Endorsements from Biden and Duncan add pressure on Obama’s “evolution” on marriage
May 08, 2012
As the buzz surrounding Vice President Joe Biden's comments about the freedom to marry continues to intensify, national news organizations are encouraging President Barack Obama to complete his evolution on the freedom to marry.
On Sunday's Meet the Press, Biden announced that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex couples having the freedom to marry. On Monday, the comment gained even greater significance when Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, made a full, direct endorsement of the freedom to marry. Taken together, the favorable opinions have sparked even more debate on why Obama continues to say he is "evolving" on the issue.
Politico explained the difficult situation that the President now finds himself in — in order to continue asserting that his views about the freedom to marry are "evolving," he must speak out against what Duncan and Biden have expressed. According to Politico:
[This] could undermine Obama’s 2012 message that he’s still a new-breed leader willing to brave political peril for principle.
“They had the best of both worlds going up until this weekend where they didn’t have to rock the boat of actually coming out for it. The gay community was fully happy in their belief that he ‘wink, wink’ supported it,” a top Democratic communications strategist said. “Now, in their efforts to contain the [Joe] Biden fallout, they seem to be digging in against gay marriage, emphasizing how they are not for it. That is the opposite of what they have successfully been doing all along.”
The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC also chronicled the developments, inviting our founder and President Evan Wolfson on the show to discuss his reaction to the comments from Biden and Duncan. Wolfson said that he felt Biden's comments about the freedom to marry were sincere:
"Biden was speaking from his heart about the Golden Rule and treating others like he wants his family to be treated and opening his heart and mind, and that's the very same journey that so many Americans have been on. I think that was sincere and very much what he believes, and that is what a majority of Democrats believe, it's what a majority of Independents believe, it's what a majority of Catholics believe, and it's what a majority of Americans believe."
The Washington Post took a look at some of the complications the announcements may cause for President Obama, who has been actively seeking gay and lesbian campaign donors for November's election. According to the article:
Several people close to the White House said the episode has exposed internal tensions within Obama’s team between those who want the president to say he favors same-sex marriage before the November election and others who worry about a political backlash if he does — not just among conservatives and working-class voters but among African Americans who are Obama’s most loyal support bloc but tend to oppose such unions.
About one in six of Obama’s top campaign “bundlers” are gay, according to a Washington Post review of donor lists, making it difficult for the president to defer the matter. Activists are planning a campaign for the adoption of a pro-gay-marriage plank in this year’s Democratic Party platform. And a series of referendums this year on same-sex marriage — including one in the swing state of North Carolina on Tuesday — are putting the issue at the forefront.
Freedom to Marry has been encouraging Democrats to incorporate a marriage plan in this year's national Democratic Party Platform. The Democrats: Say I Do campaign has already gained endorsements from a number of prominent Democratic voices, including 22 Democratic Senators, the Chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, four former chairs of the national Democratic Party, more than half a dozen co-chairs of President Obama's reelection campaign, and over 40,000 Democrats who have signed onto Freedom to Marry's Democrats: Say I Do online petition. Most recently, Caroline Kennedy, a co-chair of President Obama's re-election campaign, joined us in calling for a freedom to marry plank in this year's party platform.
As more and more prominent political figures like Duncan and Biden continue to express their support for the freedom to marry, it will become increasingly difficult for President Obama to assert that he is still simply "evolving" on the issue.
Click here to sign the petition urging the Democratic Party to endorse a marriage plank.