On Meet the Press today, the vice president discussed the administration’s position in the same-sex marriage debate.
Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday said that’s he’s “absolutely comfortable” with married same-sex couples being granted the same rights as heterosexual pairs.
“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,” he told NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” “And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.” (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
President Barack Obama has said his position on same sex marriage is “evolving,” and he supported civil unions but opposed marriage for gay couples during the 2008 campaign. Biden noted Sunday that the “president sets the policy” and that he did not know if the administration would formally come out in favor of same-sex marriage in the president’s second term should he be re-elected.
But the vice president said that attitudes about gay marriage in America are changing in favor of greater tolerance for loving homosexual partners.
“The good news is that as more and more Americans become to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition,” he said. “Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what — what all marriages, at their root, are about.”
An aide pointed to the administration’s efforts to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act and said that the vice president’s comments only reiterated Obama’s past support for “committed and loving same-sex couples.”
“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,” the aide 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.”
Section 3 is the section defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman.
Biden, who twice ran for president before accepting the job of Obama’s second-in-command, pushed back on persistent speculation that he could be replaced on the 2012 ticket by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “There’s no way out. I mean, they’ve already printed Obama-Biden!” he said.
And he quipped Sunday that he and one-time rival Clinton may run on a joint ticket in 2016.
“I think we may run as a team,” he said, quickly noting that he was joking.
“I don’t know whether I’m gonna run,” he added. “And Hillary doesn’t know whether she’s gonna run.”
Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, said it was encouraged by Biden’s comments. Biden “rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally,” President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.”