Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday became the highest-ranking administration official to announce their support marriage for same-sex couples.
“The president sets the policy,” he told “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”
A vice presidential spokesperson sought to clarify Biden’s comments almost immediately after he appeared on the program.
“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,” said the official. “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.”
The vice president’s remarks came against the backdrop of increased criticism over President Barack Obama’s failure to publicly endorse marriage for same-sex couples. Obama’s decision not to issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees sparked outrage among LGBT activists.
Eleven state Democratic Party chairs last Thursday announced their support of a proposal that would add marriage for gays and lesbians to their party’s 2012 platform. Former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 22 U.S. senators are among those who have backed the proposed.
It remains uncertain whether the DNC will adopt the proposed platform plank during this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Activists, however, welcomed Biden’s comments.
“We are encouraged by vice president Biden’s comments, who rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally,” said Human Rights President Joe Solmonese. “Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.”