Mary Cheney publicly slaps down sister Liz over anti-gay views

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughters, Mary and Liz, are in an open civil war over Liz’s increasingly strident stance against gay marriage.

Mary, who is openly gay, married her longtime partner, Heather Poe, in 2012. The couple has two children.

Liz, who is running a primary challenge against Wyoming Republican Senator Mike Enzi, is positioning herself as an arch-conservative (which she is).  Here’s a sample of classic Liz Cheney:

“We have to not be afraid of being called obstructionists. Obstructing President Obama’s policies and his agenda isn’t actually obstruction, it’s patriotism.”

Liz also is famous for having criticized several Department of Justice attorneys who were representing Gitmo detainees (since everyone has a right to an attorney, even potentially bad people).  An organization she ran suggested that the lawyers had terrorist sympathies, simply because they were doing their jobs.  Even conservatives got on Liz’s case for that one.

Mary (l) and Liz (r) Cheney.

Mary (l) and Liz (r) Cheney, sisters battling over gay marriage.

But Liz, who hasn’t been doing terribly well in the polls, apparently went a step too far when she started becoming more vocal about her staunch opposition to gay marriage.

Here’s what Liz said on Fox News yesterday (Sunday) morning, reiterating her opposition to gay marriage – it’s in two short clips. Here’s a quick quote from it:

“I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree.”

So they are a family?  Just not a legitimate family.  That doesn’t really make sense.  If they’re not really married, then they’re not a family, or are they, Liz?

Mary took Liz on over her opposition to gay marriage before. And while Mary’s earlier words were wrapped in the required “I love my sister,” I had a sense at the time that this was turning into something bigger. And it definitely, finally, has.

Mary’s wife Heather was livid at the latest broadside from Liz Cheney, and took to Facebook to challenge Liz rather in rather angry, and personal, terms:


Perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but it was interesting that Heather mentioned Liz moving “state to state” since one of the strongest attacks against Liz has been that she’s a carpetbagger that moved to Wyoming from Virginia.

Mary then weighed in, agreeing with Heather:


Mary then weighed in again, a few hours later, in response to a woman who basically accused Mary of being “intolerant” of her sister’s intolerance.  Mary was having none of it:


It’s been interesting to watch Mary Cheney’s transformation from closeted-openly-gay to actually openly-gay.

Now, in this case, note that it was Heather, not Mary, who played momma bear and took Liz down.  Mary chimed in and agreed, which was helpful, but one could argue that it was Mary’s job, not her spouse’s, to take on Mary’s own sister’s hateful words.

Mary and Heather face a basic underlying conundrum. They (or at least Mary) are Republicans.  And Republicans don’t like gay people.  Some, a growing number in fact, of individual Republicans do, but their party doesn’t.

And while it’s all well and good to be mad at Liz for being against gay marriage, Liz did say anything different than the presidential ticket Mary helped to elect in both 2000 and 2004.  And I suspect a lot of the other Cheney family friends aren’t terribly good on gay civil rights either.  They might be just dandy about gay people personally – so many anti-gays are – but when it comes to policy, the party Mary keeps helping is just as officially intolerant as her sister.

Mike Signorile chimed in with a similar point:


Mike has more detail:

[T]t’s pretty damned rich for Mary Cheney to be furious at her sister for supporting an anti-equality agenda when Mary worked her ass off to reelect George W. Bush, who ran on passing a federal marriage amendment and helped fuel bans on gay marriage that passed in state after state. Mary has since given thousands of dollars to anti-equality candidates across the country, including to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, all while living in Virginia with her then-partner and raising a family.

None of this is to undercut what Heather and Mary are doing here.  It takes courage to stand up to your own family, even more so in public. And now that Mary and Heather have children, it would have been awful for them not defend their family.

Coming out is a long process.  And even if you’re out to the world, you’re still, always, coming to terms (internally) with being gay.  And for gay Republicans, who aren’t so much living a lie as living a contradiction, even more so.  As I found out twenty years ago, as your own self-respect grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to stomach helping anyone who doesn’t respect who are you, and worse, who actively tries to undercut your (and in the case of Mary and Heather, your spouse’s and your children’s) humanity.

If you’re a gay Republican, and a decent human being, conflict is inevitable.

And chez Cheney, the inevitable has finally arrived.

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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