When Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate almost four years ago, he did so knowing Biden was notoriously volatile when it came to predicting what would spill out of his mouth. Well, while the president was probably lacing up for some golf this Sunday morning, Biden came out for same-sex marriage equality on Meet The Press.
President Obama has been walking an extremely fine line between supporting same-sex marriage or not. Some call his position “nuanced,” while others call it “bat-shit crazy.” Our friend Chris Geidner over at Metro Weekly says that when it comes to the administration’s position on marriage equality, “all pretense of clarity is gone.”
But Vice President Biden sounded pretty unequivocal this morning in his comfort and support of the idea. When NBC’s David Gregory asked him if his views have evolved on same-sex marriage, Biden responded:
Biden: The good news is that, as more and more Americans coem 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.
Gregory: That’s what you believe?
Biden: That’s what I believe.
Gregory: And you’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now?
Biden: Look. I am Vice President of hte United States. 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 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.
Gregory went on to needle Biden about what the Obama administration would do in a second term, wondering if they’d support marriage outright. Biden launched into a laundry list of what the President has done for gay rights so far. But he highlighted one thing that the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and in Chicago) probably won’t appreciate.
“Look at the Executive Orders he’s put in place,” Biden said, noting how Obama has strong armed hospitals that get federal funding not to discriminate when it comes to visitation rights for same-sex partners. It’ a worthy thing to applaud, and Obama deserves credit for this. But he’s also gotten a lot of ire lately for not signing an Executive Order regarding LGBT employment discrimination, so his Vice President touting this easily accessible tool in his arenal is probably the last thing he wants right now.
The reactions on twitter were immediate, causing Biden, Axelrod and the administration to simultaneously endorse, walk back, and dismiss the Vice President’s comments with all the schizophrenic logic with which they’ve always approached same-sex marriage:
Biden also came out with a swinging endorsement of Will & Grace as a major force in changing American perceptions of gay life.
Was this a gaffe in the traditional sense? Biden had to know he’d be asked about this, with North Carolina’s Amendment One banning gay partnerships going to the polls on Tuesday. The administration has only given the most tepid endorsement against it, but Biden must have known he’d be asked about this, and he appeared calm and thoughtful as he spoke his words today. No accidental f-bomb drop here.
In the end, we find Biden’s views are not as close to President Obama’s but to…Dick Cheney’s!
Watch the above video from 2006, and you’ll find that the last two Vice Presidents of the United States basically are saying a version of this: “I support gay marriage personally, but I also support my president, and my president sets policy.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 6, 2012