Biden called gay marriage ‘inevitable’ and soon it’ll be law

Dec 10, 2022, 11:50 AM | Updated: 12:50 pm

The White House is illuminated with rainbow colors....

Rainbow-colored lights shine on the White House to celebrate today's US Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, Washington, DC, June 26, 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A decade ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden shocked the political world and preempted his boss by suddenly declaring his support for gay marriage on national television. But not everyone was surprised.

A small group had attended a private fundraiser with Biden weeks earlier in Los Angeles, where he disclosed not only his approval but his firm conclusion about a positive future for same-sex marriage.

He predicted, “Things are changing so rapidly, it’s going to become a political liability in the near term for someone to say, ‘I oppose gay marriage.'”

“Mark my words. And my job — our job — is to keep this momentum rolling to the inevitable.”

The day that Biden envisioned may have arrived. He plans on Tuesday to sign legislation, passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress, to protect gay unions — even if the Supreme Court should revisit its ruling supporting a nationwide right of same-sex couples to marry.

Biden’s signature will burnish his legacy as a champion of equality at a time when the LGBTQ community is anxious to safeguard legal changes from a backlash on the right that has used incendiary rhetoric, particularly against transgender people.

The politics were far different a decade ago, when gay rights activists were frustrated with President Barack Obama. He had made some changes, such as eliminating the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that prevented gay people from serving openly in the military, but stopped short of embracing marriage equality.

As Obama’s vice president, Biden shared the same stance. So there was some tension in April 2012 when Biden attended the fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of a married gay couple and their children.

Chad Griffin, an activist who had also helped organize the event, decided to ask Biden about it.

“When you came in tonight, you met Michael and Sonny and their two beautiful kids,” he said to Biden. “And I wonder if you can just sort of talk in a frank, honest way about your own personal views as it relates to marriage equality.”

Biden responded, “All you got to do is look in the eyes of those kids. And no one can wonder, no one can wonder whether or not they are cared for and nurtured and loved and reinforced. And folks, what’s happening is, everybody is beginning to see it.”

Just over two weeks later, Biden was on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and host David Gregory asked whether he supported gay marriage.

Biden said the issue came down to “will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what all marriages, at their root, are about, whether they’re marriages of lesbians, or gay men, or heterosexuals.”

Biden said the president, not him, “sets the policies.” But he said gay couples should have “all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”

It was an unusually unscripted moment in carefully choreographed Washington.

For Biden, “all politics is personal,” said Bruce Reed, the White House deputy chief of staff who also was chief of staff in Biden’s vice presidential office. “And I think that’s what prompted him to speak his mind.”

Not everyone was pleased. Obama was left trailing a step behind his vice president, and three days later did an interview to disclose his own support for gay marriage. He said Biden had gotten “a little over his skis” but there were no hard feelings.

The following year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, and Jim Obergefell proposed to his partner, John Arthur.

They married in Maryland, where it was legal, but their home state of Ohio would not recognize their union. Although Arthur died, their legal battle continued to the Supreme Court. Obergefell met Biden for the first time in 2015.

“I just remember walking up to him and he hugged me and the first words out of his mouth were condolences for the loss of my husband,” he said.

The Supreme Court soon legalized gay marriage nationwide in a decision known as Obergefell v. Hodges.
The issue resurfaced in June when the court’s conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” other precedents as well, including the Obergefell ruling.

Supporters believed they could rally enough Republican votes to sidestep a filibuster in the Senate and safeguard gay marriages. They were right.

Obergefell, however, is not experiencing a sense of satisfaction.

“We now know that rights that people counted on and expected are no longer safe,” he said.

It’s a common sentiment right now in the face of political attacks over LGBTQ issues.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., signed legislation limiting teachers’ ability to talk about sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. In Texas, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott wants state child welfare investigators to consider gender-affirming care as a form of abuse.

Protesters, sometimes armed, have shown up at events where drag queens read to children. Five people were shot to death at a gay club in Colorado last month. The suspect has been charged with hate crimes.

Biden has taken steps to safeguard rights for transgender people, such as reinstating anti-discrimination provisions eliminated by Donald Trump. He also ended the ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Sarah McBride, a transgender state senator from Biden’s home state of Delaware, said it’s a comfort “for so many of us, who feel frightened or vulnerable or alone, to know that the leader of this country, the leader of the free world, not only sees us but embraces us.”

McBride worked for Biden’s eldest son, Beau, during his campaigns for Delaware attorney general.

Before Beau died from brain cancer in 2015, he helped pass Delaware laws that legalized gay marriage and banned discrimination over gender identity. McBride said the experience deepened the elder Biden’s own commitment to these issues and “he’s carrying on Beau’s legacy.”

As last month’s midterm elections approached, the White House played host to Dylan Mulvaney, a Broadway performer who has chronicled her gender transition on TikTok, to talk about transgender issues with Biden.

Asked by Mulvaney how leaders can better advocate for transgender people, Biden responded that it was important to be “seen with people like you.”

“People fear what they don’t know. They fear what they don’t know,” he said. “And when people realize, individuals realize, ‘Oh, this is what they’re telling me to be frightened of, this is the problem.’ I mean, people change their minds.”

KSL 5 TV Live


This image made from a video provided to The Associated Press by a Mideast defense official shows a...

Josef Federman and Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

US says it has downed some Iran-launched attack drones en route to Israel

U.S. forces have downed some Iran-launched attack drones flying toward Israel, according to a U.S. defense official and two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

3 hours ago

FILE - In this July 20, 2017 file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson reacts after learnin...

Associated Press

Executor of O.J. Simpson’s estate plans to fight payout to the families of Brown and Goldman

The executor of O.J. Simpson’s estate says he will work to prevent a payout of a $33.5 million judgment awarded by a California civil jury nearly three decades ago in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

5 hours ago

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney,...

Rick Rycroft, The Associated Press

6 people stabbed to death at a Sydney mall, suspect fatally shot

A man stabbed six people to death at a busy Sydney shopping center Saturday before he was fatally shot, police said, with hundreds fleeing the chaotic scene, many weeping as they carried their children. Eight people, including a 9-month-old, were injured.

5 hours ago

FILE PHOTO (Getty Images)...

Gerald Herbert and Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Storms bring floods and damaging wind across the South; 1 dead in Mississippi

Severe storms blamed for a death in Mississippi spawned a tornado that demolished buildings in one Louisiana city Wednesday.

7 hours ago

(File photo)...

Jonel Aleccia AP Health Writer

Bird flu is spreading to more farm animals. Are milk and eggs safe?

A bird flu outbreak in U.S. dairy cows has grown to affect more than two dozen herds in eight states, just weeks after the nation's largest egg producer found the virus in its chickens.

9 hours ago

A protestor holds a sign reading 'My Body My Choice' at a Women's March rally where Arizona Secreta...

Steve Peoples and Jonathan J. Cooper Associated Press

A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state

Arizona was already expected to be one of the most closely contested states in November's U.S. presidential election. But a ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged the state's role, transforming it into perhaps the nation's most critical battleground.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Biden called gay marriage ‘inevitable’ and soon it’ll be law