The Gay Marriage ‘Gaffe’

Who doesn’t love Vice President Joe Biden?  He’s like your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, going off and saying the things everyone is thinking, but noone dares to utter out loud.  Case in point: this weekend, he came out as being personally in favor of same-sex marriage.  No pun intended.  Then, Education Secretary Arne Duncan did the same.  The White House reiterated that these statements reflected the personal sentiments of those involved, and do not represent Administration policy.  President Obama has stated that while he does not favor same-sex marriage at this point, his stance on the issue continues to ‘evolve.’

Since he’s taken office, he has put up a reasonably good fight for gay rights, dropping the outdated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military policy, instructing the Office of the Solicitor General to stop arguing for the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts, and courting gay supports in a much more visible manner than previous administrations.  But, at least publicly, he hasn’t been able to bring himself to tacitly endorse the idea of same-sex marriage before the electorate, even though it’s widely assumed that privately, he has no problems with it.  Many people think that it’s just the political considerations that are stopping him from issuing a full-throated statement backing the idea.

This reminds me somewhat of the position that Bill Clinton took on the issue when he was in office.  He publicly disavowed it, and later regretted it.  He only came out in favor of same-sex marriage once he left office.  While his sentiments are appreciated, they’re no substitute for the real deal, presidential backing for the extension of marriage equality for all Americans.  And while President Obama does have to contend with an upcoming election, which complicates positions on pretty much any political issue, the time has come for him to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

This isn’t 1995, when the idea was new and scary, even to many gay Americans.  By this point, everyone in the country knows of at least a few people who are gay, and in my estimate, that fact is what’s turned the tide of public opinion in favor of gay marriage.  A majority of Americans now back the idea, and that trend is only growing stronger.  Vice President Biden’s ‘gaffe’ was viewed as Joe being Joe, a chatty pol that’s liable to shoot his mouth off.  So he is.  But his statement reflected the reality to which everyone’s already reconciled themselves: that this will be the last Presidential election where the Democratic candidate is not an all-out supporter of same sex marriage.

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