Election 2008 | Gay Marriage | Joseph Biden | News | Sarah Palin

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin Debate Gay Rights

I'll have a more extended wrap-up of the debate later, but here's the portion of the vice presidential debate which dealt with gay rights. Moderator Gwen Ifill started by asking Joe Biden whether or not he supported granting benefits to same-sex couples.

Biden_palin_gmSaid Biden: "Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple."

Palin responded that she would not support expanding rights "if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage." She added, "And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead." Palin then clarified the answer by declaring that she's "tolerant."

Biden reiterated his and Obama's support for civil unions and said he heard no distinction from Palin on their civil rights views in her answer: "I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference."

When asked if that's what she said, Palin escaped quickly: "Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not."

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

***TRANSCRIPT***

IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Sen. Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.

It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.

But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.

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Comments

  1. Both candidates sickened me with their responses on gay marriage. It was surprising coming from Jesus-freak Palin, but I'm pretty disheartened that Biden didn't say anything about leaving states to make their own choices or Prop 8 and similar measures.

    Posted by: erik | Oct 2, 2008 11:27:13 PM


  2. *sorry, meant to say that it _wasn't_ surprising coming from Palin.

    Posted by: erik | Oct 2, 2008 11:28:24 PM


  3. "Wonderful we all agree the fags can be thrown under the bus, next question!" *audience laughs*

    I know that's not what Gwen meant to intend but fuck, I almost switched off after that.

    Posted by: Blake | Oct 2, 2008 11:36:32 PM


  4. He's playing it up for the Neocons. Both Biden and Obama have repeatedly stated that while they do not personally support it, they believe it's up to each state to vote forth.

    Posted by: Philip Wester | Oct 2, 2008 11:39:14 PM


  5. I think the idea of abolishing the term "marriage" in a legal context is an interesting one, even if it's not precisely what Biden was angling at. It'd be interesting to limit all terminology only to civil unions, and let the couples work out the name for that union themselves.

    Posted by: Nicole | Oct 2, 2008 11:47:23 PM


  6. whereas I know I should have been upset by the comments, I just wasn't. Anybody with even a smidgen of understanding of politics and what's at stake knows this issue needs to be quickly addressed and removed from the discussion which is exactly what happened. Biden/Obama couldn't take this on, I get it. Let's move on to the bigger issues at stake. We can fight this later.

    Posted by: Marty | Oct 2, 2008 11:53:28 PM


  7. Wow - it blew me away how many people where shocked to find out that Obama doesn't support same sex marriage ... do you people do -any- research on your candidates?

    (btw - believe that the term "marriage" as a legal term should go away)

    Posted by: yoshi | Oct 2, 2008 11:56:47 PM


  8. That's it. I'm moving to fucking Canada.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 2, 2008 11:58:03 PM


  9. La Palin was flawless, so proud of her -- told ya guys she would do okay... SHE IS WOMAN!!! -- so she's not for gay marriage, nobody else is anyway neither obama nor clinton so who cares --- if she says she's tolerant of queers that's okay with me which should (but probably won't since most of you fags are so reactionary) allay any fears of us all being put into concentration camps... oh please, mary!

    Posted by: the queen | Oct 2, 2008 11:58:33 PM


  10. I love how Palin kep using the word tolerate. She can take her tolerance and stick it....that reallly made me mad

    Posted by: Shan | Oct 3, 2008 12:00:25 AM


  11. The shockingly good moment was when Biden said this:
    "We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do."

    He used the term "same-sex marriage"—legitimizing it. Yes, then he did some CYA, but I'm OK with that right now. We've GOT to win this election.

    Posted by: David R. | Oct 3, 2008 12:06:55 AM


  12. I don't need your "tolerance," Palin -- I need you to SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    Posted by: Webster | Oct 3, 2008 12:08:05 AM


  13. Biden actually made a distinction between gay "marriage" and gay civil rights. I thought he handled it masterfully. Palin stuck to typical (and expected) party rhetoric.

    Posted by: Moby | Oct 3, 2008 12:08:51 AM


  14. palin was a joke, no strategy at all

    http://queersunited.blogspot.com/

    Posted by: queerunity | Oct 3, 2008 12:14:22 AM


  15. I think Biden was very crafty in his response... very Clintonian (LOL). He said: "No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that." He said he didn't support "redefining" - my interpretation of that is marriage is marriage - and is neither homo or heterosexual. He then said: "The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference." That is an EXTREMELY powerful statement. Of course Palin completely dodged the question - she doesn't support equal rights - that is clear. Biden/Obama do! Why the Biden crafty speak... because they don't want the right wing to drone on about "gay marriage" for the next 40 days. He basically eliminated it as a campaign issue. Make no mistake, there will be a vast expansion of gay rights during an Obama administration. If McCain gets in and is able to appoint Judges to the Supreme Court we are set back a generation.

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 3, 2008 12:14:28 AM


  16. People seem to be perturbed by Palin's use of the word "tolerance". I was more irritated with the fact that she continued to use the word "choice" in reference to homosexuality.

    I will agree with all of you that let's let marriage be a religious term, and keep it out of legalities. Let gays have civil unions with all of the local, state, and federal rights, responsibilities, and privileges that offers.

    Posted by: AED | Oct 3, 2008 12:18:19 AM


  17. One more point... it is simply fabulous that the Republicans are falling all over themselves now saying how "tolerant" they are of gays. Sure, they hate us the same as ever, but it is no longer politically correct to bash gays. That one fact speaks volumes... they are LOSING!

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 3, 2008 12:21:07 AM


  18. It's always interesting as a gay man to read comments on gay sites about gay marriage and politicians. On the one hand, we have one politician here saying they will meet us half way (the good) versus another saying a polite "screw you fags." Yet, many see the good (what Biden said about what is essentially civil unions) as the enemy of the perfect (marriage). Therefore concluding that the good (again Biden's statement about civil unions) as somehow falsely equivalent to the absolutely bad- what Palin said. I am being a bit unfair to Palin- she did say she would allow us to visit each other when in the hospital. Gee thanks. But the idea that Biden is equavalent to Palin is beyond me. By the way- for those of you who aren't African American or of another minority group- let me explain something to you. Civil rights are a slow ardious process that take decades, not weeks or years. The gay civil rights movement in that context has been one of the fastest in American history. We took less than 20 years to overturn Bowers with Lawrence compared to it taking almost 100 years to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson with Brown v. Board. I don't expect you to know Con Law like I do, but I do wish you knew how stupid you sound to not place where we are in context. We have a long fight ahead of us to gain our rights. Let's keep it real while we are trying to reach for our dreams.

    Posted by: Craig | Oct 3, 2008 12:27:13 AM


  19. Thanks for your tolerance. I don't want you to *tolerate* or 'put up with' me, I want acceptance and equality.

    I though Biden did a good job answering in difficult circumstances. As a personal view civil unions (while separate but equal) have done just fine in the UK. No one says did you get a civil union anyway, they just ask if you got married. Biden stated that they would be for civil unions, and for *me* that's good enough and lot better McCain or Palin would ever accept.

    Posted by: Gregus | Oct 3, 2008 12:33:45 AM


  20. Biden proved conclusively that he does not have a handle on the facts. He is impulsive and he would be extremely dangerous if he somehow found himself in the Oval Office. Palin was the clear winner of this debate.

    Everything has changed given the scope of this financial crisis and therefore none of Obama's plans, including health care can even be considered. Certainly any tax increase in this environment is out of the question. This country is beyond bankrupt.

    We are at the brink of disaster and neither candidate is qualified to lead this country out of this mess. If the House does not approve this bailout bill Friday morning, the financial Armageddon will begin. But this bill will only be a very short term backstop as the scope of the problem is more in the neighborhood of $5 trillion plus!

    Congress is lying to the voters about any possible recoup or upside in this bailout. The Bear Sterns sub-prime portfolio is costing a $16 billion write-down on mark to market. These assets do not have a shelf life as homes cannot sit empty without massive deterioration. And a great majority of them have been stripped to the bone by thieves or the former homeowner. Many are only worth the value of the land and that is all.

    The Treasury will be asking for considerably more in short order.

    Posted by: Johnny Lane | Oct 3, 2008 12:41:14 AM


  21. Until the last post, I wasn't certain about whether conservative operatives monitor gay sites like this to spam with their talking points.

    Posted by: Craig | Oct 3, 2008 12:58:42 AM


  22. i'm of the mind that the legal institution to join a couple would be the civil union-for ALL americans. the institution of marriage would be reserved for the house of worship snd wouldn't be a legally binding contract. i truly believe that this is the only reasonable way to solve this dilemma-to remove the spiritual portions out of city hall and to take the legal aspects out of the church. this also accomplishes the separation of church and state as well.

    i kind sensed that senator biden was alluding to that when he closed his argument.

    Posted by: alguien | Oct 3, 2008 1:11:11 AM


  23. Personally, I believe the LGBT community has misguided priorities. So many people are worried about being able to "marry", they forget that in most states (30 to be exact), we can fired simply for being gay. We need to be focusing our attention on ENDA, not gay marriage (with the exception of fighting proposed amendments/propositions like in California and Florida).

    Posted by: alex | Oct 3, 2008 1:28:47 AM


  24. marriage/civil unions/domestic partnerships

    I just want equal rights, so for the most part I could care less what you call it. If "marriage" is a religious term then I'd be fine if the churches decide that fate -- civil unions/domestic partnerships are for those not having a religious ceremony. But to me then if a straight couple gets married down at city hall by a judge or what have you, then they are not "married" but domestic partners. To me- that's fair, that's equal. Everyone gets their civil rights (visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies,parental rights, et cetera)
    Is that naive? I mean I have never been that religious (because so often I'm told god hates me) so I wouldn't get "married" in a church anyhow. Yes, I've always dreamed of having a husband -- but for some reason husband/wife is deemed a religious term-- but if I had equal rights in every other way I'd be able to let go of the term husband.
    And who knows maybe the churches of the world will see fit to amend their terms of marriage that makes it okay for a man and man or a woman and woman to "marry" Because if the churches were to approve then wouldn't our laws of separation of church and state then mean it's okay for gay marriage

    Just my thoughts

    and Craig many of us don't know law like you, but we can still be frustrated. To want equal rights now isn't stupid. You must admit we live in a different time -- a faster paced society, so it stands to reason people wanting equal rights now. One would hope it takes less time for equal rights for gays in America. I wish I was speaking rather than typing to fully explain my thoughts so I just stop.

    I understand Obama/Biden have to downplay their thoughts on gay rights to get elected- don't like it, wish it didn't have to be that way but I feel safer and on a better road with them than McCain/Palin. Palin tonight and her "I am tolerant" and "choosing their partners, choosing relationships " really bother me. I know I was born gay and have a happy life. I didn't choose being gay no more than Sarah Palin chose to be straight. I remember in 5th grade thinking a boy named Mark was so cute- didn't know a thing about gay/straight I just knew I liked that boy. It would be a year later until I heard someone call me gay/fag that I even heard the word gay and then I still didn't know what it meant. I'm 33 now and living the life I was meant to have and I just want to be an equal citizen

    just my thoughts and I wanted to share them

    Posted by: BHcolin | Oct 3, 2008 3:48:09 AM


  25. Come on people!
    Joe Biden made the most open and positive statement from a presidential candidate (with any real possibility of winning the election) regarding gay rights in my 52 years. I have heard your complaints that he said that he does not support “gay marriage”. But he DID say that we should have complete equal rights of heterosexual couples.
    Get over yourselves; change takes years. Yeah I want my California marriage to be legal throughout the country, but I am still in awe that I even have a legal marriage at all! So relax; and vote for the person who will best edge us towards our real objectives.

    My objective is that my marriage be a legal US marriage before I die. A vote for John McCain will definitely not get me closer to my goal. Due to the current state of our election process a vote for Ralph Nader or Ron Paul will just be one less vote for Obama. That means that the only option (which I happen to believe is also the best option) is a vote for Barack Obama. He will get the United States closer to recognition of my marriage.

    So continue to fight for our rights, but accept that steps are a necessary process.

    Also, check the dictionary (including Websters), marriage is defined in legal terms. There is no mention of religion. So maybe churches should change their term and let the government keep "marriage".

    Posted by: Peter | Oct 3, 2008 4:57:37 AM


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