WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20: Daughters of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz (L) and Mary (R) arrive on the inaugural platform before the start of the swearing-in ceremony for U.S. President George W. Bush January 20, 2005 in Washington, DC. In his inaugural address, President Bush outlined his plans to pursue freedom around the world as well as push a legacy-setting agenda at home championing "freedom in all the world" as the surest path to peace. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Liz Cheney (left) and Mary Cheney (right) at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration

When Senate hopeful Liz Cheney stated on Fox News that she supports traditional marriage, her sister Mary and her partner, Heather Poe, quickly expressed their outrage on social media. Much to the disappointment of their father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Liz and Mary’s private disagreement about the definition of marriage has now become very public.

We might never run for public office, but in the future, many of us will face Liz Cheney’s dilemma: How do we support our same-sex attracted friends and relatives without being compelled to endorse same sex marriage?

On Fox News Liz Cheney stated: “I don’t believe we ought to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. If people are in a same-sex relationship and they want their partner to be able to have health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary in your life insurance, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do that.”

She continued, “I also don’t support amending the Constitution on this issue… I do believe it’s an issue that’s got to be left up to states. I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.”

Heather Poe promptly criticized Liz on Facebook:

“I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say ‘I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.’

“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.”

Is Poe implying that those who support pro-gender marriage should not share holidays with people in same sex relationships? Or share in their happiness? Should they be rejected outright?

In addition to reposting the comments of her wife-in-fifteen-states, Mary reacted to a Facebook suggestion that she act “lovingly tolerant” towards her sister. “Either you think all families should be treated equally or you don’t. Liz’s position is to treat my family as second-class citizens. That’s not a position I can be ‘lovingly tolerant’ towards.”

According to the New York Times, Liz responded: “I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate towards them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave.”

Remember when gay rights activists used the mantra: “How will my gay marriage affect yours?” Now we wonder: How long will this feud over marriage rights impact the Cheney family … and our own?

Was Heather and Mary’s anger heightened by surprise? Did they assume that because Liz loves them, she supports SSM? Did Liz change her mind about marriage or simply never clarify her position to begin with? Or as sceptics claim, did she endorse traditional marriage for political reasons?

How should we tolerate diverse opinions? For years gay rights activists have encouraged people with SSA to out themselves. Now the question is: When is the best time to out yourself for believing in traditional marriage?

According to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni — never. First Bruni pays lip service to free speech.

“Having a lesbian sister doesn’t compel [Liz] to support marriage equality. Having a gay relative doesn’t compel anyone to. There are earnest divisions here, often driven by deep-seated religious convictions.”

But then Bruni contradicts himself as he clarifies his real views, that supporting gender-diversity in marriage is offensive and shouldn’t be mentioned in public lest it offend others:

“Liz’s decision to chart a course and publicize a view bound to offend her sister is entirely volitional. It’s also entirely different from airing other ideological disagreements within families. Conflicting views on abortion or the death penalty don’t challenge the very structure and foundation of a loved one’s home. Questioning the validity of a marriage does. You’re not saying that you part with the way someone thinks. You’re saying that you have qualms with who they are, and this is a statement — a sentiment — you can keep to yourself.” [Emphasis added]

There are two important points here. First, according to Bruni, it’s okay to disagree about the importance of gender in marriage, as long as you don’t talk about it in public. From the Day of Silence, gay rights activists have evolved to Shut Up Already.

Secondly, gay rights activists continue to conflate who you are with what you do. It seems they cannot separate being from actions. They have trouble distinguishing between homosexuality and marriage rights.

They can agree to disagree about crucial life issues such as abortion and the death penalty. But they say marriage is different. Sure, you can love a mother who previously chose an abortion, but they claim you cannot love a sister if you question her marriage choice.

But for all their talk about being “born that way,” no one is born married. Marriage is a choice. In fact, if marriage is not a conscious choice of the free will, then it is not valid.

Bruni criticizes Liz for voicing her political views in public (which is what all candidates running for office are expected to do so that we know whether we agree with them or not!) But what about Mary and Heather who raced to Facebook to broadcast their personal opinions about Liz? Bruni could just as easily write: “Mary’s decision to chart a course and publicize a view bound to offend her sister is entirely volitional.”

He could also make the point that Mary and Heather made their relationship public when they married. After all, marriage is a public institution. You don’t need witnesses when you get a fishing license, but you do when you get married.

Referring to Liz and Mary’s parents’ response Bruni noted:

“One word stood out. They said that Liz had shown Mary ‘compassion.’ … What a curious vocabulary. It was as if they were all talking about some charity case.

“I hope the Cheneys find their way out of this. It’s an ugly spot that Liz, in all her compassion, has put them in.”

It’s all Liz’s fault!

But seriously, aren’t we treating men like second-class citizens when we exclude them from the home because of the way they are born — male? And where is our compassion for children intentionally deprived of their dad? Don’t these children have the same equal rights as other kids to have a loving relationship with both their mother and their father?

According to gay rights activists such as Bruni, you cannot support a person with SSA unless you also endorse same sex marriage. Because they believe their marriage is “who they are.”

How do we explain the truth? How do we show our genuine love for our friends and relatives with SSA and defend pro-gender marriage?

“Likes” on Facebook don’t confer dignity. Mary was born with inherent dignity. And so were her children and the woman she chose to love, Heather.

Isn’t it more compassionate to tell Mary and Heather the truth? That their union is fundamentally different from the complementarity of a wife and husband?

Yes, we are all equal in dignity. But gender discrimination in marriage is not equality. Either we embrace hard truths now or pay the price for deception later on.

Like Bruni, I hope we all find our way out of this. It’s an ugly spot that same sexism marriage activists, in all their compassion, have put us in. 

Kelly Bartlett has been practicing life, love, and marriage for decades, hoping to improve her game. She writes from Vermont.

Kelly Bartlett has been practicing life, love, and marriage for decades, hoping to improve her game. She writes from a house nestled in a meadow off a dirt road in Vermont, surrounded by family and friends,...