What's worse? Being a carpetbagging Republican who moves from D.C. to Wyoming to challenge a popular GOP incumbent U.S. Senator in an unwelcome primary (Liz Cheney) or being gayly married (Mary Cheney)?
It's a really, really close call, especially since my own sister, who has always been so accepting and supportive, sent me a text photo in the middle of this Cheney Brouhaha about a fun drinking glass she was sending me as a pre-Christmas present, since I like to swim, and, yes, drink. Sisterly relationships can be complicated, but when one is willing to stake a political career on denigrating the other's very being ... whoa. Not cool at all.
Mary Cheney spent years sabotaging the national movement for marriage equality and selling herself out to the likes of Karl Rove and Mitt Romney -- GOP big wigs who either use gay marriage as a wedge issue or who truly condemn homosexuality.
Still, in this instance, I pick the worst of the pair to be Liz , the carpetbagger. She has always embodied the kind of mean-spirited, small-minded, backward-thinking politics and policies that conspire to keep the United States suffocating under the remaining Puritanic strains of fundamentalist Christianity.
One nation, under my ass, divisible over stupid things that waste our energy and take us off course from the real work of upholding the great experiment that is this democratic Republic.
Or, as Mary Cheney so succinctly put it: “This isn’t like a disagreement over grazing fees or what to do about Iran. There isn’t a lot of gray here. Either you think all families should be treated equally or you don’t. Liz’s position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That’s not a position I can be ’lovingly tolerant’ towards.”
Carpetbagging is a far more time-honored tradition in U.S. Senate races than are Liz Cheney's Jurassic beliefs that traditional marriage must contain one man and one woman, otherwise, tornadoes will strike Illinois, typhoons will pummel the Philippines and our U.S. military will suffer due to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
It is really just so tired, the entire "debate."
Still, in the annals of "Gay Children of Republicans," and particularly the subcategory of "Gay Children of Staunch Republicans Elected To Higher Office," I've never felt sorry for Mary Cheney. She was born that way (Republican, Cheney, gay) and has had a long time to get used to the inherent challenges of trying to be true to herself.
Plus, her father -- who fabricated an entire Iraq war based on much bigger lies about Saddam Hussein than Barack Obama could ever muster about the 5 percent of health insurance policy owners who were going to lose their substandard policies under the Affordable Care Act -- has been given a small pass for his deceptively vague position on gay unions. He took cover under the "the states should be left to decide" on marriage laws all while GOP operatives (Rove) were picking off one-issue voters in places where marriage equality ballot measures were being voted on.
But given the party's platform on gay marriage, it's not as if Mary Cheney hasn't already had plenty of opportunities to lash out at the incongruous position of personal freedom/less government and the GOP's continuing stand that only men and women can marry, and divorce, a lot. Now, though, the divide between Mary Cheney's "lifestyle" and the GOP "platform" is about as personal as it can get.
Along the lines of Rick Santorum's infamous "reasoning" about gay marriage, that it will lead to "man-on-dog sex," the sister-on-sister blood feud has provided an scenario in which anyone who has a sister (me) or who is gay (me) can appreciate the absolutely visceral, personal, painful form of oppression that Liz The Carpetbagger is publicly willing to dictate for Mary The Married Lesbian.
My question is why did it take Liz Cheney's doomed political ambition to win in Wyoming, where she can't beat Mike Enzi, to finally prompt Mary to take off the gloves and rip her sister a new one?
The answer might be ... THE WIFE! It was, after all, Heather Poe, who first took to Facebook this week and aired the family divide in plain English by calling out Liz Cheney for supporting Heather and Mary in private while publicly denouncing gay marriage, thus making her sister and sister-in-law (in 15 states) second-class citizens.
To me, it was a good example of the kind of loving, dynamic and protective ways in which two people can form a union. Wives, and husbands, are some of the best at taking up their partner's interests in order to face the world with a sense of purpose and conviction.
Of course, that same kind of spousal empowerment seems to have led Dick and Lynne Cheney to try and tamp down the family feud over a charged issue, although one where more Americans have been polled saying they support the rights of same-sex partners to marry. Showing their own insidious way of keeping the peace, Dick & Liz offered an explanation that seems to say despite Liz Cheney's love and support and "many kindesses," she still thinks her sister's married union is wrong.
Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. 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.
Liz's "many kindnesses" have all taken place in the closet. When she's loud and proud, she's a tiny little American, jousting against her sister, against the definition and function of family, against history. There's no glee in any of this.
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.