Vice President Joe Biden stated that he is “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.” Before we all start uncorking the champaign, though, it should be noted that this does not come anywhere near actually signalling legislative or policy support. Basically, it signals that he’s comfortable with it.
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.
Biden also stated:
The president continues to fight, whether it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or whether it is making sure, across the board that you cannot discriminate. Look [at] the executive orders he’s put in place: Any hospital that gets federal funding, which is almost all of them, they can’t deny a partner from being able to have access to their partner who’s ill or making the call on whether or not they — you know — it’s just — this is evolving.
And by the way, my measure, David, and I take a look at when things really begin to change, is when the social culture changes. I think “Will and Grace” probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far. And I think — people fear that which is different. Now they’re beginning to understand.
Later, a Biden spokesperson issued a statement saying:
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 rollback 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.
None of this amounts to any actual endorsement of same-sex marriage. Right now, most of Obama’s political advisors are rather uncertain about signaling full support for same-sex marriage in the nation because they view the endorsement of it to be something that could galvanize many Republicans in the upcoming election even though GOP voters are, right now, uncertain about their presumptive candidate- Mitt Romney.
In the end, the political risks for Obama outweigh the benefits when it comes to marriage equality.