Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that he is "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples having the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Biden made his remarks on NBC's "Meet the Press" and clearly gave a nod to the gay marriage movement. Biden declined to comment on — but didn't rule out — the possibility that in a second term, President Barack Obama would move from his current position of backing civil unions to fully supporting gay marriage.
"Look. I am vice president of the United States of America," Biden said on the show. "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 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."
Obama has repeatedly said that his thoughts on gay marriage are "evolving" and that he hasn't ruled out that he might one day endorse it. Last September, Obama ended the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that governed gays in the military.
The country continues to be split on gay marriage — an issue that could take center stage in this year's presidential election. A recent Pew poll found that 46 percent of Americans support gay marriage, while 44 percent are opposed. Americans support gay civil unions by substantially higher numbers.
Biden's interview could lead some to believe that this is part of the White House's strategic plan to inch closer to embracing same-sex marriage.
However, a Biden aide was quick to say after the interview that Biden's comments were in line with what the president has previously said about the rights of same-sex couples, according to the Washington Post.
"Look, I just think that the good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about, it's a simple proposition: Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love?" Biden said on the show. "And that's what people are finding out, is what all marriages at their root are about, whether they're marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals."
"That's what I believe," Biden added.
Gay-rights activists said they were encouraged by what Biden had to say.
"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 Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples."
by RTT Staff Writer
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