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Same-sex marriage: When ideology has real consequences

The former second family has been making headlines, as a major, long-time rift between former Vice President Dick Cheney’s two daughters has been aired in public.

Liz Cheney, a Republican candidate for the Wyoming Senate seat up for grabs next fall, supports the “traditional definition” of marriage — between one man and one woman.

However, this has complicated her relationship with her sister, Mary Cheney, who has two children with her female partner, Heather Poe.

Many media outlets are jumping on the idea that this familial dispute echoes the national conversation about gay marriage — or else they’re making jokes about the awkward holiday dinners to come over the next month.

The reality is much more grim. We are not only confronted with the ideological differences that separate many on both sides, but we also see the impact these ideologies can have on relationships and how they affect those closest to the issue.

This issue is larger than a mere family feud. While polls show that same-sex marriage has more support than ever before, conservatives and members of the Republican Party continue to support bans on same-sex marriage and repeatedly announce their support for “traditional definitions.” They support denying Americans the freedom to marry in order to maintain a status quo.

Here's the thing: Liz Cheney has every right to her opinion, as do those who agree with her. But in Cheney’s case, it is obvious that this opinion is not only some abstract idea, as she has seen the direct impact of denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Her own sister has had to undergo the scrutiny of coming out and trying to find happiness.

I applaud Liz Cheney for supporting benefits for same-sex couples. That’s a step in the right direction. But the idea that marriage should remain only for the heterosexuals because of tradition?

This game of ideology and grandstanding by conservatives and liberals needs to stop. We keep inching forward on the same-sex marriage issue. More and more conservative candidates have begun to espouse their support for the traditional definition of marriage, all while advocating for rights for couples.

Marriage is a big deal. It’s the idea of commitment and being able to call someone your husband or wife, and to only go halfway on the issue of same-sex marriage is disrespectful to everyone involved.

As Mary Cheney said to Liz, she’s on the wrong side of history. Holding antiquated notions of what marriage means isn’t just about getting the votes of conservatives who value tradition, the results of these views actually affect people and how they are able to live their lives. Human beings are denied the chance to love, raise families and have security in times of emergency so that others can tout their commitment to “family values” and “traditions.”

Ideology has real consequences. When you hold a belief and run on that platform, you are affecting other human beings. Liz Cheney is not only hurting her sister, but millions of other gay Americans who want the opportunity to make a commitment to the person they love.

Reach the columnist at or follow her on Twitter @beccasimpson

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