Dick Cheney's daughters Liz and Mary, a lesbian, feud over gay rights

Row between siblings erupts over social media as politically ambitious Liz attacks same-sex marriage in public row with lesbian sister Mary

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 3:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 3:19am


They were the two sisters who tagged along on campaigns, polite and smiling as their father, former vice-president Dick Cheney, rose through Wyoming and then Washington politics to become one of the most powerful men in the United States.

"We were as close as sisters can be," recalled Mary Cheney of her relationship with her older sister, Liz.

But now, a feud between the two has spilled into public view, involving social media, an angry same-sex spouse, a high-profile election and a father who feels uncomfortably caught between his two children.

The situation has deteriorated so much that the two sisters have not spoken since the summer. The whole fuss threatens to get in the way of something their father desperately wants - a US Senate seat for Liz.

Things erupted on Sunday when Mary Cheney, a lesbian, and her wife were at home watching Fox News Sunday - their usual weekend ritual.

Liz Cheney appeared on the show and said she opposed same-sex marriage, describing it as "just an area where we disagree", referring to her sister.

Hurt and taken aback, Mary Cheney took to her Facebook page to blast back: "Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."

But then Mary Cheney's wife, Heather Poe, went further, touching on Liz Cheney's relocation from northern Virginia to Wyoming to seek office.

"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," Poe wrote on her Facebook page. "Yes, Liz," she added, "in 15 states and the District of Columbia, you are my sister-in-law."

The feud reveals tensions not just within the family but in the Republican Party more broadly as it seeks to respond to both a changing America and an energised, fervently conservative base.

Indeed, while Liz Cheney seeks to make clear her opposition to same-sex marriage, her father more than a decade ago was able to embrace fairly moderate views on the subject, breaking publicly with then- president George W. Bush over Bush's support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He has gone further still since then, telling Barbara Walters in 2011, "I certainly don't have any problem with" same-sex marriage.

But Liz Cheney, in her bid to defeat Republican Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming, is running to his right and seeking to capture conservatives and "tea party" enthusiasts.

Liz Cheney on Sunday declined to directly address the remarks from her sister and sister-in-law, but said in an e-mail: "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."

Mary Cheney, 44, said in a phone interview on Sunday that she presumed her sister shared her father's views on marriage, and that view was reinforced because Liz Cheney "was always very supportive" of her relationship with Poe and the couple's two children. She only learned otherwise in August when Liz Cheney declared, shortly after announcing her Senate candidacy, that she was opposed to gay nuptials. Mary Cheney said it was now "impossible" for the sisters to reconcile as long as Liz Cheney maintained that position.