Today on Meet the Press, Vice President Joe Biden gave a decidedly non-committal show of support for same-sex marriage:
David 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’s (non-)answer largely echoes the sentiments of President Obama, who has not come out directly in support of same-sex marriage, but has claimed that his views on the matter are still “evolving.”
It’s unclear why the White House has kept this issue at arms length for so long, given that support for same-sex marriage has increased steadily for two decades. Supporters of same-sex marriage tend to be younger, as do Obama voters. In fact, public support for same-sex marriage is now net positive for the first time.
When the numbers are broken down by demographic, nearly all of Barack Obama’s key constituencies - millennials, gen-Xers, registered Democrats, and registered Independents – appear to support gay marriage.
The notable exception to that trend is black voters, whose support for same-sex marriage is relatively low. Even so, the political calculus seems to indicate that finally “evolving” on this issue might benefit the President.
This all assumes that the President is, in fact, a supporter of same-sex marriage, of course. Given his campaign rhetoric and the State Department’s recent efforts to stop the worldwide persecution of gay people, it seems reasonable to conclude that Obama supports marriage equality. However, as Slate’s Matt Yglesias said tongue-in-cheekily on Twitter today:
Maybe Obama is fanatically opposed to gay marriage and is pretending to be only pretending to be opposed for political reasons.