Scientists and fifth-graders alike likely understand: Evolution takes time. The complex genetic levers pulled by this biological process are generally understood in terms of geologic eras — many millions of years — rather than in human time spans. Yet some parts of the Obama administration seem to be evolving a tad more rapidly than others, at least regarding the White House’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Vice President Joe Biden pulled a total Biden on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday when he made comments to host David Gregory that many interpreted as a positive endorsement of the hot-button political issue.
“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,” Biden said. “All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. ... Frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”
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With campaign 2012 at full boil — and especially as advocates in North Carolina look to Washington for guidance over the restrictive Amendment 1 set for a vote tomorrow — the Internet was quick to react. Liberal rights groups hailed Biden’s progress, while conservatives pounced on the issue to pin down Obama’s stance or try and push Romney into a full-throated condemnation.
But Biden’s office and Obama’s campaign quickly tried to contain the comments.
“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 roll back those rights,” a Biden staffer clarified. “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 veep’s office here references an earlier statement from President Obama in which he too claimed his views were “evolving,” perhaps, gay advocates hoped, to accommodate same sex marriage. So far, no such luck.
Proponents of marriage equality likely believe that Obama privately supports equal rights for the gay community, but they’ve got to wonder on what time scale his views are progressing to the point of public admission. Will Obama come around in time for a possible second term, or will it take another ice age before the political incentives are met?
Last week the Romney campaign hung openly gay spokesman Ric Grenell out to dry as far-right conservatives attacked the historic hire. Now this. A casual observer might argue this could be a good chance for Obama to flex his liberal cred and reveal the daylight between the two campaigns. A cynical observer might assume the numbers had already been tallied and that action wasn’t borne out by the results.
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