When Vice President Joseph Biden was asked about same-sex marriage this weekend, he had a clear answer: He’s just fine with it. But then, Biden is the Vice President, with the power only to occasionally vote in the Senate, and to sometimes attend funerals. When he was asked about Barack Obama’s opinion about same sex marriage, Biden all of a sudden became a lot less clear:
Biden was asked, “In a second term, will this administration come out behind same-sex marriage, the institution of marriage?”
Biden answered, “Well, I, I, I can’t speak to that. I, I, I, I don’t know the answer to that.”
As President, Barack Obama has never retracted that position. Not once.
Vice President Biden simply didn’t want to say Obama’s position on same sex marriage out loud, because to do so would be to remind Democratic voters that Barack Obama is ideologically much more like a Republican than they would like to admit.
After Biden gave his own personal opinion about marriage equality, and stumbled in trying to avoid speaking about Obama’s, the Obama White House rushed out several statements that attempted to make Barack Obama’s political position on same-sex marriage seem as enlightened and up to date as Biden’s.
A spokesman for the Vice President declared, “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 a slippery statement, because it seems to address the right of same-sex couples to get married, but it actually doesn’t. It has to do with second class systems of domestic partnership. There can be no “rollback” on the national right to marry for all couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual, because there is no such national right. The states have led the way on marriage equality, while Barack Obama has remained in opposition to marriage equality.
What Barack Obama supports is the equivalent of separate schools for African-American children. Obama supports separate but equal systems of legal arrangements for gay and lesbian couples. The trouble is that those separate but equal systems are inherently unequal. They’re not marriage.
A domestic partnership status in one state isn’t recognized in another state. Imagine if you got married in New York, but upon crossing the state line into Pennsylvania, you and your wife were no longer married. That’s what same sex couples who are in state-sanctioned domestic partnerships have to deal with. They have no legal standing to protest, either, because they aren’t married.
The whole point of domestic partnership agreements is that they are not equal, that they are not marriage.
Back in the 1990s, domestic partnership agreements were a step forward from no legal rights at all. It didn’t seem possible at the time that the majority of Americans would ever support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
It’s not the 1990s any more. Now, the majority of Americans supports marriage equality.
President Obama is trying to triangulate on the issue of same-sex marriage, to play games that string GLBT Americans along while making the Obama 2012 re-election campaign palatable to voters with more regressive attitudes. It’s a manipulation, and it’s growing thin.
Barack Obama is using the word “Forward” as the theme for his re-election campaign, but it’s not forward to oppose equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. It’s backwards.
On this issue, and others, Obama seems to content to merely be a little less objectionable than Mitt Romney. That’s not good enough. There are better alternatives in the 2012 presidential election. One of them is Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate.
Stein has openly supported same-sex marriage legalization for years.