When Will President Obama Embrace the Freedom to Marry?
Yesterday, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Vice President Joe Biden became the highest-ranking Obama administration official to back marriage equality. Check it out:
GREGORY: Have your views evolved?
BIDEN: The good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition. 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 what all marriages at their root are about. Whether they are marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals. [...]
GREGORY: You’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now?
BIDEN: 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. [...] I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that is different and now they’re beginning to understand.
Following the vice president’s comments, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning also came out in favor of marriage equality. Sean Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, became the first cabinet official to come out for marriage equality when he did so last November.
Unfortunately, the president’s campaign and members of the vice president’s staff immediately tried to walk back Biden’s comments yesterday, claiming that the view he outlined is the same position that the president holds.
This afternoon, the Obama campaign’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, refused to tell NBC’s Andrea Mitchell if the president himself was “comfortable” with “men marrying men.” The topic also dominated today’s White House daily press briefing, with reporters hounding White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the issue for 21 minutes of the 44-minute press conference. Watch it:
In response to the vice president’s proclamation of support for the freedom to marry, Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, called on the president to finishing evolving and come out in support of marriage equality:
We commend Vice President Biden for supporting marriage equality and call on President Obama to do the same. The campaign shouldn’t force Biden’s comments back into the closet, but should instead embrace the growing popular support for the freedom to marry.
For their part, national Republicans have used the uproar to attempt to divert attention away from their abysmal record on LGBT issues. Mitt Romney not only opposes marriage equality, he supports efforts to etch marriage discrimination into our Constitution, has attacked the Obama administration for refusing to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, and he even used his vast wealth to personally fund various anti-gay groups, including one that supports harmful “pray away the gay” therapy as well as the race-baiting National Organization for Marriage’s hateful campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California.
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