Typically, Vice President Joe Biden speaking his mind isn't breaking news, unless he's letting an f-bomb slip over a live microphone. Yesterday was another exception.
Shortly before went on the air, he told David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press that personally, he is "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage. While news wires and Twitter blew up with that news, Melissa was having an on-air discussion (above) about it, considering its potential impact on the President's evolving personal position on same-sex marriage.
As declarative as Biden appeared to be in his MTP appearance, it is notable that the Vice President didn't actually endorse same-sex marriage being legal in every state; just that he's cool with it. It was more of a message of tolerance, not policy (which doesn't mean it wasn't political).
But as politics tend to get after someone makes such a statement, the message got a lot more muddled after the show (much to the dismay of gay-rights advocates). As NBC's Chuck Todd reported, the Vice President was only speaking for himself, not the administration. Biden's people released this statement to Talking Points Memo:
“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 rollback those rights. That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. 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.”
Indeed, the President has said, and done, pretty much that -- but also stands by his now-infamous "evolving" quote from December 2010. So why not just go all the way (in an election year, no less), and endorse legal same-sex marriage? Now that Vice President Biden said what he said, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan endorsing marriage equality, the President may no longer have a choice.
I agree with one of Melissa's guests, Yahoo! business and finance columnist Daniel Gross, when he asked yesterday what I think is the essential question about the President's position:
I find it astonishing that he can't be declarative on this. Is there anyone that doesn't believe that 10 years from now, gay marriage will be legal in every state?
I have a feeling that President Obama and the White House may hear that question asked, in one form or another, quite often in the coming days.