The Vice President: ”I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights.” The President, however, is “still evolving.”

I guess you could see this as yet another attempt to placate the LGBT community (i.e. open the gAyTM), or a hint that the President is about to tip-toe out of the closet, perhaps after the election. I don’t hold my breath for such things, since it’s not even clear that Team Obama can even do a last-minute GOTV effort in North Carolina that tells voters to vote against Amendment One.

Here is the video and transcript, via Think Progress:

GREGORY: Have your views evolved?

BIDEN: The good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition. Who do you love? Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out what all marriages at their root are about. Whether they are marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals. [...]

GREGORY: You’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now?

BIDEN: Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that. [...] I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that is different and now they’re beginning to understand.

Biden’s comments are interesting in that they represent the President’s exact view – that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same civil rights, save the whole bit about the word “marriage.” Talk about threading the political needle.

By the way, marriage equality and the whole debate about when/if the President should declare he’s evolved on the matter is of less importance to me than an effort to eliminate employment discrimination against LGBTs — and he can do that for thousands by signing an executive order banning it for contractors dealing with the federal government, something this administration refuses to do. Ultimately a permanent solution would be for Congress to pass ENDA (and that won’t happen in the current political configuration), but it doesn’t prevent POTUS for addressing the current discriminatory wrongs in the interim. It would certainly mean many North Carolinians now relegated to the closet for fear of being fired will be able to live and work without that hanging over them.

Here’s a pathetic update, via Huff Po:

A spokesperson for the vice president emailed over further clarification on the “Meet the Press” remarks, stating in part that Biden had not fully endorsed same-sex marriage.

The vice president was saying what the president has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights. That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.

This is preposterous, you cannot be fully comfortable with gays and lesbians marrying but still evolving. This is David Axelrod’s ludicrous damage control; he should have left it alone. Biden freelances on the air and the Obama administration should know the results can be, well, unpredictable, lol.

Meanwhile, the LGBT community jumped on the VP’s initial statement:

“We are proud of Vice President Joe Biden for his strong statement in support of giving our relationships the dignity and respect they deserve. On the heels of Mitt Romney’s reprehensible treatment of his only gay staffer in the midst of an onslaught of attacks from the bigoted wing of the GOP, the Vice President’s statement underlines the contrast between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to LGBT equality.

Catholics for Equality:

Catholics for Equality is proud of our Catholic brother, Vice President Joe Biden, for coming out in support for civil marriage equality on Meet The Press this morning. Again, we see pro-equality Catholics leading the fight for full legal equality for our LGBT people in America.

Vice President Biden joins Catholic leaders Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, Governor John Baldacci of Maine, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois and Governor John Lynch of New Hampshire in advancing civil marriage equality in America

HRC President Joe Solmonese:

“We are encouraged by Vice President Biden’s comments, who rightly articulated that loving and committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated equally.  Now is the time for President Obama to speak out for full marriage equality for same-sex couples.”

Evan Wolfson,  Freedom to Marry:

“I’ve known Vice President Biden since interning for him in the Senate in 1976.  The personal and thoughtful way he has spoken about his coming to support the freedom to marry reflects the same journey that a majority of Americans have now made as they’ve gotten to know gay families, opened their hearts and changed their minds. President Obama should join the Vice President, former Presidents Clinton and Carter, former Vice Presidents Gore and Cheney, Laura Bush, and so many others in forthright support for the freedom to marry.”

Winnie Stachelberg, the Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress:

“We commend Vice President Biden for supporting marriage equality and call on President Obama to do the same. The campaign shouldn’t force Biden’s comments back into the closet, but should instead embrace the growing popular support for the freedom to marry.”