Former vice president Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne said Monday that they are “pained" by the public dispute over gay marriage between their daughters but that Liz Cheney's "many kindnesses shouldn't be used to distort her position" on the issue.
"This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” the couple said in a joint statement after daughter Mary Cheney and her wife slammed GOP Senate candidate Liz Cheney for her opposition to same sex marriage. “Since it has, one thing should be clear. 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."
The statement comes after the simmering feud between Liz and Mary Cheney, who married longtime partner Heather Poe in 2012, reignited on social media Sunday.
Mary Cheney and her wife both took to Facebook to express their disappointment after Liz Cheney - a GOP candidate for Senate in Wyoming - repeated her opposition to same sex marriage during a television interview.
"Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree - you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history," Mary Cheney wrote.
In a separate Facebook post, Heather Poe called her sister-in-law's comments "offensive."
"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," Poe wrote on the social media site. "To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least."
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, the elder Cheney sister said she believes in the "traditional definition of marriage," adding that she loves her sister and her family.
"This is just an issue on which we disagree," she added.
The issue of same sex marriage has dogged Liz Cheney in her Senate bid, which pits her against incumbent Republican Mike Enzi. The conservative group American Principles Fund has been airing ads painting her as soft on gay rights issues.
One such commercial shows a 2009 interview on MSNBC during which Cheney voiced opposition to a constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage and praised the State Department for offering benefits to same sex partners.
On Sunday, Cheney called on Enzi to "renounce" that ad.
"Senator Enzi's friends and supporters are running a really scurrilous ad in Wyoming," she said on FOX News. "And the senator said many times that he doesn't believe in gutter politics."
The latest war of words comes just over two months after Mary Cheney said her sister was "dead wrong on the issue of marriage."
In a Facebook post in August, Mary Cheney added that "freedom means freedom for everyone ... That means that all families — regardless of how they look or how they are made — all families are entitled to the same rights, privileges and protections as every other."
The former vice president, the father of both women, said in 2009 that he supports legalizing same sex marriage if the states - rather than the federal government - codify it.
Mary Cheney and Heather Poe married in Washington DC, where same sex marriage has been legal since 2010. They have two children.
NBC's Jamie Gangel contributed to this report.
First published November 18 2013, 11:52 AM