Dick Cheney “surprised” at public family feud

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he was “surprised” that his daughter Mary, who is a lesbian, publicly attacked her sister Liz on Facebook over her views on same-sex marriage.

“We were surprised that there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook, and wished it hadn’t happened,” Cheney said Tuesday during an event at the National Press Club to promote his new book. “It’s always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly that’s our preference.”

Cheney declined to address the subject further, telling the moderator, “don’t waste your time.”

The Cheney sisters’ very public feud began last month when Liz Cheney, who is running against Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., in the Republican primary, saidon “Fox News Sunday” that while she loves her sister, who is openly gay, the subject of same-sex marriage is “just an issue on which we disagree.”

After the comments, Mary Cheney's spouse, Heather Poe, responded with an angry note on Facebook that read, "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. To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least." Poe also alluded to criticism aimed at Liz Cheney for running for the Senate in Wyoming even though she hasn't lived there in recent years, saying, "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."

Mary Cheney shared the status on her own Facebook page, writing, "Couldn't have said it better myself. Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree - you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."

A few days later, Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, stepped in to defend Liz with a public statement. "This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” they said. "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. 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."

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.