If the question of same-sex couples' marriage rights comes up at tonight's vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have clearly contrasting views on the issue — with Biden supporting marriage equality and Ryan opposing it.
ABC News's Martha Raddatz will be moderating tonight's vice presidential debate — the only such debate — and all topics are fair game.
During debate prep for the debate, and in a sign of the changed landscape for the issue, both candidates' stand-ins for their opponent — Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen played Ryan and lawyer Ted Olson played Biden — side with Biden in support of marriage equality.
Here's what the four have said:
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 is what all marriages at their root are about. Whether they're marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.
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.
The things you talk about like traditional marriage and family and entrepreneurship. These aren’t values that are indicative to any one person or race or creed or color. These are American values. These are universal human values.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) played Ryan in Biden’s debate prep:
The [Maryland] Civil Marriage Protection Act, signed into law today by Governor O'Malley, represents a historic moment in the history of Maryland and a critical leap forward in the fight to ensure that all Americans have the equal rights they deserve. With this new law, gay and lesbian Marylanders will have the opportunity to enter into marriage and take on the rights and responsibilities afforded to those who have committed their lives to one another.
I applaud the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly for their work on this important issue. While Maryland joins eight states that have legalized same-sex marriage, there is more work to be done. I will continue to fight to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act so that married same-sex families, including those serving in the Armed Forces, are no longer denied the 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities afforded to all other married Americans. They should not be treated as second class citizens by the federal government.
Ted Olson played Biden in Ryan’s debate prep:
Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership … The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.
Legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation's commitment to equal rights.