to win a Senate seat in a state that she left when she was 12 years old and didn’t move back to until 2012.

“I am a fourth-generation Wyomingite. My family first came here in 1852, walking the Mormon Trail in search of religious freedom. My great-grandfather settled here in 1907. Wyoming has always been home,” Cheney told The Hill in July. “In my experience, people who launch the carpetbagger charge do so to avoid talking about issues and substance. I intend to run a campaign worthy of the people of Wyoming, focused on policy and how we can defend the values that have made this state and nation great.”

She is running a primary campaign against three-term Republican incumbent Mike Enzi, with a more right-wing platform that she hopes will help her attract more conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts.

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