Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheney Clash over Gay Marriage Reflects Broader Division in Gop

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheney Clash over Gay Marriage Reflects Broader Division in Gop

Article excerpt

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, on Monday jumped into a bitter public clash between their two daughters over gay marriage, an anguished personal fight that reflects a broader debate within the Republican Party over allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The Cheneys defended their eldest daughter, Liz Cheney, a U.S. Senate candidate in Wyoming, who on Sunday reaffirmed her opposition to same-sex marriage. And they expressed dismay that their younger daughter, Mary Cheney, and her spouse chose to publicly express their anger about her stance.

"This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public," Dick and Lynne Cheney said in a statement. "Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage."

The public eruption of the internal Cheney family drama gave airing to the struggle within the GOP over gay marriage, which is rapidly gaining legal status and wider public acceptance.

Some influential party strategists and top GOP donors have rallied around efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. Earlier this year, more than 100 Republicans signed a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to declare that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Public surveys show GOP attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing, albeit at a much slower pace than the overall population. In a Washington Post-ABC poll in March, 34 percent of Republicans said they believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry, up from 22 percent in 2009. Among Republicans and GOP- leaning independents under 50 years old, the support for gay marriage was much higher, with 52 percent backing it.

But gay marriage remains a deeply polarizing issue among social conservatives, key players in the party who exert strong sway in GOP primary elections. In Wyoming, a conservative super-PAC called American Principles Fund ran a television ad for three weeks this fall noting that Liz Cheney is opposed to a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. …

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