(WASHINGTON) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney wadded into a spat between his daughters, Liz Cheney and Mary Cheney, who is openly gay, saying that Liz’s kindness to her sister shouldn’t be used to “distort” her position supporting “traditional marriage.”
One day after the two sisters appeared to take their disagreement public, Dick and his wife, Lynne, issued a statement defending their daughter Liz, who is running for Senate in Wyoming.
“Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage,” the Cheneys said in a statement Monday. “She 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,” they added.
The statement made no mention of Mary or her wife, Heather Poe.
Liz, who is challenging the Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming in 2014, said on Fox News Sunday that she and her sister “disagree” on the issue of gay marriage.
“I do believe it’s an issue that’s got to be left up to states,” Liz said. “I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.”
The comment prompted Mary’s wife to issue a bruising statement on Facebook, which suggested that her sister-in-law welcomed their relationship privately.
“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,” Poe wrote on Facebook Sunday. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.”
“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,” she continued.
Poe’s statement was quickly endorsed by wife Mary in a separate statement.
Poe and Mary married in 2012, and Dick has been publicly supportive of same-sex marriage since 2009.
But Liz Cheney, locked in a Senate primary with Enzi, has sought to run to the sitting senator’s right flank.
Dick and Lynne suggested, however, that the family rift over the issue existed long before Liz’s Senate bid.
“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years,” they said, “and we are pained to see it become public.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio