Joe Biden seemed to shift in the Obama administration’s position on gay marriage this morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” But then the Obama administration backtracked, saying the Vice President Biden was simply reinforcing President Obama’s position and past statements on the issue.
Biden offered a seemingly powerful endorsement of gay marriage when “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Biden if his views had “evolved.” Of marriage equality, Obama has said that his views are “evolving.”
The good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition: Who do you love? Who do you love, and will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out — what all marriages at their root are about. Whether they are marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.
Then Gregory asked if he was “comfortable with same-sex marriage now.
Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.
An Obama senior campaign adviser, David Axelrod, tried to quell any firestorm with this subsequent tweet after Biden’s “Meet the Press” appearance:
But Obama has always stopped short of explicitly endorsing gay marriage — ever since he backtracked from a 1996 candidate questionnaire in which he answered that he favoured legalizing gay marriage. He has not publicly supported any state bills legalizing gay marriage — but he has opposed efforts to ban gay marriage.
The latest possible state ban is in North Carolina. It’s on Tuesday’s ballot, and recent polls show that a ban is likely to pass. Obama hasn’t publicly spoken about it, but President Bill Clinton has recorded a robocall against it.
The results of a February Pew Research centre survey show why Obama could be hesitant to support something as momentous as gay marriage. Among crucial voting blocs, support hasn’t reached the 50 per cent level. Most notable are black voters, whose support stands only at 36 per cent.
The Obama campaign’s backtrack indicates that it doesn’t want this to become a major issue and that it will portray this as what Obama has always said. But that could also cause some backlash. Via Think Progress, here’s a statement from Winnie Stachelberg, the executive vice president for external affairs at the centre for American Progress:
“We commend Vice President Biden for supporting marriage equality and call on President Obama to do the same. The campaign shouldn’t force Biden’s comments back into the closet, but should instead embrace the growing popular support for the freedom to marry.”
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