“Freedom Means Freedom For Everyone”
Six years after gay marriage was affirmed thanked to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney now regrets opposing marriage equality, a decision that led to a rift between her and her sister, Mary, in 2013.
In an interview with “60 Minutes” Sunday night, Cheney stated that her previous stance and comments supporting “traditional marriage” and opposing federal protections for LGBTQ people who wished to marry same-sex partners were “wrong.”
“I was wrong. I was wrong,” Cheney said. Cheney’s opposition to marriage equality in 2013, while somewhat standard in conservative circles, represented a marked difference from the stance taken by her family, including her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and sister, Mary, who is a married lesbian. Heather Poe, Mary’s spouse, decried Cheney’s comments at the time, saying, “I always thought freedom meant freedom for everyone,” in a Facebook post.
Cheney harkened back to Poe’s 2013 response in stating her shift in position. “I love my sister very much. I love her family very much,” Cheney said. “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.”
The Wyoming lawmaker also highlighted the need to combat the increasing amount of anti-LGBTQ sentiments and legislation. “This is an issue that we have to recognize, you know, as human beings,” Cheney said after relaying an anecdote about a trans woman telling her she didn’t feel safe because of her gender identity. “We need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state. Nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody.”
Mary Cheney praised her sister in a Facebook post following her appearance on “60 Minutes,” saying, “It took a ton of courage to admit that she was wrong back in 2013 when she opposed marriage equality. That is something few politicians would ever do.”
Words Vs. Actions
Cheney’s words speak to the continued need for LGBTQ civil rights protections as a majority of states continue attempts to undermine the rights of LGBTQ individuals. But her actions as a lawmaker stand in opposition to her comments Sunday. In February, Cheney voted against the Equality Act, which seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
President Joe Biden has called on Congress to pass the Equality Act on multiple occasions since taking office, most recently last week during his address to the U.N. General Assembly. Biden stated that passing the legislation would represent “living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”
Despite breaking with her party following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol and voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump, Cheney remains opposed to much of Biden’s policy initiatives. Her dissension against the Republican party’s pro-Trump majority has made her reelection campaign much more tenuous. She is facing a 2022 primary challenge in Wyoming from Trump-endorsed candidate Harriet Hageman, a NeverTrumper attorney and member of the 2016 Republican National Convention Rules Committee who has since become part of the pro-Trump conservative majority in years since.
Cheney appears ready for the challenge from Hageman. “A vote against me in this race, a vote for whomever Donald Trump has endorsed, is a vote for somebody who’s willing to perpetuate the big lie, somebody who’s willing to put allegiance to Trump above allegiance to the Constitution, absolutely,” Cheney said Sunday. “I think it’s going to be the most important House race in the country in 2022.”