President Biden was torched on Twitter on Tuesday for trying to rewrite history about how he came to an “epiphany” on same-sex marriage in high school, despite his longtime stance in the Senate opposing legislation that expanded rights for the LGBTQ community.
In a clip that aired Monday night, Mr. Biden was interviewed by Kal Penn, the guest host for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” about his passage of a law codifying legal protection for same-sex and interracial marriage.
Mr. Biden talked about his “evolution” on same-sex marriage, saying he was for LGBTQ rights as early as high school.
“I can remember exactly when my epiphany was,” Mr. Biden recalled. “I hadn’t thought about it much, to tell you the truth. I was a senior in high school and my dad was dropping me off. I remember getting out of the car, and I looked to my right and two well-dressed men in suits kissed each other.”
As Mr. Biden tells it, his father turned to him and said, “Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.”
Mr. Biden said he agreed with his father’s view. He also insisted he wasn’t joking about the story.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or heterosexual couple. They should be able to be married. What is the problem?” he said.
The response to Mr. Biden’s remarks included some questioning the veracity of his story and others citing examples of the president’s previous opposition to same-sex marriage.
He said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2006, “Marriage is between a man and woman; what’s the game going on here?”
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg recalled Mr. Biden’s history of public remarks against same-sex marriage.
“So he’s basically admitting he lied about a moral conviction for the next five decades? How heroic. Also, the idea that he was thinking about gay marriage in 1960-61 is really just silly,” Mr. Goldberg tweeted.
AG Hamilton, a conservative author, questioned the truthfulness behind the story.
“It will never not be weird that Biden simply lies about stuff like this constantly. Biden voted for [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996 and was openly saying marriage should be between a man and a woman over a decade later,” he tweeted.
Federalist editor David Harsanyi called it one of Mr. Biden’s “funniest stories.”
“He had an epiphany after seeing two ‘well-dressed’ men kissing in 1961 working-class Wilmington but then voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996,” he said on social media.
Mr. Biden’s views on same-sex marriage and gay rights have changed over time.
In 1993, Mr. Biden voted for legislation that codified a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy concerning gay people in the military. He did support an amendment that would remove that policy but supported the overall bill when that amendment failed.
A year later, he joined other senators in voting to cut off federal funds that teach acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle.
Mr. Biden also supported 2003’s Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between men and women for federal purposes and let states refuse to recognize same-sex unions in other states.
“This has long been a state issue and it should remain that way,” Mr. Biden said at the time.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Biden reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage. When asked during the October 2008 vice presidential debate, Mr. Biden was asked by moderator Gwen Ifill if he supported same-sex marriage and he simply responded, “No.”
However, he was the first major lawmaker to endorse same-sex marriage when he unexpectedly broke with President Obama during a 2012 “Meet the Press” interview.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Mr. Biden said.
At the time, Mr. Obama was still working through the issue and immediately sought to walk back Mr. Biden’s comments. However, the interview prompted Mr. Obama to take the same position several days later.