Biden Says He Is 'Absolutely Comfortable' With Same-Sex Marriage

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- As a ballot initiative to ban same sex-marriage comes to a vote in North Carolina this week, Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday he was "absolutely comfortable" with the idea of same-gender marriage.

"I just think that the good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about, it is a simple proposition: Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person who love?" Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

While he did not touch on the North Carolina initiative, his comments were consistent with his message on the controversial issue in general. He added, however, that it's the president, not him, who sets the administration's policy.

President Barack Obama, who once opposed same-sex marriage, has taken the official position that his views on the issue are "evolving." He says at fundraisers that there is much work do be done, leading many supporters in the LGBT community to believe that he would support same-sex marriage in a second term.

Biden, on the other hand, has more room politically to speak on the topic. Sunday, he said he was encouraged by what he sees as a shifting culture, one more welcoming to the notion of same-sex marriage, and pointed to a popular TV show as a catalyst for such change.

"I think 'Will and Grace' did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done," Biden said, referring to the former NBC comedy about a gay man and a heterosexual woman living together in New York City.

Asked if the president would support same-sex marriage in a second term, Biden said he didn't know the answer. But he pointed to the Obama administration's repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, a move that now allows gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly.

Some on Twitter seized on the vice president's words to question whether the White House was signaling a change in position on the issue ahead of the election. But David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama's re-election campaign, made clear that there is no intended split between the president's views and those of the vice president. Axelrod tweeted:

"What the VP said - that all married couples should have the same legal rights - is (precisely) POTUS' position."

The White House tried to shut down speculation that the administration's position on gay marriage has "evolved" when a spokesperson for the vice president put out a statement after the interview, saying his words mirror the president's position.

"Vice President Biden was echoing the President's position: 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."

Responding to the interview, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a leading advocacy group for LGBT rights, also put out a statement.

"We are encouraged by Vice President Biden's comments, who rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally. Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples," Michael Cole-Schwartz, the group's communications director, said in a statement.

In the past, Biden has expressed support for gay marriage. In a December 2010 appearance on "Good Morning America," he said, "I think there's an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage."

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