U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, lost Tuesday’s Republican primary and will not retain her seat, leaves a mixed record on LGBTQ+ issues.
Cheney, a staunch conservative and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has won the praise of many liberals for standing up to Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen from him and for her service on the committee investigating the insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. But that doesn’t mean her politics were anywhere near progressive.
Cheney did make one notable about-face, though, coming out for marriage equality last year. She did so in an interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes in September, mentioning her sister, Mary Cheney, a lesbian who is married with children. Their father had voiced support for marriage equality years ago, but the sisters had a very public feud over the issue in 2013, with Liz in opposition to equal marriage rights.
“I was wrong,” she told Stahl. “I love my sister very much. I love her family very much. And … I was wrong. It’s a very personal issue — and very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right. And my sister and I have had that conversation.”
Mary Cheney praised her sister in a Facebook post, writing, “It took a ton of courage to admit that she was wrong back in 2013 when she opposed marriage equality. That is something few politicians would ever do.”
This year Liz Cheney voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would write marriage equality into federal law, therefore safeguarding it if the Supreme Court ever overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 ruling that established equal marriage rights nationwide. She was one of 47 Republicans in the U.S. House who joined all Democrats in voting for the bill, and she has urged GOPers in the Senate to support it. It has not come to a vote in that chamber yet.
Also in the 60 Minutes interview, after her marriage comment, she made an unprompted remark about transgender inclusion. “This — this is an issue that we have to recognize, you know, as, as human beings that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state,” she said. “We were at an event a few nights ago, and there was a young woman who said she doesn’t feel safe sometimes because she’s transgender. And nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody.”
Despite this, however, earlier in the year she had voted against the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination nationwide. That bill has passed the House but not come to a vote in the Senate.
On the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, Cheney has received zeroes for her time in Congress so far; the scorecard for the current session has not come out yet.
Cheney has also opposed abortion rights, supported gun rights, and voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all positions she stood by in the Stahl interview. She further told Stahl she still supports waterboarding, which is sometimes used to get suspected terrorists to talk and which is considered by many to be torture. Cheney said it isn’t torture.
Cheney lost her primary to Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman, a lawyer who has based her career on opposing environmental causes. Hageman will face Democrat Lynette Grey Bull, an Indigenous woman, in November’s general election for Wyoming’s sole U.S. House seat. However, the state is dominated by Republicans, so Hageman is heavily favored to win.
But Cheney isn’t going away. She said Wednesday on NBC that she’s considering a run for president in 2024. She also called Trump “a very grave threat and risk to our republic,” and said that to oppose him and his allies, the nation needs “a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats, and independents — and that’s what I intend to be part of.”