Does this sound like someone supporting marriage equality or not?
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women 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.”
Apparently not, as that was Vice President Biden on Meet The Press on Sunday and though initially headlined ‘Biden Supports Marriage Equality,’ his office quickly said ‘no, ignore the actual words, what he really means is he’s still evolving.’
Huh? Where’s the evolution? It sure sounds like he’s actually completed his ‘evolution.’
But Biden’s office is denying any endorsement of same-sex marriage.
“The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights,” a spokesperson said. “That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.”
He does not literally say ‘I endorse,’ and his comments are similar to those he made in an interview in December 2010 on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I think the country’s evolving,” Biden said then. “And I think there’s an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. That is my view. But this is the President’s policy. And, but it is evolving. I think the country is evolving.”
It is a bit of a fine distinction, and frankly a dance which is understandably frustrating many Americans — to say on the one hand that you are ‘fine’ with ‘men marrying men’ but on the other that you don’t actually ‘endorse’ men marrying men.
The Obama campaign may well end up with an even odder dance to do if the actual platform for the Democratic Party in the General Election is marriage equality.
There is a very active campaign for it to be a plank in the platform discussion of families. Nancy Pelosi wants it in there, as does the Convention Chairman, LA Mayor Villaraigosa, and now 11 state party chairs.
It’s known that Barack Obama’s advisers have held serious discussions with leading Democrats about the upsides and downsides of coming out for gay marriage before the fall election.
In one of the more thoughtful pieces on this cost/benefit analysis, Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast cites, in the yes column: energizing disillusioned young voters, driving some donors and a majority now in support in polling.
But in the no column he cites: significant African American opposition, energizing of the opposition to the voting booth, and the impact in key swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Tomasky says: “I think we all believe, everyone on every side of the issue, that Obama is really deep down for gay marriage but just hasn’t yet felt like he could say it.” But that ‘no’ column leads him to argue from cold political calculation that “if he does it in a second term, no one will be the least bit surprised. Oh, Fox and the right will howl at the moon, but no one will be actually surprised, and the conservative supporters of gay marriage … shorn of an electoral context in which to try to find a reason to criticize Obama (for cynicism, what have you) will just say, ‘Okay, this is the right thing. Next.’”
Watch Biden on Meet The Press:
Picture: screengrab of Biden on Meet The Press