The Obama campaign maintains the views Vice President Joe Biden expressed on marriage equality were “entirely consistent” with the president position’s on the issue because both Obama and Biden believe married gay couples shouldn’t be denied the rights enjoyed by straight couples.
During a conference call with reporters Monday, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said in response to a question from Reuters’ Jeff Mason that Biden and Obama were in line on marriage equality — even though Obama has yet to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“I think that they were entirely consistent with the president’s position, which is that couples who are married — whether gay or heterosexual couples — are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties,” Axelrod said. “That’s why the president and the administration has stood down on the DOMA court case and believe that the law is unconstitutional, and when people are married, we ought to recognize those marriages and import the rights to which they’re entitled.”
Axelrod continued that those views were “the essence” of what the Biden was saying in his remarks on marriage on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which lit up the Internet and were characterized as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
“That was the essence of the policy basis of what he was saying, and that’s where the federal government comes into play,” Axelrod said.
The views Axelrod expressed on the conference call are similar to what he said via his Twitter account on Sunday: “What VP said — that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights — is precisely POTUS’s position.”
Additionally, Axelrod that Obama’s position on marriage is different from the position of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who backs a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country and contributed $10,000 in 2008 to the campaign in favor California’s Proposition 8.
“There couldn’t be a starker contrast on this issue than with Gov. Romney, who has funded efforts to roll back marriage laws in California and other places, who believes that we need a constitutional amendment banning the rights of gay couples to marry, and would take us backward, not forward,” Axelrod said. “So, there’s a very clear distinction in this race.”
Axelrod didn’t address Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks a few hours earlier on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in which the secretary endorsed same-sex marriage, but the question posed to him didn’t address the secretary’s comments.
On Sunday, Biden said he’s “absolutely comfortable” with the idea of married gay couples having the “same exact rights” as straight couples, which was reported by many media outlets and bloggers as an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Biden’s office has said his comments weren’t anything new and the vice president is evolving on the issue like President Obama.
The president himself has yet to articulate support for same-sex marriage. In October 2010, Obama said in response to a question from AMERICAblog’s Joe Sudbay that he could evolve to support marriage equality. However, the president has yet to announce support for marriage equality.
Those who have interpreted Biden’s remarks as an endorsement of same-sex marriage are calling on the administration not to rollback his words and for Obama to take on a similar position.
Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of external affairs at the Center for American Progress, was among those saying the favorable remarks on marriage equality shouldn’t be taken back.
“We commend Vice President Biden for supporting marriage equality and call on President Obama to do the same,” Stachelberg said. “The campaign shouldn’t force Biden’s comment back into the closet, but should instead embrace the growing popular support for the freedom to marry.”