Vice President Joe Biden is known for his gaffs. But this time, he should stick by what he said. On Meet The Press, Biden expressed his full support for same-sex marriage, outdoing Obama, who supports civil unions, saying:
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another 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.”
Biden did include the disclaimer, “I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy.” But apparently, that wasn’t enough. The Obama campaign made sure everyone knew that Biden isn’t comfortable with marriage equality. First, a Biden aid clarified that,
“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 roll back those rights…. 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.”
And senior Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod tweeted, “What VP said – that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights – is precisely POTUS’s position.” Axelrod’s tweet came off as pathetic, desperate and spineless. And I don’t remember anyone trying to massage Dick Cheney’s message when he disagreed with George W. Bush on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In all fairness, Cheney controlled Bush’s messaging, and not the other way around, so I’m not surprised.
Blogger John Aravosis sums up the PR disaster well:
1. No one will believe Axelrod’s denial. 2. The religious right already has been claiming that President Obama is for gay marriage, and they’ll use this incident as further proof, regardless of Axelrod’s denial. And, 3. Gays will find Axelrod’s denial, and the odd claim that the President supports equal benefits for married gays while he doesn’t support the prerequisite for us getting those benefits, marriage itself, hypocritical, political, and offensive.
So, to recap: All Axelrod’s denial does is further tick the gays off while doing nothing to dispel the notion on the right that the President already embraces gay marriage.
But back to what Biden really said. What, according to Joe, is responsible for our country’s evolved position on marriage equality? “I think ‘Will and Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far,” said the Veep. I guess we should be grateful the White House didn’t make Biden renounce Will and Grace. We’ll always have Will and Grace, Joe. We’ll always have Will and Grace.
BREAKING UPDATE: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has come out in support of marriage equality just this morning, becoming the second cabinet official to endorse it publicly.