WASHINGTON -- Wyoming Republican Senate candidate Liz Cheney defended herself Sunday against allegations that she approves of same-sex marriage, saying she supports the traditional definition of marriage.
Cheney was asked to clarify her position on gay marriage during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," after host Chris Wallace pointed out that she opposed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and supported the State Department's offering benefits to same-sex partners of its employees around the world. Wallace asked Cheney if she believed it was a flip for her to take such stands, but then of late to reaffirm her opposition to gay marriage.
"It's not, and I stand by both of those positions," Cheney said. "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."
"I also don't support amending the Constitution on this issue," she added. "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."
Cheney's position on gay marriage has been the subject of much scrutiny during her Senate bid, prompting her to dance around the issue in recent months. She told the Daily Caller in August that she is "not pro gay marriage," but has repeatedly declared it a state-level issue.
Mary Cheney, who is gay and married her longtime partner in Washington, D.C., last year, has criticized her sister's stance as "dead wrong."
"For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage," Mary Cheney wrote in a Facebook post in September. "Freedom means freedom for everyone," she continued. "That means that 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."
Their father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, endorsed same-sex marriage in 2009.
Liz Cheney responded to her sister on Sunday, saying, "Listen, I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree."
Cheney also accused her opponent, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and his allies of running "scurrilous" ads attacking her commitment to traditional marriage. The conservative group American Principles Fund unveiled a television ad last month hitting Cheney for appearing on liberal network MSNBC to "campaign against the marriage amendment and support government benefits for gay couples."
Cheney said Enzi had insisted he wouldn't stoop to petty politics during the course of his reelection campaign, and she called on the Republican senator to renounce the ad.
Republicans hold nearly every elected office in Wyoming, one of the most conservative states in the country. It currently prohibits gay marriage, and several attempts to include the gay and transgender community in the state's anti-discrimination laws have failed.
At the same time, Wyoming state lawmakers have rejected efforts by social conservatives to disavow the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states and to insert "defense of marriage" amendments in the state constitution.