Hugs and hisses: Liz and Mary Cheney


The hugs and hisses between the Cheney sisters is more than a celebrity girl-fight. The daughters of former Vice President Dick Cheney went at it when Liz Cheney, in her bid for the Senate seat in Wyoming, told Fox News recently that she’s against same-sex marriage.

Mary flipped when she watched her sister dis same-sex marriages like her relationship with her spouse Heather Poe on national television.

But it’s important to remember that this is a political family and with mom and dad’s support, Liz is hoping to make it a political dynasty. That may be difficult. Her campaign from most reports is in trouble, which may explain why she reached into the conservative tool box for a social issue like same-sex marriage.
  • File photo.

There's another story here that has nothing to do with politics. The Cheneys have been supportive of daughter Mary, and as far right as the Cheneys are on most issues, Dick has publicly supported marriage-equality for some time. He says he also supports his daughter Liz in her right to have a different view.

The other story is one that many in the LGBT community know too well. Their loving and committed relationships — and more recently marriages in some states — often aren't accepted by some family members. And the disapproval is based on something that’s ephemeral; often not at all personal.

The couple may be well-educated, successful, and productive members of society. They may be a perfectly caring and responsible match — what most parents would hope for in their in-laws. But the relationship is still rejected. And the sharp exchanges between the Cheney sisters show just how deep and raw these emotions are, and how capable they are of dividing families. (I can't imagine how aunt Liz will explain this to her sister's children.)

There are no simple explanations, either. When Poe challenges Liz on social media and reminds her of the love and support she once showed to her, her sister, and their children, Liz rebuffs with the usual contradiction, "I love you,” followed by a string of qualifiers and conditions.

Families across America have been dealing with this for a long time, some more progressively than others. The Cheney's family feud may have shown us that the advances in the gay movement are less predicated on political alliances and coalitions and more on familial love. 

Given some time, our loved ones often come around, and I'm betting Liz will, too.