Another Perspective

Twisted Sister

Cheney siblings spar over the meaning of marriage.

By 11.20.13

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Dick Cheney’s gruff manner never made him a very convincing advocate for so-called gay marriage. Nor did Lynne Cheney’s back-to-the-classics kick — she came to national attention, recall, as a Bill Bennett-like voice for the restoration of Western civilization — exactly lend itself to such advocacy.

Now blunt Liz has reiterated her position on the question, making it clear that she won’t be joining in the family charade. “I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage,” she told Fox’sChris Wallace last Sunday.

The chattering class is, of course, harrumphing over this remark, accusing Liz of backing her campaign bus over her lesbian sister Mary as it wobbles towards a double-digit defeat. In a typical comment, Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times pouts: “What kind of woman sells out her sister for a shot at a U.S. Senate seat?”

A better question is: What kind of woman takes to Facebook to call her sibling a hateful bigot for merely opposing the most radical social innovation in history — a position that almost all politicians took until a few years ago? Loving the sinner requires loving their sin, demands Mary, who thought it appropriate to use social media to announce that “Liz’s position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That’s not a position I can be ‘lovingly tolerant’ towards.”

Thanksgiving could prove particularly tricky this year, especially since Dick and Lynne Cheney have now weighed in more or less on Liz’s side: “(Liz Cheney) has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter, and Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.” In other words, Liz’s refusal to sanctify her sister’s sin with the name of marriage is fine by them.

Again, the chattering class finds this appalling, accusing the Cheneys of insincerity and hack politics. But if anything — particularly in Lynne’s case (Dick Cheney, with a managerial cast of mind, probably doesn’t think too deeply about moral philosophy) —the sympathy for Liz’s position is sincere. After all, Lynne Cheney spent the 1980s decrying moral relativism in America’s crumbling public schools.

She once complained (it is not clear which daughter she is referring to here) that “my daughter, in a fine school system in Virginia, had to watch the AIDS film” in an English course, noting that “the content of the humanities has sort of been leeched out of the curriculum,” which in part “happened because we try to get the schools to do a lot of other things: to teach about drugs, about marriage.”

Lynne used to rail against PC education as a wasteland of moral and intellectual rot: “History is in trouble in our schools; literature is almost gone entirely.… There’s very seldom [anything in course materials] by anyone you or I ever heard of. They are people who write for textbooks. They string sentences together about how to find a job, how to read the telephone books, how to eat your peas.”

Where, she lamented, did the emphasis on Western civilization go? “Global education” had taken attention away from “the Greeks, the Romans, Europe, the whole Judeo-Christian tradition — the heritage out of which all our lives and traditions have come.”

Does that sound like a gay marriage advocate?

Liz Cheney is surely closer to her mom’s mind than Mary. To take another example, Lynne Cheney thought the Puritans wonderful, wondering why the hell American public school children had to learn about primitive savages in distant lands instead of the Pilgrims: “I find it hard to imagine that there’s a story more wonderful than being driven by the desire to worship freely, to set off across that ocean, to make a home out of this wild and inhospitable land.”

If the subject of the Puritans happens to come up at Mary Cheney’s Thanksgiving dinner with her lab children (who are entitled to feel like second-class kids, having been deliberately deprived of their biological fathers), what would she say about them — that they were the precursors of today’s bigots, including her sister?

Naturally, the media has enlisted the wizened Wyoming jackass Alan Simpson for cheap shots against Liz Cheney. “You’re not even destroying friendships — you’re destroying family relationships just because of this race,” he lectured. “It’s hard for all of us who know the Cheneys to see the things she’s doing to win this race. It’s almost like ‘I will do anything to win this race,’ because I cannot ever believe that there would be a breach between she [sic] and Mary.”

Never mind that it was Mary Cheney’s lesbian partner Heather Poe who heated the dispute up with a cold Facebook posting, which sounded about as familial as an ACT-UP press release: “I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say ‘I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.’” Poe continued elsewhere in the posting, “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.”

The Fox interview could not have come as news to Poe, contrary to her suddenly offended tone, as Liz Cheney has taken this position throughout the campaign. Instead of telling Poe to knock it off, Mary Cheney grabbed for another spoon to stir the pot for gay activism while playing the victim before an adoring media. That’s not very sisterly.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.