ONTD Political

Biden Apologized to Obama for Jumping the Gun on Gay Marriage

4:02 pm - 05/11/2012
AP source: Biden apologizes to Obama over comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shortly before President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay marriage, Vice President Joe Biden apologized to the president for comments that led him to speed up his public pronouncement.

Biden and Obama spoke in the Oval Office on Wednesday, a person familiar with the exchange said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talk. Obama accepted his vice president's apology, saying he knew Biden was speaking from his heart when he declared in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

Biden's comments pushed gay marriage to the forefront of the presidential race and focused a fresh spotlight on Obama's vague position on the matter. The president, who once opposed gay marriage, had been saying for more than a year that his personal views were "evolving."

The vice president spoke out on gay marriage without White House consent, leaving Obama aides deeply frustrated.

In an interview with ABC News, Obama said he wasn't angry at Biden, though he thought the vice president had gotten "a little bit over his skis" by voicing his support for gay marriage ahead of his boss.

"Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way, in my own terms, without I think, there being a lot of notice to everybody? Sure," Obama said. "But all's well that ends well."

By the time Biden's interview on NBC's "Meet The Press" aired on Sunday morning, a handful of close Obama aides knew that the president had already finished that evolution. He had decided to speak publicly about his personal support for gay marriage sometime before the Democratic convention in early September.

The White House and Obama's presidential campaign at first tried to play down Biden's remarks, insisting that the vice president had gone no further in support of equal rights for same-sex couples. But gay rights advocates latched onto Biden's remarks, declaring him the highest-ranking U.S. official to support gay marriage.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a longtime friend of the president, stirred the political pot further on Monday, declaring unequivocally that he also supported gay marriage.

By Tuesday morning, the president came to the conclusion that he couldn't stay silent on the issue any further. The White House hastily arranged a television interview with ABC News for Wednesday, during which Obama explained to the public that he had decided it was important for him to "affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."


Submitting this since we've all been theorizing quite a lot on the circumstances of Biden's remarks and whether or not they were a "trial balloon" for Obama's endorsement. Also, Duncan's part in this has pretty much gone unremarked.
erunamiryene 11th-May-2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm just reading it wrong or misinterpreting it or something, but this is leaving a really gross taste in my mouth.
anna_karenina_x 11th-May-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
Political calculation tends to leave a bitter taste in my mouth too
crossfire 11th-May-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
I had the same reaction, fwiw.

I think Obama was really taken off-guard by Biden's remarks. I don't think Obama was going to endorse gay marriage at all, or if he was it wasn't going to be until after the election. The whole "this is inconvenient but we'll be okay" thing is kind of rubbing me the wrong way.

IDK, my feelings are all over the place on this anyway.

Edited at 2012-05-11 11:59 pm (UTC)
anna_karenina_x 12th-May-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
I don't think he was going to get anywhere near the issue until after the election, which is why he kept up that nonsense about how his position was "evolving"
erunamiryene 12th-May-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
That's what it is. "This is INCONVENIENT, but okay, if i haaaaaaave to" is just ... JFC, really? Even if this WAS how it is, why the hell would you let it get into the goddamn news? So much for closing the "enthusiasm gap".

I mean, I really don't think the election is going to be lost over saying he supports marriage equality. Is there something I'm missing? Because last I heard a majority of people support it.
staringiscaring 12th-May-2012 12:07 am (UTC)
In the swing states (and others), the numbers for pro-gay marriage supporters goes down compared to the national polls. I live in Arizona and being openly gay or openly gay friendly can sink a campaign. It seems like that is mirrored in other swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.
crossfire 12th-May-2012 12:20 am (UTC)
I don't think the election will be lost for this, but I do think it's risky and I think it's going to negatively impact his re-election. The majority may favor gay marriage, but only by a slim margin. It's by no means a safe thing to endorse.

I just keep reminding myself that I had said many times I would rather Obama not tackle gay marriage before the election. (Mostly it was in the context of DOMA but the sentiment applies.) If Obama wanted to energize his base I think a better focus would be the Republican party's war on women. That's an active effort to roll back civil rights and I'd like to see the Republicans really pay for it in votes.
effervescent 12th-May-2012 02:58 am (UTC)
An overall majority, maybe, but it depends on where those people are and whether they vote. Younger voters tend to be more in support of gay marriage, but they're also the ones who are less likely to vote. And if they're all in the states that are largely in favour of the Dems anyway... :/
sparkindarkness 12th-May-2012 12:45 am (UTC)
Was he even going to do it without Biden basically pushing him into it?

And don't you just love human rights resting on inconvenient timing?
sparkindarkness 12th-May-2012 12:44 am (UTC)
Yup, that's all kind of nasty taste
poetic_pixie_13 12th-May-2012 01:03 am (UTC)
I could deal with the political mechaniations of this, somewhat, because I'm a bitter old queer and I get that's how it works and it sucks and it shouldn't be like that but I at least understand why.

I think with Obama it's that he so obviously did support marriage equality way before this announcement. But he kept feeding that line about 'evolving' and everything else. It's just grating.
anna_karenina_x 12th-May-2012 01:37 am (UTC)
I'm not actually convinced that he totally supports gay marriage in his heart. Its always hard to tell with a politician and he has gone back and forth on this a few times.
brookiki 12th-May-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
That was my thoughts. I don't think I blame Obama necessarily, but I was just thinking as I read the article that it's really, really disgusting to live in a world where an apology like this could even happen.
baked_goldfish 12th-May-2012 03:31 am (UTC)
Me too. If it was a calculated move, I think they lose by pretending to take Biden out to the woodshed, considering he was basically right - they would've been better just being like, "Well, we were planning a surprise party, then Biden accidentally told the birthday boy - but who cares since there's still cake and presents." Trying to make it look like they're punishing him just comes off as childish.

And if it wasn't completely choreographed, and Biden really did step out of line and now they're trying to publicly put him in his place, then it's even grosser.
doverz 12th-May-2012 04:21 am (UTC)
Agreed. It's really patronizing and condescending since it implies that Biden's opinions don't matter.
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