The Cheney sisters, Mary and Liz, are in the midst of a good old-fashioned sisterly spat –Â just in time for Thanksgiving.
It all started when Liz, who is currently trailing in her bid for U.S. Senate representing Wyoming, decided to go on the offensive against her incumbent opponent. Faced with charges of carpetbagging (she relocated from Northern Virginia to Wyoming just last year after reportedly considering a run for Congress in Virginia) and being soft on the gays, she declared her personal opposition to same-sex marriage in August. This last Sunday, she reiterated that point in an appearance on â€śFox News Sunday,â€ť saying that the issue is â€śjust an area where we disagree,â€ť referring to her sister Mary, who is gay.
Yep, it’s the old â€śI love my sister, but I donâ€™t approve of her lifestyleâ€ť argument.
Mary Cheney then took to Facebook: â€śLiz â€” this isnâ€™t just an issue on which we disagree youâ€™re just wrong â€” and on the wrong side of history.â€ť
Papa and Mama Cheney hurriedly put out a statement declaring, â€śThis is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public.â€ť
Really? The fact is that Liz is a public figure running for public office. As such, character is an issue. And if we are to believe Maryâ€™s side of the story that Liz has been nothing but supportive of Maryâ€™s marriage and children â€” the entire family reportedly had a standing Sunday dinner every week at Lizâ€™s house in McClean, Va., after Dick Cheney left office â€” then Liz, charitably, doesnâ€™t look very authentic. Less charitably, she looks very much like a hypocrite.
Carpetbagger and now hypocrite.Â How doesÂ thatÂ poll in Wyoming?
I may be a hopelessly naive California lefty, but what if she had actually decided to take a stand more in line with her past support of LGBT rights and her sisterâ€™s family, and run to the left of the conservative Mike Enzi? Would Wyomingites forsake her? Or would at least some of them respect her?
Libertarianism cuts a wide swathe through the West, stronger than any knee-jerk conservatism on any given issue. Westerners donâ€™t take kindly to carpetbaggers, hypocrites or being told how to live their lives.Â Liz Cheney knows this about Wyoming, noting on her campaign Web site: â€śLiz grew up with the values that have long distinguished our state â€“ the importance ofÂ familyÂ and faith, a commitment toÂ honesty and plain-dealing,Â a love ofÂ freedom.â€ťÂ [Italics mine.]
Whatever this situation means for Liz Cheneyâ€™s Senate chances, this very public fracas rings true for families, especially its timing the week before Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. After all, as much as weâ€™d like to think otherwise, many of us have family dynamics that are more â€śThe Sopranosâ€ť (minus the bloodshed, of course) than “Modern Family.”
The Cheney situation will surely give many an opportunity at the dinner table to bring up LGBT issues and how our views are evolving â€” or not â€” in the guise of a conversation about current events. For example, a few years back, when Republican Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, a friend criticized the vote on Facebook. When her cousin bashed her as â€śa liberal elitist,â€ť my friend wrote, â€śI feel like whatâ€™s elitist is that I can have a girlfriend of 5 years and not bring her to Thanksgiving because it would make you guys uncomfortable.â€ť
Awkward? Yes. But the conversation ultimately brought my friend and her cousin to a new understanding. The cousin apologized and said she had no idea that my friend had been asked not to bring her girlfriend to Thanksgiving, a request that would have beenÂ de rigeurÂ (and unspoken) a few years ago but no longer is acceptable for an increasing number of LGBT people.
This holiday season, many of us will be spending time with family we havenâ€™t seen all year. And weâ€™ll have to negotiate the family politics of who will be invited and whatâ€™s on the table as far as polite conversation goes. The Cheney sistersâ€™ airing of a â€śprivateâ€ť matter in a very public forum will, hopefully, make the latter just a bit easier.