Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)
The White House cast Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on same-sex marriage as in line with President Barack Obama’s views on the matter, saying the administration has not changed its position and both men are “evolving.”
“I have no update on the president’s personal views,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday at a lively briefing dominated by questions about Biden’s expression of support for gay marriage. “What the vice president said yesterday was to make the same point that the president has made 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.”
But vice president went further than the president has in stating support for gay marriage. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said he is “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.”
The remark drew cheers from gay rights activists and forced the White House to scramble to explain.
The president has said he supports civil unions but did not endorse same-sex marriage as a candidate in 2008. He has since described his position as “evolving.” White House aides, including Carney, have declined to comment further on the president’s personal position since.
On Monday, Carney said the president had an “unparalleled record of support record” on GLBT rights issues, noting the elimination of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay people serving in the military and the administration’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
But Carney declined to state clearly whether the president supports or opposes gay marriages, saying that was a personal opinion best expressed by the president himself.
He said the president opposes an amendment up for a vote Tuesday in North Carolina that would ban same-sex marriages. Although such marriages are not currently legal in the state, Carney said the president believes the amendment would restrict rights already granted.
“He is opposed to efforts in states to deny rights that have been provided to citizens,” Carney said.