WASHINGTON — U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden on Sunday said he doesn’t think that there should be any legal barriers to same sex marriage.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden told moderator David Gregory that more and more Americans will come to understand “what this is all about … who do you love? Who do you love, and will you be loyal to the person you love?”
“Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. 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. […]
“People fear that which is different, and now they’re beginning to understand.”
The Vice-President’s remarks may signal a shift in public policy by the President who has maintained that he his views on same-sex marriage are evolving, however a spokesperson from the vice president’s office has since denied that Biden’s remarks were an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said he was “encouraged by Vice President Biden’s comments, who rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally. Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
Presidential adviser David Axelrod tweeted to NBC White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd, in response to his question regarding the president’s stance, “What the VP said – that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights – is precisely POTUS’s position.”
Evan Wolfson, President of Freedom To Marry, said, “I’ve known Vice President Biden since interning for him in the Senate in 1976. The personal and thoughtful way he has spoken about his coming to support the freedom to marry reflects the same journey that a majority of Americans have now made as they’ve gotten to know gay families, opened their hearts and changed their minds. President Obama should join the Vice President, former Presidents Clinton and Carter, former Vice Presidents Gore and Cheney, Laura Bush, and so many others in forthright support for the freedom to marry.”
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said, “Today, Vice President Biden took an important step toward joining former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney, and a growing majority of Americans who support marriage equality for their gay and lesbian friends, family and neighbors. It is significant that Vice President Biden spoke about the importance of Will & Grace in his journey toward acceptance, since we know that the media plays a key role in helping people understand that denying any loving couple the chance at happiness and security that comes only through marriage is not only hurtful, it’s downright un-American.”
The New York Times noted that The White House immediately suggested on Sunday that the vice president “had articulated no change in the administration’s official position on same-sex marriage.”
But gay rights advocates said that Mr. Biden’s remarks seemed to convey unmistakable support for their biggest cause. “Trying now to walk this back will only hurt them,” said Richard Socarides, a political strategist who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues. “You can’t clarify an answer as direct and candid and expansive as the one he gave.” He added: “We know where Biden stands. It’s a welcome development.”
The Vice-President’s remarks included listing some of the accomplishments in advancing LGBT rights, such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell,” the decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court, and the executive order mandating that hospitals which receive federal monies could not discriminate against partners of same-sex couples from visitation and other important decisions.
On the subject of whether Obama would support same-sex marriage in a second term, Biden replied, “I can’t speak to that. I don’t know the answer to that.”