While Team Obama eagerly engages in various campaigns of misdirection to get people talking about anything other than the president’s terrible economic performance, it looks like last week’s flap concerning the resignation of the Romney camp’s openly gay staffer presented Team Obama an opportunity to work on their own gay-marriage messaging. Sending out their top scout to determine the lay of the land, Vice President Biden elucidated his own views on gay marriage on Sunday’s Meet the Press:
“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 and women marrying another 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.”
It would be way too controversial of an election-year flip-flop for President Obama himself to directly endorse gay marriage, so the White House is instead crafting a careful image of a reserved-yet-receptive president with “evolving” views who surrounds himself with sympathetic high-ranking personnel. Obama’s campaign is always quick to tout the repeal of DADT as a signature achievement, and Biden also pointed to some of his boss’s executive orders in support of gay rights, but Biden’s office insisted that the vice president’s words were not an endorsement in favor of gay marriage:
The seeming endorsement of gay marriage by the vice president quickly made news across the Twittersphere. Chuck Todd, reporter and political analyst for NBC News, tweeted that Biden had gone further than Obama on gay marriage. A spokesperson for Biden contacted Todd to clarify that Biden was not speaking for Obama. But, a top Obama campaign official seemed to suggest, via Twitter, that Obama held the same view.
“What VP said – that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights – is precisely POTUS’s position,” David Axelrod responded to Todd via Twitter.
A spokesperson in Biden’s office sent an email to reporters saying that Biden’s position on gay marriage had not changed, but, like Obama, his position is “evolving.”
“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,” the spokesperson wrote.
Gay-rights advocates lauded Biden’s outspokenness and encouraged President Obama to say as much, too — but, like many hot-button issues that excite separate groups within his base, actual hard-hitting decisions (or even just real-talk) will likely have to wait until 2013, if at all.