Reporters grilled White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage Monday afternoon, just one day after Vice President Joe Biden told NBC’s Meet The Press that he is “absolutely comfortable with…men marrying men, women marrying women.”
Carney had little to say and reiterated the administration’s claim that both Obama and Biden believe that all couples who are married “are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties,” but don’t, at the present time, support the right of gay and lesbians to marry. The press responded by accusing Obama of laying the political groundwork for eventually embracing marriage rights and pushed back against Carney’s redundant talking points, asking marriage-related questions for 21 of the 44 minute press conference. Significantly, the press secretary could not explain if Obama agrees with Biden’s claim that he is “comfortable” with “men marrying men” or if he believes that marriage is a “civil liberty.” Below are some highlights:
Q: Why does the president oppose same-sex marriage?
CARNEY: I would just point you to what the president has said in the past, both during his campaign for president in 2008 and in answer to a question in 2010. I really don’t have an update for you.
Q: Is the president comfortable with the fact of men marrying men and women marrying women?
CARNEY: The president is comfortable with same-sex couples, as the Vice President said, being entitled to the same rights and the civil rights and civil liberties as other Americans.
Q: Is marriage a civil liberty?
CARNEY: You have to ask civil libertarians or lawyers.
Q: He opposes bans on gay marriage, but he doesn’t yet support gay marriage?
CARNEY: The record has long been clear that the president opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.
Watch a compilation:
The Washington Post notes that “More than 50 times, reporters pressed spokesman Jay Carney on President Obama’s position on gay marriage at Monday’s White House briefing.”