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Right-winger Liz Cheney quits Senate race in Wyoming

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said on Jan. 6 that she is abandoning her effort to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

Cheney cited “serious health issues” that “have recently arisen in our family” as the reason for her decision.

But her candidacy had raised hackles in the Republican Party and caused a public rift with her sister, Mary, a lesbian, over Liz Cheney’s opposition to marriage equality.

In her withdrawal statement, Cheney did not mention those controversies.

“Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and they will always be my overriding priority,” Cheney said. She did not specify those health issues.

She added: “As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation. Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.”

Cheney moved her family from Virginia to Wyoming to run for the seat. Her effort to replace Enzi angered and upset many Republicans and drew virtually no support from Senate Republicans, who rushed to back the Senate veteran. Enzi’s supporters called Cheney a carpetbagger and opportunist. .

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, swiftly expressed support for Enzi moments after Cheney announced last year.

When she announced her campaign, Cheney said it was time for Republicans in Congress to stop “cutting deals” with Democrats and said it was time “for a new generation of leaders.”

“We’ve got to stand and fight, and we have to defend what we believe in. We have to not be afraid of being called obstructionists,” Cheney said.

“In my view, obstructing President Obama’s policies and his agenda isn’t actually obstruction; it’s patriotism,” Cheney said. “I think we have to stop what he’s doing, and then as conservatives, we’ve got to say, `Here’s what we believe,’ and, `Here’s the path forward,’ and that’s what I intend to lay out in this campaign.”

In November, Cheney said she opposed gay marriage, sparking a public feud with her sister, Mary, who is a lesbian and married.

Cheney’s decision was first reported by CNN, The New York Times and Politico.

Cheney spat highlights dilemma for GOP on gay marriage

The dispute over gay marriage between Dick Cheney’s daughters is shining a bright light on the Republican Party’s broader dilemma with the issue.

Public support for gay marriage has been rising dramatically. Yet a big majority of Republicans oppose it. And they tend to nominate candidates for Congress and the presidency who are out of step with the shift in public opinion, at least at the national level.

Republicans will confront this issue in congressional and governors’ races next year. It could play an even bigger role in the 2016 presidential election. Anyone supporting gay marriage would face tough resistance in GOP primaries, which conservatives dominate.

The more attention the issue gets, the more it might alienate much-needed independent voters in the general election.

“Many of us in the Republican Party would like to see this issue go away,” said Mark Graul, a Wisconsin political strategist. Still, he said, gay marriage is a less important issue than it has been portrayed, and relatively small numbers of voters consider it their top priority.

Cheney, the former vice president, is trying to limit the political damage to his daughter Liz, who wants to oust three-term GOP Sen. Mike Enzi in next year’s Wyoming primary. Liz’s sister, Mary Cheney, is married to her long-time companion, Heather Poe.

The two sisters began a highly public quarrel when Liz Cheney told Fox News Sunday she opposes legalized gay marriage, but the issue should be left to the states. Mary Cheney wrote on Facebook: “`Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”

Poe went farther. She wrote that Liz Cheney had always supported the lesbian couple and their two children, and “to have her say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive.”

Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, tried to calm things on Monday. They said their daughters love each other, but “Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”

In 2009, Liz Cheney told MSNBC she would oppose a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in every state. Then, as now, she said states should decide how to deal with same-sex marriage. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized it.

Gallup polls have found substantially higher support for gay marriage since 1996, especially among young adults and non-Republicans. In July, 54 percent of Americans said same-sex marriage should be legal, compared with 27 percent in 1996.

Support is much higher among people aged 18 to 29.

Most of the increase was among Democrats and political independents. In July, 28 percent of Republicans supported legalized gay marriage, compared with 16 percent in 1996. Among Democrats, support is now 73 percent.

The 2012 Republican Party platform reaffirmed “our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Mitt Romney, the presidential nominee, says he still holds that view.

Many Republicans, however, consider it a losing battle. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans told Pew Research that recognition of same-sex marriage is inevitable.

Some prominent Republicans say the party can embrace the trend without sacrificing conservative values. “What could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government?” former GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman, who in 2010 announced he is gay, wrote in The Wall Street Journal last year. “And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love?”

Many conservative groups, however, remain strongly opposed. If same-sex marriage is legalized, “taxpayers, consumer and businesses would be forced to subsidize homosexual relationships,” says the Family Research Council, which is influential in some Republican primaries.

Some Republicans seek a middle ground.

After Romney’s loss, previous rival Newt Gingrich suggested Republicans oppose same-sex weddings in churches but allow “a legal document issued by the state.”

“I think that this will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with,” Gingrich told The Huffington Post. “The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to accommodate and deal with reality.”

Several elected Republicans said Tuesday they believe other issues will overwhelm gay marriage in coming elections.

“The electorate is a lot more focused on the rising cost of health care, the diminished benefits they’re getting, plus the economy and national security issues than they are about that particular issue,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who is retiring.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proved this month that a Republican official can thrive – in some states, anyway – by officially opposing gay marriage but saying he will do nothing to block it. In exit polls following his landslide re-election, only 6 percent of New Jersey voters said same-sex marriage was their top issue. Sixty percent of all voters said the state should legalize gay marriage, and half of them backed Christie.

In solidly Republican Wyoming, Enzi says he has always supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Since that’s a more rigid stance than Liz Cheney takes, will it become an issue in their primary?

“I’m not going to make it one,” Enzi said Tuesday.

Cheney sisters continue to fight over same-sex marriage

Liz Cheney and Mary Cheney, daughters of the former vice president, continue to engage in a sparring match over same-sex marriage.

Liz Cheney is campaigning in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, where she is courting the far right in the GOP.

On Nov. 17, she told “Fox News Sunday” that she disagrees with her sister Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian and is married, on same-sex marriage.

Mary Cheney responded to her sister on Facebook. Posting, “You’re just wrong.”

On Nov. 18, Dick Cheney and wife Lynne released a statement saying that the family has dealt with the issue privately for years and they are “”pained to see it become public.”

Liz Cheney, according to The AP, said she believes in a “traditional definition” of marriage and states should be allowed to decide the matter.

Mary Cheney: Sister is ‘dead wrong’ on gay marriage

Sisters Mary and Liz Cheney are taking opposing sides on marriage equality, with younger sister Mary Cheney saying Liz is “dead wrong” for saying equality for gay couples should be decided by referendum.

Mary Cheney, the youngest daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, married her longtime partner Heather Poe in 2012.

Liz Cheney is running for the Republican Party nomination for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

In late August, Liz Cheney said she is “not pro-gay marriage.” She was seeking to counter what she described as a “dishonest push poll” that suggested she supports women’s reproductive choice and aggressively supports marriage equality.

She is not for abortion rights and also said in a statement, “I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves.”

Responding, Mary Cheney posted on Facebook, “For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage.”

She also wrote, according to The New York Times, “Freedom means freedom for everyone. That means 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 youngest sister said equality shouldn’t be decided “by a show of hands.”

Cheney’s command

Like father, like daughter in the Cheney clan. Dick Cheney’s non-lesbian daughter Liz is the neo-conservative torch-bearer in the family, but she now has critics on the right comparing her to Joseph McCarthy. In her leadership post at Keep America Safe, Cheney is defending her dad’s record as boss of the president during the Bush years and his record as adversary of the president during the first Obama years. As an anti-terrorism hawk, she also is attacking U.S. Justice Department officials who represented Guantanamo Bay detainees as the “Al Qaeda 7.” That attack proved too much for some on the right, who called the characterization viscious and unfounded.