Vice President Biden is the E.F. Hutton of the Obama administration. When he talks, people listen — usually because he’s bound to say something to make the president or the administration or both uncomfortable. And so it was on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” when Biden expressed his support for same-sex marriage. This marks an evolution that continues to elude President Obama. But only in words, not in deeds.
“The good news is that . . . more and more Americans [have] come to understand [that] what this is all about is a simple proposition. Who do you love?” said Biden when asked if his views had evolved on the issue. “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.” And then he went further when pressed by moderator David Gregory on his comfort with same-sex marriage.
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.
Biden couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the question about whether Obama would come out in favor of marriage equality in a second term. But what Obama fails to do rhetorically he’s more than making up for in action.
Chief among them, his decision last year that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the administration would no longer defend it against legal challenge. This is on top of his speaking out against efforts in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Maine and Washington to deny or take away rights from same-sex couples. All these actions and countless others leave me with no doubt where Obama stands on marriage equality. They also tell me that his reticence can only be political. But said reticence is unnecessary.
Public opinion polls show that Americans are already supportive of same-sex marriage. The latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll put support at 49 percent. That’s up nine points since 2009. A year ago, The Post-ABC News poll put support at 53 percent, up from 36 percent in 2006.
As Biden pointed out, the culture has been slowly but increasingly accepting gay men and lesbians. “I think ‘Will & Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far,” Biden told Gregory. Asked for reaction via Twitter by “Meet The Press” producer Chris Donovan, the actors from the hit NBC show (1998-2006) about a gay male lawyer (Will) and his straight best friend and roommate (Grace) expressed pride.
Debra Messing tweeted, “I could not be more proud. Thank you Mr. Vice President for yer support and yer words about W&G. #humbled”
Eric McCormack tweeted, “Three cheers for VP Joe Biden! Fantastic interview. Now who ELSE is gonna step up?”
We all know who the “ELSE” is.
If Biden can freely say that he’s comfortable with same-sex marriage, nothing should stop Obama from doing the same. After all, we’re only asking for his words to catch up with his actions.