For Cheneys, politics gets personal

Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz at a 2011 speaking engagement. Liz Cheney's stand against gay marriage has created a rift in her family

The ongoing media feud between former Vice-President Dick Cheney's daughters, Liz and Mary, has bloggers writing about politics, family and the fault lines in the Republican Party over gay marriage.

Liz Cheney is running for the US Senate in Wyoming, a conservative state whose Republican primary electorate is solidly against gay marriage. On Sunday Ms Cheney once again affirmed that she believed in a "traditional definition of marriage".

This has led to a very public conflict with her sister, Mary, and her spouse, Heather Poe.

There once was a time in the not so distant past when Republicans used the issue of gay marriage to turn out their base on election day. Conservative proponents of granting marriage rights only to opposite-sex couples unabashedly campaigned on the issue and backed state-level constitutional amendments to prevent same-sex marriages.

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It's easy to casually gay bash when you've never met someone who isn't straight.”

End Quote Patrick Caldwell Mother Jones

In his blog the Dish, Andrew Sullivan describes a 2004 attempt to convince George W Bush presidential strategist Karl Rove to back away from using gay marriage as a political wedge issue:

Rove simply told me that there were many more Christianists than homos, and that mathematical reality dwarfed any arguments, however meritorious. It wasn't the first time I had seen utter cynicism on this issue in high places - it was hard to beat the Clintons for that. But the baldness of the cynicism - the reflexive refusal even to address the actual rights and wrongs of the matter - was never better expressed than by Rove.

Over the last few years, that electoral calculus has changed - and nowhere has it been more evident than in the Cheney family's very public drama, where political ambitions have clashed with the very personal reality of gay marriage.

"It's become a tired but true trope for the LGBT rights movement: As more people come out of the closet, the country increasingly tolerates different sexual orientations and identities," writes Patrick Caldwell for Mother Jones. "It's easy to casually gay bash when you've never met someone who isn't straight. It's much harder - and socially unacceptable - when you have to sit across from your niece and her girlfriend at Thanksgiving dinner."

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It's an area fraught with complexity and tension”

End Quote Rod Dreher The American Conservative

Now, writes Garance Franke-Ruta in the Atlantic, it is Liz Cheney whose views on homosexuality set her apart from the rest of the Cheney clan:

Every family has its black sheep, the opinionated outlier who is out of sync with the values of the others. Once upon a time that person might have been the gay or lesbian child. Times have changed, though, and today the black sheep can also be the family member who insists her lesbian sibling should be deprived of rights to which she is legally entitled.

The controversy has conservatives grappling with how to oppose gay marriage while also supporting friends and family members who are gay. Writes Rod Dreher for the American Conservative:

It's an area fraught with complexity and tension. It's easy to say, "It's our way or the highway," because that has the advantage of moral clarity. But it's also inhuman. On the other hand, it's also inhuman for conservative family members to expect gay family members to accept scorn and rejection as the cost for being a member of the family.

There has been a proven formula over the past few years for pulling an upset win in a Republican Senate primary: embrace the grass-roots Tea Party base and run hard to the right. Ms Cheney has tried to follow a similar strategy, attacking incumbent Senator Mike Enzi for insufficiently conservative positions on Internet taxes, coal regulation, federal education standards and healthcare reform.

Now, however, her campaign will likely be best known for gay marriage and family acrimony.

The latest polls show Ms Cheney still has long odds in her quest to win a Senate seat. According to Jim Newell in Salon, this controversy could help Ms Cheney appear more dedicated to her political beliefs by showing she is willing to face off against her own family.

He writes: "This could be the best thing that ever happened to Liz Cheney - assuming she values a US Senate seat over a speaking relationship with her own sister, which seems like a relatively safe assumption."



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  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Americans!! Guns & religion and thick as 2 short planks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Who is the husband & who is the wife in the so-called same-sex marriage? Heterosexual would never know nor understand why any woman want a woman who is pretending to be man or why a man want a another man pretending to be a woman. I know it is more than sex and procreation.The fact that most marriages end in divorce due to infidelity show the importance of sex. Homosexual couples want children too

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.


    "two males or two females cannot physically reproduce a child"

    I often hear that marriage is for the purpose of having children. So post-menopausal women should not marry? People with fertility problems should not marry?

    "Its a choice"

    When did you choose to be heterosexual? Did you make a single choice years ago, or is it a fresh choice every morning?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Liz Cheney is making a bed she will find very difficult to lay in. Long after she stops being a politician, she will still be a member of her own family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    "It's an area fraught with complexity and tension."

    It is when you don't want to accept gay people as equals. Otherwise, it's not complex at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    TexasPaul: If sexual orientation is like an ethic background, then it is immutable and can be protected

    Sexual orientation is not like an ethnic background as a male and female of different ethnicities can physically reproduce a child
    but two males or two females cannot physically reproduce a child

    This is a fact
    so it is not in dispute

    Tex: If it is a preference

    Its a choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The question is over “immutable characteristics” versus “mutable preferences”. If sexual orientation is like an ethic background, then it is immutable and can be protected. If it is a preference like deciding what speed to drive, then it can be regulated. Until a consensus is reached we will get a lot of heat (like this article) and far too little light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The problem is that Mary Cheney is not showing her sister respect

    There are three groups of people on three islands:
    one group is all male, one group is all female and the other group is half males and the other half females

    100 years from now
    only one island still has people-
    which island is it?

    The third island with both males and females
    Thats nature

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.


    "You can legislate tolerance, you can't legislate acceptance."

    Exactly. Liza Cheney does not have to accept her sisters marriage, that's her choice. How many people have family members who do not accept their marriage partners regardless of gender?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Ongoing media feud between former VP Dick Cheney's daughters, Liz & Mary, has bloggers writing about politics, family & fault lines in Republican Party over gay marriage."
    Poor representative "family" to select.
    I don't are about the Cheneys - father or daughters - except that Toronto's Chief of Police arrest him promptly for his megalomaniac war-crimes, should he ever set foot in Toronto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    If somebody wants to be as miserable as a hetero and get economically responsible for an emotion, let them.

    But I wouldn't go up against Dick "Two Smoking Barrels" Cheney over it.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    In 1967 the US Supreme Court killed off the remaining state laws banning interracial marriage. It is quite reasonable to think the Court will do the same with the anti-gay marriage laws in the next few years. The right wingers will then find some new villain and the Cheneys can perhaps get a web-based "reality" show.

  • Comment number 5.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    What a conundrum. How can I be horrible and still have people like me? What to do, what to do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    While most family, especially the parents would support and still love one of their own who is a homosexual, no parents prayed or would pray for homosexual a child/children.
    Liz Cheney is doing what many family are now doing when they find out that one of their own is a homosexual. They do not have to approve homosexuality, but they can still show compassion and understanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    You can legislate tolerance, you can't legislate acceptance. A lot of Americans tolerate same sex marriage as a matter of legal fairness and equal rights, that doesn't mean they accept it as normal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Family values? - ditch your sister to win an election. More political cynicism.


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