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Opinion: Liz Cheney, gay marriage and family values

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Anger in the Cheney family has sent shockwaves through the culture wars. Liz Cheney, GOP candidate in Montana, and her sister Mary Cheney have nearly come to blows over Mary’s same-sex marriage with her longtime partner Heather Poe. Cheney and Poe were married in 2012 in Washington D.C. where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010 .

The public dispute between the daughters gets more interesting when Poe said of Liz, “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.”

Liz originally appeared to be supportive of her sister and Poe’s relationship until recently. So, what changed?

What changed is that Liz is now a GOP candidate for a senate seat in Wyoming against incumbent Republican Mike Enzi. His campaign and the American Principles Fund, a conservative group, have claimed that Cheney is “too soft on gay issues”. This just adds to how much more despicable this whole debacle is—that Cheney has changed her opinion on her own sister’s relationship because of politics. In trying to appeal to the more conservative roots in order to beat Enzi, she has betrayed her sister and her sister’s wife.

To put it mildly, Liz Cheney is pathetic. It’s not so much to do with gay marriage as it has to do with discarding family members who you believe to be “wrong” in order to gain some political support. This goes against every idea of what love is. It’s one thing to disagree with your family and friend’s decisions. It’s another thing entirely to do it for political reasons. It’s true that family values are being undermined, but it’s not because of gay marriage and abortion; it’s because of greed, materialism, and political self-interest. If our leaders will betray their own family at a political whim, what does that say to what they will do to us? How can someone be loyal in representing our interests when they discard their own sister for political gain?

E.M. Forster said of friendship, “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” A Methodist pastor in Pennsylvania, Rev. Frank Schaefer, is now on church trial for officiating the ceremony of his gay son. His son, Tim Schaefer, knew he wanted his father to perform his wedding ceremony.

“I remember thinking I have two choices: I can ask my dad and know I am putting him in a position where he would risk his career, or I could not ask my dad and really risk hurting his feelings. I think he would have been devastated if I hadn’t asked him,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Frank Schaefer knows the true meaning of family, that he would sacrifice his social reputation and career for his son’s well being. That’s what it means to be a parent, that’s what it means to be a friend, that’s what it means to love. Love is being willing to sacrifice everything you have for someone.

Even if Liz Cheney is being honest in her displeasure over her sister’s life, that doesn’t mean that she can’t love and accept it. Don’t try to change them or fix them, but love them. In “A River Runs Through It,” Norman Maclean wrote, “We can still love them, we can love completely, without complete understanding.” 

 

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