Joe Biden speaks up for gay marriage – but pulls back from defining comments as endorsementBreaking News, Top Highlights Sunday, May 6th, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden spoke up for marriage rights while appearing on Meet the Press this Sunday, in what many initially took as an endorsement of marriage for LGBT couples. Think Progress described Biden’s remarks as signifying “a split with the Obama administration;” however, a spokesperson for the Vice President denied any such split, explaining that Biden was simply 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.”
The remarks in question were given during Biden’s interview with host David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press program Sunday morning, during which he said that he is “absolutely comfortable” with the fact that married gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the “same exact rights” as heterosexual couples. Biden added that, regardless of his own views, “the president sets the policy” – one that, in a statement for The Washington Blade, Biden’s spokesman described as “evolving” after emphasizing the administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of DOMA.
During the NBC interview, Biden credited the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” with affecting significant change in terms of social understanding and acceptance of LGBT couples. “I think ‘Will & Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far,” he said.
While Biden’s comments may not be the official endorsement many had hoped for, they do signify a critical evolution on his part since 2008, when he denied any support for redefining, “from a civil side,” what constitutes marriage.
UPDATE – 4:30 pm: Reactions from political commentators, LGBT activists and celebrities have continued to roll in over the course of the afternoon in response to Joe Biden’s remarks earlier today concerning gay marriage – and the Obama administration’s subsequent efforts to “walk back” the Vice President’s words.
Emotions ranged from frustration to encouragement among advocates of marriage equality. Joe Solmonese of HRC said that, ”We are encouraged by Vice President Biden’s comments, who rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally,” according to The Huffington Post. “Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Solmonese added.
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson also commented on Biden’s remarks, stating “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.”
However, after administration officials jumped to deny any official endorsement of gay marriage on Biden’s part, some expressed their exasperation with President Obama’s delay in coming out in favor of marriage equality.
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that, “What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS’s position,” essentially back-peddling on Biden’s more vocal support. In response, some — like Michelangelo Signorile, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Gay Voice — spoke to the effect that “David Axelrod is once again frantically trying to push gay stuff back in the closet. This is really quite ludicrous.” Others chimed in with similar opinions, urging Obama to join fellow democratic leaders in backing LGBT marriage equality.
Watch this morning’s full Meet the Press interview here:
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=24118