The vice presidential candidates sparred during a debate Thursday over issues ranging from foreign affairs to the economy, and took very different views on the role their faith plays in their duties as public officials.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said his Catholic faith is inseparable from the decisions he makes while in office under questioning from moderator Martha Raddatz on how his religion guides his pro-life views.
“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith,” Ryan said. “Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
Vice President Joseph Biden similarly talked about the importance of religion in his life — saying he’s been a practicing Catholic all his life and his religion has informed his social views — but he went on to say he’s pro-choice and wouldn’t impose his religion on others who may not share his views.
“But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman,” Biden said.
It’s these views on religion that could help explain why they hold opposing views on same-sex marriage, which is opposed by the Catholic Church. Biden came out for marriage equality in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” while Ryan opposes same-sex marriage and voted twice for a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban it throughout the country.
Adam Bink, who’s gay and director of online programs for the Courage Campaign, said the candidate’s opposing views on the way religion affects their public duties should concern LGBT Americans — particularly with several cases related to marriage pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“For anyone concerned about LGBT equality, the bottom line was Rep. Ryan saying he can’t separate his faith from the way he serves in public office, and Vice President Biden saying ‘I accept the church’s doctrine in my personal life, but I refuse to impose that on others,’” Bink said. “With the Supreme Court considering whether to take cases on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, I know who I want advising the next president on judicial nominees.”
But no explicit mention of LGBT issues was made during the 90-minute debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., where the terrorism attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the best way to end the war in Afghanistan and managing the fiscal affairs of the U.S. government took up large portions of the evening.