After Infamous Rift with Gay Sister, Liz Cheney Now Admits 'I Was Wrong' to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

Mary Cheney, Liz's younger sister, reacted on social media: "I love my sister very much and am so proud of her ... We could certainly use a lot more leaders like Liz Cheney right now"

Rep. Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Rep. Liz Cheney says she has had a change of heart about her stance on same-sex marriage after her previous opposition on the matter caused an ugly public rift in her family — especially with younger sister Mary Cheney, who is gay and married.

In a sit-down with CBS's 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, the Republican daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney admitted to correspondent Lesley Stahl that she was "wrong" to oppose gay marriage in the past.

"I love my sister very much. I love her family very much. And I was wrong," said Liz, 55. "It's a very personal issue, and very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right, and my sister and I have had that conversation."

"I was not expecting that," said Stahl, 79.

"This is an issue that we have to recognize, you know, as human beings, that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state," Liz added. "We were at an event a few nights ago and there was a young woman who said she doesn't feel safe sometimes because she's transgender, and nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody."

Mary, 52, reacted to Liz's comments in a Facebook post Sunday, saying she is "proud" of her sister.

"I love my sister very much and am so proud of her. It took a ton of courage to admit that she was wrong back in 2013 when she opposed marriage equality," wrote Mary. "That is something few politicians would ever do. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the strength of character she continues to show on a daily basis. We could certainly use a lot more leaders like Liz Cheney right now. And as her sister — I have one more thing that I just have to say: I told you so."

Mary Cheney(L), daughter of US Vice Pres
Mary Cheney and her wife, Heather Poe, in 2004. JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty

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The Cheney family's disagreements about gay marriage trace back several years to when Liz renounced the issue after becoming a politician. Growing up, however, she and Mary "were as close as sisters can be," Mary recalled in her 2006 memoir, Now It's My Turn.

While their father was vice president and President George W. Bush campaigned heavily against gay marriage, the Cheneys made clear their views were different but personal.

"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Vice President Cheney said at a 2004 rally in Iowa, adding, "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone."

He echoed that in a 2009 speech to the National Press Club: "The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statue that governs this, I don't support. I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level."

In time, however, it became clear Liz took a different stance. In particular, after she launched an unsuccessful Senate bid in Wyoming, she faced criticism that she was "aggressively promot[ing] gay marriage."

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday back in 2013, Liz said that she opposed same-sex marriage — and mentioned her sister by name. She said, "I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree."

Mary responded via a Facebook post at the time: "Liz — this isn't just an issue on which we disagree, you're just wrong — and on the wrong side of history."

The year before, Mary married longtime partner Heather Poe with their two children, Samuel, then 5, and 2-year-old Sarah, in attendance. But Liz was not there.

The former vice president, who had been heavily involved with his daughter's Senate run, issued a statement with his wife in 2013 supporting Liz while describing the sisters' disagreement as a difficult and private family matter.

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney. Tom Williams/getty

"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 Cheneys said at the time.

"She has also always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done," they continued. "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."

Asked by Politico in 2015 whether she and her sister had reconciled their relationship, Mary replied, "I don't have to answer that."

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