Vice President Joe Biden spoke approvingly this morning of “men marrying men,” throwing the Obama Administration’s finely-calculated opposition to gay marriage into disarray.
“You’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now?” David Gregory asked Biden on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying 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,” Biden replied.
His answer was somewhat muddled, and prefaced by a sort of disclaimer — “I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy.” — but chaotic, immediate reactions from his advisors and from Obama’s suggested he had gone too far.
Biden’s office told NBC’s Chuck Todd that Biden “was speaking for his own evolving on marriage not for the admin[istration’s].”
But Obama’s advisor David Axelrod tweeted that the men’s views are in fact identical.
Obama has already said he’s “evolving” in the direction of supporting same-sex marriage, but he has not, for instance, backed same-sex marriage in any of the states considering it, though he has come out against referenda that would ban it.
Gay rights groups, who support the Democrat but are pushing him to go further, welcomed Biden’s remarks.
“The VP’s comments were encouraging — now is the time for the President to support marriage equality,” said a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, Fred Sainz.
“If there was ever any doubt where Obama’s evolution would end, Joe Biden’s candid remarks this morning ended it. He’s where most Americans are on this. They both are,” said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton aide and longtime gay rights advocate. “And you don’t go on Meet the Press without rehearsing these answers either, so I think they are sending a message. And it’s a positive one.”
Gay Republicans, meanwhile, saw an opportunity to again draw attention to Obama’s fine political calculations on what his supporters and some critics view as a civil rights issue.
“It’s good to see that Biden has finally come around to Dick Cheney’s position on marriage. It’s sad that his boss continues to “evolve,” said Chris Barron, a founder of the group GOProud. “Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how the Obama campaign could be anymore cynical and political than they have been on marriage.”