Suzanne Fields

All politics is local and in Wyoming local is Cody, Casper, Laramie and Cheyenne, and other names known to most Americans only from Western movies. "These types of tiffs between the two sisters, that really isn't the headline drawer for us," Kyle Roerink, a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, tells Politico, the Capitol Hill political daily. "What we want to report on here in Wyoming, what matters most, is where they stand on policy." Refreshing, if true.

Nevertheless, the showdown at Cheney corral illustrates a problem for Republicans in 2016, as the social issues affect policy. Gay marriage is no longer the hot button it was now that 15 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage as legal, and some polls show a bare majority of Americans saying it's OK. The Supreme Court has decreed that federal benefits cannot be denied to same-sex couples.

A third of Republicans say gay marriage should be legal, up from 22 percent five years ago, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll. A majority of Republicans and independents under 50 who lean Republican say gay marriage should be legal. One-third of Americans polled who favor gay marriage say they once held the opposite view.

Family values, a winning theme for Republicans, has become more "nuanced" as family members come out of the closet. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, changed his mind when his son told him he was gay. He joined nine other Republicans to vote for legislation forbidding employment discrimination toward gays.

Papa Cheney, as vice president, supported state-sanctioned gay marriage when President Bush supported a federal ban. Mary, his angry lesbian daughter, campaigned for the Bush-Cheney ticket, though her support was obviously more personal than political. Log Cabin Republicans, who support gay marriage, are not always single-issue voters, and usually support conservatives on economic and defense policy issues. They say the split in the Cheney family is "emblematic" of discussions taking place in many Republican families.

It took four days to film the famous gunfight scene between feuding families in the movie version of "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral." The catfight at Cheney corral is likely to fade sooner than that, and long before the gay marriage issue is settled among Republicans and other conservatives.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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