And each time, Carney’s answers elicited a new torrent of questions about the president’s views.
Does Obama support same-sex marriage?
“The next time the president has a news conference, if you want to ask him that, you’re certainly welcome to,” Carney said. “I do not have an update for you on the president’s personal views.”
Is Obama “comfortable” with men marrying men and women marrying women, as Biden is?
“The president is comfortable with same-sex couples, as the vice president said, being entitled to the same rights and the civil rights and civil liberties as other Americans,” Carney replied.
So, is marriage a civil liberty?
“You’d have to ask civil libertarians or lawyers,” Carney said.
What about a pro-gay-marriage plank in the platform at this summer’s Democratic National Convention?
“Well, on the issue of the platform, which hasn’t been developed yet, I would refer you to the DNC.”
Is Obama getting ready to change his views on gay marriage?
One question that did yield an answer was on whether Obama views marriage as a federal or a state issue.
“Well, he believes ... marriage is a state issue, and the states have the right to take action on it,” Carney said. “What he opposes is efforts to repeal rights that have been granted to LGBT citizens. He thinks that’s discriminatory and wrong.”
Does that mean, then, that Obama opposes bans on gay marriage but doesn’t support gay marriage itself?
“The record is clear,” Carney responded, “that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.”
Along with that contentious exchange, the debate over Biden’s remarks reached a fever pitch Monday afternoon when MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell spoke with Stephanie Cutter, deputy manager of the Obama campaign, and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, in
Last week, Democrats had seized offense on the gay-rights issue over the departure of openly-gay foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign under pressure from social conservatives. In his interview with Mitchell, Priebus used Biden’s comments to try to put Democrats back on defense.
“Quite frankly, Andrea, the president’s position as it sits today is the same position of Mitt Romney, because isn’t the president saying that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman?” Priebus said.
“The difference [between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Romney] is that Mitt Romney is being honest about his position the whole way through,” Priebus said. Romney, Priebus said, “is claiming that marriage should be between one man and one woman. ... What I’m suggesting to you, Andrea, is that Barack Obama will say and do anything, and will have other people around him say and do anything, to help him get elected.”