Liz Cheney, a Republican Senate candidate in Wyoming, this weekend set off a very public dispute with her lesbian sister over same-sex marriage, and the man Cheney is looking to replace, Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, was content to let the sisters fight it out.
Enzi refused to comment on the social media-driven feud raging between the Cheney sisters and is allowing the family drama to play out in hopes that it will ultimately undercut his Republican primary challenger.
The Cheney family feud came into full public view over the weekend when Liz Cheney, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," reiterated her opposition to same-sex marriage — even though her younger sister, Mary Cheney, is married to a woman.
"I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree," Liz Cheney said.
Mary Cheney and her wife, Heather Poe, fired back almost immediately with terse, public Facebook messages that suggest serious tensions in the family of former Vice President Dick Cheney, a conservative who himself supports same-sex marriage.
"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.
The women's parents on Monday intervened in an attempt to quite the dispute.
"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."
"She has also always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done," they added.
Indeed, Poe acknowledged Liz Cheney's past acceptance, noting that it contributed to Poe's shock at Liz Cheney's remarks. Liz Cheney turned up the volume on her opposition to same-sex marriage after a conservative political action committee questioned her stance on the issue.
"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 Facebook. "To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least."
The New York Times reported that Mary Cheney and Poe have decided not to attend the Cheney family's Thanksgiving gathering this year.
Cheney surprised Enzi, who saw himself as a Cheney family friend, when she abruptly announced that she would challenge her fellow Republican in the 2014 primaries because Enzi wasn't conservative enough. The Republican establishment has come to Enzi's aid, but the Cheney's are unapologetic for rocking the party's boat.
Enzi now is waiting to see whether -- and how -- the sisters' feud affects Liz Cheney's campaign. One of the Enzi's chief lines of attack has been over whether Liz Cheney really lives in Wyoming, since she lived for years in the tiny Washington suburbs of Virginia before returning to her family home just to challenge Enzi. Heather Poe, Mary Cheney's wife, touched on that point in one of her postings, effectively reinforcing Enzi's attacks on Liz Cheney.
"I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other," Poe wrote.