Dick Cheney’s daughters Mary and Liz in public war over gay marriage

Liz Cheney has openly criticised sibling’s lifestyle while running for Republican office

Los Angeles

Once crucial members of the close family unit he campaigned with, the daughters of former US Vice President Dick Cheney are now locked in a public feud over the issue of gay marriage.

Mary Cheney, who is gay, married her long-term partner Heather Poe in 2012; the couple have two children. Yet her sister, Liz Cheney, is running as a conservative Republican candidate for a US Senate seat in Wyoming, where their father was formerly a Congressman.

On Sunday, Liz Cheney, 47, told Fox News that she believed in the “traditional definition of marriage”, and that same-sex marriage was “just an area where we [she and Mary] disagree”. Ms Poe quickly took to Facebook to criticise her sister-in-law, writing: “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 say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.”

Mary Cheney, 44, later shared her wife’s post on her own Facebook feed, adding: “Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong and on the wrong side of history.”

The sisters, who appeared almost inseparable as they campaigned beside their father when he ran as George W Bush’s running mate, have reportedly not spoken since August, when Liz Cheney said publicly that she was “not pro-gay marriage”. At the time, Mary Cheney wrote on Facebook that she loved her sister, but thought she was “dead wrong”.

In an email to The New York Times this week, Liz Cheney wrote: “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.”

The conflict is said to be painful for Mr Cheney, who is eager for his elder daughter to win a seat in the US Senate, but is also known for being further ahead than many in his party on gay marriage.

As long ago as the 2000 presidential campaign, he made clear that he personally disagreed with Bush over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Mr Cheney and his wife, Lynne, are thought to be planning to celebrate Thanksgiving next week with Mary and Ms Poe, but Christmas with Liz in Wyoming. The couple released a statement on Monday, saying: “This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”

The feud is also emblematic of cultural tensions within the Republican Party, which hopes to appease its increasingly conservative core membership. Liz Cheney moved to Wyoming from Virginia last year to run against the incumbent GOP Senator, Michael Enzi, on a conservative platform designed to appeal to Tea Party voters. Although the primary vote will not be held until August 2014, the campaign is already contentious. Ms Cheney has been accused not only of being insufficiently opposed to same-sex marriage, but also of being an interloper interested in the red state seat only to progress her political career.

Her first campaign TV advertisement, which debuted last week, highlights the Cheney family’s Wyoming connections. Yet an early poll conducted last month by a conservative group, The American Principles Fund, showed Ms Cheney more than 50 points behind her rival.

“What amazes me is that she says she’s running to be a new generation of leader. 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 said, adding that the two could not reconcile until her sister altered those positions.

Last week, Hawaii became the 15th US state to legalise gay marriage, while the Governor of Illinois is expected to sign a bill this week, permitting same-sex couples to wed in his state.In October New Jersey saw its first same-sex weddings after its Republican Governor, Chris Christie, dropped his opposition to the change in legislation; Christie is presently considered the frontrunner for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: New Business Development Manager / Sales - UK New Business

£24000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific